This time on Live Like the World is Dying, we’re talking about something crucial to surviving the apocalypse: playing games with your friends. And Killing God Kings. That’s right, we have an actual play recording of us playing Penumbra city, the TTRPG that we’ve been working on over at Strangers for…a very long time. We are sharing this session of us playing the game in order to get you excited about our KICKSTARTER for the game, which is currently live. Right now! Unless it’s no longer June 2023. So, before you listen to this recording go to
Margaret talks with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective about organizing in rural areas and how that can be different from organizing in more urban areas. Sprout and Charyan talk about the different projects that Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective work on, supporting unhoused people, the importance of having a music scene, and the unfortunate state of fascism.
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And I’m excited to talk this week about a subject that is very near and dear to my particular heart. And it might be near and dear to your particular hear or it might just be a subject of idle curiosity. I have no idea. I don’t know where you live. You’re in my head. I’m in your head. Something. Today we’re going to talk about rural organizing, and we’re gonna talk about some of the differences between rural organizing and urban organizing, and we’re going to be doing that with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective and we’re going to talk about that. First, we’re gonna talk about the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Bah duh duh duh dah [Margaret makes melody noises like she’s singing] Okay, so if you all could introduce yourself, I guess with your your name and your pronouns and then like maybe a little bit about what Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective are.
Yeah, hello, I’m Sprout. Pronouns are they/them.
I’m Charyan. They/them.
We’re here to talk about our new project in Grays Harbor County called The Blackflower Collective. And we’re here also representing Sabot Media and our podcast Molotov Now.
Where’s Grays Harbor?
It’s on the coast, Western Washington. The main town is Aberdeen where most people have probably heard of it is because that’s where Kurt Cobain was born and grew up.
Oh, one of my favorite trans women in history. That is my contentious belief. Anyone who’s ever wonder that. Yeah,
I’ve heard the theory.
Yeah. One of my friends was friends with Kurt and was like…and when I first started coming out was like, “Wow, you talk about your gender the same way that Kurt did.” And so that’s why I hold on to this particular theory so hard. But I’m not trying to…no one has ever been more mad at me on the internet as people were when I said this once on Twitter. So whatever, I’m not trying to specifically claim or not claim dead people…whatever. Anyway, that’s definitely what we’re here to talk about today. So, I guess really quickly, like what is Sabot Media? What is Blackflower Collective?
Well, Sabot Media is a media project that we started because we saw a need for our own reporting of certain stories around the homeless and the mutual aid efforts that were going on in our town. The local paper record the Daily World and the other local stations out here were just not covering the stories at all that needed to be told. And so we stepped up to start talking about that stuff in our own community. We’ve got a website on No Blogs. Sabotmedia.noblogs.org, where people can go check out our articles. We’ve got comics, we’ve got columns, we’ve got a podcast as I mentioned. Yeah, so The Blackflower Collective was born out of another project here on the harbor that’s been going for a couple of years Chehalis River mutual aid network. And the organizers for that project did a lot of talking to the community and discussing internally about what needs there were and how to meet those needs. And the solution came out as The Blackflower Collective. So our goal there is to have a piece of land, just outside the city limits, where we can have a sustainable ecovillage to house low income and unhouse…currently unhoused people, as well as pairing that with a social center and makerspace where we can have a business incubator and people providing social services.
That’s really…Okay, one of the things I got really excited about when I first heard about this project that you all are working on about it is because I think about how much…how impactful social center type spaces can be in smaller communities. Like it just seems to me…like off the top of my head, at least I think of like…I mean, a makerspace and, you know, social center space and stuff like that in a big city rules and is great, and I’m really excited when they exist, but it seems like a much higher percentage of the town’s socializing or something…like it seems like a bigger deal in a smaller place. Am I like…Am I off base about this? Like, what are your kind of aspirations around that?
Not at all. That’s actually kind of one of the dichotomies that we talked about in our article. And on our interview on It Could Happen Here is like the modes of socialization feel a lot different from big city and large population big city communities and, you know, smaller rural towns and whatnot. For example, like in the bigger city, the way you meet people is like, you know, you have your job, or, you know, you go out to the club or, you know, what have you. There’s lots of different groups and classes you can take part in. Like you walk into any building or storefront and there’s going to be a wall filled with fliers for different events and classes and all sorts of stuff. A place like here in Aberdeen, you have to hunt and dig for that kind of stuff. And even when it does happen, you’re more than likely not even going to hear about it. The mode of socialization in smaller places is usually through friends and family you already have. You know, you’re hanging out at somebody’s house and somebody comes to the door. It’s like, “Oh, hey, here’s my buddy, Paul,” or What have you.
Yeah, it always sort of occurred to me that, you know, living in a small town–I’m probably not going to do it, but I’m like, “Man, if I opened a punk venue, it would be the only place to go see music,” you know? But that’s also…maybe no one would come because there’s like a tiny handful of punks in this town, you know.
Well, that’s actually what we’re thinking about starting to do with Blackflower to raise some funds and get our name out there is hold some benefit punk shows. There’s, again, there’s just not really much in the way of music venues out here. And so what we’re doing is just trying to find needs and then meet them. And that’s a huge…you know, coming from a city–I wasn’t born here, I moved here from a big bigger city area–so, you know, having a music scene was huge. That’s what got me into political organizing in the first place. So, I think it’s a good subculture to cultivate to try and get people on board.
No, that makes sense. I mean, around where I’m at, like people go, people drive a long way to go to the punk show in the small town in the mountains, you know, that happens to be throwing that particular punk show or whatever thing it is. People go a long way to see live music because you have to. On the other hand, like, do y’all have the phrase “Country close?” Like where it’s like, to go anywhere takes about 45 minutes, right, because it’s all back country roads. I just think about how far people have to go to go get to places
Yeah, no, I haven’t heard that term. But I know the concept for sure.
Okay, so the other thing I was thinking about when you were first talking about this is, you know, homelessness and mutual aid in a small town, you know, you’re saying that the the mutual aid network is kind of what you all grew out of–or in response to or something like that–that’s not something that people hear about much. And, you know, we hear about homelessness in big cities and stuff, but I have a feeling that people who don’t live rurally might not be aware that this is also a presence in small towns across the US as well as like, you know, people living in tents and trying to make ends meet down by the river and stuff. So that’s like…when I say problem, I don’t mean the problem is that there are homeless people around I mean the problem is that they don’t have homes. You know, that is like a big issue where you all are? [Inflected as question]
It’s a huge issue, especially in Aberdeen. It’s kind of the confluence for the county wherever one goes. It’s the only town in the county with like state social services. So, if you’re homeless, you’re going to be living in Aberdeen. There’s a lot of conservatives who seemed to think that it is a big city problem, that everyone is being sort of imported from bigger cities or sent here from bigger cities, but a lot of who we talked to on the streets were born here and grew up here.
Yeah, not only all that, but homelessness has been integral to the area that we live in as long as settlers have been coming here to be part of this area of Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest in particular has always been kind of the end of the line as people were coming out here because they had no place else to go. They came out to try to, like, you know, build new build new homes, not having to pay for stuff back east. All the draws of settler colonialism at West. It’s…[Interrupted]
Well, the homeless camp that the city evicted off the banks of the Chehalis River in 2019 had been there probably since the turn of the century in one form or another. Vagrants and poor people just living along the side of the banks of the river.
When the port dock was still a thing before–the old one from the back like 1930s and stuff before it was finally tore out–during the days of like Billy Gohl. It was…
I have no idea who Billy Gohl is. Sorry.
Oh, just a local legend. And they tried to frame him as like a serial killer. But he was getting blamed for all the deaths from people in the mills and the factories and stuff. And the bosses would dump the bodies in the river. And they blamed them on this guy because he was a labor organizer.
What’s his name? Billy Gohl.
Billy Gohl. Yeah.
That’s so metal. I know that that’s not the takeaway I’m supposed to get from here. Also, I interrupted you. I’m so sorry. Okay.
You’re fine. There’s a…If you want to learn more, there’s a labor historian, Aaron Goings, who did a book recently called “The Port of Missing Men” if you’d like to learn more about that. Okay. But yeah, it was common practice for for workers, or vagrants, or whoever to get shanghaied here, you know. You go to the bar, they slip something in your drink, and then you’d wake up the, you know, out in the ocean thousands of miles away from home.
Cool. That’s so great. That’s such a good system that is totally consensual for everyone, and a good way to build society. [Said with a lot of dry sarcasm]’
So yeah, it’s definitely something that’s existed here since settler colonialism showed up.
I think it’s really interesting how all different parts of the country or the world have these different types of darknesses to them. You know? And like, hearing about like, okay, yeah, this is the end of the line for settler colonialism heading west and things like that. And then you have workers dumping bodies and rivers and people that have Gohl [pronounced like “Ghoul”] are running around getting blamed for it. And then everyone’s getting…It’s like, I don’t know, it’s just like, really interesting. Not in a good way, but an interesting way. So, okay. One of the one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on to talk is you all recently put out an article about the difference between rural organizing and urban organizing, and that’s kind of the core of what I want to ask you all about, pick your brains about is what are some of these differences between rural organizing and urban organizing? And also, what’s the article called and where can people read it? Sorry.
Oh, yeah. It’s called “The Dichotomy Between Urban and Rural Political Organizing.” You can check it out on our website Sabotmedia.noblogs.org.
You can find it under the co-conspirator section under the Harbor Rat Reports
Cool, and Sabot is spelled with a T for anyone’s listening at S-A-B-O-T.
Yes. So, some of the dichotomies that we highlight are the police in the city, the relationship between those entities and activists, the need for and difficulty in obtaining anonymity in a small town while you’re organizing, and as Charyan mentioned already, the sort of modes of socialization that happens between rural and urban organizing, and just living in general. And then, there was a presentation to the National Association of the Rural Mental Health Association, rural mental health, that we highlighted, in which one of the professors for Minnesota State University laid out two general approaches to community organizing, one that he found was most applicable to urban organizers and one that was most applicable to rural organizing.
Well, let’s start there. What is it? What are these two modes? What is the difference?
So, he proposed two general approaches to community organizing, the Alinsky model and the Eichler method. Saul Alinsky had a conflict theory and model, in which community power focuses on people, with underserved communities rarely having enough money to fight power but usually have strength in people. These are called the have-nots. And in order to gain power, the have-nots must take power from the haves. It’s aggression oriented and it focuses on people as the agents of protest and creators of conflict. This is primarily the attitude seen in urban organizing, with large protests riots and police resistance actions framing the debate around who has power and trying to seize that power over others for oneself. In contrast to that, Mike Eichler came up with a consensus theory and model that was informed by Alinsky but focused on identifying consensus points between divergent groups. It sought opportunities to strengthen relationships between different groups’ interests. It was more collaboration oriented and focused on each group’s best interest in establishing trust, mutual agreements, and compromise. And then each method has its own list of rules.
Okay, is Saul Alinsky the one who wrote Rules for Radicals?
Okay. This is so interesting to me because like, one, when you describe those things side by side, my thought is like, “Oh, the second one’s better.” and like, maybe that’s not true. And also, probably when I was younger, I certainly didn’t act in that way. Right? So what makes the second one not just better?
The way I kind of view it from what I’ve read is it’s kind of like the offensive and defensive arms of the movement.
Yeah, I guess that’s the other thing is that, like, whenever I see a dichotomy I want it to be false. And so I’m a little bit like, “Why not both?” Sorry, go ahead.
So like, with…I forget exactly what where…how it shakes out. I’m certain they can expand more about in a second. But, it’s kind of kind of like a yin-yang thing where like, rural communities will focus on one with a kind of a dash on together while urban communities would focus on the other one with a dash of…a little bit of both with…. [interrupted]
It’s not so much like one is better than the other, it’s more like one is more likely to arise in a small rural area, and the other one is more likely to arise in a in a dense urban environment. I think a lot of that probably has to do with this main dichotomy that we highlight in the article between police and the city in a rural environment versus in an urban environment. A lot of what you see in big cities is the importation of officers from surrounding areas so that no one serving on the force in say, Oakland, is actually living in the city of Oakland. They’re generally imported from the surrounding suburbs. So you get a sort of like invading force sort of feel. And here, majority, if not all of the officers live in the community. So while they’re all police and they all have the same social functions, it looks a lot different. And the reactions…like the activists’ reactions to those are a lot different.
Okay. Yeah. I think about like the difference between…a really bad thing happened near where I live–that I don’t want to talk about for sort of just general content warning type stuff–and of the police that responded to this bad thing, you know, the state police were how I’m used to cops acting where they were like, not so nice, right? And the sheriff treated everyone at the scene like a human, right, like, they treated everyone at the scene like they had just seen something horrible because that’s what just…something horrible had just happened, right? I feel bad being so vague about this but whatever. People can deal. And yeah, because you can see in the state police…you know, where as the sheriff is like, well, the sheriff grew up with everyone who’s involved in this. And so it’s really interesting to me because you get this thing where it’s like…I often wonder, I’m like, well rural culture is so into being outlaws, they’re so into like–they do at least as much crime as anyone else if not more–you know, why are so many center-right rural communities, especially more recently, all bootlickers. And like, I guess if you generalize your idea of the police as being like, “Oh, well, that’s Joe. He happens to be the sheriff,” as compared to like, these storm troopers walk down the street and like kick everyone’s heads in every…once a day or whatever, you’re gonna have like really different conceptions of them. Am I completely off base about like kind of…I probably should have just asked….[Interrupted]
Yeah, cause like in smaller towns right around here, you definitely get like that Andy Griffith kind of vibe from some cops, or at least from people’s perceptions of the local police. Our local police definitely have their share of dirty dealings and unreported abuses and whatnot. I’ve known people personally who have been murdered by our local police department and it just…but it doesn’t get the attention that someone in the bigger city might.
We found that the police here have largely shown if not ambivalence, like tacit support for the mutual aid that happens here.
We’ve gotten like the…what’s the word I’m looking for? Like, thanks but a different word.
Yeah, we’ve definitely received words of like appreciation and thanks and whatnot from the handful of officers or whatnot at like the meals when they drive by checking on people or whatever.
And that’s the officers as distinct from the city. The city would definitely shut us down in a heartbeat if they could, but the officers have no desire to do so.
Some of them anyway,
That is interesting. Because, yeah, very often in an urban environment, a lot of the elements of the city often support a lot of the mutual aids. Not always but like the police are more likely to be the primary antagonistic force. This might just be showing that I haven’t lived in the city in a long time. But that is like my understanding. And it is interesting, though, because in both cases, the police are not part of the democratic existence of the society, right? Like, one of the things that I found so interesting that we saw more boldly during the past few years is police departments just straight up being like, “I don’t care what we’re supposed to do. We’re not going to do that. And you can’t make us do it.” And then having the city back off and be like, “Oh, well, I guess we can’t make them.” And you’re like…it was a good moment for people to realize that like the police are completely not democratically controlled or not controlled by the people. They’re not, you know, they’re just a wholly separate thing. So, it’s still interesting that they’re like, doing it in the good way. And that’s probably why rural outlawy people tend to like the so-and-so cop because that so-and-so cop lets them get away with driving home drunk from the bar or whatever.
They have a lot of discretion.
Yeah. Like, the whole politics between the population as compared to the police is reversed or, you know, one of those dichotomies, where like, in the smaller town we have more liberal “chill” police as compared to a reactionary base, the reactionary population that shows up to the big city protests to mow people down in trucks and stuff like that, versus in the city where you have that more larger liberal population and outright fascist cops
It does make it hard to push the “all cops are bastards” sort of rhetoric, right, when you have that sort of, “Oh, here’s officer so-and-so helping this grandma across the road,” kind of Facebook posts. Whereas if you’re in a big city and you, like you mentioned, you have these sort of shock troop looking people coming in and beating people in your neighborhood up every so often, it’s a lot easier to make that argument that “Oh, look at these police, you know, we need to abolish the police.” But out here, the argument is still the same. We believe…we’re not saying that we shouldn’t abolish the police just because, you know, they’re helping old ladies with groceries, but right it’s a harder argument to make.
Yeah, we’re gonna be expanding on that too here soon in a article we’re gonna be releasing soon and a episode of Molotov Now that we’ll be discussing that article called “The Problem with Good Cops,” trying to dive into this idea a little bit more.
That’s a really good idea and kind of an important thing because we need to, you know, I believe ACAB, right? I believe that the police are the worst. But, I also recognize why like, that’s not going to be my main talking point around here, or like not my main starting talking point around here, partly because it is a more subtle bastardry because it’s less obvious like, “Well, that person hits people for living,” even though they still do, right? They exist to enforce violence. And, you know, one of the proudest strange moments of my life is I got a cop to quit once.
Yeah, it was a weird…I don’t think I’ve told the story on-air before. I wasn’t…It wasn’t solely me. But basically, I was like, at a nerd convention and I was like, complaining about police. And this one person was like, “I’m a police.” And I was like, “What?” And then they were like, “But I’m a good police.” They didn’t, but they were like, “I’m good at…” you know, and we talked….
They knew they had to make that argument.
Right, totally. But then even from that context, I was like, “Well, you throw people in cages for living for breaking laws that aren’t immoral like having weed.” And they were like, “Well, I choose not to throw people in jail for weed,” and I’m like, “Oh, so you support the system that allows this to happen,” you know, and it’s like, and I saw them at another convention–and I don’t know if it’s solely this conversation–but some other another convention and they’re like, “I quit.” And it’s like, I think the ACAB…It’s like the rural ACAB is a little bit more of a like it–depending on, I mean, some rural police are just as fucking awful and terrible as any other cop in a very obvious way–but you still have like…it’s this…The role you are playing in society is bad. And your choice to participate in that role is bad and has negative consequences versus just like, “That guy’s a piece of shit,” you know?
Well, and it’s bad for the officers themselves as human beings.
Yeah, there’s a YouTuber, That Dang Dad, they do some videos. They’re actually an ex-cop who are fully ACAB police and prison abolition now. They do a video kind of talking about how being a cop like messed with their mentality and mess with their mind because of the way that they do the training and the way that they’re expected to act. And it does nothing good or healthy for them. Their channel isn’t really like the ex-cop channel. They have a lot of other really good content as well, but they do have some good videos on those subjects.
So probably the most beneficial thing that we as abolitionists could do for police is to get them to quit their jobs.
You know, because it’s not good for anyone. I often make the argument with people when I’m talking about the, you know, the wider social revolution, that it’s desirous for everyone including Bezos. You know? I don’t think that he’s got a life that he’s enjoying living, you know, a whole lot more than anyone else. I think that this system brutalizes and emiserates everyone and it’s even those at the top who can benefit from having their social position taken from the hierarchies having being abolished.
Yeah, and all this stuff requires us to do the same kind of organizing and the same kind of things that we’re already talking about doing. Say, like, you know, preparing for a strike, for example, in the workplace, though, like, it’s all the same stuff we would need to do to help cops be able to quit their job, you know, make sure that we’re going to be able to feed their families, making sure that their house is going to be warm, you know, all these same kind of support structures that we’re building for ourselves. We need to offer to these people but with the pretense of like, “You gotta stop being a cop.”
Yeah, totally. It’s like, they’re kind of like…Like, Bezos is like the person I’m like, least concerned about the well being of as relates to all of this. But I have always…I’ve gotten in arguments with people about it, where I’m like, “No, I want there to not be billionaires, by force if necessary but ideally, without force, you know? Like, I don’t think that they like, need to be punished. Like, I don’t believe in vengeance and punishment. I believe in problem solving, for me as an anarchist, like I believe…and sometimes that might look like stopping people by force, right? Like it’s not…I’m not saying like, “Oh, we need to like think about the cops’ feelings while they’re in the middle of hitting people or whatever.”
But sometimes, the best thing you could do is to stop them by force.
For everyone, you know, so.
Before you can convince someone to stop punching someone in the face, you kind of got to grab their arm.
Yeah. And frankly, if you can’t convince them to stop punching them in the face, you might have to punch them in the face harder. You know? Like, but that’s not the ideal. The ideal is…
It’s not coming from a place of revenge, it’s coming from a place of understanding that their actions need to be stopped.
in solidarity with the rest of your community.
Yeah. No, that’s interesting. And this ties into what you all were talking about about the difference between Alinsky and Eichlers’ models, right, this sort of…a slightly more confrontational one that’s more urban and slightly more touchy feely one that is more rural. Okay, why is the more touchy feely one–I know it’s not the most polite way to phrase it–why is it the more appropriate one for rural places. I can imagine, right, because you have these more deeper connections with the people around you? Or like, what’s the deal?
Well, I would definitely say it starts with like, the modes of socialization, where things are just a lot more personal in a small town. Everybody tends to know each other. There’s a lot more deeper roots. Where in a bigger city, you’re probably going for more of an appeal to the masses kind of tactic or whatever, but especially with like rural community, where we’re wanting to make things community focused or whatnot, that is definitely going to be your biggest testing ground or incubator for building community, having those personal connections, which to be able to have that community, have those personal connections or whatnot, you actually have to, you know, put that work in. We need to be talking to people, we need to be having the conversations, we need to be, you know, not just going up to people and tell them like, “Hey, you’re wrong. Here’s how we need to be doing things.” But we’re saying, “Hey, what kind of problems are you facing in your life? What can we do to work together to solve those?”
Well, and it’s also a function just literally of the size of the groups. When you have a smaller group–like I know, our crew here is, is pretty tight–and when you have a small group like that you have to take into account everyone’s thoughts and feelings a lot more than if you have to, like a General Assembly or something where there’s a couple of hundred or fifty a hundred people, not everyone might get their personal opinion heard in that setting. Whereas if you’re with five people, ten people, you know, you just kind of have to listen to everyone and come to a more of a consensus model. So it’s kind of the environment itself that imposes the different modes of organizing,
Yeah, and another aspect of that, too, is like, you know, in a bigger city, you’re more than likely going to find more radicals. You’re going to find more people who are already on board, you know, the like, “I’m for all the social justice issues, I’m all in for, you know, getting rid of capitalism, and all these things,” which helps you like, avoid a lot of those harder conversations. And, it makes it easier to have that specialized group versus places like here, where we’re having to do more work and finding the sympathetic liberals who are on that edge, bringing them in, and helping pull them the rest of the way left.
Okay. And is the way that that usually happens is that you’re working on an issue together and then they see, they end up sort of assimilating to the sort of like leftist values of that group and realizing that they’re appropriate to the problems that they’re facing? Or like, what does that look like, pulling people further to the left?
Definitely its own tug of war. There’s a lot of active work that needs to be done to keep groups from being co-opted by more liberal ideals or opinions and whatnot, which is always going to be a constant struggle.
There’s also an effect that we mentioned in the article, there’s a study out of, I think, Washington University in St. Louis, that they found that it was actually the geography that dictated whether people would lean more towards certain political labels. But, it wasn’t the…which kind of sounds like what you’d expect. But what they found digging deeper into the research was that it wasn’t actually the underlying political beliefs of the people that changed. It was really just the labels that they used. So what you can find is a lot of the similar sort of libertarian tendencies that you might expect out of like a more social left kind of as we would conceive of it individual but being labeled as conservative or, you know, something on the right. So, there’s a lot of like mislabeling, and that happens here in this country uniquely I think and sometimes deliberately where political ideologies are mislabeled.
Libertarian is a big one. That means not what it means here everywhere else in the world.
But, you’ll find a lot of people who are calling themselves one thing. And if you don’t dig into that, you just think, “Oh, they’re conservative. I know what that means.” But if you dig into it, you find, “Oh, well, actually you think, you know, people in your community should have their needs provided for and people should take care of one another. And you believe all of these actually sort of like leftist values.” And it’s interesting that it’s actually, again, it’s like the environment itself that imposes these differences and not like any underlying individual traits.
I saw this guy at the bar recently. He was claiming to be like an anarchist, or whatever and this is unprompted, him having his own conversations when I got here, so I’m like, “What do you got to say about that?” And he started talking about Michael Malice. I’m like, “Alright. I’m finishing my drink. I’m leaving. I’m done here.”
Yeah. And then you have that in the bigger cities where everyone is like, oh, using the same exact label, but you find actually, you think something completely different from me.
Yeah, you have the like, Democrats in California, who are–I’m not trying to be like, all people in California–but like the politicians and shit who have all of the same policies of like fund to the police, sweep camps, enact the war on drugs, like whatever.
The law and order liberals.
Yeah, exactly. And like, at the end of the day, there’s not an incredible amount of difference besides like, what they like…I had this experience that I really appreciated lately. It’s very rare that you could start a sentence with, “I was in a gun store talking about a conspiracy with the guy behind the counter, and it was cool.” But that’s…but it happened to me recently in this small town, and I’m like talking to the guy and his conspiracy was–and I agree with this. There’s very few things that…he was like, “Yeah, I think that gun companies lobby anti-gun stuff constantly in order to spike sales.”
Yeah. And that’s what…when I told someone this earlier they were like, “Oh, where is she going with this?” And they say that and they’re like, “Yeah, no, yeah, of course,” you know, like, we’ve got these, like, run on guns like, Y’all are in Washington. I, you know…I mean, in this case, it’s–I dunno if valid is the right word–but, you know, Washington is poised to pass an assault weapons ban and so there’s this run on guns in Washington. And that might be like…I mean, those are actually being banned. So if you go and get them now, it’s legal. But as compared to like, federally, right, where Congress or whatever is talking about how they’re going to pass an assault weapons ban, like, they’re not. Like, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe. Whatever. But they’re not. And it’s like…and it seems like the reason that they do that…I don’t know if it’s actually the reason or not, and that’s the…but the effect of it, is that everyone runs out and spends thousands and thousands of dollars on firearms.
That’s funny. That’s, that’s where my mind jumped to when you brought it up before we started recording. I was like, “Oh, well, they’re gonna sell some guns with that.” I mean, there are conspiracies. So.
Yeah, no, totally. And, this one is a good example where it like literally doesn’t matter whether it’s a conspiracy or not. Like I also think that a huge reason as to why the Democrats don’t actually ever do anything to solidify Roe v. Wade in law is so that they continue to use Roe v. Wade, hold people’s right to choose over their head, hold bodily autonomy over people’s head to blackmail people into voting for them. Right? Because as soon as it’s solidified into law then you’re not as freaked out and need to go run for the Democrat, vote for the Democrat every time.
And no one’s gonna vote for a Democrat unless there’s a life and death reason.
I know, because they’re the least interesting political party that…All they’ve ever been able to do is be the lesser evil. Yeah. Have you all had the experience of having people explain about Trump being the lesser evil?
It’s so fascinating to me, because I’m like, this is just literally the conversation I keep having with liberals. This is so wild, you know, only inverted.
When Trump was very first sort of running…. [interrupted]
Nah,this was recently.
I think it falls in with like, in line with the… [interrupted] I think it matches with this wave of like patriotic socialists and mega communists and all that other weird online Twitter shit.
Well was like, “I’ll just throw a brick. We’re just gonna throw this brick in the window and burn it all down.”
Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay. My other question then is how much does the weird…How much does the culture war in your experience filtered down to the actual people that you’re around? Like, I know that you all are in one of the most polarized states in the country. It’s a deep blue state with like pockets of deep red, right?
That’s definitely our area here.
Is one of the pockets of deep red?
Yeah. Our whole city council is pretty much far right. We have maybe one or two allies, quote unquote. And that’s it.
Yeah. Is that causing, like specific issues around the issues of like, are people getting harassed for wearing masks? Are people getting harassed for not wearing gender appropriate clothing? Are people of color being harassed? Like, I mean, obviously, these are…the answer, of course, on some level is going to be yes to all of these things because people are everywhere and stuff, but I’m just curious how much it is impacting people there, the culture war shit.
There’s been a little bit of the whole drag, anti-trans drag fear mongering but far and away the biggest thing on their plate is the homeless? Or I guess just poor people in general because it’s hard to tell out here who’s homeless sometimes and who’s just wearing a real baggy coat because it’s always wet. But they’ve been pushing that issue for going on five years really hard. And by they, I mean, Save Our Aberdeen Please is our local fascist contingency.
Yeah. And so they recently tried to do a protest against like a drag show that they were doing for Christmas fundraising here recently. It was turned into a whole thing. But, ultimately, nobody ended up showing up. They got freezed out by the fog and the rain. And the property is also set back a ways from the road so there was no place for them to effectively protest at, but here last year or the year before–I’m bad with my time and dates–But there is a huge protest outside of a local Star Wars shop with a big anti-trans protests that resulted after a trans council woman that we had, at the time, had called out a local shopkeeper, the owner of the Star Wars shop, for some transphobic signs that he had displayed front and center at the business. It turned into a whole thing. They brought Proud Boys to town. It was a big ordeal.
This offends my nerd heart very deeply. Nerd culture has always been one of the safest places for gender marginalized people.
Yeah, and this guy was anything but safe. He was a groomer. He let his kid deal heroine out of the back of the shop. Just nothing but bad from this guy.
Yeah, but this small group of old ladies who were just trying to pick up trash somehow coordinated like 50+ Proud Boys to show up for that event. So…
It also appeared on Stormfront before any local news. It went straight from local Facebook drama to Stormfront.
Yeah. And then it was a part of the Right-Wing Outrage Machine for about 24 hours.
They brought Matt Walsh to town. He put something about based grandpa in that fucked off documentary, whatever you’d call it that he made, the “What is a Woman” shit?
Yeah, cuz he’s never met one. So that’s why he made that. It was the only to get women to talk to him. [said sarcastically]
I saw Lance from The Serf Times talking about him and the crew from Daily Wire, about how none of them know how to operate a fucking washing machine. And it was just hilarious.
I was thinking that shit. Imagine telling people that you don’t know how to do your own laundry. Imagine thinking that makes you look strong.
Yeah, and proud of it.
Nothing makes it more clear that they believe that they own the women in their lives than the fact that it’s like…because they’re like all into…the right wing mythos is all about self reliance and shit, right? But it’s like, “Well, I don’t have to be entirely self reliant because I own this wife.”
Yeah, that’s my wife [said sarcastically]
and fucking…You all will be shocked to know that I don’t like misogyny. God, imagine being proud of it. I can’t. It’s just doesn’t make any sense to me like there…Okay, this is a kind of a question too, right? Because it’s like, there’s people I can talk to with different values than me, even values that like matter a lot to me, where you can kind of be like, “I see where you’re coming from. I disagree strongly with your desire to protect women all the time, or the women, the girls sports team,” or whatever fucking weird shit people are on. You can like, see where people are coming from…And then you have the fucking Nazis, where you’re just like, how can anyone look at Matt Walsh and be like, “There’s a man I can relate to?” I can’t imagine anything he’s saying.
He’s like, the most boring guy too. Like, all his content, like it…For all the inflammatory stuff, he says, like, there’s no flavor to it, it’s just the most boring monotone…
And how do you deal with that? I mean, like, honestly, okay, as a question like, how do you deal with like, talking to people around you? This is one of the questions we get a lot, actually, on the show, is people are like,” I live in a place–you talk about how part of preparedness is communicating with your neighbors, getting to know them–how do I talk to people, you know, in ways that are safe? How do I talk to people who are steeped in culture war, or might be steeped in culture war?” Like, and there’s gonna be like, limits to this, right? Like, I’m not gonna like, go knock on the door of the person with the Confederate flag in a dress and be like, “Hey, bud, what’s up?” Right? But I’m like, curious how you all navigate as organizers, because my…I just hide from everyone. My immediate neighbors know me, but I just hide from everyone, because I’m not an organizer. Like, how do you all handle that?
Well, I have no solid answers. But one thing I definitely would say, it probably is a good start, is like finding the people who are closest to you, or at least closest to your immediate circle, and just do all you can to like help out, make yourself an asset to them in a way that you guys can start getting closer on some sort of other level. And once you’ve gotten to a point where it’s like, alright, they care about you, and they care about how things affect you, at least, you might be able to start making that bridge, like, “Hey, here’s something that affects you, here’s something that affects me. This is shitty,” but it’s going to be different for everybody in every situation. That said, I don’t really have any hard fast answers.
No, I mean, when we’ve found the best approach has been to just ask people what they need and start there, and then don’t over promise, you know, if they need more than you can provide. Let them know that. But, consistency, you know, showing up, and doing what you tell someone you’re gonna do, those those can help build a reputation, you know, something that’s going to generate respect regardless of your political views is you just being out there in your community helping people meet their needs. And, how you can do it as an anarchist is that element of asking what their need is and not going in as charity, saying, “Here’s a bunch of blankets. I didn’t call ahead to see if that’s what you needed.” But you know, like, going in saying, “Hey, what do you need?” And then helping them get that without judgment. That’s pretty much what we’ve done and it’s taken us this far. So, I’m pretty proud of it.
Makes sense. Well, the main thing that y’all are currently working on we haven’t talked too much about, but kind of here at the end, I’m wondering if you want to talk about your…you know, Blackflower Collective, you’re talking about getting this space, right? How’s that going? Like, what…what are y’all running into as things that are helping or not helping as you work on that?
Well, our main obstacle and our main goal right now is finding land, being able to have property in the hand is vital for our project because between the hostile political environment in town, and all the other problems associated with renting property, we need to have a property that we can own to get this off the ground. And with property values rising and skyrocketing and us pretty much essentially starting from zero to get this off the ground, we are head focused on trying to figure out how we can do fundraisers, how we can launch some side businesses to help fund this project because we’re looking at pretty much anywhere between $300,000 and a $1,000,000 we’re going to need to raise for this property.
Yeah. Right now we’re focused on getting the word out because it’s just a brand new idea and a brand new project, and starting to generate some sources of revenue. So we have Blackflower Bookkeeping, if there’s any radical businesses that need bookkeeping services, hit us up. We also have Blackflower Permaculture. So, we’re starting to do some design work around permaculture. And so those are two sources of revenue that we’re trying to open up, as well as the–as I mentioned before–the benefit shows, which not only would serve to start to cultivate sort of community around the project but would hopefully be another fundraising effort.
Yeah. Okay, so with the bookkeeping thing. One of the things that’s come up a bunch of times…I’ve met people who’ve been like, “I want to be an anarchist.” But people think that they’re like, get kept out of anarchy because they’re not like punks, or they’re not like…their skill set is not like, organized…depending on what they think of anarchism, either they’re not a punk, their skill set is not antagonizing cops, or their skill set is not organizing or whatever, right? And I’ve met people who are like, “Oh, I’m only good at spreadsheets. I don’t know how I could be of help.” And I just like, want to shake them and be like, “Every group I know needs a spreadsheet wizard.”
So, for a message for all the boozy radicals that are listening that are looking for their entrance into radical spaces, and anarchist spaces, and whatnot, we definitely could use a lot more of those skills that are removed from a lot of lower income people and whatnot. Like, for example, I need a fucking anarchist lawyer. Get me a Saul Goodman. Someone, please, come through for me.
We’ll talk after. There are good anarchist lawyers.
I mean, we need every skill, you know, when you think about it. So yeah, there’s no wrong place to get involved. That’s the thing is, you don’t have to be out on the front line throwing yourself at a line of police. You can do anything. Just do it for the revolution.
Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah. Well, that feels like kind of a good end note. If people are interested in supporting you, or hearing more about the stuff that you’re doing, do you want to talk about your pod…Like, where can people find your…well, people can find your podcast where are they found this podcast. It’s called Molotov Now. But, you want to plug any of the stuff you’re working on?
Well, if you want to find more of our projects from Sabot Media, you could find our website at SabotMedia.noblogs.org. Or check us out on your social media platform of choice @Aberdeenlocal1312.
Ideally at Kolektiva’s Macedon server. So, for Blackflower, the website is blackflowercollective.noblogs.org. And that has all the information about where to donate and what the different projects that we’re trying to get off the ground are. And any information that comes up about new events or shows anything like that we’ll be putting on the website as well.
Awesome. All right. Well, thank you all so much, and I can’t wait to hear more about what you all are getting up to.
Thank you. It’s been great talking with you.
Yeah, thanks for the opportunity.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you can go and start a rural organizing project. Don’t call it that. There’s already a rural organizing project called Rural Organizing Project. Oooh, I should have them on too. But, you can go organize, or you can just be lazy and tell people about this podcast. Or, you can rate, and review, and do all the algorithm stuff. Or, you can support us financially. Supporting us financially pays the people who transcribe and edit these episodes. One day it might even pay the hosts of this episode, wouldn’t that be cool. Or the guests. I guess should probably pay the guests first. But you can help make that happen by going to patreon.comstrangersinatangledwilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is an anarchist publishing collective that publishes this podcast and a bunch of other stuff, including the podcast Anarcho Geek Power Hour, for people who like movies and hate cops, the podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which includes our features zines that we put out every month. And, if you want to know more about our features zines, you can go to patreon.com…I already said that part. But, you get sent those zines if you’re part of our Patreon, and if not, you can look at them for free by going to our website, which is tangledwilderness.org. And it really is the Patreon that that makes all of these things happen. And I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who supports it. And in particular, I’m grateful to Jans, Oxalis, Janice, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Micaiah, and Hoss the Dog. And if you want to hear your name listed in this list, you just head on over, and I can’t do the…I can’t do that voice. I’m not very good at the non earnest voice. But, it really it means the world. It also means the world that so many of you listen to this show and tell people about it. It’s what makes it worth it. And take care
On this week’s Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Inmn finish their talk about go bags. They talk about important documents, knives, tools, sleeping systems, shelters, coping with isolation, food, water, firearms, specific situations you might need a go bag for, and of course, DnD.
Live Like the World is Dying: Margaret on Go Bags Part II
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin, and this week we’re continuing to talk about go bags. We have the second part of an interview with the founder of this podcast, Margaret Killjoy, where we continue our conversation from last week at literally the exact place that we left off. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [Making noises like a song]
So Margaret, we’ve gone through hygiene kit, survival kit, and… I immediately forgot the third part of it.
First-aid kit. And so that wraps up kind of like an emergency pack?
What what what else goes in a bug out bag.
So, now that we get to the bag itself, I would say the next most important thing is a water bottle. Specifically, I like–and I give to all my friends–single wall steel canteen style water bottles. And the reason that I like these is that you can boil water in them. The double wall vacuum sealed canteens, they rule for a lot of purposes, like actually, they’re really good for like putting hot soup in your bag. If you’re going out hiking for the day and you get to the top of the mountain you get to–as if I’ve ever climbed a whole ass mountain. By my standards where I live, the mountains are very short. And so when you climb up a whole ass Appalachian mountain, you can have your warm soup up at the top even when it’s snowing and shit, you know. But overall, I use 32 ounce steel wall canteens. I like them a lot. And then you’re also going to want to make sure that you have food in there, protein bars and other snacks. So that’s the core. But then for the bag itself, it’s really going to depend on what you’re doing. So, I guess I’ll go over the not camping stuff first, the kind of like…the stuff that is like…Okay, because there’s all the camping shit. And that’s really useful depending on your situation. But, things to put in your go bag: your passport. If nothing else, if you don’t want your actual main documents in here, you’re going to want to put photocopies and digital copies of your stuff in here, which is of course somewhat of a security risk. If someone steals your bag, they get this stuff, right. But for me, the threat model is that my passport is more useful to me in my backpack than it is at home in a safe when I’m 1000 miles away. So, your passport, which I would push anyone who was capable in the United States of making sure that they have an updated passport, especially these days. You want your important documents backed up. This could be some of your medical records. It could be your dog’s medical records. It could be your children’s medical records. And, you might want the deed to your house. You might want some of the vehicle registration stuff. You want your like stuff–not necessarily the originals in this particular case–but you want the documents of it in case you’re like coming back later and need to prove some shit. You know? Because a lot of crises might disrupt a lot of the institutions of bureaucracy. And you would think that in times of crisis, bureaucracy will be like, “I guess we kind of get in the way of human freedom.” But no, in times of crisis borders will still be like, “Oh, I don’t know about you. You don’t have the right document. I don’t care that the road you’re on is literally on fire.” or whatever the fuck you know. Another way to back these up is to literally just to take pictures of them on your phone and have it on your phone. But I think it’s actually a good idea to have a USB stick with these documents as well and you might want to consider encrypting that, which I don’t know if all computers can do easily but at least my computer can do easily. And you probably want…you might want more of an expanded first-aid kit in this. I guess I gets into the other thing thing. And then the other thing that I think you’re gonna want in your go bag is you want fucking entertainment. Like this gets over overlooked so much. But, when when Covid hit, the way that my mental health works I was very isolated, right? I could not put myself at risk to Covid because of my mental health. And so, I lived alone in a cabin without much electricity. And the best purchase I made was something called a Bit Boy, and I highly recommend it. It is this tiny…it looks like a tiny Gameboy and it has all of the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and everything else games like on it. And it uses almost no battery. It’s rechargeable. It’s a little finicky. If you like turn it off it like fucks it up because it’s like a it’s like a $30 thing full of pirated shit, right? So it’s super finicky. But, I swear that this thing had a better mental health effect on me then like almost anything else during that time. And the other thing that got me through it was I had legally purchased downloads of TV. And so even though I didn’t have internet, I once a week, once a day, like sat down and ate my cold soup and watched fucking Steven Universe, and that she got me through it. And so like a USB stick full of like movies, TV, also, specifically, a USB stick full of like survival guides and information about how to build things, fix things, all of that shit. I think it’s a super useful thing for a bug out bag. And I leave it up to…
It’s funny because I feel like this episode is something where we’re covering a lot of stuff that–and I just want to start flagging things–we did a whole episode on how you can build a mesh network essentially to have things like libraries of entertainment, or Wikipedia downloads, or like survival bits. So, if you want to learn more about that then go check out that episode. I believe it’s called Andre on Solar Punk.
Oh, yeah. I forgot we talked about some of the mesh network stuff. That shit’s fucking cool. And yeah, so have a library with you. You know, keep a download of Wikipedia on your computer. My computer bag is an example of the kind of bag that theoretically I should be a little bit smarter and kind of keep next to the bug out bag when it’s not in use, right? Because I’m going to throw my laptop into my bug out bag if I’m running, right? And so it’s like people are like, “Oh, but where’s your like giant knife.” and like, don’t get me wrong, I have a giant knife on my bag. But. I also now have a Nintendo Switch in there, which is an upgrade from the Bit Boy. And like, I am proudest of that of all of the things in my bug out bag. I see that as the most likely for me to use. And I remember before Covid, I remember thinking to myself as I was preparing a library hard drive. And as I was preparing–well I didn’t have the Switch yet–but I was like, “Man, what kind of Apocalypse leaves you with free time?” And I’m like, “Oh, Covid.” or the next pandemic or fucking hanging out in a refugee center for trans people in Canada or whatever the fuck horrible shit we’re gonna have to deal with, you know?
Yeah, and just sorry, just to clarify, free time for a lot of people and an incredible amount of not free time for a lot of people.
Well, yeah, no, I I think I mean more about isolation. It’s not like I like…maybe I’m just being defensive. But it’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, my cabin did not sustain life. And so I had to put all of my work into plumbing it, solaring it, you know, washing all my clothes by hand, like doing all this shit, right? But, I think that especially in times of isolation there’s like downtime that people don’t expect. And I could be wrong, but I suspect that this would be true almost no matter the crisis is that there’s like downtime you don’t expect where turning your…where not thinking about the crises that are happening is incredibly important. No, it is funny. You’re right because I think in my head there’s like the beginning of Covid a lot of especially middle class people were like, “Oh, fuck, I’m stuck in my house and bored.” Right? Versus a lot of working class people who are like, “Well, now I’m still working in the middle of this nightmare,” you know? I think that like…but I would guess that…I dunno, whatever I’ll stop being defensive.
Yeah, sorry, less of a push back and more just a bringing in this other piece of the piece of the context. But, you know, there were also overworked doctors who were separated from their families. And so, I imagine they also did have probably this weird amount of downtime where It’s like, “Well, I’m not at work, but I’m not with my family. What am I doing?”
Yeah, and specifically for me, games are a really good anti-anxiety because I definitely hold by the, “Busy bee has no time for sorrow.” But then you’re like, “Well, it’s dark out and I don’t have lights in my house. Fuck am I gonna do?” You know? Okay, so that’s some of the stuff from a bug out bag point of view. That’s the kind of…like;, documents and things like that matter a lot. You’re also going to want anything that you need for taking care of other loved ones and or animals that you might have to do. Like, my dog has a smoke mask. He does not like it. If we were in a wildfire situation, he would deal with it. You know? And so there might be like different stuff like…I should probably get a muzzle for my dog. I do not. I do not muzzle my dog on any kind of regular basis. But, I could imagine a situation in which like, everything is so stressful that it would be necessary, right? And you’re gonna know better than us what specifically other other stuff you need. But I guess we’ll talk about more of the expanded survival stuff that a lot of people are gonna put in their bug out bags, if that makes sense?
Yeah, totally. And sorry, just to keep flagging some things. So folks, if you want to learn more about other little pieces of this topic like how to prepare for needing extra medications in a world where like medication systems kind of break down, we do a whole episode on it. I’m blanking on what the episode title is. But I believe it’s called “Taking care of your medical needs.”
That sounds right.
And I forget who the guest was. But yeah, I love that we’re having this go back conversation now. Because I feel like we can really tie a lot of larger topics that we’ve talked about before into it, which I’m really loving.
Yeah. And then maybe we’ll go through, you know, kind of some more of this checklist type stuff and then talk more about the different situations in which one might need to go bag. How does that sound?
That sounds great.
Okay. So, for the bag itself beyond the emergency kit, you’ve now added your documents, you’ve added your water bottle, you’ve added snacks. And for snacks from my point of view, I recommend snacks that you don’t like because otherwise you’re going to eat them beforehand. If you’re me. [laughs] I used to keep Clif Bars and not Builder Bars as my snacks because I didn’t like Clif bars, but I ate so many builder bars as part of my regular life as being an oogle that now I’m kind of sick of them. So now it’s like reversed. And Clif Bars are my regular protein bar and Builder Bars are my my snacks I throw in my bag, you know. And, everyone’s gonna do this a little differently. And then that stuff is like…most of the stuff in here is…Like I also pick things that don’t really expire, but food expires. And also so does that medication, although the medication tends to just lower its efficacy rather than become dangerous. Other things I keep in my bug out bag: a collapsible plastic water canteen. These are useful for a bunch of different things. Like if you just need to hold more water for a while, you might want one of these. I also have moved to a hydration bladder. A lot of people move away from them. I’ve recently moved towards them. People kind of go back and forth in the hiking world about hydration bladders. As an oogle, I never used them. As a hiker, I really like them because you can hands free or like minimal effort drink as you go, you know. And, you know, more water good except for the weight part of it, you know? And you’re also going to want, to keep talking about water, you’re going to want to filter in water. And I think that this is true in most circumstances. I think that this is like…you know, some of this like survival stuff is very back woodsy, but a lot of the survival stuff also applies to cities. And it applies to cities where like if you got to boil advisory… like I don’t know, anyone who’s not had a boil advisory where they live at some point or another, right? You know, every now and then they admit that the water isn’t drinkable in your area, and also a lot of like urban survival stuff is like…whatever, I’ve like slept on a lot of rooftops in my life and shit, you know? Like shelter from the elements is often easier to find in a city but not necessarily a lot of other stuff. So for myself, there’s a lot of different water filters. A lot of them are designed for backpacking and those tend to be pretty good. I use a Sawyer water filter. They’re these little tiny ceramic water filters and they have a bunch of different attachment sense to them. I used one of these at the beginning of Covid for all of my water because I didn’t have a great water source. And, I was just like basically like…I set mine up to a five gallon bucket system where I put water in the five gallon bucket, and then it goes through a hose into the Sawyer filter, and then it gravity drips into a five gallon jerrycan. That’s like a stationary kind of thing. For a go bag, you use the same water filter, but it has like one bag of dirty water and one bag of clean water. You can also just rely on chemical filter…not filtration but like purification. Some people like the UV filter chemical things. I’ve never used one. I don’t totally understand them. I mean, I understand the concept, but I don’t…I can’t attest to them. It seems like most people are picking ceramic water filters. There’s also a LifeStraw. And a LifeStraw is a perfectly fine thing to have. I keep one in my hiking day bag. These are these cheap water ceramic filters–like 15 bucks often–and you just drink through it. Usually I go up to the stream and you stick this thing in it and you drink out of the stream.
It acts as a filter but also you can’t get viruses or stuff?
Exactly, it’s a ceramic filter that…Yeah, all of these filters are designed to take like mountain stream water and make it potable. Actually, the thing that they’re bad at is filtering large stuff like mud. And these can get like clogged up. It’s the biggest downside of a ceramic filter. What a lot of people do is they take their bandanna or their…if you’re an oogle you use a banana. If you’re a military bro, you use the…I forget what they’re called. They’re the like, giant bananas that…Folk…I can’t remember the name of them. Folks in the desert and like, you know, Southwest Asia and stuff tend to use, I think. You use one of those. And then if you’re a hiking bro, then you use your…what did I decide they were called? Buffs?
So, you filter all the water through that if you want to keep the ceramic water filter lasting longer. I haven’t done as much like hiking filtering, I usually just bring enough water because I don’t go on really long hikes. But, I mostly have used the ceramic water filter in a stationary sense. So that’s like my personal experience with it. But, that’s what I carry. You can also add, if you would like, you can add these more ready-to-eat food besides just like bars and stuff. They make these…it’s basically Lembas [like in “Lord of the Rings”] bread. They make these like military rations that are like vacuum sealed and are good for five or ten years. And it’s just like oil and flour. And it tastes like nothing. And it’s just calories. It’s just like a block of calories. And your body can go a fairly long time without food compared to water, right? But like, for peak efficacy–and also to not be a grouchy asshole–you want to at least put calories if not nutrition in your body. A lot of the survival food isn’t really focused on nutrition because like it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your vitamins for a couple days.
Yeah, but obviously everyone has different, you know, body needs or like food requirements.
And so this is like maybe a good time for folks with diabetes or just any any other kind of predisposition that requires to have more food around.
Yeah, and different types of food. And I think it’s actually worth having a variety of types of food also for the people around you because I think a lot of this is going to be based on sharing, because greediness in times of crisis, people are like, “Oh, that’s when you got to be greedy.” And I’m like, “The single most useful tool you can have is another person.” Like I can’t imagine something I would rather have in a time of crisis than someone else. And so like, yeah, having a variety of types of foods, I think is great from that point of view. No, yeah. And like, yeah, everyone’s going to need different things. Okay, so next, fire. In most people’s day to day life, fire is not a big component of it. And honestly, most random overnight…like, when I was in oogle, I didn’t like fucking stop and make a fire in the woods most nights, you know? And if I did, it was kind of like a celebration type thing, you know? However, from a survival point of view, there’s a lot of situations where being able to have a fire is really useful specifically mostly for warmth, also for other like, you know, signaling purposes and for like…you know, if you make a wet fire, it’ll smoke more and things like that. And for both boiling water to…another way to, you know, purify your water or whatever. And also for cooking. It’s kind of a morale thing for cooking a lot of times. A lot of foods you can just eat them cold and that’s especially the kind of stuff you might want to keep in your bag. But for fire, you might want to have additional fire methods, but you’ve already got a lot of them going on in the rest of your kit. The kind of thing that I always sort of made fun of, but now I understand, is the big fuck-off knife. I mean, you’re a knife maker. So you probably think about knives more than the average person. But…
It’s true and I think I’m curious what you have to say about the big fuck-off knife mostly because I’ve kind of worked my way back from it, because I used to have a big fuck-off knife all the time. Like when I was an oogle, I was that oogle with the big fuck-off knife.
The big fuck-off knife has two purposes. One, is to get people to fuck off. It’s not even about drawing it, it’s about fucking open carrying it. It’s just about being like, “Yeah, I’m in a miniskirt. And I have a like seven inch knife on my waist.” Like, people just fuck with you less when you have a big fuck-off knife. And so that’s like one of the purposes. But then, bushcraft. I didn’t understand why survival knives were big because I was like a big knife…I’m not a knife fighter. I think anyone who is a knife fighter is not thinking about how long they want to live. Like, that’s why I mean having a big fuck-off knife is to make people leave you alone, not to like fight them with it. But just to like fucking get people to leave you alone. But the giant knife is really useful for bushcraft. It’s really useful for processing wood especially if you don’t have a hatchet or something with you. That’s what I’ve like come to understand as to why survival knives are big and how specifically they’re bladed on one side with a wide–you’re going to know these words better than me–like spine. [Inmn mummers affirmatively] And they have a wide spine so that you can split wood with it. You can take a stick and you can put it on it on the end of the stick and then you can hit it with another stick or a rock. And you can push the knife through the thing. That’s [Inmn interrupts]
Yeah. You know more about knives than I do.
Yeah, yeah. Just to offer a little bit of re-contextualization. So you know, I’m not a bushcrafter by any means. I wish that I was. I’d be. God, I’d be so much cooler. But I do know knives pretty well and I’ve been asked to make bushcraft knives before and so you know, I did a bunch of research about bushcraft knives. And what I found was that and then what I found from use is that like the big fuck-off knife is not actually great for bushcrafting.
Yeah, most Bushcraft knives are like they kind of max out at six inches. And a lot of people err more on the like, you know, four and a half to five and a half range. And what that gives you…because for bushcraft, it’s like–you described batoning earlier–if you’re batoning your knife through wood to reduce it you don’t need a big knife for that. You need a sturdy knife for that. And with a smaller knife, you kind of get a lot more manual dexterity so you can do all of your other tasks. I love knives, I love big fuck off knives. I agree that the purpose of a big fuck-off knife is for people to fuck off. And, you know, I can imagine like survival knives are often longer because you might need them for heavier, larger tasks. But I’m honestly a fan of having a belt axe for that purpose because it’s does that thing better. Sorry. That’s my that’s my segue into knife world
No, that makes a lot of sense. And if you ever want to lose a lot of your life–and I feel like you might have also–read people talking about survival knife versus axe versus saw versus machete, about what you’re supposed to bring into the woods, you know?
Yeah. And what you’re gonna learn is that knives…there’s no single knife. That’s good for everything just like there’s no single bag that’s good for everything. You need to pick the things that you’re comfortable doing. And you need to pick the tasks that you need done. And then find the right tool for it.
No, that makes a lot of sense. I will say in terms of saws and knives and all that shit, I have found that the little wire saw is sort of bullshit. Have you seen these?
I always wondered.
But yeah, I think…and the one…I haven’t used that much. I think I tried to use one once. The pocket chainsaw is not bullshit, which is basically a chainsaw blade with two loops on either end, and you loop it around a limb, and then you like, saw back and forth. You know, I think those are not bullshit. Although I think, personally, I’d rather have a folding saw. But they’re bigger. So.
Yeah, yeah. And that’s the key thing here is like if you want to build shelters, use the saw. Don’t…You could use your knife for some of it. But yeah. You don’t want to build a structure with like hacking 10,000 sticks into something. Get a saw.
No, I think you’ve convinced me. Because I’ve been like, I’ve been pondering my–I have a survival knife on my bag–and I’ve been pondering its actual usefulness versus its weight and stuff, you know? And like, besides the like, I keep it on the outside of my bag and it’s a little bit of a like, leave me alone, you know? I think that I have been seeing…Yeah, like, yeah, I think I want to fuck with this more. Redefined my own…Because the knife that I use on a day-to-day basis is my folding pocket knife. You know? It’s what I use for almost everything. I’m not going to baton wood with it. Well, I would. It just wouldn’t do a very good job of it.
Yeah. And, you know, I say this as someone who is always going to have a big knife, probably. And I don’t have a purely rational reason for that. But yeah, it makes me feel more comfortable.
No, and it’s like, and I think it’s telling that backpackers don’t tend to have large knives. They don’t tend to have survival knives at all. Backpackers also tend not to have axes or saws because they’re not really…they’re focused on getting somewhere and camping, not like building large fires or building structures and things like that. Yeah. And then like, I think more and more, I think fighty type people have been focusing more on smaller knives anyway. Like the karambit is a popular fighting knife or whatever and it’s not a big knife.
Yeah, yeah. And if you see the…like a lot of the like, original from…I actually don’t know where karambits come from. But, where they were developed, they’re incredibly small knives. They’re like inch and a half long blades. They’re incredibly tiny.
It’s Indonesian. I just looked it up. Yeah. Yeah, no, yeah. It’s not a like…Like don’t fight a bear. Like a general rule. Don’t live your life in such a way where you’re fighting bears. And then, if you are then use bear spray. If you’re not using bear spray, use a 10mm handgun. Like, you know? Oh, we haven’t really talked about firearms.
Anyway. Sorry. Derail into knife world over.
No, no, I think that…I’m really…It was useful. I learned some. It’s probably worth carrying some kind of knife sharpener. If you suck like me, you can use the pull through style–that Inmn is probably going to be disgusted that I use because it destroys the initial original bevel. If you know how to sharpen a knife properly, you can bring a whetstone. It’s a little…
But, whet stones are heavy.
I know. And it’s also…or you can also bring a little diamond sharpener stick and stuff like that. Yeah, what would you…Okay, what would you suggest? What would you suggest as your portable knife sharpener? Light and transportable?
Yeah, so you know, a knife doesn’t do much good if it’s not sharp. And most people’s knives are not very sharp. I would say that it is a great skill to invest in is learning how to sharpen a knife. There’s a lot of stuff…
I’ve tried it so many times. I don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s real. Anyway, yeah, let’s continue.
And yeah, like, you know, like what I have at home are these big series of benchtop whetstones. There’s a million grits and…but one of the better things that you can have is a strop. Just a leather strop, which is just some like full grain leather. You want it to be fairly thick and use some green polishing compounds that you rub on it and you strop the edge, which helps maintain the edge. And, but as far as pocket sized sharpening devices, the strop doesn’t sharpen the knife, the strap like helps redefine the burr on the edge. And there’s a million different little pocket sized whetstones. But, the important part is that you want something coarse and you want something fine to like refine the bevel. And so like if I had to build a little to-go kit, I would get a little miniature like 400/1000 combo stone. That is probably not something ceramic because it’s heavy. But, they make a bunch of different things. I’m actually less knowledgeable about these pocket things. Yeah, but you want something coarse and you want something fine. 400/1,000 are great grits and then a strop to kind of like polish out the edge with. With that you can’t go wrong. Well, you can go wrong…
Yeah, I will go wrong.
I don’t know enough to tell you how to go wrong.
No, I will successfully go wrong. I’ve been trying to sharpen knives my whole life. I will continue to do it. I can kind of do it. I actually use a little all-in-one pocketstone, a little bit larger than the like stick ones, and it’s a longish yellow piece of plastic with two sides. And then also has a little fold out part that can be used for filing in the saw parts. And it has kind of a guide, has a little bit of an angle guide built into it, and that’s the most useful part for me. So that’s the only time I’ve been able to sharpen knives to where they like can shave.
Knife sharpening is is a skill. Don’t…That would be my advice is don’t think that you’re going to…don’t rely on learning how to sharpen your knife for the first time when you’re in an in an emergency. Practice that now.
And I will say as someone who has used all knives for almost everything over the years, it’s like, it’s all right. I mean, it’s not as good. But, I can still cut a cord with a shitty knife, you know?
Yeah, well, you know, the old knife making adage, “A dull knife…” or sorry, the old kitchen worker adage, “A dull knife is a dangerous knife.”
Yeah, so live dangerously. Cut… Cut paper with your knives and never sharpen them. Yes. Okay, let’s talk about sleeping systems.
Live dangerously? [laughing] Sleeping systems! Thank you for indulging my derailment.
It’s what we’re here for. And some of this we might kind of like…some of the like camping stuff we might not dive as deep into. We’re already on episode two of what was going to be one episode. So, I believe in the sleeping bag. And that’s leftover from being oogle. I would say that the one thing I would carry in any kind of bag is a sleeping bag. This is not always true. I don’t always carry sleeping bag. But, it’s like almost a comfort item. It’s a like no matter what I’m warm kind of item. I believe in sleeping bags with a good stuff sack. I personally don’t use down. Backpackers tend to use down. It’s lighter. It compacts more for the same warmth. However, it doesn’t insulate once it gets wet. And that is a big deal from my point of view, from a survival point of view. When everything is fine, I prefer a non down one. They’re also cheaper. And that might be why I have that preference. And also, I don’t know anything about how the birds who produce down are treated. So, sleeping bag super important. A lot of backpackers have now moved to backpacking quilts. And then a lot of old timers will actually just use like wool blankets and stuff like that. I love a sleeping bag. You’re gonna want to get off the ground. However, that said, in an urban environment you can use cardboard. You just need to layer it a lot. And it’s not as good as a sleeping pad. But it is still useful. And you’re going to need a sleeping pad that is appropriate to weather and desired comfort. If you want to hear me learn more about sleeping bags and tents you can listen to me talk to Petra a year and a half ago. I don’t remember the name of the episode besides Petra being the guest. And that’s where I learned that the combo move of an air mattress and a foam pad is is often really good. For shelter, the sort of three choices kind of is a tent, a bivy, or a tarp. This is not necessarily in a lot of bug out situations. It is necessary in my bug out situation and it might be in yours. And the advantage of a tarp is that it is like only one object. It is light. It is kind of easier to hide in a lot of ways. And I actually, when I’m sleeping in dangerous situations–like a lot of oogle life is like trespassing–I don’t like tents because tents, you can’t see out of them. Like it’s like a little bubble. It’s why people do like tents is that they want to be in their little bubble and I totally get that. And I’ll probably be a tent person moving on because it’s like comfortable, and safe, and stuff. But when I was younger and everything was well, not easier, my life was fairly hard. But like whatever. It was easier for me to not bother with a tent so I used a tarp. And then the other option is the bivy. And a bivy is like a…It’s like a waterproof sleeping bag. And there’s like ones…like I have one that has like one pole, just to keep the head of it off your face, you know. And these compact really small. This is what a lot of people who are rucking, who are doing military shit, tend to prefer are bivys. They’re not popular among backpackers. The kind of closest equivalent is hammocks. A lot of people also use, but that involves there being good trees in the right place. However, hammocks can be light, and good, and stuff, too. And these are all gonna be preferences. And the reason I no longer fuck with bivys is I have a dog. And he’s coming with me. And so I’m now probably a tent camper. Because if I’m sleeping outside, I’m just leashing my dog to a tree. But, I don’t want him to get rained on. I want him warm. So I’m probably going to be a tent camper from now on. And then some tents now, a lot of backpackers are moving to these tents where you use your hiking poles to keep them up and then they’re super lightweight and they’re actually kind of cool. And they’re a little bit…like some of them are like almost halfway between a tarp and a tent. And…
I love as like camping technology evolves it just like…I feel like it gets more old timey and more oogley but with you know, fancy stuff.
The $700 oogle tent. Yeah. Some of these tents are like fucking $600-700 and made out of like, space material or whatever. Yeah. What’s your favorite shelter for camping?
So this is funny. I once bike toured across the entire country. From the west coast to Chicago, I built a tarp tent every night.
Like an a-frame?
Yeah, I built like a little tarp tent every night, which I had to get really creative in the West. As you know, there’s not a lot of trees everywhere it turns out. And then when I got to Chicago, I went out and bought the Big Agnes ultralight backpacking tent, which is like sort of halfway between….Yeah, it’s halfway. It’s like…It’s not a bivy, but it doesn’t have a much larger footprint than a bivy. And it was the best thing that I’ve ever spent money on. I’m embarrassed to say that I spent money on it.
But, I did.
I’m revoking your oogle card. You didn’t scam it from REI dumpsters? I can’t believe you. Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah.
All right. Yeah, but I love that thing. But, I would love to move to a bivy. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that..Yeah, honestly, like, I’ve only…I haven’t slept a ton in my bivy. But I was like, “Oh, this works.” The other downside of a bivy is that your bag doesn’t fit in the tent with you. And so if you sleeping in a bivy in the rain, you’re going to need to work on waterproofing your bag. But that is something that like as a backpacker, you’re probably trying to do anyway. The main ways that people do it is 1) a pack cover that goes on the outside. And then 2) people often either put things in dry bags, or just like fucking contractor bags, like trash bags, inside their bag and let the bag itself get wet. And if you’re, if you’re bivy camping, you’re accepting that your bag is getting rained on and you just need to work around that. Which, is I think part of why it’s the tactical person’s choice or whatever. Because you’re like, “Comfort doesn’t matter. Surviving to get where I need to go shoot somebody is what matters.” or whatever, you know. Or not get shot or whatever. Which actually, you’re going to have to take into mind when you when you choose what kind of color for all of these things you want. I personally would lean towards the camo type stuff for my…I live in a red state. I could imagine having to leave.
I’m gonna like I’m gonna like speed run the rest of the camping stuff. You might want a poncho or a raincoat. Some people like ponchos because you can also turn them into shelters or whatever, but I think sometimes it’s a little bit just fucking carry what you like. You want additional socks in your go bag no matter what, no matter what you’re…Even if it’s not a camping go bag, put some fucking socks in there and some other…change of underwear and possibly like better soap, like camp soap, like more hygiene type stuff. My go bag has a fucking battery powered Waterpik so that I can floss with water at night because I have spent a lot of money on my teeth. They are not in great shape and water picks rule. I also have a portable battery powered electric toothbrush that I fucking love. You might want an emergency radio. If you’re like good at radio shit, you might want a Baofeng. It’s like an all channel and it can send as well as receive. It’s called a transceiver. It’s really easy to accidentally break the law with a Baofeng because you’re not allowed to actually use any sending signals on it most of the time. But they’re very useful crisis if you know what you’re doing. On the other hand, I would just say get one of those like, your little battery powered weather AM/FM radio. Have and put it in there. At home, I keep one of those like hand crank solar panel everything survival radios or whatever. But they’re like a little bit bulky and a little bit cheap. And so, I like don’t quite trust it in my bag, but I keep one at home. But, other people feel differently. I like having a monocular or binoculars in a go bag. I like this because looking at shit is cool. And sometimes also, I could imagine there are situations where I would want to look at and see what’s ahead and not go there. If I had money, if I was a money person, I would have at least a thermal monocular if not full on like night vision shit. But that’s money. You want the rain cover, the dry bag, you want to beef up your first-aid kit a little bit. You probably want an ace bandage at the very least. There’s some other stuff like moleskin and other things for like long distance walking that you might want. I’ve heard good things about leukotape–and I haven’t used it yet–but as like…people use it as a replacement for moleskin for covering blisters and shit. You might want cooking stuff, which I’m just not gonna get into cooking stuff here. And you might not. You can also like cold soak your food and just like put it in like a peanut butter jar with water and fucking have it turned into food. Whatever. You might want hiking poles. You might want a solar charger. You might want, as we’ve talked about, a folding saw, a hatchet or machete. You might want more light. Like some people like the collapsible LED solar lanterns. They’re not like a great bang for your buck in terms of like, I mean, they’re actually really light and shit, but like, you know, you can use a headlamp just fine. But, like sometimes if you’ve got like a family and shit, it’s like nice to have like a little bit of ambiance and niceness or whatever. Especially like maybe if you’re in like a building right when the power’s out, you know, like that’s the kind of thing that like is a little bit more likely and is useful. You probably want a plastic trowel of some type for pooping outside or a little aluminum trowel for digging a hole so you can poop into it. And alright, guns really quickly, and then…My recommendation is only carry firearms if you train in them. Unlike everything else. Carrying something you don’t know how to use is fine if you know you don’t know how to use it and you get someone else to use it, like your first-aid kit. Like, my IFAK for gunshot wounds, If I’m shot in the belly, it’s for someone else to use on me if at all possible. You know. I am trained in how to use it, but so guns are the exception to this. Do not carry a gun unless you can keep it secure at all times and you pay a lot of attention to the ethics and also the legality around firearms. Those have been covered a lot more in other places on this show. Specifically, my current recommendation that I’m a little bit this is like do what…Whatever, I haven’t yet mastered this. The handgun that I keep near my bed in a safe, in a quick access safe, would go into my bug out bag in a moment of crisis or be on my person. And then in the bug out bag is additional magazines with 9mm ammunition. 9mm is by far the most common ammunition besides like .22LR, which is a survival round meant for hunting small animals. But, for a self defense point of view, I believe a handgun 9mm. And if you are the type who wants long guns, if your whole thing is you’re gonna be surviving in the woods or whatever, you might want to consider some type of backpacking .22. They make, I think it’s the AR-7 is one type of survival collapsible .22. And then the other one is a 10/22 with a backpacker’s stock that folds. What I personally plan on carrying if it was a get out past the militia checkpoint the US government has fallen scenario or whatever is a folding 9mm carbine, which is a rifle that shoots nine millimeter rounds. A lot of people don’t like these from a tactical point of view. It’s not nearly as effective at long range stuff as say an AR-15 or other rifles that are meant to shoot larger rounds, right, or not larger but more powerful rounds. But, the ability to use the exact same magazines that I already use for my other gun and the exact same ammunition makes it worth it for me for specifically a bug out bag scenario. I don’t have enough money to do this yet. That is why I don’t have that. My only bug out bag gun is my handgun that is also my home defense gun. And now everyone knows what I have at home. Anyway, that’s my firearms.
They know one thing that you have at home.
Yeah, totally. Or do they!? They think I have a 9mm but really I have a 10mm. Whatever. Oh, and then the other thing. Randomly. Okay, if your other threat model, if you’re in like fucking Alaska or some shit, you might want a 10mm, but you already know this if you live in Alaska. 10mm is a round that’s better at shooting really big animals. It doesn’t really have any like particular advantage against people in it and shit, right, but like against grizzly bears and shit. One, bear spray more effective. There’s a bunch of studies, bear spray is more effective at stopping a charging bear than any gun that exists. Whatever, I mean maybe like a bazooka or some shit, I don’t know whatever. Oh, poor bear. And then also, you don’t kill the bear. It’s just trying to fucking scare you and live its life. Yeah, yeah, that’s my bug out bag. Do you feel ready? And or do you wanna talk about, really quickly, like some some scenarios?
Yeah, I feel a lot more informed. I feel overwhelmed,
I should address the overwhelm. And I should have led with this. I’m so sorry everyone. You don’t need all this stuff. This is the “I’m building a bug out bag. And I have all the time.” You slowly build the bug out bag. You slowly get prepared. There’s no one who’s entirely prepared for all things. And the purpose of a bug out bag from my point of view is to ease your mind. When I first made my bug out bag and my cabin in the woods, I was able to say to myself, “If there’s a fire in this forest, I know what I will do. And now that I know what I will do, I am not going to worry about a fire in this forest anymore.” And so the first little bit that you get is the most useful. You get diminishing returns as you spend more money and more size and things like that. Massively diminishing returns. The everyday carry, your cell phone is the single most important object. You know, the pocket knife, the pepper spray, the the basic shit is the most important. If you have purse snacks and a water bottle, you are more prepared than almost anyone else. Yeah, I should have led with that.
Yeah. Oh, no, no, it’s okay. I feel like, you know. We eased into it then it got real complicated. And I’m, grateful to think about the overwhelm afterwards. But, Margaret, so in thinking about a lot of these things, there’s like…I’m like, okay, like, if I’m in real life DnD or if the literal apocalypse happens then I could see needing these things. But why else might one need a bug out bag? What is some threat modeling kind of stuff to think of?
Yeah, I mean, like, again, it’s gonna depend on where you are. If I were to pick where I’m at, I can imagine gas supplies running out, right? I don’t think…or like getting interrupted in such a way that, you know, suddenly, there’s a lot of limitation to the amount of fuel that you can have, right? I could imagine grocery store stuff. I could imagine like, you know, supply chain disruptions. We’re seeing supply chain disruptions. People might have to leave because of earthquakes. People might have to leave because of fires. Like, natural disasters is like probably the number one thing, right? And where you live, you will know what the natural disasters are. Where you live, personally, I would worry about drought. And I would worry about water war. But, and I would focus my prepping around rain barrels and you know, keeping five gallons of water in my truck or whatever. I didn’t even get into the shit you should put your vehicle. Some other time will the vehicle preparedness. And but yeah, I mean, like there’s scenarios where like…it was completely possible that January 6th type stuff could have happened on a much larger level, right? They tried to have it happen on a much larger level. We could have had a fascist coup in the United States, because they tried. And in that scenario, you might need to leave the country or you might need to move to a safer part of the country. Or you might need to move to a place so that you can prepare to defend. God, defend the country. But like, fight fascism, even if that means being like, “Alright, it’s us and the Democrats versus fascism,” or whatever, you know? Like, I can’t imagine like the partisans in Italy were like, “Oh, no, you’re a bourgeois capitalist. I’m not going to fight the Nazis with you.” You know? Like, I mean, actually, that probably did happen.
Yeah, or how there’s…there have been tons of anarchists who are fighting in Ukraine.
That is a…Yeah. Yeah, totally. And like if we were suddenly invaded by Russia, there would be like us and some patriots next to each other fighting on the same side, and it would be real awkward. Right? Real awkward, but like, you know. Okay. And so I think that it was entirely possible, at that moment, that my threat model included, “What if I need to get out of the south?” you know? And if I need to get out of the south, yeah, I’m driving until I hit the points where I start thinking that there’s gonna be militia checkpoints. And then I’m in the woods, you know? Yeah. And like, so. It’s not nearly as likely as other things. But, most bug out scenarios, yeah, are like, “I need to go spend a weekend somewhere.” It could even literally be like, a go bag is like, if I got the call that my dad was in the hospital and I just need to get in my fucking truck and go see my dad, right? Like, nothing else bad is happening in the world. It’s still real nice to have the bag that I am grabbing and walking out the door. You know? Yeah. Yeah. What are some of the scenarios that you imagine that you would worry about?
There’s kind of, there’s kind of a lot. I mean, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of scenarios, and I’m wondering if this is the potential for like, future episodes is like…You know, where I live, I do think about drought, I think a lot increasingly more about militia checkpoints, because I live in a–I mean, I feel like everyone lives in a place where there could suddenly be an active militia–but I think about those things. This is a whole episode that we should do. But, I think about friends who live in places where it floods, I think about friends who live in places where there’s hurricanes.
And a go back is also getting to go…If you need to go help someone who’s in a tight place of crisis, you know, like having your truck–don’t drive your truck into standing water ff you don’t know how deep it is– but like, if you needed to get into a disaster zone to help people, if you’re more prepared, you’re more able to do that.
Yeah. Oh, and actually, could I suggest an addition to to go bags? Just as a thing. Yeah, I would love to heavily urge people to have in their go bags or to have this as a separate bag in your emergency kit is, you know, something that we’re learning a lot from harm reduction communities and organizing right now is harm reduction supplies. Yeah, Naloxone or Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, drug testing stuff in general. And, you know, even if you don’t use drugs, then I would suggest having stuff in case other people who do use drugs and need them to some extent or have complicated dependency around them, having that kind of stuff for someone else could be life saving to someone else.
Of course. No, everything I said is the only stuff you can use.
That is a really good point. Alright. Well, that’s some stuff. Is there anything else we should talk about go bags. It’s cool to have a go. That’s what I’m gonna say. Don’t let the right wing have it. It’s fucking cool. Being prepared rules. People are gonna think you’re cool. They used to make fun of you, but now…now they don’t. I have two kind of silly questions, because I love rooting these discussions in humor and light heartedness. There’s another word for it.
I famously hate joy.
Yeah. Okay, so we’ve just gone through this big list of stuff and do you remember Donny Don’t from Crimethinc? Yeah, what is the Donny Don’t of go bags?
Donny Don’t is a, just so people know, it’s the don’t do with Donny Don’t does. And what is the Donny Don’t of go bags? It’s probably the like crazy overkill versions. Like I probably don’t need an ice axe in my go bag. Now that I say that I’m like, I mean, if I had to cross into Canada on the East Coast I would actually need an ice axe. So, but like, gear obsession, I think that and letting go bags be an endless bottomless non fun thing. If it is fun for you to geek out and find the the version of the thing that’s two ounces lighter, do it–as long as you give away the old one or like, you know, maintain it in such a way that it’s useful to somebody else. But yeah, I think that Donny Don’t is the overkill, like a bag that you can’t carry. Unless, I mean, some people can’t carry certain amounts of weight that they would need and then they need assistance and things like that. That’s actually okay too. But like, but overall. Yeah.
Cool. Yeah. And actually, that is my retrospective answer for which knife to bring is the knife that you will carry.
Is the knife that does not that does not impede you from caring it. And then my other comical question because I can’t do a single interview without talking about it is: So in Dungeons and Dragons, you have the adventuring kit and what is the 50 foot of hempen rope, which every single adventurer uses at some point, and what is the like climbing like…not crampons. Pitons. What is the pitons thing that no one has ever used. If you use them, please tell us about it.
Everyone uses the the eating stuff. The spork, the utensils. Everyone uses…Yeah, the stuff that everyone uses is the tiny light cheap shit. You know? It’s the fucking BIC lighter. And know what what no one uses is the magnifying lens to start the fire, which I didn’t even include. I actually include tiny little magnifying lenses in the kits because they cost like five cents, like little Fresnel lenses size of credit card. But, it’s mostly so you can read small stuff. And that weighs nothing. I like throwing it in. But the magnifying lens. That’s the Yeah.
The piton thing.
Yeah. Whatever it is.
Cool. Thank you. Thank you for indulging my silly questions. Well, it seems like maybe we should do some more…Talk about this more some other time.
Yeah, you should ask me about vehicle preparedness sometime. And home preparedness.
Yeah, vehicle preparedness, home preparedness, like specific disaster preparedness. Yeah. Like, I know, we’re gonna…we’re planning on doing a hurricane thing at some point.
We’re just gonna throw a hurricane. Inmn’s a level 17 Wizard.
And, you know, maybe we like…do we eventually started talking about…Do we just throw you, Margaret, into situations and say, “How would you deal with this issue?” Like as an episode concept?
I thought you meant physically. Like, while I’m on tour, be like, “Sorry, Margaret, you’re suddenly survivor lady.” And I’m like, “Wait!”
No, no, I’m thinking of like, this funny episode concept where we come up with situations, almost like roleplay situations, but real life, and you tell us how you would prepare and deal it.
Okay. Yeah, we should do that sometime. I guess I’ll have to get good at this. Usually, because I’m like…Well, my whole thing is I’m not quite an expert. At this point. I think I do know more than the average person. But my whole point was like, I’m not an expert. I find experts and ask them things. But, I guess at this point, there’s a lot of this shit that I either sometimes have hands on experience and sometimes I just fucking talk to people about it all day. So. Yeah, sounds good. Well,
Well. Thanks so much for coming on this, what ended up being a two parter episode of your own podcast that I am a weird guest host of right now.
No, it’s our podcast. It’s Strangers’ podcast at this point.
Yeah. Do you have anything that you would like to plug?
You can hear me on my podcast, Live Like the World is Dying, it’s a community and individual preparedness podcasts published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also hear me talk about history. I spend most of my time reading history books and talking about it on a podcast called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff on Cool Zone Media. It’s very confusing that one of my podcasts is on CZN and one of my podcasts is on CZM, but that’s the way it goes. And my most recent book is called “Escape from Incel Island.” You can hear me talk about a shotgun that I used to really want, the Celtic KSG which is what Mankiller Jones carries. It’s no longer that shotgun I lust after. Now I want to Mossberg 59A1. But, you know, I don’t know whether I want to change what they’re carrying. And I’m on the internet. @MagpieKilljoy on Twitter and @Margaretkilljoy on Instagram and you can also follow…I’m now trying to make people follow our social media, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also follow us on social media @TangledWild on Twitter and then at something on Instagram. I’m sure if you search Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness it will come up. Do you know what it was? What is our Instagram?
It is @tangled_wilderness on Instagram.
We did a really good job of grabbing all the…we’ve been around for 20 years and we didn’t fucking grab good Instagram handles at the beginning. Yeah, that’s what I got.
Great. Great. Well, we will see you next time.
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go make a go bag and then tell us about it. But also tell people about the podcast. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, rating, and reviewing, or doing whatever the strange nameless algorithm calls for. Feed it like a hungry god. And, you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions, our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers and in a Tangled Wilderness is the publisher of this podcast and a few other podcasts including my other podcast, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which comes out monthly and is usually our monthly feature of anarchist literature or something. We also put out the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to make a special series of shout outs to some of our patrons in particular. Thank you Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice and O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the dog. I love that this list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer. And seriously, we could not do any of this without y’all. So thank you. I hope everyone does as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we’ll talk to you soon.
On this week’s Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Inmn talk about what goes in a go bag, or bug out bag as they are sometimes called, and how being oogles might have set them up for being preppers. They talk about the different purposes one might make a go bag for, the different smaller kits that make them up, as well as other kits that are helpful to build alongside go bags. Tune in next week for part two.
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I am your co-host today, Inmn Neruin, and I use they/them pronouns. I’m obviously a new host, and today I have with me Margaret Killjoy who is, you know, the normal host, and we’re gonna do some fun role reversal here. Instead of me teaching Margaret something about prepping, because I don’t really know much about prepping–well, I mean, you know, I know generally about prepping, but a lot of the specifics I’m newer to, a lot of the technical stuff I’m newer to. Strong ideology. Low tech. But, Margaret is going to teach me about how to put together something that has daunted me a lot, but that I understand the importance of, and that is go bags. This podcast is also a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts and before Margaret talks to me about go bags, we’re going to hear a jingle from another lovely show on that network. Doo doo doo doo, doo.
Okay, we’re back. Margaret, could you introduce yourself on your own podcast that you started,you know, with your name and your pronouns and just a little bit about what you’re here to teach me about today?
Yeah, my name is Margaret Killjoy. I use she or they pronouns. You might know me from such podcast as Live Like the World is Dying. But, maybe this is your first episode. In which case, welcome. We have many hosts now on Live Like the World is Dying, which is very exciting. So, I’m going to be talking today about go bags, sometimes called bug out bags, or as I first heard them called, oh shit gear or OSG. No one really calls it that anymore. But some of the first anarchist preppers I ever met like 20 years ago called it OSG. And my background for this is that well, I’m sort of a prepper. I also have lived off-grid more years as an adult than I’ve lived on-grid. I do currently live on-grid. Before this, I lived in a cabin. Before that I lived in a barn. Before that I lived in a van. Before that I lived in a minivan. Before that I lived out of a backpack. And so I do feel like I have a fairly strong basis in what you need in a backpack to live out of because I did that for about 10 years. But it is a different context, right? And we’re going to talk a lot about that today, the context of being traveling crust punk versus having to go bag and all the other different contexts. Yeah, that’s my background.
Wonderful, and we’re also trying to connect it, I believe to this lovely new book that you just put out through our publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and the importance of go bags, you know, not only in our completely real tangible lives and these very fictionalized versions of our lives like Mankiller Jones’, to which there are absolutely no similarities. There are no similar threat models. Nothing. Nothing like that.
Yeah, for anyone listening, I my most recent book is called “Escape from Incel Island” and the protagonist is a nonbinary afab person, named Mankiller Jones, who’s trapped on an island full of incels–thus the name–and needs to escape using their wits and the help of friends.
And their go bag?
Yeah, although okay, I’m actually going to argue that there is a difference between a go bag–I’m going to talk about some different types of bag systems you might have for living out of, right. So there’s the go bag, and I’ll get to that last I would argue that most…a soldier or mercenary or someone in a tactical situation, the primary objective of their thing is combat or evasion or, you know, something in a very militaristic setting. Usually, that might be called a rucksack. And it might be called like rucking. And you’re going to have a very different load out of gear for, you know, your tactical situation. You’re going to use probably a different type of bag. You’re going to use it a lot of different stuff. So, that’s like one context. It is a context to consider in these United States of America that are considering a national divorce, and there’s a lot of people who want to murder all the trans people and you know, people color and all that shit. So, it is worth considering that and we’ll talk a little bit about that. Okay, some of the other contexts that are not go bags, but are in form all of this, you have backpacking bags, right? And within that, basically like, I’m going to go and camp for a couple nights and hike, right? A backpacking bag is designed for two things. It’s for hiking, and for camping. And within that you’ve traditional backpacking, and you have ultralight backpacking. Traditional backpacking, you’re going to be carrying like 20 to 50 pounds of stuff. Whereas like rucking, you might be carrying 30 to 80 pounds of stuff, you know. And then there’s ultralight backpacking, which is defined as less than 10 pounds before you add like food and water and shit to your bag. And that is like to make the hiking easier, right? But those have a specific purpose and it is not bugging out. It is not going. It is backpacking, right? And then you would have something called a bushcraft pack and I’m making that term up. And this is closer to the tactical bag because it is going to be very heavy, probably, and a lot larger. And bushcraft would be like “I’m going out into the woods to go live in the woods,” right? If you need to build shelters, you’re going to need different equipment, right. For example, in ultralight backpacking certainly and most traditional backpacking, you’re not bringing a saw or an ax. However, if your goal is to survive in the woods for an indefinite period of time, a saw and an ax. are very important tools to have available. Okay, so those are, I’m gonna-go-spend-a-lot-of-time-in-the-woods bags–or desert or whatever. And then you have a go bag. And it’s really easy to kind of conflate these things. But they really are a very different purpose. I would argue that your primary goal with a go bag–this is the bag that is in the closet by the door, or is by the door, or lives in your vehicle, or is packed and ready to go at all times in case an emergency takes you out your door for an unknown length of time, or even unknown length of time. And so this is the one bag you grab when your house is on fire. This is a bag that you grab, or you already have in your car, in case you need to spend your night in the car. Like, you know, it’s these…people tend to think of go bags as like ‘the world has ended’ bags, and that’s not…the world is always ending and it ends and fits and starts, right? And so it’s for disasters. It’s for crises. If you need to spend a night in the car, you’re going to be very glad that you have a toothbrush and toothpaste, you’re gonna be very glad that you have your medications, you’re going to be very glad that you have your Nintendo Switch. And, if you suddenly have to flee the country, which frankly a lot of us have to think about as a possibility. It’s not in an inevitability and it’s not crazy likely that all LGBTQIA+ folks will have to flee the country or whatever. But, it’s something that’s on a lot of our minds, right? And so, in which case that bag is going to need your passport, it’s going to need the rabies identification for your dog, you know, the vaccine identification for your dog. It’s going to need a lot of really specific stuff that if you have to run out your door right now this is the bag you would pack and you just keep it already packed. But, most of the time your go bag is sometimes in your car, if you go to your friend’s house for a surprise weekend because, you know, there’s a hurricane coming, or the boil advisory for your town keeps getting deeper and deeper and you’re starting to get really distrustful, or a train derails and there’s toxic chemicals in the air, or your ex is in town and he’s scary, right? You know, it’s just the like…or wildfires sweeping through and there’s an evacuation call, right? That is what a go bag is. There might be camping stuff in it, depending on your situation, how much you feel like carrying, how you expect to carry it. If it’s gonna mostly live in your car, have some fucking camping stuff. Or, if like me, you live in a fairly isolated place, you know, you live rurally, like, if I needed to get out on foot I would need to have camping stuff with me because I am more than a day’s walk from the nearest place that might be safe. Right? So yeah, that’s the basic concept of a go bag.
Just to parrot some information back to you so that I wrap my head around it, so there’s there’s a few different kinds of bags. We have go bags, we have rucking bags, we have backpacking bags, we have bushcraft bags. And are go bags…
I’m making some of those terms up, but…
Yes. And then are go bags and bug out bags the same thing?
Yeah, it’s just a…If you’re avoiding the sort of prepper terminology, which is understandable, you call it a go bag instead of a bug out bag so you don’t sound as crazy.
I see. I see. And you know, everyone can understand the need to go, but bugging out can feel a little different. And so within a go bag, the idea is that you want anything that you will kind of like immediately need if you have to leave for whatever circumstance?
Yeah, it’s a combination of things. That is one of the things, is stuff that you would immediately need. It’s like your overnight bag. It’s your toiletries bag. All that kind of stuff is going to be more important than most of the other like survival gizmos or whatever, right? You know, your camping folding shovel is gonna be a lot less likely to be useful than dental floss, right?
But it’s cool.
Oh, yeah, no, I have folding camping shovel in my truck. And I ponder putting it in my actual bag, but I probably won’t. And so okay. Should I talk about the types of bags, like what kind of bag you want?
Yeah, okay. And we’re talking about go bags here or just any bag?
I’m going to talk about mostly go bags. I’m going to focus what I’m talking about on go bags and I’ll kind of like dip into…Because your go bag–if a civil war starts, which it probably won’t, but ‘probably’ has a lot more modifiers than it did 10 years ago–and then your your bug out bag, your go bag, is going to have a lot in common with a tactical bag, you know a rucksack, whatever. I think rucksack is literally just like what military people call their backpack in order to sound cool, but I’m not actually entirely certain about that. Don’t @ me, or if you do, @ me at my Twitter handle, @IwriteOK Okay [Robert Evans.] And so, you know, and if you’re planning to hike to a different country, right, or a different state then it might have a lot in common with a backpacking bag. And, if you’re planning on laying low in the desert or the Canadian wilderness, I don’t know, then you’re gonna have a lot of bushcraft stuff in there too, right? But overall, the sort of core of it is a go bag. And it really…you know, there’s kind of like one bag that you keep around at any given time generally, but you might change it based on how circumstances are changing, and where you live, and what your threats are, right? Like, if the most likely thing is run out of the house because wildfire and throw it in your car, one, you might just leave it in your car. And two, you might be able to afford more weight, right? But if you’re most likely thing is set out on foot or your most likely thing is spend a weekend away, you know, or if…I guess what I’m saying is it can look a lot different ways. And so you will have different options. I mean, it could be anything, right? You can have a shopping bag as you go bag. I don’t recommend this. You could have, you know, my personal current go bag, I’m probably going to change this, but it has been my go bag for a number of years. My personal go bag is a style of bag that usually gets called a three-day assault pack. It is a tactical backpack that lacks an internal frame. It can hold– it kind of sucks. It can hold a lot of weight, but it doesn’t distribute that weight incredibly well across a body. It is not a backpacking bag. It is a soldier’s bag. And one of the reasons I like it is because unlike a backpacking bag with like a big internal frame or an external frame, but those are really rare these days, it doesn’t take up as much like space, you know? An internal bag, like an internal frame pack is very unwieldy. And you don’t…it’s hard to put in your lap if you’re in a car. I’ve done this as a hitchhiker many, many times, you know. And so, I’ve moved away from those and I’ve been using what’s more of a day pack size bag. And I personally went for a tactical style one because I’m a nerd. One of the reasons to not consider a tactical bag…I like things that are all black basically is what it and day bags tend to be really brightly colored if they’re hiking bags. And, one reason to not consider a tactical backpack is people argue that it makes you more of a target, it makes you look more like a prepper, it makes you look more like a soldier, it makes you look more tactical and therefore more of a risk. And this is the sort of gray man theory that’s very big in tactical spaces, which is an attempt to look not like a tactical bro. Ironically, most people who try and do this still look like tactical bros because they’re like wearing gray man tactical pants that still say 511 on them or whatever, which is a brand of tactical gear, that I totally wear. And the reason I can wear it, is that I look fucking weird no matter what. I’m not going undercover anywhere. I have a giant nose ring. My hair is long. I have bangs and might be wearing women’s clothes. You know, I’m not hiding, right? And I also not going to look like I’m enrolled in the United States Army or whatever. Right? So yeah, a tactical bag for me has no downsides from this point of view because it’s just like whatever, I’m a punk. I look like a punk. And tactical bags will have something called molle all over it, which is that webbing straps, which allows you to attach other bags and things to it. And it makes it modular. And this is a little bit, like most of the time you’re not really going to bother modularing out your thing. But, sometimes it’s nice. You know, mine currently has a little bonus modular water bottle holder and my bushcraft knife that is part of my bag but wouldn’t be part of a normal person’s bag, is strapped to the outside with molle, which makes me look tough.
See, I would get the impulse to…I love modular things. So, I’m like, okay, wait, so yeah, it’s…In your in your different…So you want to plan your go bag based on your, I guess your threat model, or your risk assessment, and your environment it seems like? And so could you have your base go bag and then like a little additions? Like, well, there’s the go bag, but here’s the piece that you attach to it that makes it a better camping bag or something? The this is the it when shitty ex comes to town and this is it when it’s wildfire, and they’re like easy to combine? Is that? Is that a thing?
Yeah, yes and no. Molle is not the system by which you do that. Molle is a very secure attachment system and it’s a pain in the ass to attach. You’re basically like weaving webbing through webbing. And there’s different systems people have to make it fast. And if you really practice it’ll get faster. But, it’s not like grab and go type of thing. However, what you’re describing makes a lot of sense. And it’s the reason for example–I don’t keep a gas mask in my go bag. I do keep a gas mask in a bag next to my go bag. Right? So if my threat on my way out the door is Russia nukes DC–again, very unlikely but a lot more likely than it was 10 years ago. You know, I’m not in the immediate blast zone of that, but I’m in the trouble area, right? And so like, you know, the gas mask is there. And it would be the same like if wildfires are threat, right, you would want your gas mask or at least a good respirator immediately next to it as well. And actually, if you live in wildfire zone, you probably have the respirator in your pack. Or it’s outside your bag because you need to put it on as soon as you fucking need it. But, and so the other way that people modular it is that people modular the inside using different like–usually they’re called packing cubes–and you can get different packing cubes that–like if they’re like more tactical, they’ll be made out of thick nylon and they’ll have molle on them even though there’s literally no purpose for them to molle on them. Or if you’re an ultralight backpacker, they’ll be made out of this parachute cloth that weighs nothing but will eventually rip. Because that’s the thing with ultralight backpacking is it’s incredibly light, and it’s effective, but the equipment isn’t as durable, right? Or, if you’re like a different type of backpacker, they might all be dry bags so everything stays, you know, dry and separate. But basically…or if you’re like a tour…you know, if you travel by suitcase, you’ll also use packing cubes. And it’s like, “Oh, this one’s all my socks,” or whatever. But it could also be, “Oh, this one’s all my like magazines,” not for reading but for reloading ammunition. You know, it could be the folding nine millimeter carbine, or whatever, that you throw into it, you know? And so you can modular it out. But molle is not quite the way to do it.
I see. I see.
Oh, we didn’t get those other types of bags.
Oh, yeah, What kinds of bags are there, Margaret?
Okay, so, you’ve got the tactical bags, right, you’ve got the backpacking bags, the internal frame bags, which if you’re going to be walking a lot, is probably what you want. And these are also available…you can kind of like look at things as either tactical, or there’s a word for it I can’t remember….hiking? But it has some word…technical! Technical versus tactical. Technical is like outdoorsy stuff that isn’t made for people who shoot people for a living and it’s gonna be brightly colored and it’s high performance stuff with all the bells and whistles. But, it’s not going to be camo, right? You know, versus, you can get a hiking bag that’s all camo and it’s gonna be aimed at military or whatever, right? And if you’re hiking through the woods a lot, you might want the camo one. You might specifically not want the camo one because if you’re hiking through the woods because like your car broke down you don’t fucking camo. You want blaze orange so people can see you and rescue you. But, if you’re like crossing a militia checkpoint to leave a red state you’re gonna want camouflage. Um, yeah, anyway. And so then you could also have…some go bags are literally just small duffel bags, right, that are designed not really to be carried on your back and they’re just meant to be thrown in a trunk. And like, and that’s actually a very useful form factor for a lot of stuff. And, it might be that your extra bag is that. And then also, you can be really low key about it and just have a regular–not a day bag like a hiking day bag but just a regular day backpack is an incredibly good bug out bag for many people, especially people in urban environments where resources are going to be easier to come by. You’re not necessarily gonna be camping. You don’t need to carry as much stuff because you will be able to blend in with this kind of bag much more effectively. It’ll still carry what you need. I like bags. My basement is full of backpacks that I’ve collected over the years.
You know, I really like bags as well. I don’t have a lot of stuff to put in the bags, but I have a little collection of bags. Which, I feel like sort of hearkens back to…I used to be a lot more of a oogle and…
yeah. And I had a little…
It’s good training.
Okay, so I didn’t think that I was going to have much to actually contribute to this, but like now that we’re talking about it. I’m like, “Wait, were like train oogles preppers?”
Yeah, because you need everything because you can’t rely on anything showing up.
It’s why when everyone’s like, “You need a tent.” I’m like, “Do you?” Like I never traveled with a tent. I don’t know. If it’s not really cold I just fucking wrapped myself in a shitty tarp and hope the rain left me alone.
Tents are useful in some situations. Go ahead.
The thing now is…God, what are they called?
Yeah, bivvies. I was gonna call it a ghillie sack. And I was like, that’s something else.
No, I like bivvies. A lot of people don’t like bivvies.
Yeah, I feel like bivvies are pretty pretty popular in that world right now. And yeah, I used to be obsessed with finding the perfect bag for that kind of stuff. And it was hard because you know, the camping stuff is brightly colored. It’s a little too..it’s not the most durable. Like it’s made for hiking. It’s not made for like, throwing it off a building, you know?
And…but then, like, you know, the army stuff is a little terrible in another direction. It’s not comfortable. Maybe it is now.
No, overall, it airs on the side of durability and not comfort because it’s like it’s being put on a disposable human. You know, they don’t care that whoever carries 100 pounds this long is going to destroy their knees because they’re expecting somebody to shoot you.
[Makes an ‘Ooph’ sound. Sighing.] Yeah. I always hoped that eventually it would emerge that there was some, you know, like train riding bag maker that would just make the perfect bag.
If you’re out there, please, please email us. Email me.
Well, and what’s so funny, right, is even among oogles you have a difference between hitchhikers and train hoppers in terms of the size of bag they need. You know, like,when I first started and I was attempting to hop trains–I was never good at it–and I carried an internal frame pack. And then for a long time I moved down to, it was an old skateboarding backpack. Not because I recommend skateboarding backpacks, it was just literally my backpack from high school, you know, and I just carabinered my sleeping bag underneath. And then when I got to where I was staying I would take off the sleeping bag and then have a regular day pack. You know, it’s like, because you need so much less as a hitchhiker because you don’t need to cook.
Yeah, yeah, I went from like one of those big 70 liter hiking packs to a like bike bag, not like the Chrome side strap ones but those like the made out of…
Yeah, the fold the top. But you know, they were durable, and waterproof, and fairly spacious but no frame, absolute murder on your back if you carry too much.
But, that would be an amazing go bag for most situations because it’s waterproof. It’s durable. It fits in your lap when you’re sitting. Ut doesn’t have straps going everywhere. Yeah, like for a lot of people that style a bag is fucking perfect. You know?
Yeah, and for folks who don’t know what we’re talking about they’re these like bicycle bags. They’re made out of like, vinyl or PVC. And then they’re covered with really high strength, like durable like cordura. And, they’re made to be on someone who’s biking so they’re comfortable. But walking is not always the same as biking.
Yeah, totally. Well, and it’s like, and so because most go bags you’re probably taking public transit or you’re taking vehicles, you know, you’re…like most things…It’s worth having something you can walk with, right? Like I wouldn’t recommend your go bag be 150 pound pickle bag, you know, a duffel bag. But like, you know, should we talk about what goes in it?
Yeah, what? Margaret? Margaret, what should I put in my collection of bags that could be go bags? Because, I don’t have a go bag and I feel really embarrassed about that.
I know I can’t believe you don’t have a go bag. There was that–I don’t want to out where you live–there was a toxic thing near where you lived at one point. So okay, I would argue that a preparedness base…you can sort of build up to the bag and what’s in the bag, but if you don’t do these things before it, you put all of this in the bag, and that’s fine too. First, there’s your kind of everyday carry, right? If you tend to wear clothes that don’t have as many pockets you can do this with a fanny pack. This is one of the things that’s so great about being a queer prepper is I don’t have to…Like, men will do anything to avoid having to wear a fanny pack. There’s these like chest packs that are fucking, have a harness across the back. They’re so He-Man. They’re so gay. I love them.
Yeah, I’ve seen those.
And it’s like just wear god damn fanny pack. And then like, one of the best off body carries for a subcompact handgun are like fanny pack specifically designed for drawing from. But, they don’t do all that well because men are afraid to wear fanny packs. It’s hilarious. But anyway, you can put all this in your pockets. You can put all this in a fanny pack. You can put all this in your punk vest. Whatever. The basis of a lot of it is wearing somewhat durable clothing and practical clothing as much as you can. I’m someone who wears maxi skirts. I swear you can go hiking in them. Sometimes you have to hike them up. Whatever some of the stuff….
You can. I can attest.
Yeah. No, it’s funny. One time, I was like working outside and the mail carrier was coming up and I was like, “I really don’t want to deal with being a crossdresser right now.” so I just like hiked up my fucking maxi skirt and I was like wearing tights underneath. And I’m like, “Now I’m just a weirdo in tights.” Like this is better somehow. So, things to consider carrying on your person. And this to me, this goes back to my oogle days. The first and single most important prepper tool is your cell phone. And there’s stuff–we could do a whole separate episode about stuff to put on your cell phone. Offline maps. That’s a big one. Various tools that help you do things. And so, cell phone number one. Other things, a Bic later. Some people wrap it in duct tape because the duct tape can be used as a fire starter. A multitool. Like I use a pliers style multitool. If you’re older than a millennial, you’ll prefer a Swiss army knife. A pocket knife, a folding pocket knife. This isn’t as important because you got your multitool, but I’ve always sworn by having a pocket clip knife on me. It’s useful for cutting all kinds of things. That’s not even a euphemism. And, a flashlight. And, the reason I like a flashlight, a tactical style flashlight that is in my pocket at all times or in my fanny pack is because you can use it to see shit. I also like headlamps and I’m gonna talk about headlamps in a little bit. But, a flashlight is an incredibly important self defense tool. Specifically–it’s funny because the tactical flashlights people are like “So you can hit people with them.” And you’re like, “No, it’s so that you can shine it in their face.” And they’re like, “Yeah, with the strobe function,” and you’re like, “No, because the strobe function disorients you and the other person.” No, if someone shines a really bright light in your face all of a sudden, you are disoriented. And so the number one self defense tool– other people are you pepper spray too and that’s great, and I just don’t have as much practice with pepper spray personally And but pepper spray would also be in this sort of category–but the flashlight lets you see things and it lets you fucking blind people and run away. Which, is the secret to surviving fights is to not get in fights. And one of the ways to do that is to disorient or disable your attacker and then run away. Okay, so that’s everyday carry. And then you might want to consider other self defense tools like pepper spray. A bandanna is an incredibly useful survival thing. Oogles. I learned this from oogle life. You can use it as a dust mask, you can use it to prefilter water. You can use it to wipe sweat. You can use it as a napkin. You can, like a little…hikers use something called a buff and it’s just a…hikers… They just don’t want to oogles so they use a buff instead.
They just don’t want to call it a bandanna or a?
Yeah, totally, I mean, it’s a slightly different thing. And it actually is a little bit better suited for hiking because you can use it as a headband and stuff. And like if I was like more of a hiker…like a year from now, because I’m getting into hiking, I’m gonna be like, “Nah, you just need a buff, like no matter what,” you know, but I like don’t own one currently. Another thing to consider as part of your everyday carry, depending on your threat model, depending on where you live, is a handgun with a holster and a spare magazine. And if you carry the capacity to do deadly force, you should also carry a tourniquet at the very least. If you don’t carry a full IFAK, an individual first-aid kit meant for gunshot wounds, carry at least a tourniquet. And honestly, if you’re in a situation where gun threats are a thing, I would carry a tourniquet before I carry a gun. It is a lot safer legally. It’s a lot easier. And like my goal is on any given day is to not die. And the ability to stop bleeding is often more effective than the ability to put holes in other people. So, that’s everyday carry and if you don’t have this on your person, you’re gonna want it in your go bag. A lot of these I replicate in my go bag. Okay, the next thing, and the most important thing from my point of view is what–and this is like kind of like the Margaret school is a little different than other people’s school of thought around this–is that more important than a go bag is an emergency kit. I make and distribute these emergency kits. All my friends who visit me they leave with an emergency kit. I get a…actually, I get a tactical medical pouch. It’s a five by seven, six by nine? I don’t know. And it actually has molle on it so you can attach it to a backpack. So, if your go bag is full you can put it on your backpack. And the emergency kit is everything that is like small and light and useful. And this turns any bag you’re carrying into a go bag. And it is small and light and if you make them in bulk it costs you 50-60 bucks worth of stuff if you put like everything in it. And I’m gonna talk about what’s in it.
Yeah, what’s in it?
In my emergency kit, it is three different things. It is a hygiene kit. It is a first aid kit and it is a survival kit. For hygiene, I carry a folding toothbrush and travel toothpaste. If you’re an ultralight hiker, you’re gonna have toothpaste tablets, I’m going to look into those but for now just fucking use toothpaste. Whatever. Dental Floss, which doubles as sewing thread, a compressed towel…
Another oogle lesson.
Oh yeah, totally. And this is what I wish I learned as an oogle is a compressed towel. There are these like little tiny tablets that if you put them in water they turn into washcloths? Yeah, they weigh nothing. They will…I carry tampons in a hygiene kit. This is not for plugging gunshot wounds. Do not use tampons to try and stop bleeding because they don’t stop bleeding. They don’t apply pressure. They absorb some blood. The amount of difference between the amount of blood someone having a menstrual cycle produces versus the amount of blood or gunshot wound produces….This is not what they’re good for. Primarily I carry these to give to people, if we’re in an emergency situation, who wish they had a tampon with them. They have some other purposes by pulling out the cotton and using it as fire starter., etc. But, I carry earplugs, just the foam cheap ones, unless I have my nice ones with me. Sometimes they’re in my bag too. The ones that are like for concerts and shit. But, earplugs are for if you are shooting, if you’re using heavy equipment, if you’re trying to sleep in a rescue center, if you have ear damage anyway and you sometimes…Like earplugs are incredibly useful and they’re light and cheap. Lip balm. I carry lip balm. I don’t use lip balm in my day to day life. However, avoiding sunburn is like one of these super important things, and then also lip balm, some of it, can like double again as fire starter. stuff. Put it on cotton. Things like that. I carry condoms in case I have sex with somebody and then–or other people are trying to and don’t want to get sick or you don’t want to like deal with pregnancy or whatever, you know. There’s like other uses for condoms. People are like, “Oh, you can use them to like store water,” and stuff, but a lot of the survival uses of condoms are a little bit like people just trying to come up with uses for shit. And then also, you have to use unlubricated condoms for a lot of these purposes. However unlubricated condoms have are less effective at their primary task. I carry lube packets. Again, anything small, light, cheap, and useful is fucking great. I carry nail clippers. I carry hair ties. And, I carry soap strips. And this is a little bit like…I carry it but whatever. They’re like little dissolvable papers with soap in it. That’s the hygiene part of it for me. You might have a different one. I actually am kind of looking into figuring out how I’m going to put razors into here. For shaving. Usually, I just kind of have my electric razor on me, but I feel like if I’m backpacking, or whatever, it might be hard to…It’s a little bit bulky. For first aid…Am I missing anything for hygiene?
Not that I can think of. I’m also….Okay, so I said that I didn’t have a go bag. And literally besides the emergency kit, I have a go bag on me at all times. I was like oh yeah, I mean, I’m an ex oogle. I have a giant fanny pack with a with multiple forms of self defense and like multitools and…
That’s what people forget, is they think of a go bag as this utterly separate thing but it’s like…Like purse snacks is prepping. You know, like, again, men are really weird and like, if you go to a random…if you’re out at a bar, the most prepared people in there are the women. They have so much stuff in their purse that is so useful. You know, the men might have guns–well, maybe they’re smart and they’re at a bar (you shouldn’t combine alcohol and firearms) but whatever. But like, you know, what’s more likely than shooting someone is getting hungry. You know? Like,
Oh, yeah, yeah.
But what’s in a first aid portion?
In the first aid portion, these are the ones I make, right. You can make your own depending on anything, right? I carry emergency packets because they make water tastes good and might theoretically be good for you. I carry alcohol wipes. These are sort of contentious. Well, they’re not contentious for sterilizing things. If you need to lance a blister, you need to suddenly sew yourself back together or whatever, you’re going to be glad you have alcohol wipes. Within the first day community, there’s a lot of arguments about using first aid to sterilize wounds. Alcohol, slows down healing of wounds. It also sterilizes them. And so people have different opinions about the trade off of that. I carry superglue. Go ahead.
Oh, yeah. Well, you can you can also use them for their intended purpose, which is preparing the skin for things like maybe you have some kind of injection that you need to do. Maybe you need to do sutures like you can use the prep pads for their purpose.
Yeah, no totally.
Cleaning off the skin.
Yeah. And then also cleans a lot of other stuff. Like, having alcohol swabs around is just fucking useful. Anything that’s light and cheap, especially if it has multiple purposes, just fucking carry it. There’s like no reason not to have them. They weigh nothing. I carry a little thing of superglue. I am not currently of the superglueing your skin back together thing, but a lot of like old woodworkers and stuff will use it as like, kind of instead of a band aid, you know. They’ll like close their wounds with superglue. There’s like some bonus upsides and downsides to that. I usually use superglue to like fix small things, personally. And like use it and woodworking. Antibiotic ointment packets super fucking important. More likely to die of an infection in the woods than someone shooting you. I carry some band aids. I carry wound closure strips, either the steri strips or the butterfly bandages depending on what I have available. These are for like wounds that kind of borderline needs stitches, you know. I carry an irrigation syringe and this is like a little bit like bigger of a thing, an irrigation syringe. But, I carry it and I put it in every pack I include because irrigation syringes are what you use for puncture wounds and cleaning out puncture wounds. And if you’re hiking in the backwoods and you step on the thorn, or whatever I don’t know, and you need to clean something out, seems nice to have it. Avoiding infection is like a big part of what I learned by living out of a backpack for a long time, you know?
I carry tweezers for similar purpose for like picking things out of wounds, for plucking my eyebrows, for taking ticks off. Although I’ll be real, I usually use the pliers on my multitool to take ticks off but don’t do what Margaret Don’t does. I carry gauze. Even though this isn’t my like IFAK, this isn’t my gunshot-wound kit, I carry gauze in case there’s like deeper wounds that need putting packed in gauze. I carry petroleum jelly packets. These are also sort of like…some people use them medically, like put it on wound. Some people don’t. People like to argue about it. I carry them…Honestly, I mostly carry them for fire starter, but I put them in the first-aid section because some people use it for first aid. And then I carry a bunch of different over-the-counter-drugs and I don’t use over…like I just don’t use drugs. But I carry them with me because other people might need them or I might need them. And like and this is one of the things that I like see people not…I think this is a really good idea. However, specifically with pills, the first thought I had was like, “Oh, I only need 10,” so I’ll buy a bottle, and I’ll pull out 10, and I’ll put them in a Ziploc bags. If you have to interact with police ever, this is a bad idea because now you have unmarked pills in a bag even if it’s fucking Benadryl. And so what I carry is blister packed pills or like in tiny like one dose pack pills that are labeled from the manufacturer. The biggest downside is I have not found caffeine pills in that form yet. So the caffeine that I carry is caffeine gum because caffeine gum you can get in smaller pockets. It’s a little bit more than I want to carry. I’d rather have a caffeine pill. But whatever. I carry loperamide, which is like Imodium. It’s an anti-diarrheal. Because if you eat something wrong or drink something wrong and you have another like three days that you have to hike, diarrhea will fucking kill you. And so I feel like this is a thing….This is the one that I would say most people overlook. I carry Benadryl or diphenhydramine, which is its formal name, and this is an anti-inflammatory. You can use it to stop itching, which is a common problem in the woods. You can also use as an anti-anxiety, which for some reason might seem like a likely problem. You can also use it as a sleep aid. Don’t use it and then use heavy machinery. Don’t go chainsawing. And for painkillers I carry all three of them. I carry ibuprofen, acetamino–thing [said like she can’t remember the word] and aspirin. Advil, Tylenol, and aspirin is like the common names for them, but it’s ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. They all have different purposes. Read the thing. Some of them are good for people different situations. But, being able to bring down fevers and being able to like…You’re fucking old and you’re hiking all the time like you fucking might need some shit to keep your knee happy enough so you can get out of there, you know? And also, carry potassium iodide, although now I am past the age where this matters. I think this is the kind of thing that preppers are like, “You got potassium iodide?” and like it doesn’t really matter all that much. Potassium iodide is…it is for disaster. Okay, so yeah, if you are near, but not in the get-blowed-up range of a nuclear disaster, you might, there might be an emergency broadcast directing you to take potassium iodide and you only have have 15 minutes to do it before it’s too late and there’s no point anymore. And what it does is it floods your…I forget the word for it…thyroid. It floods it with iodine so that you don’t absorb radioactive iodine because it’s full. And this can prevent some cancers down the line. It is contra…it is also really rough on you if you do this. And so it is contraindicated for people who are 40 years and older. So, for my birthday, I should have just given away all my potassium iodide. And I think the idea is that it’s just like…your body doesn’t want rough stuff to happen to it. And also, they’re kind of like, “Well, you’re gonna die before you die of cancer anyway. You’re old.” I don’t entirely understand the mechanism.
I feel like they need to update that. I feel like they probably maybe need to update those.
No, it’s worth, I should probably look into it more and I still keep some around. And then, any personal medications that you might need. In this case, for me, it would be my dog’s medication. And then also, I take famotidine to stop heartburn. One more thing for the emergency kit, the survival section. And this is not going to be like a super packed out section. Because again, this is not your full go bag. This is your little survival…your little kit. I keep KN95 masks in there. For some obvious reason. I actually kept masks in here before covid because it’s important to like…like when COVID broke out, I had a bunch of P100 masks, which is like kind of the next step up from an N95 mask, and the reason I had them was like prepper shit where you’re like, “I don’t know, if you’re in a city and there’s an earthquake and there’s dust everywhere,” you know?
Yeah, I will say that one of our other prepper landmates at the time, sent all of us text messages well before covid was much of a popularized thing and was like, “Y’all should really go stock up on like P100 and N95 masks,” and I did not. And it is…like it haunts me that I did not listen to him.
Yeah, no. Yeah, Inmn and I used to live together on a land project. And, there was me and one other prepper there, and even though we’re like, anarchists on a land project, we mostly got made fun of for being silly, for being preppers. However, covid has turned everyone into preppers on some level, thank God. It is the one upside. Yeah, when it broke out, I was able to, like, have masks for people who needed it and that felt really good, you know. But, which actually gets to some of the point of prepping I talk about a lot on the show, but like, the point of prepping is to kind of like have your own shit settled so that you can then help other people, you know? Because even if I only had one P100 mask, well then at least I don’t need someone else to get me a mask, right? And so everything that you have prepped is like you’re one less person who needs to rely on the mutual aid network. And then everything you have on top of that is stuff you can provide to the mutual aid network, and that rules. Both of those rule. Yeah, okay. In the survival [section,] you’ve got a mask, you’ve got another butane lighter. Just carry a Bic lighter everywhere. Fuck it. Like you got two Bic lighters, you’re fucking good. Little pieces of solid fuel, which is just little like tablets that you can burn and some of them are actually designed, they’re like–I don’t know how to describe what size they are–two Starburst? And they’re like, designed that you can like cook a 15 minute meal over just burning one of these tablets, you know? But they’re usually used to start a fire. I carry a little bits of tinder. The purpose made stuff isn’t super expensive, but can also make your own. I carry a little needle thing with sewing needles with three different leather needles and six regular needles in it. And this is for repairing different equipment. I use the dental floss as my thread in an emergency. I carry fishhooks and line. I don’t eat fish, but I would if it was me or the fish. However, I’d be fucked because I don’t know how to fish. I actually think fishing is fake. I tried fishing so many times when I was a boy scout. I have never caught a single fish. I think what happens is that I go out…everyone else knows the fishing is fake. And they’re like, “Let’s just trick Margaret again.” And so we go out fishing. And they’re like, “Oh yeah, oh, I gotta tug on my line,” and then they wait till I turn my back, and then they like pull a fish out of a cooler, and they’re like, “Oh, I caught a fish.” You know? That best as I can….
Well, Margaret that’s why they call it fishing and not catching anything. [Margaret does not laugh] This is my bad dad joke.
Oh, I see. Well, if you’re fishing for humor, for laughs, it’s not gonna work.
This time on This Month in the Apocalypse, Margaret, Brooke, and Inmn talk about a lot of stuff that happened in April. They explore the history of Mayday, what will happen if the US defaults on its debts, Brooke’s reasons for not wanting to become a Dracula, strikes, a report from the Sudanese Anarchist Gathering on the current conflict in Sudan, a horrible string of murders, guns, syphilis, cheetahs, more syphilis, shirt slinging neo-Nazis, and some new news about the Stop Cop City movement.
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the End Times. This is a This Month in the Apocalypse special where we talk about this month in the apocalypse, but even more than that it’s the Mayday special because it’s Mayday–not when you’re listening but when we’re recording–and that’s what matters to me is the things that affect me. I’m one of your hosts Margaret Killjoy.
Hi, I’m Brooke.
Hi, I’m Inmn
Inmn is joining us. Is this is your first time co-hosting the show?
This is…yes…this is my first time co-hosting.
That’s very exciting.
Yes, I’m excited and under….I’m here for playful banter.
If there’s three co-hosts, should it be co-co-host?
Or co…tri… No, I got nothing. Okay. So, co-co-hosts but not Coco Chanel because she’s a Nazi.
Yep. Alright. So, this podcast is proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Bop! [Said like the note of a song] That was my song.
And we’re back. Okay, so, today is Mayday. What’s Mayday, you might ask? Eh? Eh?
What is…What’s a May Day?
Thanks. It’s the thing you say when you’re in trouble and you’re in an airplane. [Brooke makes sad trumpet noise] Okay, so, Mayday is the international working holiday. I don’t have any notes about this in front of me. So, I’m going to be off the top of my head. But I’ve have given this as a spiel multiple times in my life. Mayday has been celebrated in various forms, kind of going back to 1886. And going back to 1886 in Chicago, let’s like [Makes scifi time machine noises]…now we’re in 1886 in Chicago and there’s this vibrant anarchist scene and it’s an almost entirely immigrant culture, mostly German in this particular time and place as well as there are some like born in the United States anarchists who are part of it, kind of most famously, the power couple Albert Parsons and Lucy Parsons. Albert Parsons is a white guy who used to be a Confederate soldier, realized he was on the wrong side when he as a teenager, spent the next huge chunk of his life trying to fight actively against the thing he had fought for. He managed to get shot in the process. And then he illegally married a black woman, Lucy Parsons, because it was illegal for interracial marriages. So, they actually moved to Chicago even before it was legal there. They moved from Texas up there. And they were rad organizers, and Lucy Parsons was like actually way more interesting than Albert. No offense to Albert, you know. He’s one of today’s martyrs for May Day. And Lucy Parsons has all these quotes about like, “What I want is for every greasy grimy tramp to arm himself with a knife and a gun and wait outside the homes of the rich. And, as they leave, stab or shoot them.” Lucy Parsons did not fuck around. Lucy Parsons knew that class war was a thing that was already happening to marginalized people and wanted to see it returned to the rich. And so, the anarchists on Mayday during this time, they would do things like they’d have these huge parades where they like, marched to the homes of the rich with like banners that said, shit, like, “We’re gonna fucking kill you,” or whatever, you know. I’m sort of paraphrasing here because I don’t have my notes. Yeah. And so they had this like culture and they were building this amazing culture and there was also this, like…they had community defense organizations, they had plays, they had like–it’s very actually parallel to a lot of the stuff that’s getting built now–only we’ll survive repression better than they did; I hope. Okay, and so at the same time there’s this massive fight for the eight hour workday. And the anarchists were a little bit like, “I mean, that’s cool, I guess. Like we kind of want the no-hour workday. Like, we’re in it for the abolition of capitalism, but we’ll put up with it. Right, that’s all right.” And so, they were a big part of the organizing, and–kind of in a similar way that anarchists participate in organizing now–and there was basically this idea that we’re like, “Alright, on May 1, 1886, we’re just declaring the eight hour day, and no one will work more than that, and it’s gonna be this massive general strike.” And it was it was this massive general strike all across the country. And in Chicago, at the McCormick harvester factory where they made harvesters,which were, you know, big combine machines used for farming or whatever, a bunch of people were like, “Fuck this. We’re not working.” And so they brought in scabs, and then people were like, “Fuck you,” and they like threw rocks at the scabs and stuff. And then the cops were like, “Well, what if we just shot you?” and people were like, “We’d rather you didn’t shoot us,” but the cops weren’t listening. So, they shot them anyway. And some people died. And it was bad. And that was on May 1st. And then there were several days of protests after that. But the anarchists were like, “Man, they’re just shooting us now.” And these were not the first labor people who were getting shot in the US during this fight, but they were like, “You know, if they’re shooting us like, let’s put out this thing that’s like, you know, in both German and English, it’s like, “Show up at Haymarket Square and get ready to fight. This is our time.” you know, and it’s this big kind of bravado thing. But then,the day of everyone was like, “Actually, let’s just show up and be peaceful because it’s like, kind of sketchy. Like, you know?” and I feel like we’ve all been in this kind of situation. And so then all of these people go up and give these speeches. And some of the speeches are, like, “Let’s murder all the people who are trying to murder us.” And some of them were a little bit more restrained. And…but, it was like, overall peaceful, and so this was on May 4th, 1886. And then the chief of police, he was like, “No, I want to fuck everyone up.” And I’m not even like–I’m putting words in his mouth, but I’m not putting motives into his mouth–this guy like fucking hated the anarchists. And so he marched on down there with a ton of people. And basically was like…it was like, starting to clear anyway. It was starting to rain. A lot of people were like, “Hey, let’s go hang out at the bar instead of listening to the speakers.” And the guys who were out there being like…I think was Samuel Fielden, and he’s up there, He’s like, trying to give a speech, and everyone’s like, “Oh, like, that’s cool. We could go hang out the bar instead of listening to you.” It’s like just one of those protests, right? It’s actually not a big deal protest. And then the cops are fucking up everyone. So, someone–unknown to history, probably a German anarchist, hard to say–someone honks a bomb at the cops. A bomb goes boom. The cops start shooting wildly into the crowd. And they just like murder a ton of people. I actually literally have no idea the number. I don’t remember off top my head at all. And they also shoot a bunch of themselves. Cops, as we’re gonna talk about in this episode, cops are really good at shooting each other. Critical support to the police for shooting the police.
Comrade police? Hmmm. No.
Comrade Friendly Fire?
Comrade Friendly Fire.
And like, one of the reasons we know this is a lot of like people go through and look at the evidence and the direction of the bullets in the lampposts and all this stuff–there’s this huge trial, right–and so all of the evidence that comes out is like, basically the cops all shot each other, right? Which is like…Whatever, I wouldn’t get mad at someone who shot back if they’re being shot at, but I don’t think that that’s what happened. So this thing happens. And it’s like, “Oh, fuck, that’s a really big deal,” right? And then the anarchists…the cops are just like, “We’re gonna fucking arrest everyone now.” Like all the anarchists “You’re done.” And they just start sweeping the city. They’re showing up at everyone’s houses, like not only all the organizers but all the just like the regular non organizer folks, and they’re just like raiding everything, shutting everything down. One of the most interesting arrests, they show up at this guy’s house, and they’re like, “Hey, we want this guy!” and this guy who answers the door, Louis Lingg, is like, “Oh, that guy’s not here.” And they’re like, “Well, you’ll do. We’ll take you.” And so Louis Lingg is like, “Fuck you!” And he pulls out a gun and tries to shoot the cop. And so the cop manages to get him and then, theoretically, according the New York Times–which is not an unbiased source now was like really not an unbiased source in 1886–In the carriage, Louis Lingg, who was I think 22 at this time, he says the quote, “It all would have been worth it if only I had been able to kill that police officer.” So, they all get taken to jail. And it’s mostly not firebrands like Louis Lang. It’s all of these organizers. So, it’s like Samuel Fielden who’s just like this guy–he ends up a Wobbly later in his life–he survives. And he’s…or maybe he’s like a rancher. I can’t remember. He stays rad, but he just like chills out after he survives this nasty shit. And so they arrested a bunch of them, and there’s eight ‘martyrs’–that they get called, right, and they’re all put on trial. And, the thing that they’re accused of is literally being anarchists. There is no evidence that links any of them to the bombing. There’s plenty of counter evidence. Some of them have interesting alibis, like Louis Lingg, our aforementioned 22 year old. He’s 23 at the time that he dies. His defense in court is, “I could not have made that bomb because I was at home making bombs.” which was true. He did not throw the bomb Yeah. Oh my god. And then Louis Lingg was also like, he was this like, he was super hot and everyone like copied his style. Like all the boys would like do their hair up like Louis Lingg in order to like, look hot at all the anarchy dances and shit. And you just have this like wide variety of different people. You’ve got this guy who…this like toy maker named George Engel–who I’ve got tattooed on my arm–and he’s like the oldest of them–I want to say that he’s in his early 50s, I can’t remember–and he’s just this like, he’s like born fucking poor in Germany and he ran a toy shop and he’s an anarchist. And I used to think of him as just like the low key down to earth one, right? But it actually turns out, he was like, part of the like, super radical faction. Whereas like Albert Parsons, right, he was like, kind of like one of the more like, liberally anarchists who was like, “Oh, let’s like have good messaging and shit.” And George Engle was like, in the background planning how to take over the city by force of arms to institute anarchism. He still didn’t throw the fucking bomb. And so yeah, they were all put on trial. And they were found guilty. And five of them were sentenced to death. Three of them were sentenced to not-death. I think two to life imprisonment, one to 15 years. There’s a whole thing where like, some of them asked for a pardon from the governor. There’s like a…and then five of them were like, “Man, we’re not fucking asking for a pardon from the governor. Fuck you. Like, we’re done. It’s over. Fuck it.” And then while they’re awaiting their death, Louis Lingg, someone smuggles him in some explosives, probably in cigars, and he takes his own life. And the other four are led up to the platform and hanged. And there’s like this massive unrest outside, and Lucy Parsons–her husband is about to get hanged–and she’s trying to break in. And they have really heartbreaking last–their speeches in court are something worth reading–And their last words are stuff that sticks with me, including two of them that basically just said, “Hoch the anarchy!” or, “”up” the anarchy, hurrah for anarchy.” And, you know, they they believed very strongly in a world without the state and without capitalism, and they fought and they died for it. And, it was complete miscarriage of justice everyone knew was a miscarriage of justice. At the time, no one cared because it was a big anti anarchists fervor. But, as the trial went on, people started being like, “Wait, what?” And so it actually, it crushed the anarchist movement in Chicago; the movement that had been building in Chicago fell apart. And it was it was awful because it was an incredibly vibrant, beautiful movement with like eight different newspapers in different languages, and like, it’s like, it’s all a bigger deal than…I think sometimes anarchists think we were like really marginal throughout history. And that is like, just not the case. And before state communism became a stronger force, anarchism was absolutely the primary voice of the left besides like, kind of like liberalish, like progressive movements. So, it crushed the Chicago movement. But, what it did is it inspired a generation and it inspired a generation of anarchists and inspired a generation of labor organizers. And so Mayday has been the International Workers holiday ever since. And within a couple of decades, you could go anywhere in the world and go into a union hall, even if it’s not an anarchist Hall, even if it’s a communist Hall, or whatever, and you’ll see the martyrs on the wall who stood for that. And so, I love Mayday. I love this story. I love seeing myself in these people from our past, I think that we can have heritages that are not just direct ancestral like blood lineage. And I believe that the anarchists who are alive today are part of the lineage from the 1880s. And that, that spirit lives. So I get real emotional about it. And anyone who wants, I would really recommend going to Chicago going out to I think it’s Waldorf Cemetery, but I might be wrong. Again. I didn’t take any notes for this. It’s off top my head. And, there’s a monument to the martyrs and it’s also where you’ll see Emma Goldman’s grave and Lucy Parsons grave. And, yeah, it’s beautiful. And it has always the cutest graffiti on it, because I don’t think they would have minded. Maybe Albert Parsons would have minded, right, but like Lois Lingg would have done it, you know.
I’ve heard it’s become a new rite of passage to make out on their graves. Or at least it was it was like 10 years ago.
I just go there and cry.
That’s also reasonable.
Yeah, whatever floats your boat.
If it makes you feel any better, they would have been dead by now anyway.
Or would they have? Because, what if they’re Dracula’s?
Not this again? No. No.
What if a Dracula threw the bomb?
And [that Dracula] now has a podcast. What if I threw the bomb at Haymarket? Is this a conspiracy theory I should spread?.
Yes, yes. You heard it here, Margaret. Killjoy is a Dracula.
You know, as we’ve talked about before, famous podcasters have superpowers that make things come true. So, you should not do any of that.
Become a Dracula? Okay, so I’m really…I’ve given us a lot of thought. Actually, I’m curious about you all. Let’s get your answers first. Brooke, would you become a Dracula?
Inmn, would you become a Dracula?
Okay. Let’s get both your reasons. Brooke why no Dracula becoming? This is what people tune in for. This is about what This Month in the Apocalypse is about.
Because I have seen and read every vampire novel, story, romance, you know, whatever. There’s one for every generation and I’ve read them all. And it never goes well. It just never goes well. There’s no…There’s no history of it going well for Dracula.
So, that doesn’t seem like a good choice.
I don’t like living enough as it is that I don’t want to do it extra long. I look forward to dying someday. Yes. I don’t want to not die. I want to get off this fucking planet.
Alright, Inmn what do you got? Why are you becoming a Dracula?
Despite my belief that it actually is like an interesting thing to know that we are going to die, which I mean, I could still die as Dracula, can absolutely still die as Dracula. I think the like middle school version of Inmn that was and is still obsessed with like different fantasy worlds would never forgive myself if I passed up the opportunity to become a Dracula.
That is fair.
Yeah, I’m holding myself to the standard of 12 year old Inmn. That is the only standard that matters.
I make decisions like that. I think that’s a reasonable…like when you’re like, “Do you want to do something or not do something?” and be like, “What would 12 year old me think?”
I think 12 year old may be crying in her bedroom about, you know, whatever cute boy won’t talk to her. So, she shouldn’t get a say in my life.
Yeah, okay, fair. Okay, I would become a vampire, or a Dracula as it’s fun to call them, even though I’m incredibly squeamish, I’m vegan, I don’t like blood, I don’t like meat, I would hate to kill someone, but I feel like it would be like, it’s just like, I feel like I owe it. It’s like, like, who am I to turn down superpowers? Like, imagine what you could do if you were an immortal until proven otherwise by the sun or a stake?
Could you solve the current conflict in the Sudan?
I don’t know. Would direct application of violence successfully solve that problem? And I don’t know the answer.
What about global warming?
I respectfully declined to answer the question about whether direct application of violence would be useful in solving global warming.
Would your powers help us with the government debt default problem?
Oh, I could help with the government problem.
Yeah, your superpowers could do something about that?
Yeah. Because, imagine antifa super soldiers if everyone was like, 15 times stronger, immune to almost all damage, can only come out at night [inflected to be a disadvantage], and have to have a mutual aid blood bank. But I bet there would be volunteers, you know.
You don’t know for sure that that’s what would happen if you become a Dracula because not all Dracula mythology has them getting superpowers other than just like living forever.
They might not be extra strong or fast or…
Oh, they’re like almost always like…but, you know, and if you’re rolling the dice, you might be able to turn into a bunch of bats. If you could turn into mist…If I could turn into mist I like would volunteer to be tried for every crime that an anarchist does. “It was me. Oh, no.” And then I turned into mist and I leave the prison. You know? Until they figure out I’m a vampire. And then they hit me with the sun. But…there’s like some holes in this plan.
Some? Some? Okay.
Yeah, enough that bats can fit through.
There are wilder concepts, you know, wilder things have happened in history than you becoming a Dracula.
Like the Rutgers University strike that happened last month. That kind of wild thing?
Is that what we’re switching into? Is this a transition?
You see how desperately I’m trying to divert to what we’re going to be talking about.
All right, let’s go. Let’s go. What do you got? What happened this month in the apocalypse? [last word said with an eerie reverb voice]
Well, strikes being good things, the staff at Rutgers University went on strike for a grand total of five whole days in April. They did a pretty good job of planning it in secrecy, though, because everyone was super surprised when they sent out the email on April 9th in the evening, like, “Hey, we’re going on strike tomorrow.” And then suddenly, they were on strike. And everyone’s like, “Wait, what the fuck?” So. It’s very similar to what was going on with…whichever one of the Cali…UCLA? Whichever one of the California universities was doing strike stuff recently too, arguing for better pay and better treatment of graduate students and such.
How did the Rutgers one end up?
They have a tentative agreement.
They still haven’t finalized contracts, but it was impactful enough that it got the necessary people to come back to the negotiating table and, you know, get some progress towards their goals there.
Yeah. Yay, Strikes,
There was some other strike that’s going on, or maybe going on soon, but I can’t remember where or what it is, other than President Biden wouldn’t comment on it.
He’s like, he’s trying so hard to be the pro-labor President as he continues to do all kinds of anti-labor shit.
Right? Fuckface. Yeah. Speaking of the government and how much it sucks, we’re at risk of defaulting on our debt here in the US, again, which is a fun thing they like to battle every once in a while.
Okay, so this is such an abstract thing that people keep talking about it and it’s something that means nothing to me.
What does it mean? Not because it doesn’t mean anything, but because the way it’s presented just like, I don’t get it.
Well, so in order to prop up our whole fake monetary system that we’ve created, the government sometimes makes itself have to follow some rules so that we all…the rest of us still believe in it, too. And it likes to flirt with not following those rules in order to have drama that we can all talk about. That’s what’s going on. That’s all you need to know,
Well, what happens if they default? If they default do I lose? Like, like, what happens?
Well, technically, then the government doesn’t have money to pay for things like sending out welfare checks, or paychecks for federal workers, or funding to states for various programs that the federal government funds, paying for the military. Basically, all the things that the federal government pays for.
So like, lots of bad and one good.
Yeah, kind of.
Well, from our point of view
Internationally, you know, people who’ve invested who own government bonds, for instance, basically if you’ve loaned money to the federal government, you’d be like, “You’re not gonna you’re not gonna pay back the money that you owe us? Fuck you.” and can affect the value of the dollar and international trade, and blah, blah, blah. The reason I’m being so whatever about it is because the government’s not going to default on its debt. It just never…it’s not that it’s never has, it has four times in history, but it’s just it could be potentially so disastrous to the economy and to our fake belief or belief in the fakeness of the monetary system that the government, just they’re not gonna let it happen. Just want to make news.
I hate that my brain can only think about things in terms of fantasy novels. But is this similar to like in Game of Thrones when they have to borrow money from the Lannisters? And the Lannisters are like “Nah, we’re not giving you any more money.” and then they try to get it from a bank and the banks like “Y’all are really broke. We’re not going to give you any money.” And…
That’s actually a really good analogy for what’s going on because yeah, like the US in order to fund all the shit we do has borrowed money from, you know, other governments, other people outside the country, like, you know, we talk about how you can just print money, you can just make up money, we just say what it’s worth, but the only reason that whole system, the monetary system, works is because we all agree to believe in it. And if the government breaks its own rules about the monetary system, the whole belief system can start to unravel.
I see. What is it that kind of keeps? Like, is it just the belief in that that keeps that? Like, what? What keeps the cycle functioning?
The monetary cycle?
Yeah. It’s something I’ve always been curious about, like, if the US is so in debt then like, why is the US a global economic power still?
Well, what’s wild is that it’s because it’s so in debt is how it’s a global economic power. There’s like weird ways of having people–I’m not going to do this justice and maybe Brooke knows it better–but I’m just, I read “Debt” once by David Graeber and now I’m smart about money because I don’t remember anything–but literally, at least that book talks about the fact that if you’re the hegemonic power, loaning money to people makes them invested in your success or failure. They don’t want you to fail because if you default on a loan, they’re never seen that money back. It’s like actually a weird power play for the United States to have a debt like that. And it’s like the King used to loan money or borrow money from people all the time in a way that there’s like a question mark profit that I don’t quite get grasp in there.
Yeah, people will talk about, especially like Republican side of conversation, will talk about how we’re heavily in debt to China, like the Chinese government has bought a lot of US Treasury bonds, basically loaned us a whole bunch of money, if you will. They’ll say “Oh, well, you know, they can just call in their debt and fuck us up anytime they want to.” But that would fuck them up too because they’ve loaned out all of this money and capital. And if they’re just like, “Hey, you need to give it back.” when they know, we can’t pay it back then that’s just gonna send the whole system into chaos, which will echo back to them and just fuck up the whole global economy. If that makes sense?
Yeah. Okay, so what else we got? We got default.
Well, the other thing I wanted to say about the default is it is different from–because there’s another debate that crops up pretty often–and it’s about government shutdowns and it’s easy to get the two conflated, but they’re actually about different things. The debt ceiling one that’s being talked about right now is about ‘can the government borrow more money.’ Basically, it’s going to sell more treasury bonds that were bought by China or, you know, whatever other nations in order to bring money into the US so the US can pay for things. That’s the, that’s the debt ceiling. That literally like…it’s like, if you want to go to your credit card and get a higher spending limit on your credit card. That’s what they’re doing there. The other thing is the government shutdowns because of budgetary debates. So, the government has to create a budget for itself. And if it can’t agree on that budget by a certain deadline then it doesn’t know how much it is or isn’t allowed to spend on things. And the response to that is that the whole government shuts down, the federal government, because they don’t know how much they’re allowed to spend on things even though there’s money there. So, they’re two, the debt ceiling is one thing that’s going on right now and then government shutdowns are another thing that happens for different reason. They’re all money related, but they’re actually quite different.
Turning towards international news, I suppose y’all might have heard about this, but conflict is broken out in Sudan earlier in April, was like the mid month. I wanna say was like the 15th or so. Which, Sudan has a really long history of violence and unsteadiness as a country, a lot of conflict. It’s been ruled by an autocrat for a long time. And that person was overthrown a few years ago around 2020 or either a little before or a little after. I can’t quite remember. So, they’ve been in the process of trying to form a democratic government in the last few years since that autocratic leader was overthrown, but they haven’t got there. And it’s been a very tense place. And then, just a couple weeks ago the army and a paramilitary force started fighting in the Capitol, and I think a few hundred people have died already, and Western countries that have workers there, principally the US and the UK, have started to try to evacuate people who were there. They had a really short ceasefire over this last weekend in order for the Western governments to try and get their people out of the country, but it’s, you know, looking to be another refugee crisis. People are are starting to pack up and migrate. And the fighting looks like it could get much worse. And it’s also another one of those places in the world where it’s kind of a proxy fight because Russia has a lot of interest in Sudan and what’s going on in that region, and the US has shown a lot of interest, too. And so, you know, some of our old tensions between our countries are flaring up. Yes, Margaret?
So, okay, a couple questions about that. I’m really curious about it. I’ve been following it a little bit. And I’ve only been able to kind of get a little bit of a picture. There’s a…Okay, so I believe that the militia that is currently trying to take power is the Rapid Support Forces…
Versus the existing government. And, do you know which side the US and Russia are each supporting?
I was not clear on that as I was reading through it. It sounded like the military, some of the military leaders, there’s a general in particular, who’s trying to become a politician and then possibly reelected as president, which we all know how that goes when the military then takes the power, which seems more like the thing that Russia would support versus the other forces being more in favor of democratic institutions.
I know there’s a there’s a group called the Sudanese Anarchists Gathering. There’s a group of anarchists who organize there that have been…I’ve been reading their dispatches through “Organise Magazine,” which is spelled incorrectly. They use an S because they’re British.
James teaches Margaret about sourdough bread. He provides specific instructions on how to start a sourdough starter, keep it alive, and how to then turn the starter into tasty bread. Margaret and James also discuss the intricacies of British vs American English and Margaret learns about a magical Belgian spoon.
James Stout (He/Him) can be found on Twitter @JamesStout or on the podcast It Could Happen Here. James has a book out called “The Popular Front and the Barcelona 1936 Popular Olympics.” You can find it here.
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Margaret killjoy, and this week we’re talking about that thing you’re supposed to conquer: bread. We’re talking about bread. Specifically, we’re talking about sourdough. And we’re talking with James Stout about sourdough. And that’s what we’re going to talk about. It’s gonna be really exciting. I didn’t make that sound exciting, but it is. Bread, and baking, and all that shit, something we haven’t really covered on here before. And, it’s something that I’m really curious about. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. [Hums a nondescript “jingle” melody]
And we’re back. So James, if you would be so kind as to introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of a little bit of your background with I guess, in this case, like bread or preparedness or stuff like that?
Yeah, totally. So I’m James. He/him for me. I have my background for this….let me think…I grew up in the countryside. So, I grew up like with animals around, with growing a lot of our own food too, just because that’s the way we did stuff. And I think I moved to America in 2008. And without condescending too much, your bread is shit. And so, I was appalled by it. And I’ve been making my own on and off when I’ve been home long enough to do it ever since, I guess. And now I still live in the United States in San Diego. And I try and have a little bit of the, like the that sort of, I guess, like preparedness/countryside kind of life. Like, we have we have backyard chickens, and we bake our own bread, and we grow a lot of food too. So, I still try and keep up with all that stuff.
And that’s inside the city?
Yeah, we’re not like…I don’t want to make it out like we’re in a high rise. I have a tiny yard. And then we’ve, I guess we’ve liberated the area in between the pavement and the road. I don’t know what that area is called.
A median. Yeah, it’s been…because that’s, that’s like…
Well a medians in the middle of the road. [Sounds unsure] Huh?
I don’t know. I should know.
Yeah, you know what I mean, that area that’s like liminally public/private. And public, in the sense of owned by the city council, and you can do fuck all with it. Which, you know, isn’t great. So, I obtained some lumber and I’ve tried to put planters out there as well.
Oh, nice. What do you grow up?
Yeah, So I grow a number of things. I get them from…We actually had a very nice older guy…the other day and an older couple had left their keys in their car. And so I took the keys and put them in the house and left them a note saying, you know, “Come get them.” And then they did, and they gave us a voucher when they came and got them, they gave us a voucher for a garden center. So, I’m going to restock my vegetables. But right now I think I’ve got kale. I like to go…so I do a lot of work in Tucson with a group of indigenous people there, and I like to buy indigenous plants. So there are a couple of nurseries in Tucson and go to. So, I think we have wolfberry. We have agave. We have golden currants. We have carrots. We have kale, Thai chilies, and beetroot.
So this is a terrible…I haven’t eaten dinner yet. This all sounds very good.
Yeah, this is…You’re gonna be ruined when I bust out my bread from the oven.
I mean, honestly, like bread is…I love bread. I understand that everyone has different body types and different diets. I’m so grateful. I’m not gluten free.
I love gluten
Gluten is my guide star. If someone…I have diabetes, right? And it’s like, I think there’s a 10% coincidence of autoimmune diabetes and celiac, and I spent some time volunteering with diabetes education and various kinds of places and just…I remember like staying with some folks–and we all have diabetes, so it’s fine–I was like, “Fuck, you have celiac as well? That sucks.” Like, yeah, it must be profoundly difficult for people, and I’m sorry for them. There are ways to make your own–I think Bob’s Red Mill has a pretty good celiac or gluten free blend that you could probably use with a sourdough starter. Certainly, if you fed that starter that flour over time and sort of messed around with your recipe you could probably get something going there. But it’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time with. Fortunately, I’m blessed to be able to digest gluten.
So, what is sourdough? Okay, I mean, I sort of know, but I feel like this is a good starting point, right?
Yeah. So, it’s spontaneous fermentation bread, right? I guess…Like these days, people might be more familiar with like spontaneous fermentation beer like lambics and stuff.
No, I don’t actually know what spontaneous fermentation means.
Okay, so it’s when you’re capturing wild yeast–and capturing as a strong word–you’re encouraging wild yeast from the atmosphere to come and live in a certain place. And then you’re using them to ferment you’re bread, or your beer, or what have you.
Okay, so rather than going and getting yeast you’re counting on…This is the way that you make alcohol in prison, right?
Yes, yeah. So I’m told. I’m sure. I mean I don’t have firsthand experience with it. But yes, it is. And it’s a way like ancient Belgian monks would make their beer, right? Like and you hear about back in the day, when people were making beer or making bread they had like a ‘magic spoon’ that they would stir it with, not knowing that the spoon was like, in fact, what carried the yeast growth from one batch to the next.
Oh, that’s cool!
Yeah. Yeah, it’s fun, like a wooden spoon soaking in that yeasty mixture. So yeah, it’s basically, your only ingredients for sourdough bread are salt, water, and flour.
And so, and also a sourdough starter? But I guess you’re saying that you don’t start with that.
Well, yeah. The only things that you have to purchase or obtain, I guess. Yeah. So you need to get the sourdough starter, which we can get into, like, how do you encourage this bacteria to come and live with you. But you need to obtain it. And then, if you don’t make it a favorable atmosphere for them to live, they will just die, right? So you have to keep them alive. And then once you’ve got those, then you can keep them in your fridge and feed them every week or two. And you can feed them less than that, actually. And yeah, then you’ve got everything you need, really. You want a big Dutch oven as well. That makes it a lot easier. But yeah, it’s you could…
Which is a big iron cooking pot with a lid.
Exactly. Like a casserole with a lid. Yeah. It’s got to have a lid, but you can get those so cheaply now. Like I think I have a large one that is like 35 bucks a Target if you live near a target. I also kind of like to go to thrift stores and buy stuff like that. If I’m out and about I have a special one that I got that I use in like fires and cooking outside.
So, why do people make sourdough bread instead of…what is regular [bread]? Because regular bread has yeast in it too, right?
Yeah, so it uses…what’s the process called…there’s a process through which it ferments more rapidly. It’s like hyphenated. It’s like two names, which…So like my bread–I’m making a batch of bread now, actually–and I started feeding the sourdough [starter] yesterday around around noon, and I build up my starter by adding flour and then I add that to my bulk ferment and then that bulk ferments and it will probably go in the oven tonight.
Bog ferment? [Misunderstanding how James says “Bulk”]
Bulk. [Emphasizing the word.]
Yeah, like when you’re bulking, you know? Yeah, so that…like it’ll be the yeast, and the water, and the flour will be in contact for like 24 hours, right? So it’s a much slower fermentation. And some people find this more digestively beneficial to them. Chorelywood process is what it’s called when you speed ferment the bread. So, if you get your cheap bed, like Bimbo bread or whatever, and you sort of like…
Yeah, you don’t have Bimbo bread?
No, what’s Bimbo bread?
You’re from the east coast aren’t you. Pan Bimbo? It’s a type of bread. It’s a little bear thing. I think maybe it’s Mexican in origin and it’s more in Latino communities or Latinx communities. But yeah. That…if you get your crappy bread.. See I don’t know the American brands because I don’t buy them, but Bimbo won. It just this sticks out. It sticks out in my mind.
Okay, the cliche crappy bread that I don’t know anyone who eats is Wonder Bread.
Yeah, Wonder Bread. Yeah. They sponsored a cycling team once. It was was very funny.
Yeah, it’s probably…That kind of bread is great to eat when you’re like doing intense exercise because it just…[incomprehensible retort]
I guess okay…Yeah, it just becomes sugar right away.
When I was racing in France, we had these things called quioche de posh, which is like pocket brioche, like the shittiest tier of brioche imaginable.
I don’t know what brioche is.
Okay, brioche like an enriched bread…ah, pretending it’s a like anarchist’s poor [undecipherable], which like I’m not judging anyone, but it’s a like enriched bread. It’s a milk bread. Like a sweet bread.
Okay, I can’t imagine this object.
it’s just like this big, which is very useful in an audio medium. Yeah, I want to say it’s the size of like half a cell phone or mobile phone and…Or a pocket knife, a pocket knife is a good analogy. It’s about as big as a pocket knife. And then it’s like injection filled with Nutella. It takes like to chews and it just it just goes to a goo.
Oh, that sounds really nice actually.
Yeah, it’s great. You need that while you’re riding over mountain France or whatever. So like, cheap bread kind of does that, right? Or like sort of mass produce bread very quickly revert to this kind of pasty thing. Whereas, sourdough bread has a much better structure. And at least like I found it to be it doesn’t cause any digestion issues for me. Because it ferments for longer, maybe it breaks down some that stuff a bit more easily. Some people will tell you it’s more nutritious. I think that largely depends on the flour use and the ingredients you put in it. You can put other stuff in it like fruit or nuts, right. But, I like it because it’s a lot more like…I can’t imagine in any like…if you’re looking at living more sustainably living more independently from capitalism, like, it’s possible that you could grow your own grains and grind your own grains. People have done that for a while. Water would be an issue where I live in Southern California. But you know, if you have access…if you don’t have access to water you’re fucked anyway.
Yeah, you have bigger problems than lack of bread.
Yeah. So, it’s very sustainable in that sense, right. And I think it just tastes better. And I like making my own stuff like. I have all kinds of things that are…Literally before we spoke, I found a knife on the road, and I was regrinding so I can use it. You know, I like to grow stuff. I like to make stuff. So, it appeals to that side of me too. Yeah.
Well, that’s good too. Because I feel like there’s often this weird gender division within DIY.
Yeah, it’s strange.
Yeah. Like grinding your own knife is allowed to one class of people. But, then gardening is allowed to a different one. You know? That’s it.
Yeah. I think that’s kind of bullshit. Like, you had a tweet today about how like trans ladies are becoming associated with firearms ownership now. Yeah, which I think it’s great. Maybe cis men could be associated with doing some domestic labor as well.
That would be…you know, the world would work a little better if people were like, “Oh, I don’t know. He’s just gonna go into the kitchen and do all the dishes.” It’s like, not even…It’s like, I’d make sure I do that before he comes over. Because otherwise he’s going to spend the whole party doing the dishes.
Yeah, ‘cause he’s naturally inclined. Yeah.
It’s the upper body strength. It really helps get into the….
Yeah. The broad pecs really help get into the lasagna dish. Yeah, they were just made that way. Why are the hands so big? So they can cover a whole dinner plate.
Yeah. You can’t argue with science.
Okay, so let’s say I want to make sourdough, which I do. And I don’t know anything about it. Which I don’t. How do I make sourdough? I get flour.
I get water. Did you say sugar? Did I make that up?
No, no, you don’t need sugar.
Yeah, you do need a bit of salt. So, let’s say you’re about starting.
Oh, and dutch oven.
Yeah, yeah. You’re one of the 500 people who texted me this in like March 20th, 2020. It caused me to have a “copy-paste-er” on my phone. So what you would do is you would go out…and I’d say like, if you have all the flours…like say you have a good Co-op or nice supermarket available to you. I would suggest buying to start off with, some rye flour, whole grain rye flour, some bread flour. King Arthur is a good brand. Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand. Some supermarkets have their own bread flour. It’s just gonna have a little more protein, which is a little more gluten, which will give the bread better structure. And I like to have some all purpose flour as well because it’s cheaper. So, like for when I’m just feeding my starter and I’m gonna dump it. If I’m gonna dump it I don’t need it to be anything fancy, right? But rye flour is great. Yeasts love rye flour. So, what I start out with is like a jar, a glass jar, preferably you don’t want a plastic one.
Okay, like a mason jar.
Yeah. So a mason jar is great. And you want to be able to….flies, like all the little buggy insects love a sourdough starter. Like, I’ll use it to catch them when they’re becoming a problem that. But, you don’t want them in it. So, you’re want to be able to put like a little cheese cloth or something over the top of it. Okay, so mason jar is great, because you can use that sealing ring.
Yeah, without anything in the middle. Yeah.
Yeah. But you do want to let it breathe. You don’t want to close the lid, because then you’ll get anaerobic fermentation. So, we’re going to express everything that we do in terms of percentages of the weight of the flour. So, we’re going to start out with 100% hydration. So that means equal amounts of water and flour. And sometimes I read that you shouldn’t use tap water, but I think those people are just kind of getting a bit too namby pamby about things. Like it’s fine. It’s always been fine for me. If you want to use bottled water, if you have a well, more power to you, but I’ve used tap water and like our tap water is dogshit in San Diego, and it’s been fine.
Well, I have a well, so….although, I soften the water. So I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.
Probably better. Ours very hard. It’s certainly better a for your other domestic appliances.
Yeah, that’s why. Most complicated plumbing job I’ve set up.
Yeah, and it’s worth it, though. If you live in a hard water area, and you want an espresso machine, you can normally find one that people think is broken and if you decalcify it it’s normally fine. That’s a little pro tip. Used to want to have no money. I’d buy them yard sales and fix them and sell them on espresso boards.
You’ve had a lot of jobs.
Yeah, a great side hustle. Yeah, didn’t have a lot of money so had to have a lot of jobs. So yeah, what we’re going to start out doing is we’re going to do 100% hydration, right?
Okay, 1:1 water and flour.
Yes, one to one water and flour. So let’s say we’re going to do 100 grams of each. It’s…you can work in American Standards units, if you really must, but it’s so much easier to do percentages, etc, in grams. So, I would just just start there. And then after a day, we’re going to dump half of that, and feed it again. Now the stuff that you dump, you can either use to start another starter and give that to a friend or have a backup starter. Or I like to keep it and there are recipes for like making crackers out of it and that kind of thing. And you can do other stuff with it.
Wait. So I’m just putting…I’m putting some some flour and some water in a jar with some cheese cloth over it, leaving it, and then throwing half of it out?
And then feeding it again.
By adding more of everything?
More of the flour and the water. So another 100 grams flour, 100 grams of water, and then you’re going to dump half and feed again the next day. And the reason you’re doing that is to get rid of some of the like metabolites and some of the flour that’s been digested. And, you want to keep giving it fresh food and that will encourage the yeast to grow. And so once that starts to fizz and bubble, and you’ll kind of see little bubbles and you’ll…first it’ll smell pretty bad, and then after four or five days normally it starts to smell pretty good. It’s kind of got a sweet kind of…people say a green apple smells sometimes.
This just seems like magic. You’re not adding anything but flour and water to this jar and it’s bubbling.
Yes, it is. I think…I forget…One of the places that used to say like that yeast was proof of God or something that like….Belgian monks used to make beer this way, right? And they convinced themselves it was either their magic spoon or like God’s benevolent love. It’s not.
I mean, both of those things seem just as realistic as the little tiny things in the air that you can’t see are eating the food.
Yes, yeah, yeah. Invisible flour eaters. Another way to do it is if you can get nonsulfated dried fruits…so you can…You know when you get the dried apricot and they’re brown not orange and they taste better? Those are unsulfated. You can also leave those in a jar. Just close the jar. Leave them in a jar with water and close the jar and after a few days it will start fizzing.
Close the jar like cheese cloth? Or like ‘close it’ close it?
Lid it. Lid on. Like screw on the lid. And then after a few days, you’ll see that water start fizzing. And that’s what’s happening there. That’s the yeast coming off the skin of the fruit. And then you can use that water to make your starter, right. So mix that with flour and then feed it just like you would before. You can kind of combine these two processes, right. You can do the fruit one first and then do that 100% feed it up. And then after a while that starch is going to start bubbling. This is why you want to use a clear glass jar because you’ll see it growing, right. You’ll see the bubbles all the way up and you’ll see that like oh yeah, this is this is fermenting now. That’s what’s happening. You can even if you want to you can like Sharpie on the side of the jar, you know, when you feed it and then see if it goes up. And the speed at which it will double in size depends on the temperature where you live, right, and the temperature of the starter itself. So, your that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for it to double in size about every eight hours. And that’s when you know you’ve got a good fast smoothing starter.
Okay, this totally real thing that happens. I know you’re explaining this to me, but in my head this is not…when I go try this later nothing’s gonna happen that’s how I feel.
It will blow your mind. It is it’s so cool
I’m gonna come back and tell you that I believe in a Belgian God.
Yeah, you just become a monk in like West Flanders. Yeah, yeah.
Okay. Is this the same yeast that is making that…Is this also alcohol?
Yes, it’s the same. What? Lactobacillus? Fuck, I used to know what they were called in Latin but I don’t anymore, but yes Saccharomyces, I think.
Magic sky yeast.
Yeah, magic sky yeast. Yes, it is. Yeah, it’s the same stuff. Brewers yeast, right when you buy it…So it’s just…
When I buy it it I can see it. But in the air is just exists?
Yeah, it’s just floating around.
Okay, so the yeast have come to live with you in this jar, right? And they are thriving, and you’re feeding them. So now we want to take that to where we can bake from it. So, what we do is we take from us starter and we grab half of it, right? So half of…
Half a mason jar?
Whatever…400 grams. Yeah, it would be the whole mason jar. But we let’s say because we’re dumping half and feeding every day, right? So we have that amount that we have, we’re gonna split it in half.
How many days before it’s ready.
It kind of depends on the temperature. It will ferment faster in a high temperature. It depends on the yeasts that are available in your area, right. So, if I gave you a sourdough starter today and you took it to where you live, right. I sent it to you in the mail, and you started feeding it, it will become different over time because of the yeast in your area as opposed my area.
But, I don’t need to start from one that you sent to me.
No, you can start from from one that you made yourself. you captured yourself. Right? So, that will probably take five or six days, maybe maybe a week. Some people like to feed it was fruit juice instead of water? I don’t know if that helps. Some people put apple peels in the water because there’s yeast on the skin. Right. So, let’s say you spend the better part of a week…and it’s very minimal effort, right, it’s about five minutes of your day. And you do that, and you start to see it bubbling up, right, you start seeing in the jar it’s bubbling up, okay. Now you could. So you’re going to take half of that, dump it in a bowl, and you’re going to add 100 grams of flour and 80 grams of water, right? So you’re at 80% hydration now. And then the other half that’s still in the mason jar, you’re going to feed that as you normally would, right, 100, 100.
Just to keep it going?
To keep it going. Yeah. And then you’ll let that sit…I don’t know, sometimes I let it sit for four hours. You don’t want to let it sit for the full eight hours, because then it would have consumed all the food and it will want feeding again. So let it sit for an hour or two and then I seal it in the mason jar or with a jam jar and I pop that in the fridge. So, that slows down the fermentation. So that now…that doesn’t need that….That’s what we call your storage starter. And that doesn’t need feeding for about a week or two. So basically, if you feed it every time you bake you’re going to be okay. Okay, so now we’ve got this other bowl, right, which has got 100 grams of flour and 80 grams of water in your starter. We’re going to mix that up, leave it for eight hours. And at this point, we can transition from using the rye flour to using our all purpose flour.
Okay, so the rye flour is just to make the starter? We’re not making rye bread.
No, well, you can, or if your stater ever gets a bit sluggish, and it’s not really fermenting the rye flour will spruce…because rye flour is lower protein, right, lower gluten, it doesn’t make as good of bread because gluten is what gives the bread the structure. But the protein is not really digested by the yeast, right? That’s why it remains in the bread. So, if we’re giving it a flour which is lower protein, there’s more of the other stuff that yeast want, and that’s where they like the rye flour. But that’s also why you can’t make your whole bread out of rye flour, or it won’t be too good if you do. So. Yeah, at this point, once we’ve captured our starter, I would start transitioning to the AP for the two feedings that we’re going to do to build up…
AP is all purpose?
All purpose. Yeah, sorry, I’m used to using baker slang. It’s how you can tell I’m like down with the kids. So you’ve moved to your like–what we’re doing now is called building a levain. It’s a French word. And we’re going to do two feedings of that, right? So, we’re going to do eight hours spaced apart more or less. We’re going to do 100 grams of water, 80 grams all purpose…Sorry, 100 grams of all purpose flour, 80 grams of water. And again, what we’re looking for is bubbling up, right. So, you can also do this in glass if you want and you’re looking for it to double in size and then you feed it again. But like, it doesn’t have to exactly double in size, right? Like I don’t really like measure shit. I do weigh stuff, but other than that I kind of…so it’s March here. It’s pretty cold for San Diego. Like, it’ll be in the 40s at night and the 50s in a day. And so it takes a lot longer for my bread to bake now. In the summer, it’s just like whipping ass. Like the whole thing is done in like, you know, from getting out the fridge to being done in less than 12 hours. But, it’s double that in the winter.
Is this making dough?
What we’re now doing is making a large kind of yeast inoculated…a large yeast culture that we’re about to put into the dough. So, the reason we’re using AP here is because the yeast will consume more of it, right? And it’s…So, then we do that twice, right, we do that feeding twice, which is…so 80% hydration feeding twice. Then, we’re going to make the dough itself. I’ve tried to like refine my process to make it as low stress as possible. And it makes really good bread and it takes not very much time. So, I like to bake with 1500 grams of flour, right? So that’s…500 grams of flour is is a good sized loaf, right?
So you make three loaves at a time? Okay,
Yeah, I make three loaves. I have tried to make one giant choad loaf, but it just sort of…What happens is it will blow the top off your Dutch oven. You’ll get like a mushroom. What I do is, I measure up my water first. And if it’s cold, I’ll use hot water, and if it’s hot, I use room temperature water, right. So, right now I run the hot tap a little bit. And then I’m doing the same thing I’m doing 80% hydration, right. So for that, because I’m doing 1500 grams of flour. I want 1200 grams of water.
It’s so interesting because I usually think of things not in terms of…I don’t usually think…I’m not much of a baker, but I don’t think of things in terms of the weight of them. I think in terms of the volume of them
Weight is so much preferable to volume, like
Yeah, no, I believe you. I’m not much of a baker.
Yeah, people say that cooking is an art and baking in science. But, I think sourdough was like a vibe…Like once you…once you get it down and you’re vibing on the same level as your sourdough starter…
Okay, because the other cliche there is, is if you can…if you can bake a cake, you can make a bomb. It’s the other cliche.
I would not trust this method for bomb making.
Yeah, don’t vibe with that.
Yeah, I’m reminded of…my colleague Robert Evans and I were doing an interview with some some folks who are part of the resistance in Myanmar. They will bomb makers, and one of them’s like, “Yeah, man, unfortunately, my friend lost his hand.” And we’re all sitting around and I know what’s coming next, and Robert knows what’s coming next, and the guy knows he’s gonna have to say it next, and he was like, “We really shouldn’t have been smoking, dude.”
Margaret and Eric discuss the ins and outs of prepping from a more traditional perspective than usual. They go over the basic tenets of preparedness, outline some easy and manageable ways to start prepping, find new and fun ways to laugh at traditional bunker mentalities, and discover that community is once again the best resource anyone can hope for.
Eric Shonkwiler (he/him) is the author of the newsletter When/If: A Leftist Guide to Prepare for a Changing World. He can be found at https://when-if.ghost.io/ where you can sign up for his newsletter. You can also find Eric on Twitter @eshonkwiler
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what probably feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And this week I’m really excited about this week. I’ve been hoping to do an episode…this particular episode for a while. This week, we’re going to be talking about talking about prepping. And we’re going to be talking about…well, I’m going to be talking to someone who writes the best newsletter I’m aware of for individual community preparedness, which is called When/If. And it’s written by Eric Shonkwiler. And I’m really excited about this conversation. But first, I’m really excited to tell you that we’re a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here is a jingle from another show on the network.
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of just a little bit about When/If, you know, the reason that I’ve brought you on here to talk.
Hi, I’m Eric ShonkWiler My pronouns are he/him. When/If is a newsletter on preparedness and collapse from a leftist perspective. I set out a couple of years ago to try to try to create some content around preparedness and prepping that was more accessible for folks on the left handed side of the political spectrum.
Yeah, and just to…we’ll ask you to shout it out at the end too, but how can people get this fine newsletter?
It might be easier to find me. My name is Eric Shonkwiler, a little bit difficult to spell. The newsletter itself is on ghost.io. Search “When/If.” That’s probably the best way to find it. It’s a bit of a goofy address.
Yeah, it’s hard to…every now and then I’ve tried to Google “When/If” and then I realize that’s not going to work.
But there are only two Eric Shonkwilers on the planet. So if you can remember my last name, you can probably find me.
Whoa. Who’s the other one?
Some kid in New Mexico.
All right. All right. I’m the only Margaret Killjoy I’m aware of. And whenever that changes, I’m going to be really sad. So I don’t know…Were you like sad when you found out you weren’t the only Eric Shonkwiler
It was super weird. It turned out that for a little while we lived in the same town. I’ve lived all around the country.
Are y’all related?
I don’t…Like probably not really. I wasn’t born and raised in New Mexico. It’s just one of my favorite places to be and I was living out there working. And I I think I was looking myself up for something and found them on like a, you know, like a high school Spelling Bee sort of an article or something like that, you know, and found out he lived in the same town at the same time that I did. Super weird. Not a very big town. Very strange.
I kind of like that. That’s kind of weird. Maybe you just….
Shout out to the other Eric Shonkwiler.
Yeah, totally. Okay, so. So you started this this newsletter and I kind of wanted to, you know…What do you cover in this newsletter? Right? What kind of stuff are you talking about?
Everything. I focus on kind of, in my head, the big three, which is climate change, fascism, and the ignorance of the government/police brutality, kind of the three fronts, as I see it, that are going to be causing problems for folks in the future.
Isn’t it kind of funny that–to me, I agree. These are, you know, probably the three big categories of things and then all three of them are ignored by right wing preparedness.
Not always. Right? I mean, they claim there’s a rise in fascism, but they claim it from a really odd perspective, not the people walking around with Nazi flags, but the people walking around with anti Nazi flags. And then Climate change. I feel like preparedness places used to talk about climate change. And then…I don’t know if you experienced this? Did they just stop talking about it at some point when it became culture war or something like?
I haven’t seen a whole lot about climate change addressed in particular. They will just sort of ally it and talk about weather preparedness. But at the same time, I’m doing a little bit of research because I’m trying to turn When/If into a book. And so I’m looking at comparable titles. And one of the comps that I looked at went immediately out of the gate in the first few pages. It talked about the dangers of hurricanes and then under a discrete subheading: typhoons. And I just wanted to tell the author, who’s my friend, “Those are the same thing.”
Yeah, I was just thinking that.
Just in a different hemisphere. Like, it’s just in a different ocean you. Like you’re telling someone to prepare for the same thing twice but differently. Like the the instructions were a little bit different too. It was wild.
They just googled “What to do with a typhoon” and wrote that down. Yeah. And they Googled “What to do in it?”
Yeah. And, and that’s why I do what I do, so that there can be some actual help when it comes to emergencies like that. And you’re not stuck getting your information from a guy who really wants you to buy a Faraday bag because the EMP is coming.
Okay, so that’s a really good segue into one of the main things I kind of wanted to talk about: one of the…I’m really excited to talk to someone who also sort of interacts in an intersection with a traditional prepping world, but then also cares about, you know, leftist prepping or community preparedness or whatever the hell we’re going to call it because it seems like some of the information that’s in traditional prepping is good, but we should talk about some of that like bullshit, like some of the nonsense that traditional preppers get wrong. Okay, so like Faraday bags, do you want to you want to myth bust the Faraday bag?
My biggest thing would be that we’re not going to see the long heralded EMP blast. Like that’s just not what’s gonna come get us. I think that I think there is very limited utility to the idea of the Faraday bag, and it’s primarily in regards to protesting. Yeah, and it has much less utility than leaving your device at home. Yeah. So rather than buying a fancy bag or trying to guard your credit card chips from getting stolen at the grocery store, like I would just leave the things at home or turn them off. Keep them in your car if you’re going to be someplace that you don’t want to be linked to from a tower pin, you know? Yeah.
Yeah, like people talk about EMPs as if they’re like…the tactical EMP is right around the corner. And as a science fiction writer I appreciate it, but literally only because otherwise it’s impossible to imagine how we’re going to deal with like swarms of nano robots with facial recognition. You know? Like until we have the EMP shotgun we’re just kind of like…or like EMP force fields or something.
I like the EMP much more all of a sudden.
Yeah, no, it’s…But as far as I’m–it’s been a while since I’ve looked this up–but I believe EMP or electromagnetic pulse, people are worried this blast will destroy all electronic devices, all modern cars, everything with a computer, everything with a chip or whatever. There is some EMP hardened equipment out there. And then a Faraday cage is like something that protects certain types of radiation from reaching certain things and it also blocks communications. I’m under the impression that the only way that anything produces an EMP right now is nuclear blasts high in the atmosphere.
I think that’s right. Yeah.
So I guess if we get into a nuclear war some electronics might be messed up, but I kind of feel like overall we have bigger problems.
At that point, yeah. Yeah, we have a few few more things to worry about than the fact that you can’t stream the latest season of whatever.
Well, I think it gets into…I really like to use Faraday bags as the example, right? Because it’s like, I worry about this a lot, right? Because–and I’m curious what your take is–I worry about being a fear monger professionally, right? I worry about like spreading worry. My goal is to spread calmness and preparedness and you know ways we can…Okay, I have a Go bag. So if there’s a forest fire I know what I’m doing so now I don’t have to worry about forest fire. But there is a version where you just worry about stuff more and more and more. And especially if you’re trying to sell someone something it’s a really good system. It’s like if I’m watching something, and the thing they’re trying to sell me is a Faraday bag, to me that’s a big red flag that like, “Oh, you’re just a grifter.” Because in the abstract of once I have every object in the world that I could possibly need, I suppose I could Faraday cage my basement or something. Right? But like…No.
Yeah, that’s a real problem because particularly when you tie your output to commerce you’re kind of getting into Alex Jones territory where, you know, you’re talking about chemicals in the water…and here’s this water filter or here are these protein shakes that will solve everything.
Turn you into a man again instead of a gay [Inaudible word.]
Yeah, and that’s a big problem. You know, that creates a circular system where you just you spin people up and you give them the solution, and that isn’t a solution at all. It might temporarily ease their worry, but they can just as easily get that by shopping at Etsy, you know, just any kind of consumption tends to ease that pang that we have. But if you’re the one creating it, obviously, that’s a different situation. Controlling that fear, or finding out the meter at which you should distribute it is, is something that I think about pretty much every time I hit publish. But at the same time, I’ll stop and I’ll look at the objective data that I’ve got, the new things that have occurred, whatever they may be new, anti trans legislation, the new IPCC report just came out last Monday and that really grounded some bad news about climate change. And you can’t ignore the news and the updates that you receive on things like that just because you’re worried that all that you’re doing is making your readership afraid. I think that you should couch it appropriately. And how I do that is by at least trying to give the reader some actionable items at the end of my 1000 word screed where I talk about all of the awful shit that’s happening in the world.
Action Items is a really good point. Action Items is…You know we did an episode a while ago about mental health first aid, right. And, you know, one of the things that I feel like we learn over and over again is that acting with agency is one of the main ways to prevent PTSD during bad situations. And I feel like even if we can’t stop what’s coming, acting with agency as much as we can about how we handle it and things like that, is how we keep it from destroying us. Like, it might literally destroy us. We might all drown in the rising waters or get murdered bu fascists or whatever, right? But like, you know, we can…there’s some cliche here about not letting it destroy us along the way or something, you know, but yeah, the action items. That makes a lot of sense. Okay, but I want to talk more shit on traditional preppers.
Okay, let’s do it.
What else are they getting wrong? Like, it’s funny because it’s like some of the stuff….Well, okay, you’re talking about for example, if you tie your stuff to what you’re selling–I think I’ve been thinking about this a lot–I make and distribute these emergency kits and I don’t sell them. And I spend thousands of dollars at the time when I have it and create these emergency kits. And I covered in one of my YouTube episodes. And I give them away to my friends and family and stuff, right? And then everyone’s like, “Sure, whatever, my crazy friend who…” You know, and then every now and then someone tells me, “Oh, it was actually really useful that I had band aids in my backpack,” or…you know, and it’s always these tiny minor things. It’s never the potassium iodide or whatever, you know? And there’s a chance that I’m going to start selling them but literally just in order to make enough money to make this not be this massive sinkhole in my life that I distribute these things. And I worry. I worry about being an Alex Jones. Also, I really want people to have stored food in their basement and so part of me is like, “Man, I’m just gonna get a freeze dryer. I’m gonna freeze dried ton of stuff and I’m going to fucking give it to people.” And then I’m like, “And I guess we’ll sell it,” you know? And then I’m like, “Oh, God, where does this end?” At what point am I selling supplements to make people stay virile or whatever, you know. And I don’t know….
I think that the way to avoid that is like I said to eliminate the circle. So you can’t be directly addressing an issue and saying that the solution is on your website, that it’s in your store. Once you do that you’re just a shill. And and whether or not the product is even remotely relevant at that point, you’re losing credibility, at least to people that know what they’re talking about. And you may have followers who are addicted to that circle, you know, that cycle that says, “Here’s this panic. By the way, here’s the thing that will cure the panic.” But if you avoid that then I think that there’s…then you don’t have to be worried about perpetuating that and falling into an Alex Jones trap.
Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And there’s a reason that we haven’t started selling anything yet, anything along those lines, you know. I mean, at some point, we’ll be putting out more books and stuff and that will be a selling. But I think we just have to…Cause I think about that guy who–maybe it’s a perfectly fine book; I doubt it–but the guy who’s like typhoons versus hurricanes or whatever, I suspect that this person is just trying to make a buck by googling some stuff and rewriting it poorly, throwing it into an e book, doing print on demand, putting it up on Amazon, and then selling it to this fear cycle, right? But then it’s so frustrating because some stuff that comes out of traditional preparedness is useful. I think that a lot of their focuses are all wrong…Now I’m just trying to come up with the other stuff that I get annoyed about, right?
Let’s talk about what they get right? And then we can shit talk on the vast majority of they get wrong. And that is always going to be the basics, you know, the very essential stuff. Because like you said, you know, you find it really important that people have food stored in their basement or if they don’t have a basement, you know, under their bed in a tote or something like that. Just whatever they can do. And just as an aside, that’s my circle. And that’s where I scratch my panic itch. An every once in a while, I’ll just buy a giant can of freeze dried vegetarian imitation beef.
Oh, yeah, totally. Augason Farms.
Yes. Yeah. I just got a can last night.
Yeah, the cheap brand.
Yeah, I just put that on my shelf next to all the other–shout out to Augason Farms–all of my other Augason Farms cans, and something in my in my lizard brain just went, “Yeah, yeah. Okay. I feel a little bit better now.”
But to bring that back to what the Right wing gets gets right…What those preppers get right is just the basics, which I think is actually sort of…it’s letting them lay claim to preparedness, actually.
And–now I’m getting into a different idea–but they shouldn’t because preparedness comes from us living on the planet–
–Outside of the normal capitalistic cycle. The thing that I say…So this is how I launched When/If is that the first newsletter that I wrote was just called “Your Grandma Prepped.”
Because she did. She canned. She had food stored away. My my grandma Skylar had three refrigerators. Two of them were almost as old as she was and I just ran like a dream. And they were full of food and water. And that’s just–she had lived through the Great Depression–and that’s where her inclination for it came from. And that got passed down to me. But I always knew if I was walking into her house, I could walk into the kitchen and I could open the cupboard and I would see 30 or 40 cans of whatever, Chef Boyardee, green beans, peas, you know, just as much food as you could want for probably damn near a month. And that’s the kind of goal that I shoot for in my newsletter and for my own household. But it’s the basic stuff.
What you saying about like not letting the right wing lay claim to it and I agree with that. And I think that the sense of who actually–you know, I talk about that a lot that, like purse snacks as prepping, you know, like you go to a show, the person who has snacks in their purse is more prepared than the person with the handgun. Because there’s a scenario in which the handgun is the right tool. It is a lot less likely than the scenario where you get snacky.
And a purse can hold both. Although, that would be an off body carry…Whatever, anyway. And so I think in my head, I’ve been thinking about traditional prepping, as in like, the kind of people who call themselves preppers without necessarily assigning that to the Right wing. It’s like this thing that is fed upon by the right wing, but I don’t think it’s apparently right wing. And I’ve gotten some feedback from listeners every now and then, who are in traditional prepping, and could see the right wing kind of trying to be like, “And hate your neighbor.” And they’re like, “Wait, aren’t y’all Christians?” And then being like, “Oh, thank god.” It was less even that they were like, “Oh, thank God, a Leftist approach,” although that’s accurate from my point of view, but like, “Oh thank God, something that’s not a right wing approach.”
You’re right about the basics. And then I think sometimes they get some stuff right but they prioritize it wrong. I do believe that having, you know–depending on the situation that you’re in and who you are and all these things–like firearms and things like that are incredibly useful tools. And if I want to know how much ammunition I should probably have, a lot of those YouTube channels and things like that are very useful for that, right? Because they’ve mathed out like being like, “Well, if you want to continue to practice at this rate, which is about the rate that you should stay in practice at…” And so I find that stuff to be very useful. But it’s really easy to think that the sexy stuff, the violent stuff, is the main thing. The main thing is like first aid kit, food, and water, you know, and knowing not to run a generator in your garage. I finally got a deep freezer recently. And I was like, “I don’t eat meat.” I was like, “What the fuck am I gonna do with this deep freezer?” And now it’s like, full of bread, frozen vegan meals. Like, it’s great. I’m so glad it’s there. And it’s so…I didn’t realize this but it barely uses any electricity compared to a regular fridge because it’s full of frozen stuff and you open it up once a week. Like, the little tag on it is like, “Estimated electricity cost is $34/year” or whatever, you know, and I’m like, “Okay, okay, I can do that.”
It’s less than my washer. Yeah.
Have you seen the stuff that’s like…I feel like there’s more and more. Maybe I just fall down YouTube holes too much about people just really getting ready to defend their giant castles of stuff or whatever, you know?
Yeah. And that’s not a new thing, either. That has I think always been if nothing else, the popular idea of a prepper is that Right wing guy who post 2016 was wearing a red hat, and had a wall full of guns, and a bunch of food and water, and maybe some skills? Which is something we should talk about? But maybe not. Maybe all he knew how to do is shoot his gun and bury some Claymore mines in his yard because people were going to come get his stuff.
Carrot and Margaret talk about all things hiking, including thru-hiking and ultralight hiking. They talk about how to choose the right gear for the right purposes and how to minimize the impacts of long distance hiking on your body. They go through the complications of bringing dogs on long hikes and how to stay safer around grizzly bears. They also spend a good deal of time critiquing The Last of Us while developing a theory on how to hybridize many hiking strategies to develop the ultimate form of apocalypse travel.
Carrot Quinn (she/they) is an author, thru-hiker and hiking coach. She is the author of Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart and The Sunset Route. Carrot has a new speculative fiction novel coming out later this year, hopefully. Carrot is also an avid blogger and you can find them at www.carrotquinn.com or on Instagram @carrotquinn and Twitter @CarrotQuinn
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And this week we are talking about walking and how to do it, the legs, the one in front of the other, etc. And in order to do so, we’re going to be talking to an expert walker, or hiker, I suppose might be a better way of phrasing it, Carrot Quinn. And so we’re going to be talking to her about all this stuff. Carrot writes a bunch of books about hiking and does a bunch of hiking. And so I’m really excited, because this has been on my mind a lot. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.
Okay, we’re back. So Carrot, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns. And then I guess kind of like your background in hiking, thru-hiking, that kind of stuff.
My name is Carrot Quinn, and my pronouns are she or they and I got into long distance hiking in 2013. And long distance hiking is different from other kinds of backpacking, because you’re just out for longer, I guess. And usually also, you’re on trails that have a really specific weather window, which means that you need to hike more miles per day than you would on a more leisurely backpacking trip in order to finish in a certain weather window, or because the water sources are farther apart. So, you need to hike a certain mile per a day to get to the water sources, which means that you end up using different gear, because when you’re out for that long and hiking that many miles, it’s a lot more strain on your joints. And so, in order to be able to do it, you need to have lighter gear that puts less strain on your joints, or else you get overuse injuries. And you also wear different shoes. So, there’s this whole different kind of way of walking in the wilderness, which I got into because I’d always backpacked with a heavy backpack, and I was always in pain. And then I discovered this style, and I wasn’t in pain anymore. And I was like, “Oh my God, if I do this, I can just like live outside and sleep on the ground every night and I won’t be in pain.” So than I got really into it. And I hiked the PCT in 2013.
What’s the PCT?
The Pacific Crest Trail, which is 2,650 or 60 miles depending on how you count. It takes five months to hike. I got really obsessed with it for a while. So, I’ve hiked 11,000 miles. I’ve hiked from Mexico to Canada three times. And I’ve also walked across Utah, and Arizona, and done a bunch of other shorter hikes. And I’ve hiked finished trails where there’s like a path on the ground that you walk, like the Pacific Crest Trail, and I’ve hiked trails where there’s not a path on the ground, and you’re just navigating through canyons and washes and stuff. And then I’ve also made my own routes, which is where you look at the maps and figure out where you can walk and then you follow the path that you created.
I was gonna say that’s wild, but I guess that’s literally the point. That it’s wild. Okay, and then you’ve written about this too, right?
Yeah, so I have a writing career more or less, most years I make my living as a writer. And I was able to build that by writing about long distance hiking, because it’s a pretty popular niche. I’ve been writing my whole life. I always wanted to be a writer, and in my 20s I wrote zines and then I started blogging in 2008. And then I started long distance hiking in 2013. And so every one of these hikes I’ve ever done, all 11,000 miles I’ve hiked, I’ve written a blog post every single day. And so that’s how I built my writing career because then people started reading those and people love reading about long distance hiking, you know, because it’s hard to get time off work. It’s hard to get the gear. It’s hard to access, and so people being able to read that from the comfort of their home is like really nice. And so then I wrote a book about my first long distance hike, which is called “Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart.” And that book is great, because I made so many bad choices. So, it’s like a very good story. Because you know, the best stories come from when you’re like completely brand new at something.
And everything goes like horribly awry. Those are like the best stories. So, I wrote that book. And then my second book was actually a memoir about growing up in Alaska and my years riding freight trains. And that came out in 2021.
What’s that one called?
And it’s kind of sad. It’s not like the happiest, but whatever. But then, I just finished a speculative fiction novel about this young person that is fleeing this destabilizing city and riding her bike across the country trying to get to Nevada. So, I’m editing that right now.
Oh my god, is that out yet? Can I read it?
I hope it’ll come out someday. I don’t know what the title is, either, but, I’m editing it right now. And, if I self publish, hopefully I can get it out by the end of the year. And I’m leaning towards self publishing. So, we’ll see. Hopefully, it’ll be out sooner rather than later.
Okay. Well, let’s talk about that off camera. I think a lot about publishing speculative fiction, and I do it sometimes.
Yeah, you write speculative fiction too.
We could just talk about that for hours and hours.
I mean, I also like talking about that. Can I out us to the audience about how we know each? Is that…you seem pretty public about that.
Yeah, I first met Carrot–actually, I don’t remember if it’s where we first met–but, we lived together in a squat in the South Bronx in 2004. And so, I’ve been following Carrot’s career from afar since then being like, “Oh, shit, fuck yeah, another crust punk who became a writer.”
And I’ve also been following Margaret’s career and like hearing little updates about her life over the years and being like, “Oh, that’s where Margaret is, that’s what Margaret’s doing. Oh, it’s super cool.”
Yeah. Yeah. I’m really excited to have you on to talk about this. And, I admit one of the reasons I’m really excited to have you on about this–because there’s a couple reasons–one is because this topic is really interesting to me and has been for a while, you know, during say, the last presidential election when there was a decent chance of a fascist coup, and there was, you know, an attempt at one, myself and a lot of other people probably had to sit there and think, “What would be involved if I had to go on foot a long way to get away from here?” Right? And I think that that kind of thing is probably on a lot of people’s minds, especially on a state by state basis right now, as a lot of states become increasingly unwelcoming and things. And of course, at the moment, people are allowed to leave states by cars and stuff, but whatever, we’ll get to that. But, the other reason I’m interested in is because I’ve recently gotten more into hiking, and I’ve been obsessively watching YouTube videos of thru-hikers, and mostly these people really annoy me, but the stuff is really interesting. And, your name gets mentioned a lot in the sort of pantheon of thru-hiking writers as the person that everyone’s like, “Well, I’m no Carrot Quinn,” or whatever. So, I just think that’s really cool. That’s probably why I’m excited to talk to you. So, what is involved–and this is a very broad question, but what is involved in deciding that you want to go on a very long hike?
What is involved? Well, so, I really love this intersection of topics that we’re talking about because those are the two things that occupy my brain all the time is overland travel by foot, and near future societal collapse. So yeah.
Yeah, you’re writing a book about that.
Yeah. And, in the novel I just wrote, she starts out on her bike, but the bike breaks, and then she’s just on foot. And, one thing I love while thinking about this stuff is like–for example, have you seen The Last of Us?
So they’re on a long overland journey, a lot of it is on foot. And there are all these plot holes in my opinion because there are things about the way they’re traveling on foot that just aren’t realistic. Like their footwear is uncomfortable. They never drink water. None of their gear is waterproof. They’re not properly dressed for the weather. So, I think that’s really….
Yeah, they have these tiny packs, but not not in an ultralight way.
They’re tiny backpacks. They’re just these bottomless pits of whatever they need. Somehow they have batteries, which like, you wouldn’t have batteries. So, something I’m also really fascinated about, like thinking about near future collapse, is how we’re going to be living in this hybrid time where we’ll have all these materials available to us that are from this society where things are mass produced, but we’ll be in a society where things are no longer are going to be mass produced. So, we’ll be sort of like transitioning over the course of decades, from having access to certain materials to not having access to any of those materials. And that’s like really interesting to me. And The Last of Us is set 20 years after collapse, so a lot of the stuff they have access in the show I don’t think they would have anymore.
They a little bit talk about it where like, “Oh, the gasoline isn’t quite as good. We have to stop all the time to siphon,” but then they’re just kind of like, “And then we just drive,” you know?
Yeah, but like the batteries, you know, for their flashlights, they just…But yes, that’s really interesting to me, thinking about for example, like a long journey. Like right now, the only reason I can long distance hike is because I have all this really high tech gear because you know, 30 years ago, to do a trail, like the Pacific Crest Trail, all of the gear was super heavy. So, you had to be sort of this like elite athlete in a way. Like just anybody couldn’t do it because everything was so heavy, it was really hard on your body, like it was brutal. And now, because of this like really high tech gear we have, our packs are much lighter, and we just wear trail runners, and so it’s much more accessible. And so, that’s the only reason I can do it physically. And the only reason I enjoy it. Like, I wouldn’t enjoy it otherwise. And so, it’s interesting to think about, like, you know, in the future what people would use. But, to answer your question, if you wanted to do like, you know, where we are precollapse, if you wanted to go on a long hike–you know, the thing is that one of the things that’s hardest for people is getting the time off. I like trails that are more than a month long, because walking long distances is our special secret human superpower. Like, no other animal can walk long distances the way we can. Like, people think that that’s how we evolved from apes is we started like walking our prey to death, because a lot of animals…
Yeah, persistence hunters!
Yeah, a lot of animals sprint and then they sleep and they sprint and they sleep. But, we can just like zombie forward like endlessly, like just fucking zombie until our prey just like collapses with exhaustion. It takes–but a lot of us like the way we live, we don’t spend a lot of time walking every day. And so, it takes time to sort of unlock that ability and get our tendons–that’s like the biggest thing–like, our joints used to it. And so, if you were going to do a trail, like the PCT for example, that’s like a five month trail, you would start out really slow, like say doing like 15 miles a day. You know, you would train beforehand so that you could do 15 miles a day. And then you would start doing that. And then, if you started feeling any pain in your joints, you would take days off, or pull way back. And then after about a month your joints get used to it, and that like superpower is unlocked. I’ve seen this happen so many times, because so many people the PCT is their first trail and they start right off the couch and they’re not athletes–you don’t have to be an athlete, like I’m not an athlete, I’m just a regular person–and as long as you don’t get injured, or have some sort of illness you can unlock this superpower. And then, it’s like, it doesn’t hurt anymore. And you can just walk, and walk, and walk and it’s really cool. So, that’s why I recommend doing a trail that’s more than a month, because it takes a month for the pain to go away and to feel like you’ve unlocked that superpower that I think all humans have, you know, barring injury or illness. And so, if you hike like a five month trail or three months trail then you have a month of discomfort, but then you have several months where you get to exist in this really cool body. But, it’s hard to get the time off. So, a lot of people who long distance hike work seasonally or they’ll you know, do the kind of work where you can–like in tech or as an engineer, as a nurse or whatever–where you can work for a period of time, like a couple of years and then quit, and then go back to work. The biggest demographics on a long trail are people just out of college and retired people, because those are the two people who have the easiest time finding that chunk of time.
That makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve always kind of wanted to do this, and it’s never quite been a high enough priority. And this brings me to not the most important question, but my main question about it. I know that you can’t thru-hike any of the existing like triple crown, meaning Pacific Coast Trail, Appalachian Trail, and whatever the third one is…Continental Divide Trail? What’s the third one?
I know you can’t bring a dog with you on those three because they go through National parks. But what do you do about dogs? I mean, like because in my mind my dog has way more energy than me, but I’m realizing that my dog has way more energy than me not necessarily in the sustained persistence hunter way that you’re talking about.
So, I’m curious what is a limit of–I mean, obviously every dog is gonna be different and things like that– but can you thru-hike with a dog if you’re going way slower and you’re not doing the seasonal running thing? You’re just like….yeah, somewhere there’s a question in there.
Yeah, totally. So you can. People do bring their dogs on the long trails. You kind of need a support person, so you can hand off your dog before you go through the no dog sections, and then get your dog back. It’s considered cruel to bring a dog on a five month hike, because the way they exercise is so different than the way that we exercise.
They go really hard. And then they need more rest than we do. Like in Alaska, they have the Iditarod, which is this big sled dog race. And, it just happened. It just finished, and it’s 1000 miles long. And the person who just won did it in eight days. So, his dogs ran over 100 miles a day. And so, these dogs trained really hard. And that is like the pinnacle of what they can do. So they could go really far, but they still can’t necessarily go 20 miles a day, everyday for five months. And so, it’s actually really rare for someone to thru-hike with a dog. You can do it, but it goes against their natural kind of the way their energy is throughout the day.
And so, one reason it’s discouraged is because it’s really hard to know, if your dog is too hot, it’s hard to know if your dog is tired. Like a lot of dogs will follow their person, you know, to the point of injury, you know, because they just want to stay with you. So, people do it. But, it’s rare. It’s not natural for them. Like, we can do it and thrive. And they just kind of are low key suffering and maybe about to break. It’s hard to tell.
Yeah, no, and so I guess I’m kind of curious. There’s like two scenarios I imagine. One is because there’s no one I can leave my dog with for a long period of time. So, I just sort of assume I will not be thru-hiking anytime soon, right? Because, you know, there’s a creature I’m responsible for, and no one else is currently responsible for that creature. But I’m like, is there a sense of like you don’t want to take your dogs on a month long hike? Do you want to take your dogs on a two week hike? Do you want to take your dogs only…Like, my dog loves going on day hikes with me. And from when I was like, you know, an oogle, a crusty traveler, like a lot of the dogs that I was around–I mean, obviously, not all of them–some of them were treated very badly. But, many of the dogs were very happy in that they got to be with their person all day and they were always like exercising and stuff. But, that wasn’t like we’re walking 20 miles today. That’s often like we’re walking five miles today, we’re, you know, hitchhiking. We’re doing all these other things. I’m just wondering if you have a sense of 1) The limit in terms of like the now, and then 2) If there’s a sense of what you would think for if your protagonist escaping the apocalypse has a dog like, what are ways to work around that? Like I could imagine…like, if I had to leave, right, do I get a dog backpack? It’s about 45 pounds. I would be sad. But like, if you know, if I’m not hiking for fun and I’m hiking for “I gotta get somewhere,” right?
Yeah. So, people hiking the long distance trails, there’s like a standard sort of blanket mileage that varies, but people generally say like 20 miles a day is kind of the standard. And so, over the course of like a month, three months, five months different dog breeds are different, but depending on your dog that could be too much for your dog. Like, your dog might need more rest days. But like, maybe your dog could do 20 miles a day for three days, but then they would need a day or two off, you know?
And so what you would have to do is instead of being tied to the weather window of the trail, you would be tied to how your dog is doing. So, you would just have to really be in touch with all your dog’s signs, like does your dog…Like, know how to tell if your dog is too hot, if your dog’s feet hurt, all these different things, and then you would just have to adjust your travel based on your dog. So, you just wouldn’t…you wouldn’t necessarily be able to hike the PCT in the five month window. And you would end up if you were in an arid area you would end up carrying more water. Because if you go slower than it’s farther between water sources because the West is so dry. So, you would carry more water. But yeah, you would just plan the hike much differently. And it would be your own journey with your dog.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, no, I realized…I pretty quickly disabused myself of the notion that I was going to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, or PCT, or anything anytime soon. Secretly, this podcast is me just asking people for advice about my own life and problems and then hoping it’s universally usable in some ways. But that makes sense to me. And then it does seem like, you know, everything I’m reading about, what you’re talking about, like hiking with lighter packs and all of that, and how it has all these advantages in being able to go further and be more sustainable and all of these things. And it does seem like a lot of the choices that people would have to make in different survival scenarios might counteract that, because if I’m talking about like…Okay, if I was hiking through the desert with the dog, I need way more water, which means I’m carrying a heavier pack and then also if I’m out longer I might need a different level of survival equipment. It seems like it would kind of escalate pack weight very quickly?
Yeah. But, I think that the sort of minimalism that one learns–like, it’s the sort of strategic minimalism that you learn when you do a five month hike because all you have to think about every day is like what you’re carrying and how heavy it feels and so you get really good at like…Just, it’s like strategy. And so I think that would carry over, where even if you, you know, didn’t have all these high tech materials, were in the desert, had a dog, like all these different things, your pack will still end up lighter than if you didn’t use this sort of really fun strategic thing that I’m sure you’ve encountered on YouTube.
Yeah, yeah. No, go ahead. Sorry.
Yeah, yeah. But, it would be heavier. But then you would just work around that. Like, if your pack is heavier you don’t go as many miles a day because it’s harder on your joints. And you just, you know, you just work around that too. Like, last fall was my second season hunting in Alaska tagging along on my friends hunts, and I’ve never had to carry a pack as heavy as I do hunting. And that’s been like a whole new learning curve being like, Okay, this is a 60 pound pack. Like, I can only go this many miles. You know, I have to really be careful like all these different things.
Yeah. Yeah, that is the thing that I because I, you know, I come from this background of like failed train hopping and regular hitchhiking. And like, these long distance walks and things like that, but not hiking. And I would need what I need to sleep and all of these things. And so, you know, we used to kind of make fun of ultralight hikers, who are like, you know, shaving off every ounce of what they could And it’s like, well, I knew Pogo Dave who traveled with a big metal Pogo stick or whatever, right? And, you know, walked across the country pushing a shopping cart and shit. But then you just realize how different these setups are, and what their goals are is so completely different. And so yeah, I don’t know quite how to phrase it, but I’m so interested in the difference between the 60 pound hunting pack and the 9.8 pound, you know, backpacking pack or whatever. And i did, I ran across these people. And I My first thought was like, “Well, fuck that. Just like carry what you need. Whatever,” you know. And then slowly, when you see the people who are like less annoying about it, you’re like, “Oh, I think I get it. I think I understand why they’re doing this,” you know?
Yeah, it’s about injury prevention not being in pain and knowing what your goal is. So, if your goal is to finish a five month trail hiking 12 hours a day for five months, your chance of injury is really high. So, the lighter your pack is, to an extent, you know, the lighter your pack is the lower your chance of injury, and the less pain you’ll be in. So, it actually really increases your enjoyment. The only caveat being–the rules I tell people because I do long distance hiking coaching and I do these like guided trips where I help people like make their gear lists and stuff–the rules…Here are the rules: you need to be warm, well fed, comfortable enough at night to sleep well, and be prepared for all the different weather you’re gonna encounter at that season in that area. And as long as your gear fits those rules you meet those guidelines. Like, the lighter your pack is the more fun you’re gonna have.
Yeah, it makes sense to me. I just have so many questions about ultralight stuff. It’s just so fascinating to me. It seems like one of the things where people go without, to me, what seems like emergency equipment. Like, because I think about…it seems like I’m watching people–and I expect them wrong, that’s why I’m presenting this to you is because you have a lot of experience with this and have tried different types of hiking–but it’s like, if there’s something that I keep around just in case, right, in case something terrible happens or whatever that I don’t use it on a daily basis, and so it starts becoming one of those things that you could imagine getting rid of. And then you’re like, “But when you need it, you need it.” And so it seems like that is what I worry about when people talk about barely having first aid kits and shit like that, you know, or the kind of gear that if like the weather gets a lot worse unexpectedly–because it seems to me that if you have this very minimalist setup that works for most days but then it doesn’t work for like the sudden really bad weather days–It doesn’t seem like it’s a good enough piece of gear. But, maybe that is being taken into consideration and I’m just being annoyed at people or like retro actively defending the fact that I used to carry this ridiculously heavy bag and I injured my chest with it once when I was like 28. I don’t know.
Yeah, that’s the thing is if your pack is too heavy it will injure you, and that will ruin your hike. So, it doesn’t matter what emergency preparedness stuff you’re carrying, like the emergency is that you ruined your hike and you have to get off trail and your hike is ruined. So, the thing is things are knowable. Like the world is knowable. Like when you go to drive your car you know what’s likely to go wrong. And you know what would be a freak accident that you’re not going to prepare for, like the stuff you have in your car. Like my car burns oil, so I carry oil. I carry coolant just because my car is old. I carry jumper cables. It’s winter, so I carry a sleeping bag, you know, because I’m in Alaska, and I have an old car. These are the things that are likely to go wrong. I don’t carry anything for if I get struck by lightning because there’s not–I mean, if I lived like in the high mountains in Colorado in July, I would have to consider lightning–but in Alaska it’s all central [uninterpretable word], so you don’t think about lightning. I don’t carry anything for shark attacks. I carry bear spray for a bear. But so, it’s just knowing what’s likely to happen versus freak accidents that don’t make sense to be prepared for. So, people might not carry a generic first aid kit, but they do carry supplies for all of the medical problems that actually happen regularly. Like I don’t carry just some generic first aid kit from REI because I don’t know what to do if I break my leg. If I break my leg like I need a helicopter, you know? But that would be a real freak accident. That’s extremely unlikely to happen. But, what does happen and what can end your hike and does end people’s hike a lot are infected blisters, sprained ankles, and things like that. And I carry stuff, and I have treated stuff that like multiple times. And, I always have what I need. Or, like gear failures. Like I carry dental floss with a needle inside, which I learned from riding trails. And that’s come in handy. So, I always have…and then things for chafe because chafe happens a lot and can be really painful. So, that can get you off trail. So, people actually, they might not have like, they might not have something for like a trauma wound, which would be like…I don’t even know what a trauma wound…I don’t even know what I’m saying. But like…or a puncture wound. But, that would be like a real freak accident. But they do have, in my experience, people do have stuff for the things that actually happen, and the same with the weather. Because, the weather in every spot on earth for whatever season you have to be there is knowable. You can research it, you can know what the trends are. Even with climate change, you can know what’s likely to happen. You can talk to other hikers. Every long distance trail every year has a Facebook group. And people as they’re hiking, will post on that Facebook group. So you can know like, “Oh, I’m climbing to 9000 feet tomorrow. And these people ahead of me say there’s ice. I should have microspikes.” Or like, “There’s a storm coming in, and the people ahead of me say that the river is really swollen and it’s gonna be hard to cross so I should like take a day off and wait for the river to go down.” So, it’s just..it’s instead of carrying a bunch of stuff and having no idea where you are or what’s happening, and just having all this stuff you just do your research. And like long distance hikers obsessively research when they’re on trail because that’s all you have to think about all the time. So, as long as–I mean, you can be reckless and not have any of that stuff–but then that will affect your chances of actually finishing, which is what everyone wants to do. Because, you want to have this like fun, full immersion experience. So generally, in my experience, people are prepared even though they don’t have like generic first aid kits.
No, that makes sense. I think I have a like defensive maximalism, you know? It’s not a maximal…Well, I mean, I guess it depends what you’re trying to do. Like, it’s not a like I’m going hiking and I need a folding saw, you know? Although if I’m gonna go live in the woods for a while, I want a folding saw, but like, you know, it’s a very different goal, right? So I guess I wonder…
Okay, can I say one more thing?
Yeah, yeah, please.
They say that you pack your fears. And, so say you’re afraid of getting hurt on trail. So you’re like, I should bring all this extra stuff. That extra weight will hurt you. So, that’s the irony. So that’s like the irony in all of it. And the thing is, a lot of people start long distance hiking that way because that’s kind of the way we all learned about the outdoors because we’re an urban…Humans are urban. Like, humans in the US are urban. We’re not little feral creatures that live in the woods. We don’t have these like intimate relationships with like what the wind is doing, or like when the poppies are blooming, you know? And so we go out there and we don’t have any idea what the fuck is going on or where we are. And so we want to pack our fears. And then as soon as you start a long distance hike every ounce you’re carrying hurts. And so all day, every day, all you have to think about is sort of–as you’re being like punished for carrying all your fears–all you have to think about is like, “What do I actually need?” And so that’s really common for people to start with really heavy packs and then really quickly they’re like, “Okay, I know what I really need and what I don’t need.” And you also start to learn what you as an individual need on trail because everyone is different. Everyone has like a different sort of comfort zone. So, it’s a process because we’re not…We’re urban. We’re like, we don’t know what the fuck is going on in nature.
Well, I think a lot of the outdoorsy type folks will also over pack, but kind of in a different way. But it’s more of the like…it’s not thru-hiking. It’s the like bushcraft version. It’s the like, I’m gonna go build up a cabin version, you know? Which, I think is overkill for most people. Like most people, when they’re imagining like disaster scenarios and the escape from disaster scenarios you don’t need to go build a log cabin in the woods. You need to like get to a state where they’re not trying to kill you for being trans or whatever. And it is a different thing. So, I guess I take back my own caveat.
Yeah, I think long distance hikers love to make fun of bushcrafters and probably bushcrafters love to make fun of ultralight backpackers. You know, I was thinking about bushcraft the other day, because I was skiing–or I was trying to ski, because I’m learning so I don’t really know what I’m doing–and I was just looking at my gear and looking at my friend’s gear and I was like, “Everything we have right now is because of plastic. Like literally everything.” And then I was like, “What would this even be like if we didn’t have plastic?” I was like, “We’d be wearing like wool, and leather, and like animal skins, and everything would be made out of wood.” And then I started thinking about bushcraft. And I was like, “That’s kind of what it is.” Bushcraft is like outdoor stuff without synthetic materials in a way.
Which is like an interesting way to think about it, which is really different. It’s really different. And so, if your gear is just heavier, there’s just different things you can do. It’s like just a whole different kind of thing.
Yeah, I really. No, that’s such a fascinating way of thinking about the difference between bushcraft and hiking and then like…You know, I think it’s funny because it’s like, if someone decides that they’re like, “I’m gonna get into outdoors walking stuff.” There’s all of these different cultures and ways of looking at it. And you have the bushcraft version and you have the ultralight hiking version and then you have like–traditional backpacking seems like sort of the weird in between–and then you also have the tactical version, where it’s like, “This is how you get into enemy territory with like, you know, when you’re stuck carrying like 30 pounds of ammunition.” or wherever the fuck. And it’s like, it’s so interesting to me how it breaks down even to different like shelter types, right, like the bushcrafters like–although it does go full circle. I would say that bushcrafters and ultralight hikers are both the ones who are like “A tarp is all I need,” or whatever, versus traditional backpacking where you’re like, “I want a fucking tent.” You know?
Yeah, it’s really interesting, our different relationships with nature in this year of our Lord, 2023 in the US.
Yeah. And there’s ways that people have to think about kind of all of them if they’re trying to prepare. Although I can see how you can get lost over preparing in thinking about every single possible thing that could go wrong. If you’re traveling in a vehicle, it’s a little bit easier to do that. Right? It’s a little bit easier to be prepared for every possible contingency or whatever.
Can I tell you an interesting story?
I love thinking about this stuff. So, we we live in a time in human history where we’re very urban, the most urban we’ve ever been, and so a lot of people don’t spend much time outdoors at all, which, you know, is like they just can’t. Like, they don’t have access or there’s so many different reasons. And, the people who do spend time outdoors, access it through these really different channels that almost aren’t communicating with each other.
But, the tactical hunter versus the ultralight backpacker, and it’s really interesting, because they’ve developed outdoors cultures that are so different. Like, in Alaska, for example, there are a lot of grizzly bears, which grizzly bears are dangerous, but they’re also very knowable. So, you can kind of get to know grizzly bear culture and then you can do sort of like best practices and your chances of being attacked by a bear become extremely low. And so, depending on what you’re doing, different people have ideas about what those best practices are.
Bear spray versus 10 millimeter?
I mean, bear spray works better.
Yeah, no, I know. Yeah.
But, for example, a few years ago, I was going on a four day backpacking trip in the Brooks range with some of my friends from Anchorage. And the Brooks range is in the Arctic. It’s really remote and ironically, the Grizzlies are much less dangerous up there because the area we were going has no salmon. So, there are much fewer Grizzlies. There are just way fewer Grizzlies. And also, we’re north of treeline, so there’s no tree cover. And when Grizzlies are dangerous…if you see a grizzly from a distance, and it knows what you are, if it can smell you, it will run away like so fast. But, if you surprise a grizzly at close range, they feel like they have to like defend their honor and that’s when they attack. It’s like okay, they think it’s like a challenge. They’re like, “Now I must fight you!”
So, you want to avoid brush and trees in areas where there are grizzlies like as much as you can, avoid brush and trees. So, the Arctic is north of treeline. So it’s a really safe place because there are fewer Grizzlies. And if you see one, it’s like really far away and the two of you can just give each other a wide berth, because they’re actually very scared. So, I was going on a trip with my friends, who are all from Anchorage, which is actually a very dangerous place because there are tons of grizzlies and like once a year someone dies. But, my friends were like, “Oh my gosh, we’re going to the Arctic. What are we gonna do about the Grizzlies?” And I was like “You guys, like it’s actually safer there. There’s fewer bears.” And they’re like “We should bring Ursacks,” which are these like Kevlar bags that the grizzlies can’t bite through. It’s like a bear can, but lighter. They’re great. They’re like, “We should bring Ursacks and we should line Ursacks with the scent proof plastic bags and we should put the Ursacks really far from our camp.” And I was like, “We can do all that. But actually, it’s like safer there than where we live.” Like, hiking the Arctic is safer than going on a day hike in Anchorage, like 20 times safer. And, and I was like, “You guys go on day hikes all the time.” Anyway, we went and we were all like super careful. Like, you know, when we set up camp, we would go cook like on a hill over there. And then we would put our food in our Ursack, and we could go put it on a hill over there. And then our tents would be here. And it would be like, you know, we would be up wind of where we cooked and like all these different things. And I was like, “Okay, great, you know, that’s fine.” And then a few weeks later, I went on a moose hunting trip with my friend Birch, who his whole way of knowing the outdoors is hunting, which is also really common in Alaska. And there were five of us and we were hiking eight miles into this drainage through Willow Brush with pack rafts and then we were going to get the moose and we were gonna pack raft out. So we got in and he got the moose. And we processed it. And you know, we were covered in blood. The pack rafts were covered in blood. Like, everything was covered in blood. And, we had these huge pieces of moose in cotton game bags that were soaked in blood like piled our pack rafts. We got we got to camp…Oh, no one has bear spray. I’m the only one with bear spray. You know? They have rifles. But, what good is a rifle gonna to do when you’re in your sleeping bag? You know what I mean?
Like that’s when the bear could come for your blood or whatever. And, we get to camp and we like take these huge pieces of moose and lay them out on the gravel bar just overnight out in the open. And we all have our tent set up. And I was like, “Hey, Birch, do you ever use an Ursack?” And he was like, “What’s an Ursack?” And, our moose hunt was in an area with way more Grizzlies. And there was brush everywhere and we saw like three grizzlies. And it was just so funny, because they weren’t concerned at all. And, I think part of it is that guns give people this like false sense of confidence around bears, even though with bears like things happen really fast and you need something you can grab really fast. If you need to be like a sharpshooter, it’s not very accessible, like you need something that anyone can use and another part of it….Go ahead.
Also, if you shoot a bear–I’m not speaking from experience, I’m speaking from reading about this-there’s been a bunch of studies that shooting bears is not a particularly effective way of stopping bears in the short term and pepper spray or bear spray is very effective. Like, even if a bear is charging and I manage to shoot it that doesn’t mean I’m safe.
Yeah, you have to have a certain gun. I don’t know that much about guns. You have to have a certain gun and you shoot it in a certain place. So, the odds of all that happening like extremely fast…Whereas bear spray, you spray them in there. [makes a shrieking sound like a bear that’s been maced] “It’s burning!” You know, and then they run away.
Have you had to do that? Have you ever sprayed a bear?
But, I’ve been around a lot of bears, but I haven’t yet had to spray one.
I’m glad. I’m just curious. Anyway, I interrupted you twice. Please continue.
Yeah. So, his conceptualization of what the danger was…Oh! That’s the other thing. So, I think part of the reason hunters don’t–this is my theory–I think part of the reason hunters don’t think about bears is because the guns give them this false sense of confidence, even though bears do sometimes attack hunters. The other thing is bears have bear culture. Like, in different areas, bears learn different things and pass that knowledge on to their cubs. Like, some places, if you do a bear hang, the bear doesn’t know what it is. And it can’t get it. Other places, bears are really good at getting bear hangs, you know? And, I think that bears know when hunting season is and they know what hunters smell like. That’s my theory.
And they’re like, “I’m staying the fuck away from them. They all have guns.” [inflected as a question]
I don’t know if that’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true. And that that’s one reason that hunters don’t have to take the same precautions.
I mean, it’s sort of interesting because guns are notorious for a false sense of security. But, in this case it’s like, even though it’s sort of a false sense of security, it’s not the right way to handle a bear, but maybe that kind of like confidence of walking through the woods with a group of people and doing your thing, maybe that’s a better way to live. Like… [trailing off laughing]
There’s also…so when an animal is a predator, it moves differently walking than when an animal is a prey animal, and hunters move the way predators move, and hikers tend to move, I don’t know, all sorts of ways, but hunters move the way predators move. And so that could be something that communicates to the bear that these are hunters. And to be more scared, I don’t know.
No, that’s so interesting. I’m really fascinated by these different ways of interacting with the forest. Because, it’s like, you know, I live rurally. But, it doesn’t actually…it provides me access to nature in that, I can walk out my door, and there’s a lot more trees than houses. I can see one house, and I can see 10,000 trees, you know? But, there’s also just like private land everywhere. So, I actually can’t go hiking out my door. I’m as far away from hiking here as as if I lived in a–not a big city, but a medium city. You know, when I want a good scenic five mile hike, I drive an hour. It’s not as many miles, because rural roads take you forever to get anywhere. But, it’s just such a different way of interacting with… And then, all like folks around here are a lot more likely to drive down with ATVs, and go like ATVing and shit like that rather than specifically go hiking. But, they are still people who are interacting with the woods constantly. And so, in my mind, I feel like I’m trying to find…I’m on this quest to find out which like culture’s way of interacting with the wild and specifically around gear honestly, is the best for the preparedness person. And this is obviously going to be completely different depending on what your fucking threat model is, where you live, what your goals are. But, I think I’m subconsciously doing it. I’m trying to be like, “Do I want to be like a hunter? Do I want to be like a tactical bro? Do I want to be like an ultralight hiker? Do I want to be like an oogle? Like, you know, which method?
So, I have a lot of thoughts about what you just said. I think this would be my strategy, which may be the path I’m taking.
That is the goal of me asking you things, is to find your strategy.
Yeah. Because I also believe–well I don’t know if this is exactly what you believe–but I think that all supply chains and infrastructure, and grids, and things are going to collapse in the next few decades.
Yeah…[On a] long enough timeline: Yeah.
I think if one learns the strategy of ultralight backpacking, which relies heavily on really high tech gear–that is currently being manufactured using these intensive processes that rely on supply chains and things–if one learns ultralight backpacking and hunting sort of strategy and gear, and like bushcraft, I think between those three skill sets, one would have the best chance of creating this like hybrid model for like, say, if you needed to walk across the country. Like in The Last of Us in their walk across the country–so, their world is like 20 years post collapse of supply chains manufacturing, like all those different things–I don’t think they’re carrying the right gear. So, knowing what they more or less, like guessing what they had access to, some changes I would have made is: They’re wearing like leather boots. I think Ellie’s wearing…What are they called?
Maybe Chucks? But I can’t remember?
Yeah, Chuck Taylors.
I think. I can’t remember. Yeah.
Like, if they have access to shoes, obviously, which maybe is unrealistic, but in the show, they have access to shoes. I would get some running shoes, or trail runners. And then, their backpacks are made of looks like heavy canvas. And, I would get a backpack made of a lighter weight material. And then I would line it with something like a trash bag to make it waterproof. Because, that’s what I do now. I just carry a trash bag folded up, and I use that. And then, they weren’t filtering their water. And also, all of their layers seemed to be cotton, which eventually, you know, in the future, we’ll get to a point where we’ll just have like natural materials again. But, if you still have access to a cotton like denim jacket, you can probably still find synthetic layers which are much smarter when it’s cold and wet. So, I would have them wearing synthetic layers if they could.
That makes a lot of sense to me. Okay, but I’ve read–again, I expect I’m wrong and I’m running things past you for this reason–I’ve read that one of the reasons that people wear trail runners, but they sort of expect them to not last, necessarily even a full thru-hike, as compared to like hiking boots, which are expected to last like multiple thru-hikes. Am I wrong about a durability difference between these types of shoes?
You’re right. So, the trade off is with hiking boots, they last a long time, but they turn your feet to hamburger if you’re walking very far day after day. So, in The Last of Us they were walking. I mean, just like guessing by like how far they walk, they were walking all day, every day, day after day. So, in that circumstance, the hiking boots would last, but they would destroy your feet and maybe keep you from being able to continue on your journey. So, I guess the question would be…Like, the way I long distance hike right now, I change my trail runners every 400 miles because that’s when the cushion gets more compact. And so, they don’t provide as much cushion. So, I’ll get more foot pain. But, if I was in a situation where I didn’t have access to a lot of trail runners, I would just wear them for longer. And then,…I guess it would be a question of, can you eventually get to a point where your feet have adjusted to leather boots so that you can do that many miles day after day? Because, in traditional backpacking, people just didn’t do as many miles day after day. Or, there’s also you know, there’s a lot of different…
Maybe they’re only going eight miles a day?
But they went really far. I don’t remember, but…
I think that’s movie magic.
But, they went from the East Coast to Wyoming so…
I think they break down and they get most of the way out in car and then they break down. Anyway. Sorry. Please continue.
Yeah, maybe they were taking lots of breaks. Okay, so there is an alternative, I think, in this scenario. So, in Mexico, there are people, indigenous people, who are long distance runners and long distance walkers. I don’t know if it’s more than one tribe, or…I don’t know. But, that book Born to Run talks about these people a lot.
But yeah. So, they make sandals out of old tires. And, that’s what they wear. Because sandals…So, the thing about hiking 20 miles a day, day after day, is it’s less like backpacking, more like running a marathon. So, you want to think “Would I run a marathon in this?” because whatever you’re wearing will rub you to death. So, boots will rub you to death. So, say trail runners aren’t accessible, if you made sandals out of old tires, those are so minimalist that they might not rub you to death the way boots would, but you would be able to make new pairs and they would last a long time. So, actually, people in Mexico have maybe figured it out. Like, that might be the answer is sandals made out of tires.
I consciously believe you. But, I’ve been wearing boots my entire life. And in my mind, they’re like…I mean, in my head, the compromises that I used to wear lace up steel toed boots and now I wear like tactical boots with a zipper down the side that are like, mostly mesh, and stuff. And in my mind, I’m like, these are clearly the perfect boots. These are clearly the best boots for every situation, how could they possibly be bad? But, I accept that you have the experience and you’re probably right. My brain won’t accept it.
Would you want to a run a marathon in them?
I don’t have the lung capacity to run. I have never been able to. So, I can’t. That is a meaningless thing for me, right? Because, I’ve never been able to run. I mean, I can run, right? But, I like I lose….I can’t imagine. But, I don’t know. I mean, I used to just…whatever, I used to just be an idiot and kind of an asshole. And so I would just be like, “Oh, whatever. Like why are people complaining? Just toughen up. Just wear steel toed shoes all the time.” Whatever. Bullshit. And, I’m no longer on that page. But, in my mind, I’m like… [makes grumpy noises and trails off]
Yeah, so I have two more thoughts about footwear. One is..so the reason backpackers used to always wear boots is because their gear was so heavy. So, when I go hunting–I actually had to buy my first pair of hiking boots, because if I’m carrying a 60 pound pack–you know how we occasionally roll our ankles when we walk and it’s not a big deal? It doesn’t really sprain your ankle really. But, if you’re carrying a 60 pound pack, it’s like much more likely to sprain your ankle. So, that’s the point of boots. So, when I’m hunting, I only walk eight miles a day and it still hurts my feet, because the boots really hurt my feet. But, it keeps me from worrying about spraining my ankle if I roll it. Whereas, with the backpacking gear that exists now, it’s not as heavy, so you can roll your ankle without spraining it, so you can wear trail runners. So, in this scenario, if your pack was really heavy, you probably would want to wear boots and then you would just compromise on how many miles per day you could walk, and your feet would be in pain.
That makes sense.
And then my other thought…but, hopefully in this scenario, you would be able to create this sort of hybrid kit with all your knowledge of like hunting, bushcrafting, and ultralight backpacking and the materials, we still have access to that your pack, maybe your pack wouldn’t be crazy heavy. And, then my other thought is: So, in Mexico, there are people who run long distances who create these sandals out of old tires, which is a resource that will be around for a bit. And then in North America, or like further north North America where it’s colder, traditionally, people had footwear that they made that they could walk long distances in that also was warmer, like things like moccasins and different…more like, flexible comfy footwear that also wasn’t a boot. So, I think even if you didn’t have access to trail runners, I don’t think the only option would be boots for their durability. I think you could make like some sort of show. Yeah, that’s my theory.
No, no, no, this is really interesting. Because, I’m like, imagining like the ultimate setup, in my mind, would be like, nonshiny materials, because in my head, I’ve heard it referred to as like, outdoors gear being either like tactical or technical, and sort of an aesthetic difference in a lot of ways. Like, everyone’s wearing fleece, but some people are wearing camo fleece, and some people are wearing, you know, bright colored fleece or whatever, right? Except for me. I’m walking around in a fucking hoodie. And, this is…I’m slightly smarter than that. That’s not true, the last time we went hiking, I was just in my Carhart coat over a hoodie. But, it also wasn’t long distance. So, it doesn’t really matter.
I mean, if you know there’s not going to be cold rain, you probably won’t get hypothermia.
Yeah. Yeah. So ,if you, I guess you’re already north. If you had to leave on foot, you would be going for sort of a hybrid setup? I guess if it depends on the situation. Now, I’m already answering for you in my head. Never mind.
Yeah, let’s say I had to walk into Canada, for example, which it would be really easy to sneak…I’m not allowed in Canada. But, it would be really easy to sneak…Because, there’s one protest in particular on my record that they don’t like from 2003. And then, there’s all the like misdemeanor train stuff for my 20s. But, that’s old enough that they don’t they don’t care about it. But, they really don’t like this protest thing So, they just don’t let me in. But, it would be really easy to sneak into Canada at the Alaska-Canada-border. So, let’s say that’s what I wanted to do. Well, the thing about Alaska is, there are a lot of really big rivers to cross. So, you would have to consider that like, would you either carry a pack raft, which would add weight, like between the pack raft, and the paddle, and like a PFD, you know, that would add like 10-15 pounds.
What’s that? What’s a PFD? A personal flotation device?
Yeah, just like a life jacket. Yeah. Or, would you, you know, just build a raft every time you got to a massive river and just case by case basis troubleshoot trying to cross these rivers. So, and then another consideration would be, so wherever you are, if you decide to go on a long journey, like where you are, for example, you’d want to know how the plant communities change at different elevations. That would help you plan your route. Like, if you were like, “At this one elevation, there’s this really thorny brush that’s impossible to get through and really terrible.” And so, as you were passing through that elevation, you want to find like a road, or a trail, or something that goes through it as you’re making your route. And then, if you were like, “Well, at this elevation, it’s like this open forest, it’s really nice.” So then, you would plan your route as much as you could through the landscape that was easier walking. Or, you would be like, “There’s these old roads.” Like, Alaska doesn’t have many roads, but like other places have a lot of old logging roads and mining roads. So, like finding those, you know, and then planning your route. And then, for me, it’s pretty rainy in the summer, so, I guess I’d want to have a rain jacket, and rain pants, and trash bags to keep all my stuff dry, and good synthetic layers that were warm, even when they were wet. If I have a down sleeping bag, I’d want to make sure to have like really good trash bag waterproofing system for my sleeping bag in my backpack so it would stay dry. And then, as far as like, fuel goes, I guess it depends on what’s available, maybe backbreaking fuel isn’t available. Maybe I’m just making fires. And, the challenge would just be drying out if it happens to just rain for two months straight, like figuring out when I can dry out, which maybe it would be a matter of like making fires if the rain never stops. So, staying dry to prevent hypothermia would probably be like the biggest challenge, and then getting over these big rivers. And then for food, if backpacking food wasn’t available, I have no idea how i would survive. I think, Okay, this is what I would do. I would have…Let’s say that things have collapsed to the point where no one is regulating hunting. So, for example, like, as an Alaskan resident, even though I’m an Alaskan resident, like, I can’t hunt seal. The only people who can hunt seal and whale are like, people in native communities in really specific areas. And so, I can’t hunt seal, but realistically, if one is to live off the land in Alaska, you’re gonna get most of your calories from fat from sea mammals. So, I would need to have figured that out in advance. Like, I would need like seal oil, and berries and dried salmon and dried meat, but I would need a lot of fat to get most of my calories from because there aren’t any carbs up here that you can eat. Yeah. I think that would be my strategy.
Okay. Okay. That all make sense to me. Yeah, in my mind, because where I live is like, if I had to walk to Canada, I would be skirting back and forth across roads. On the other hand, maybe all the bridges across all the rivers is exactly where they would like, you know, the militias would be laying ambushes or whatever, you know. So actually, maybe all that stuff, but it never even occurred to me that there’s something called a packraft until today. It’s a neat concept.
You could bring a pool floatie.
Yeah, yeah, totally.
Just raid a CVS or a Walgreens.
I’m planning…I’m saving up to buy a freeze dryer. This is my like wingnut prepper thing that I really want. They’re like, they started about $2,500 for home ones. And then, I can just give everyone backpacking food forever.
But, it would work better if I was combining with, you know, honestly, if you’re in a city and around people who dumpster dive, that’s where a freeze dryer shines. Take your free food and preserve it forever. Or, if you garden a lot, or grow a lot of food. Okay, well. There’s so much I want to talk to you about, but I think we’re kind of running down on time.
We’ve almost figured it out.
I know. It’s a combo of all of the…You have to multiclass between ultralight and hunter and then you’re pretty much good. And with a little bit of bushcrafter, which I feel like the hunter is a little bit close to. Go ahead.
There’s definitely a lot of skills I don’t have that would be useful in this scenario. Like, I can’t snare a rabbit. That would be really useful. I guess I would want to be hunting, but like, I don’t know if I would have enough bullets or like, what kind of gun or like…Would I have like a bow and arrow? I don’t know enough about hunting to know what kind of hunting I would be doing, or if I would just be carrying enough seal oil and dried moose meat to make the whole journey. So, I don’t know. I don’t know about that bit.
Yeah, no, I basically have already decided that my veganism lasts until it’s like me or the animal. You know? And I actually believe very strongly in that…Like, I actually don’t think there’s anything ethically wrong with hunting at all. I just have no personal interest in an eating it. But…For anyone who’s listening is wondering why vegan says that, in this case, I believe that you’re not raising the animal in captivity, it lives free, whatever, people eat things, that’s fine. This is the thing we get the most angry people writing about is whenever we talk about either veganism or nonveganism, people get really upset about, and vegans always hate me because I’m like a self hating vegan or whatever, because I’m like, I don’t think there’s anything ethically wrong with eating meat. Anyway, I just avoid thinking about all that stuff, which doesn’t work because then I can’t just be like, magically after the apocalypse, I like…I’m a decent shot. So at least I have that. Right? But, I don’t know, fucking how to stalk, or dress, or cook. You know? But I’ll just magically learn it in a survival situation. That’s always the best time to learn. [Said very sarcastically]
Yeah, they say that people learn fastest when you’re like a little bit stressed out. So also, you live in an area where you can grow a lot of foods. So, like you wouldn’t be as reliant. In Alaska, you can’t grow grains. You can’t grow beans, like you can’t. Traditionally, people lived off animal fat for most of their calories.
I think it would sort of like quickly revert to that like, “Okay, we have a lot of fish.” But, where you are, it would make sense to like grow a lot of like grain and stuff and that would be really good food to have.
Yeah, yeah, I’m gonna have so many freeze dried potatoes. A fucking entire basement full of freeze dried potatoes. What could go wrong? Well, is there anything? Last last thoughts? Or you know, do you want to talk about, you want to advertise your books again? Or, talk about the stuff that you run or where people can find you?
Sure. I’ll I’ll talk about this. Can I talk about this book, this novel I’ve been working on?
So I think…
But don’t spoil it.
Okay, well, no spoilers. It’s been really fun to think about, like everything we’ve been talking about, like if someone is on this long journey, like what would they have access to? What would still be around? How would they survive? So, that’s kind of what I try to do. And, I kind of skip over the dark collapsing bits to get to the long journey part, because I think that’s what’s like fun and interesting. And, I think it gives me a sense of hope to try to be like, okay, what, what will things actually look like? This is one reason I love The Last of Us so much, too, is because you got to see how they like imagine like, oh, what would be left in a mall? Like a shut down mall. What stores would have been raided? What would still be left? Like, what materials would people have access to? And so, I think that’s really fun. And, she does have a little dog. She has a chihuahua, that rides in her bike pannier, and nothing bad ever happens to the Chihuahua.
Nothing bad ever happens to the dog. So, that’s great. [The transcriber does not know if Carrot is being earnest or not and has not seen The Last of Us to discern whether this is a sarcastic statement or not] And, I think some people I think, maybe think thinking about this stuff is kind of dark, but I find it really comforting.
I agree. It’s, yeah. Yeah, there’s so many reasons.
I also, you know, I’ve read too, that in a survival situation, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what skills we have. What matters is like our ability to organize with other people, because, that’s obviously how we’ve survived to this point is, you know, we’re not rugged individualists, we’re really highly social animals. And so, no matter what your skills are, no matter where you live, no matter what you have access to where you live right now, like, I think what humans are really good at is sharing their skills in moments of crisis and organizing together. And, you know, so if you…Like, you’re gonna have a bunch of freeze dried potatoes, and then maybe your friend will know how to, like, deal with puncture wounds. Or maybe you all also know that, you know what I mean? But like, together, and then maybe you have another friend who’s really good at like, hunting or whatever. And so, when people come together, I think that’s a really magical thing, too. You know, like, I don’t know anything about herbs, but that’s going to be really useful someday. And, hopefully, I’m know somebody who does.
I agree. And that is essentially one of the mottos of this show, is how, you know…Even the like, the prepper thing about, like, ‘I’m gonna have all of this stuff.’ Like, the most useful thing I could have in any different disaster scenario is someone else. Like, even if that other person has like, no skills, if we can talk, like, that will help my mental health, you know. And I’m saying that as like someone who’s like, kind of low key a hermit, I’m not very low key about it. Yeah. So yeah. Okay, well, what are the names of your books again?
The first one is Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart. And that’s about the Pacific Crest Trail. And then, The Sunset Route is about the years in which I first met you. Yeah. So, my years riding freight trains, and about my childhood in Alaska. And then, this one I’ve been working on doesn’t have a title yet. But hopefully, maybe it’ll be out at the end of the year. I don’t even know. So
I hope so. I want to read it.
All right. Thank you.
Yeah. Thanks for having me on. This was really fun.
Yeah. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should tell people about it in person, or on the Internet, or in graffiti format. If you do the latter, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t tell us, but not blame us if you get caught. Only graffiti property you own? Does that still count as graffiti? I’m not sure. You can also support this podcast by supporting us on Patreon, we’re at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness which is the name of the publisher that puts this out, as well as several other podcasts including the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, a podcast called Strangers in Tangled Wilderness, which has a new episode every month with different pieces of fiction and memoir and stuff. And, some other ones that are coming up soon. You can hear about soon. And if you support us there, there’s all kinds of cool stuff that you get. And one of those things is we say thank you on the podcast to some of the backers. And in particular I would like to thank Jans, and Hoss the dog, and Michaiah, and Chris, and Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparouna, Aly, and Paige. You all make this happen and you pay for the person who produces it, and you pay for the person who transcribes it, and the person who does the audio editing, because people deserve to get paid for their labor, and you let that happen. And that’s cool. And I will talk to you all soon. Bye
Brooke and Margaret talk about every thing that went wrong this last month, and some good things. Sort of. They talk about more chemical spills, storing water and water filtration, tornadoes, more news on anti trans bills, inflation, super fun fungi, not fun at all guy Trump and his indictment, and how a drone (or satellite phone) could save your life and also make you a vampire.
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying ,your podcast for it feels like the end times. This is the March]April installment of our segment This Month in the Apocalypse. I’m Brooke Jackson and with me today is the infamous Margaret Killjoy.
I’m infamous now, what did I do?
Well known for being famous? Oh wait, that’s not what that word means.
No. It means famous for bad.
Well, bad means good. [Laughing]
You’re bad. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts. Before we dive into today’s episode, we’d like to share a little jingle from another pod on our network.
And we’re back. Margaret. How are you feeling today?
I have a toothache and I’m grouchy. How are you?
I’m doing okay. I have intermittent sunshine.
Oh, does that mean it’s almost not Pacific Northwest winter?
Well, it’s intermittent with like super heavy rains and or hail.
Oh. The weather is much nicer where I’m at.
Yeah, it’s Oregon doing its ‘hold my beer’ weather.
Well, do you wanna hear about some shit that happened this this month?
I definitely do.
A ton of shit happened this month. It’s always funny to do these, because there’s like all of these huge events. There’s like one huge event a week and then it’s like they’re already out of our collective attention spans. So, on March, 26th, a pipe broke at the Trensio PLC chemical plant near the Delaware River. This is the the Philadelphia spill, right? It spilled ethyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate, and butyl acrylate into a creek called Otter Creek. Between eight and twelve thousand gallons of this stuff that is used…It’s basically synthetic latex or it’s like the precursors, I believe, to synthetic latex.
That’s a lot of ‘lates’ spilled.
Yeah. And one of them is double meth. But, it actually has nothing to do with meth. I’m sorry. So, it ended up not being….well, it was a big deal. But, it was almost a big deal as in like the entire city of Philadelphia or rather the eastern half of Philadelphia and like millions of people were going to be like completely fucked and out of drinking water. And so we had this fun scare. Not me. I’m not in Philadelphia. People had this fun scare where the city of Philadelphia sent out like, “Oh shit, don’t drink the water alert.” And then later, they sent out a, “Wait, it’s okay to drink it until midnight on Monday. You better fill up some jugs.” And it was just like…but during the OH SHIT scare, right? Like there was just like, no fucking bottled water on any shelves immediately. Right? And in the end, the city’s water was not impacted. And this isn’t like a coincidence. It wasn’t like, “Oh, oops, our bad, nothing was actually wrong.” It was actually like credit where it’s due, it was the coordination of the Department of Public Works and some other folks. And they like got their shit together. And they closed off the water treatment plant that was bringing in water from the river and all that shit. And do you want to know how to get butyl acrylate out of your water in case you have to?
Do I want to know?
Okay, so I already know how.
I mean….Okay, I’m gonna say you can’t and then I’m gonna go into more detail. Because water filtration is something I did a bunch of research about this week. And it’s something that’s like always been sort of on my radar as a weird prepper. Chemical contamination in water is one of the hardest things to filter out. The way it’s handled on an industrial level, is some shit with some fucking little tiny goober plants that eat the chemicals or whatever. I don’t have the name of it in front of me because I’m not good at my job. And it’s not something that people are doing on a home scale. There are other ways that people can minimize the chemicals in their water. Overall, when you’re trying to filter water, chemical contamination is the hardest thing to get rid of. It is much easier to get rid of heavy metals. It is much, much easier to get rid of protozoa, bacteria, viruses, all kinds of things, right? You’re not boiling away your butyl acylate. And, you’re not filtering it out directly. However, through the process of adsorption, which is absorption but backwards. ‘Ad’ instead of ‘Ab.’ Basically, the charcoal filter that are like in your like fucking Brita water filters and stuff like that, that is closest to the DIY version. They are not rated to do this. Do not drink this shit thinking it’s safe because some girl on the internet said….Well actually I said it’s not safe. But overall, removing chemicals from water of the various DIY filtration methods, passing things through an activated carbon filter is more effective, because more of the various particles stick to that than like most of the…it’s kind of funny, because overall, like the kinds of filters that you usually want for like hardcore stuff are not home filters, they’re like, like camping filters and stuff, but it’s just like not actually the case with chemical stuff. But overall…
Okay, but what if I doubled Brita it? If I just if I just pour through the Brita filter twice? Is that? Is that enough?
Like, if I was going to die of thirst, and I had some water from the Delaware River, what I would do is I would filter it over and over again, maybe through different charcoal filters. And then I would hope that…and I would only do this because dying of thirst is more immediate of a problem than dying of like whatever poison that you’re getting through this shit. But, there is like some advice that I want to throw out there about how to prepare for this kind of disaster. This is obviously not the first time some of these similar acylates. I can’t remember which of these ones. I can’t remember if it was butyl acrylate or ethyl acylate was one of the main things that spilled in Ohio. So, it’s something that is like increasingly on people’s threat analysis, right? The main way is to have water stored ahead of time. The main ways to find different sources of water. And so, one thing that’s like worth knowing is that water does not really in and of itself go bad. Water, like, has stuff in it, that goes bad, right? But if water is like, correctly treated and sealed properly, it does not itself go bad. What I would recommend to people is if you’re lazy and easy go get several gallons of bottled water and just keep it around. So, like worst case scenario of some drinking water during time of crisis. Because you can’t boil advisory this shit, right? And then the other thing is, if you want to store your own water….oh, and then that water you get, you should replace every two years or so. Just because even though it doesn’t go bad, the plastic that it’s in tends to degrade. They tend to be clear bottles, and you keep it out of heat and sun and it’ll last longer. Go ahead…
Is it not just refilling the containers? Because I have like a bunch of one gallon water jugs that I’ll you know, put on the garden and then refill. But should I replace the jug itself too in those cases? It’s not a long term jug. It’s like the whatever store brand in a gallon jug.
Well, so it’s funny, because a store brand gallon if you never open it and don’t fill it yourself and it’s sealed, is a reasonable thing to store for several years. Especially if you keep it out of the sun, and you keep it in a cool place, because then the plastic degrades less into the water. But if you’re filling up your own jugs, especially if they’re clear jugs, and especially if you’ve ever drank out of them, like directly, you just replace the water fairly often. And you like look for smells and growth and all that shit and keep it in a cool dark place. I don’t keep store bought water, I keep five gallon jerry cans, and then I refill them. People say to do it every six months or a year. I do it closer to every year. But just having enough to have like emergency drinking water on hand during the time of a crisis where it takes time for water to come back online, or for you to set up a way to get it from elsewhere is something I recommend to people. That’s what I got about the Philly spill. Unless you have other questions about water storage?
I feel like we could do a whole thing on water right now, but I’m not going to dump into it. I do have several kinds of different water storage. I have some of the little one gallons from the store and I have some, you know, five gallon heavy duties. And I have some big barrels of water and a whole set up. But, I’m curious if….You mentioned something at the very beginning about a like boil water advisory or something like that. And is that a common thing for other people? Because I feel like that’s a common thing for me where I live, that we have those often enough that I’ve had to deal with it and learn how to do that on a regular basis. But, in other places, is that normal? I guess probably not.
No, it happens a lot in the US now. It either didn’t used to, or it used to be more insulated from it. But, I’ve been in a bunch of different cities where they’ve had boil advisories for various lengths of times. If the boil advisories around like bacterial stuff, which I think is what most of them are, I am now speaking off the cuff. You can also filter it, but not with your Brita. You can filter it with a camping style filter if it’s a protozoa are bacterial worry, as long as the micron size is like .2 or so, you’re fine. If it’s a viral worry, which is almost never the case in the continental United States, your micron size needs to be .02. Instead of .2. Maybe it’s .01. It needs to be rated for viruses, which is rarer, and mostly camping filters don’t do that.
Yeah, okay. That makes sense. Well, speaking of water stuff: air.
We need that.
Yeah, we do. Just all the elements. Weird weather. Have you heard about the tornadoes that that were happening over this last weekend?
Yeah, there’s too many of them.
Yeah, It’s kind of wild. So, as we’re recording this, it’s early April. We just got through the first weekend of April and there were at least 50 separate tornadoes that hit the American Midwest, South, and parts of the East Coast. They hit like a bunch of states, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. There were four separate tornadoes in New Jersey alone, which I don’t think of New Jersey as being a tornado prone state. But, maybe that’s just me not knowing things. But, they’re also expected to have more tornadoes coming up by the time you hear this they hopefully have come and gone. But, they’re supposed to affect as many as 16 states and all in the next couple of days. With the most serious risks two parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Northwest Illinois. [Said like “Ili-noise”] I watched a video….
What was the last state?
Never heard of that state.
Ilii-noooise. I refuse. Also, I’m sorry, I said Arkansas wrong. It’s Ar-Kansas, Ar-Kansas. Tornadoes. So sorry for my mispronunciations there. [Laughing].
Our-Kansas as compared to the Their-Kansas.
Yeah, I watched a fun video of there’s someone who was trying to film a tornado with her phone. And the tornado came up and slammed into the building that she was in. And the phone kept filming, but it was just like, debris and shit flying around and just total chaos.
We might have different definitions of the word fun. Did she survive?
Yeah, she did.
Okay, I think she got pretty well banged up and bloodied and stuff, broken glass and all that. And she posted to whatever social media, the video, and the comment of “If there’s a tornado coming, don’t try and film it. Get cover. I had to learn it the hard way.”
Which makes you feel like it’s not someone who’s maybe in a tornado prone area, because I get the instinct like, “Oh, I’m gonna film that tornado.” But not a great idea.
I mean, it’s funny because like, after selfies became such a thing, like more national parks, we’re seeing more…or like more hiking places were seeing more falling deaths as people climbed to try and get selfies on precarious rocks and all that stuff. And I’m not above all of that. Like, I can’t tell you that I wouldn’t try and film a tornado. I don’t know. I can tell you it’s not a good idea. But, that doesn’t relate one-to-one to what I would do.
There was documentary that came out in like the 90s. And there was some really famous people who did it. It was all about tornadoes, and they chased them around and we’re trying to catch data or something like that.
Oh, yeah, that one. That one. It’s a documentary, right?
Yeah, sure. Tornadoes aren’t real. It’s funny that people keep spreading this theory of tornadoes, but I’ve never seen a tornado. Have you seen a tornado.
I’ve seen some little dust spinneys.
Yeah, no. Tornadoes are fake. You heard it here first.
But wait, then Margaret. How did all the houses get destroyed and all of the things that are left in the wake of so called tornadoes? What did it.
Did your parents not raise you right? Like, do you not know what the Big Bad Wolf is?
So, all the damage is fake too?
No, it was done by the Big Bad Wolf.
Who huffed and puffed and blew all the houses. Yeah, this is….
I didn’t think he was that big. I didn’t think he was big enough to blow over apartment buildings and stuff.
Yeah, I mean there’s no reason why her couldn’t. There’s like a bunch of them. They stand on each others’ backs.
But, he couldn’t blow down the brick house that the smart pig built so….
So, I feel like he shouldn’t be able to knock down all the concrete buildings and stuff that we see.
Well, actually okay like, to go back to actually believing in tornadoes, brick houses and concrete houses are like remarkably more resilient against….
Did you just waffle on tornadoes? Was that just a giant tornado waffle?
Yeah. I did. I couldn’t keep the bit up, because I got really excited about the fact that brick houses and concrete houses are remarkably more weatherproof than other houses, which it’s one of the things that matters about understanding tornadoes, right, is that, like a lot of things, they impact poor people substantially more and most of the…it takes a much more powerful tornado. I’ve spent a while this week reading about tornado classifications. It takes a much more powerful tornado to tear down stick built house…What’s the word I’m looking here for? Drywall, and two by fours and shit, then taking down like a trailer, right, that a lot of people don’t have as much money live in. Those are easily destroyed by tornadoes. Drywall and studs, are a little bit harder. And then when you get into like brick houses and shit, you start getting houses that are like substantially more weather resistant. And, there’s going to be remarkable class things about that. And like the most damage you hear, and the most deaths you hear about during tornadoes tend to be like trailer parks and shit. And it fucking sucks. It sucks that it impacts poor people more.
Yeah, for sure. One small happy story that came out of the tornadoes from last weekend anyway, is that there’s more than half a dozen Ukrainian refugees who were living in Minneapolis, who when they heard about the tornado damage, volunteered to drive down to Mississippi and help out with the tornado relief efforts.
That’s nice. That’s better than… at the start of the story I was expecting it to be like, they left the war zone and then died in America from climate change weather.
Nope, they’re here and they’re refugees of the war, and they’re going to help Americans. So that’s pretty dope of them.
Well, speaking of good things…nope. I was just gonna talk about trans bills. There’s really nothing good here.
Trans people. Trans people good.
Yeah, I can give you the trans report. I’m still here, still gay. The war on trans people continues. It will probably be about as successful as the war on drugs in that we had a war on drugs and now you can’t buy drugs anymore. Or, it’ll be like successful war on drugs and lots and lots of people have their lives ruined by it and nothing will be impacted. Well, in this case, to me, there’s like literally nothing wrong, like trans people aren’t doing anything wrong. Obviously, individual trans people are doing things wrong in the same way that individual everyone is doing something wrong. As of…this is a couple days old. So, already people are going to be like, like I wrote this two days ago and now by the time y’all hear it, who fucking knows. Kentucky’s Congress just overrode their governor’s veto of one of the worst anti trans bills in the country. Trans kids can’t use the right bathrooms in school. Trans kids are forcibly detransitioned. Shit like that. North Dakota’s governor…this is actually really interesting to me, these governor people vetoing things are interesting because they are across party lines. Off the top of my head, and again, I wrote this a couple days ago, I think Kentucky’s governor’s a Democrat and North Dakota is a Republican. And North Dakota’s Republican, again, could be a different state, i could be messing all this up, just like knows trans people. So, he was just like, “I can’t…What? I can’t in good conscience sign this bill that like fucks over my friend.” or whatever, you know. So, North Dakota governor vetoed a similar bill and as of…and it’s gonna be overridden. And, in North Dakota, teachers can’t use the kids correct pronouns unless the kid has a note from their parents that is cosigned by an administrator of the school. And government agencies can’t require people, like who work for them, to correctly pronoun their co workers. And so it’s just this like government oversight of everything bill that’s just like “No, no one’s allowed to be like.” Like no workplace is able to be like “We’re a trans accepting workplace,” you know. And then, West Virginia passed a law prohibiting gender affirming care for trans youth. It does have more work arounds than many similar bills. Two doctors and parents all have to sign off before puberty blockers and all those things can be prescribed. So, it’s less of a ban and more of like, lots of roadblocks. And it’s interesting to me, because in many ways, this is like way better than an outright ban. However, it will be harder to…if we get this like wave of people defeating these trans bills, these ones are going to stick around longer. These ones that are not outright bans. They’re much harder to challenge in court, is the theory that I learned from asking someone about it.
Yeah, so they put up roadblocks or speed bumps more than roadblocks.
Yeah. And a 2017 study says that West Virginia has the highest per capita rate of trans youth in the country. And another study says–and this is the dark thing behind all of this about like denying health care to children—another study says that West Virginia trans youth are three times more likely to attempt to kill themselves than their cisgender peers. So, God forbid we do the thing that all the Medical Association’s agree ends that risk. Stopped Clock, the Libertarian Party, is standing up for trans people in some situations. Like some of the state libertarian parties, which tracks, but then again, you also see individual libertarians going on about like, “Well, I’m not paying with my taxpayer money for this degeneracy.” And I’m like, “You’re not a libertarian. Fuck you.” And I’m like, I’m not even…like, whatever. It’s just fucking conservatives calling themselves that.
I mean, I get why libertarians would come out against all the trans bills because small government.
Yeah, yeah, totally.
It’s consistent with what they believe. But, allegedly, Republicans also believe in small government, but that never pans out that way.
That’s the state of trans bills. It’s bad. That’s the state of it. And it’s gonna get worse.
How much effort and money is being wasted into worrying about trans youth and trying to block that as opposed to real issues that we have going on?
I mean, okay, so like, from my point of view, and I think it’s a wedge issue. It is specifically designed to…like, the sports thing is designed…it’s not because people care about that teenage cis girls get to compete with only teenage cis girls. It is designed to make people angry at trans people. And then that is used as a wedge to then have trans people themselves be the wedge to pull off from LGBTQ, right, and get left with LGB. And you can already see that they like want…in the same way that like Roe v Wade. It’s like they’re going to come for…and they are already trying to come for birth control and all kinds of other shit too. You know? And they want…probably eventually, they’ll get the sodomy laws back and premarital sex and whatever. You know? Handmaid’s Tale shit.
Let’s hope not.
And so, but there is this theory that they’re gonna die on this hill, because the trans thing doesn’t really win elections, because like, most people kind of don’t give a shit what other people do with themselves. Like a lot of people give a shit, right, enough that there’s all these bills being passed. But like, there’s still a majority of United States-ian’s who support access to trans health care, including for teenagers. And I won’t say across party lines, because the majority of Republicans are opposed to it. But like, overall, you still have this, like people are kind of like “What the fuck is going on? Like this makes no sense?” Like, even the like it kind of icky people. So yeah, that’s trans bills. Hooray.
Yeah. I just like, I don’t want to jump off that topic, because it’s so important and affecting so many people that I love, and, you know. This queer person, that is some of the other letters in that acronym is not gonna let go with a T. Trans people are staying here in this alliance.
And like, and I think it is worth understanding that like, it is already directly affecting large numbers of people. Entire families are leaving states with anti trans laws that are forcing the detransition of youth, and have to move to other states in order to access health care that keeps their kids alive. And so we’re going to see an increasing amount of that. Whereas I would guess, a slightly higher percentage of adults, one aren’t as…Trans adults aren’t as directly affected yet. And also they might have more agency about staying and fighting. And I want to like just continue to say that I think it is absolutely worth offering full support to both people who choose to stay in dangerous situations to fight and people who choose to leave those situations, and full support to all people who are making either these decisions
And to help the people who want to leave the situation, but don’t have whatever means or opportunities to do so. Well, I don’t know if this is any less evil, as we talk a little bit about our old friend inflation.
That’s where suddenly money’s worth more, right?
Close. Really close, Margaret, but the other direction
We’re worth more as more money.
We’ll go back to our friend the banana example. Bananas….
I know what inflation is. I’m just being a dick.
That’s alright. We forgive you. Yeah. All right, inflation is where you can buy fewer bananas with your buck than you could before.
But, I want more bananas.
Yeah, they’re gonna cost you more money. The same bananas are gonna cost you more money.
I guess bananas are still dirt cheap. I mean, how much could have banana cost? What? $5? [Margaret laughs] I made a meme. I said a meme.
Do you know that you’re quoting a thing?
Yes. I’m smart.
I think she actually says $10 or $20.
I dunno, my pop cultural literacy is as literate as she is about finance. Soon enough, it’s just gonna be accurate. People are gonna look back at that and be like, “Yeah, no, that’s about how much of banana costs. What do you want?”
It’s funny, because I think it is $10. And that was like 2003, so 20 years ago. So, it’s a little less obscene now than it was when she said it.
Bananas are the cheapest fruit. This is why I like them so much.
I don’t think I knew that. Well, your bananas are gonna cost more money or have been costing more money. I had to look it up for one of my other jobs the other day, so I just felt like doing an update on it. So, prices right now, compared to one year ago, are up about 5.5%. And I realize we haven’t necessarily talked about what normal inflation looks like. Inflation is is a normal thing that happens in our society. There was a time in history when inflation was not normal, when things did not rapidly increase in price, or really have much of an increase. But that’s a normal part of society. And normal inflation is closer to like 3% in a given year. So we’re at close to double that with 5.5%.
Isn’t that still down from what inflation was a year ago?
Yeah. So if we compare it from the last two years, so where prices are right now, compared to two years ago, they’re up 13% when when we would have only seen maybe a 6% increase under normal inflation or less. So, still more than doubled. But it also depends on which things you look at. Like food is up more like 18% over the last couple of years.
Okay. But not important stuff?
No, not things that we need to survive,
Yeah, of course. And, it’s really interesting when I look at the charts of where the inflation is, because it’s summer 2020, you know, like, right, as the impacts of all the pandemic shutdowns and supply shortages are starting to hit is when those prices start to do a clear difference in the way inflation hits, you know, goes for being that normal 3% rise to boom, much sharper.
What can people do about inflation? Get all their money out of the banks, put it in a cash envelope and put it under their mattress?
You know, that’s actually going to be the opposite of what you want to do.
Yeah, I went that was on purpose again.
I know. Yeah, anything you can you can do with your money to have it earn at least some amount of interest, you know, if your bank offers a savings account that has a slightly higher rate of interest, and you could put some more of your money in there, or filter it through maybe a different type of checking account at your bank that perhaps offers a little bit of interest. Generally, interest rates never keep up with inflation. Like I just bought a CD that I think, is at four and a half percent or something like that over the next year? Which
What band is it? [Brooke laughs] What’s a CD?
Yes, people don’t know what either kinds of those are anymore. Certificate of Deposit. It’s like a really short term investment that’s with a guaranteed return on it. It tends to be a very small return. Generally doesn’t keep up with inflation, but it’s better than not getting any kind of interest. So, unlike a savings account you can’t touch, or you can but then you get penalized, you don’t get your interest on it.
Can I tell you my ‘it sounds like a joke,’but is actually my financial strategy?
Oh, boy. Sure, you can. I can’t promise I won’t tease you about it
During times of high inflation, feast or famine. The thing that you want is not going to be cheaper tomorrow than today.
This is true.
So ,holding on to cash right now, I hold is less useful as an overall strategy than investment in the material goods that you expect to be using, whether it’s the material goods that you use for your art to turn into things, whether it’s like you know, shit you’re trying to turn around and sell, or whether it’s just tools or even fucking experience….like, kind of in that same way that like nothing’s better later. And we’re all gonna die one day and we can’t control when, I feel like it’s like extra true during a…like smoke if you got them, right? But ideally it’s like….like I do consciously think about this where I’m like, “Well you know what, a table saw is going to stay useful to me many years from now if I take care of it, and the amount of money that that table saw will cost me is going to be 25% higher in three years,” or whatever, you know. But that’s only I mean….I don’t know. Don’t listen to me. I mean, I guess that’s the point of the podcast is to listen to us. But don’t.
You know what’s interesting, though, is the economic theory, the economic textbook and stupid fucking Keynesian economics, would would agree with you there that your money is going to become less useful, so you should you should go ahead and spend it now.
Hell yeah. But I’m gonna write an economics book called “YOLO.”
No, Keyne’s already did. And should be ceremonially shot in the head. But yeah, I guess. Go ahead and go out and spend all your…No, no, no, I’m not even going to finish this. That’s terrible financial advice.
I mean, like, hold on to like not die. But like, I don’t know. Like, I don’t have retirement fund. And I’m not saying like, no one should have a retirement fund. I’m saying I made some decisions in my life about how I was going to live that did not prioritize having a regular job. And I’m like, but I will have a table saw Right? Like, I don’t know.
There is something to that though, to consider about, you know, purchases you might be making, you know, medium sized purchases, not super large purchases, like cars and whatnot. But yeah, if you need a table saw it might be a better idea to get it sooner rather than later. And it is a durable good. So it’s not it’s not as consumable.
Yeah, four Lamborghinis.
Probably not? I don’t know what the resale value is on a Lamborghini, but that’s probably not going to be worth it.
I know a Lamborghini is a car. That’s all I got.
Okay, all right. Anyway, yeah, inflation continues to suck. Buy some shit, if you have some money to spare because prices are going up.
Okay, well in other fun…We really need to get better at having some intentionally positive things in this show, because for This Month in the Apocalypse, but in other fun news–actually, this one is like almost fine, right? Like there’s a super fungus going around called Candida Auris.
Super fun. Can’t spell super fungus without super fun.
I know. That’s right. Or Gus. Don’t trust anyone named Gus. Is Gus short for something? Gustav? I’m going to ask the next Gus I talk to. I know a Gus. So there’s a new fungus. It’s been around since 2009. Basically, it’s just like there’s this like kind of like constant war on…like the same way that like antibiotics are like an arms race where we like we get the new upgraded penicillin and then the biotics, the bacteria, is like, “Whatever, fuck you. I’m like penicillin resistant.” So we’re like, “Well, now we’ve got [mutters nonsense word],” and then you know, we’re like, “Well, we’re [nonsense word] resistant.” And that happens in the fungal world as well. Candida Auiris. It was first noticed in 2009. It came to the US in 2016. I’m mostly saying this to say this is not worth freaking out about. This is a thing that like some news articles are telling us about–and I don’t think it’s bad for news articles to tell us about, right? But, it is not worth freaking out about unless you’re in very specific situations, in which case it is worth paying attention to, and I don’t mean to disparage, it is mostly currently in hospital settings. It is mostly affecting immunocompromised people who are in hospital settings. If you get it, it’s sketchy, right? It has a very high mortality rate. But, it’s not airborne. It is surfaces and direct contact. Most people…when I say ‘get it,’ I mean like get it and it creates its effect, its disease thing, and basically people start worrying about because it was antimicrobial resistant. And that’s why people started freaking out about it because it was resistant to like, off the top of my head, I want to say, two of the three main things that were treating other forms of Candida…fungal problems, yeast problems. But, already since this has become a problem, two new anti fungal drugs that are effective on it have been passed by the FDA. So, I guess I’m saying this one to be like, this is a thing that people are like, most than use articles about it are like on your like local news station, you know, like the ones that want to tell you about smiling dogs and about how we’re all going to die. Again, it’s still worth understanding and keeping an eye on. But it’s not worth freaking out about right now. What do you got? What’s next?
It is kind of positive news, because it is a super fungus, but then they found some things that actually do work on it. Okay, well, I want to I want to insert another short happy thing, since we’re talking about happy things. That I read. And this is universal. Scientists discovered, I think just the last couple of weeks, that the rings around the planet Saturn actually help to warm the atmosphere of the planet. Yeah. Just a happy scientific discovery.
So, in order to solve climate change…
We need to blow up the moon. It’s gotta be worth just a couple of degrees.
You know, I think that’s gonna fuck up some other things that we don’t want to do.
I didn’t read a whole novel called “Seven Eve’s,” by Neil Stevenson about what would happen if the moon blew up.
Yeah, also as an indigenous person, and the moon is considered our grandmother, I have some feelings about blowing up my grandmother.
I’m gonna. I’m gonna pass.
All the people die. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, everyone. I have a tooth ache. I’m sorry.
How about some other great news that will make you really happy? Okay, about our former president, Ruffled Dumpagins?
We put him on the moon and then we blow it up.
Hey, okay, that…I might consent to blowing up my grandmother in that regards.
All right, all right. Maybe just put him on the moon, and just let them see what happens. And then your grandmother could take care of them. We don’t have to get rid of the grandmother at all.
There we go. That’s an even better plan. My grandma will definitely take care of Donald Trump.
Okay. All right.
So, as we’re recording this, the former president was indicted just last week by a New York grand jury on more than 30 counts of stuff. And we don’t know exactly what the various counts are. That’s being kept secret. But, we know that it surrounds the hush money payment that was made to the former porn star–or maybe she’s still a current porn star, I don’t know which, but good on her way either way–Stormy Daniels, which, in case people don’t realize this, paying the hush money isn’t actually illegal. It’s the way it was paid that was bad. Because it was filtered through the campaign. And yeah, the Dumpikin’s former attorney, Cohen, I think was the one, has already been found guilty on this and is serving jail time over it. So, definitely illegal shit happen. What they’re trying to argue now is whether Trump himself knew about it, and how involved he was in the illegal activity. So by the time you’re listening to this, Grumpikins has already been arraigned, and he’s probably gone back to Florida, and he’s probably back to campaigning. So you’ll have more news on this than we do. But it’s that happy thing that I want to mention. An unhappy part of it is that in the three days following the announcement from the grand jury that he was going to be indicted is the disgraced former President raise $7 million in campaign funds for his current presidential bid.
You say million or billion?
Million. In three days. So, yeah, not a bad return on $130,000. But the payments…
Okay, so I have a new way that we can make money. Nope, sorry. Go. Ahead.
Yeah, there we go. I mean, and I’m okay if I get to hang up some porn stars too. That’ll make me happy.
We can become right wing grifters.
No, Can we be left wing grifters?
Okay, let’s find out. Everyone who’s listening, send us $10. And then you become an official Live Like the World is Dying host, who can then get other people to send you $10, of which you will turn around and send us $5. But, don’t worry, because the people under you will be earning…
No, no, no, no. You’re describing something that’s shaped roughly like a pyramid, which I’m pretty sure is…
It’s devil worship. Triangle is devil worship.
No, it’s a triangle. It’s the strongest shape in nature.
It’s the A-frame. It’s the a-frame financial model.
The former president is also facing other legal challenges, which haven’t brought forth charges yet but some of them certainly will. He’s under investigation for things including the January, 6th attack on the US capital. Federal election tampering in Georgia, mishandling of classified documents, a civil lawsuit for fraud in New York against the Trump Organization, and a defamation lawsuit, amongst other things.
What a good guy.
Yeah, super awesome.
I do love all the like…You know, it’s like the like, the prison abolitionists, anarchists who are too good for electoral politics like, myself and many other people, but it’s like, I feel like there’s just like a little bit of like, “Alright, well, we can still take some fuck that guy.” Like, fuck that guy. I don’t care. Yeah. You want to hear some some list of stuff?
What else is going on out there, Margaret?
Well, there’s a diesel spill in West Virginia from a derailed train. I spent a while trying to look up how you filter diesel out of water. But, unfortunately, most of the information is about how to filter diesel out of water…how to how to filter water out of diesel cause people want the diesel.
As long as you capture the water, that might not be the worst.
Well, it’s like, because the water that they’re pulling out might some diesel and they don’t care. They’re getting rid of that water. They’re probably throwing it in the fucking creek or on the ground. But like, because you don’t want to put watery gas or diesel into your engines order, but the way that people do it is that water is denser than diesel so it sinks to the bottom of the container. So I guess if you’re a life or death….I’m not even going to make that advisory. Like don’t drink diesel water. Artificial sweetener erythritol, one of those–I think it’s one of the alcohol sugars–seems to be linked to heart problems. Doubles your chance of bad shit. It’s in some vegan ice cream. So beware.
Oh, good to know. Hey, before we go too far from the train derailment.
Oh, you wanna do the train thing.
Well, just there was another train derailment that made me think of in Montana just over this last weekend. And they were carrying a lot of…
Coors Light, and another brand of beer that’s similar to that.
That’s just funny. There’s no. Okay. Hell yeah.
So, you don’t need to filter the beer out of the water. You can just go ahead just drink it.
Yeah, it’s really good for you. It hydrates you more effectively than water.
Its water beer in the first place. So.
Okay, that’s fair. Speaking of Oregon, we weren’t, but a guy who was trapped in the snow, managed to get an SOS out on this phone. This is like a survival tip. This is not a survival tip that applies to almost anyone. He attached his phone to his drone, and flew his drone up until it got enough service and the message sent and he was saved. And that rules.
That’s fuckin rad.
That said, in terms of getting out emergency signals, one way–satellite communicators are a more effective method and cheaper than drones. Not a lot cheaper than drones. I’ll be real. There in the like, $300-$400 range, however, and I bet more and more phones will do this. The newer iPhones. I don’t have one. But, the newer iPhones have built in satellite communication SOS systems. Where the satellite communicator is like more like what like people hiking in the backwoods and stuff have and it like lets you like text. It’s a little bit slow. But like, no matter if you can see the sky, you can get a message out with satellite communicators.
You have one of those, don’t you, Margaret?
I do. I spend some time in the backwoods. And so it’s nice to have,
Well I have a drone. So, I’m just gonna take my drone and just follow that guy’s success. It’s like a $300. Drone. It’s not a special drone.
Yeah, you gotta keep that in your car at all times. You will literally die if you don’t have that in your car at all times.
Will I not die If I haven’t my car? Will it protect me in other situations?
I think we’re getting off topic.
In this specific situation that this man was in, he’s immortal now. Because the the signal was interrupted by some vampires. And they came over. He’s not allowed to see the sun anymore, which is like a heavy price to pay. Right? And he consumes blood and there’s like a lot of like, ennui attached to that. He’s a vampire now.
So, here’s a list of worst air quality in the United States listed from 1 to 10: Bakersfield, California. Congratulations. You’ve the worst air quality in the United States. Los Angeles, Chicago, Northwest Indiana and the industrial areas like Gary, Indianapolis, Houston, St. Louis, a bunch of rural Pennsylvania managed to like really come in hard for the rural areas. I’m glad to see that rural representation. These are mostly localized to a few hotspots, because you’re like in the mountains and there’s a factory there and they don’t care about you because you’re poor. You’ll notice that a lot of these places are poor. Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. I’m sorry. Finland is joining NATO, so Putin’s weird war is having the opposite of the desired effect, and I don’t really have an opinion about that, but it’s like worth noting. Most of the current like prepper news you can go out and read is gonna be like, “Today, World War III is about to happen tomorrow.” And it’s like the same person will say this like over and over and over again. And they always have like some reason, as we like inch closer, and they’re not even usually like wrong about their reasons. Like the China, US. and Russia are like playing a fucking crazy game right now, you know? And there’s like nuclear capable planes from the US like flying near that little weird part of Russia that isn’t attached to Russia that’s like, south of the…the like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, you know, there’s a tiny piece of Russia under there. And then like, US planes are like, playing a like ‘not touching, can’t get mad,’ game about nucular war. And that’s like, not great. But, I’m not like those…I know, I’m now saying the thing that I just said don’t worry about, but like, it’s…I don’t know. I don’t feel like we’re any more likely to have nuclear war tomorrow than we were yesterday. Personally.
We’re all going to die anyway.
Yeah, except for that guy who sent his drone up to talk to the vampires.
Metformin taken during COVID is looking like it’s reducing long COVID cases. At least according to some studies. I’m not giving you medical advice, but it’s like promising, right? What’s promising is that there’s more and more information about how people are handling long COVID, which is also really promising because there’s a lot of long viral problems like Lyme and things like that, that have been ignored and the people who suffer from them have been mistreated by the medical establishment for decades. And I am optimistic that the research into long COVID–Because long COVID can’t be ignored because of the scale at which it’s happening–will help people who suffer from these other viral infections. That is my hope. The far Right government in Italy has stopped registering children born to same sex couples. I think it’s basically like same sex couples were going to other countries in order to have kids via surrogates. And then now they’re like not able to come back to Italy. I don’t have the absolute details about…Italy’s being fucked up and homophobic.
They can’t like get a birth certificate?
It’s something like that,
The the news article was clearly translated and not incredibly well. That was the best I could figure. China is on track to destroy American exceptionalism and become the number one cause of climate change. So, we’re gonna have to step up our game everyone.
On–well, we are stepping up our game because–on March 13th, Biden approved…this could have been a whole separate topic. But, Biden approved a project called Willow and I am offended because “Willow” is an amazing movie and an amazing tree and not a oil development on federal land in Alaska that’s the size of fucking Indiana.
Yeah, I heard about that.
It is key habitat for polar bears and caribou. It fucking sucks. It is like, absolutely a spit in the face to any pretense that one of the most powerful nations on the planet would possibly stick to what it claims about the–not deindustrialization–but de fossil fueling and or whatever…
Positive environmental news that is no longer in positive environmental news is electric cars were getting a $7,500 subsidy from the federal government. Except it’s a big confusing mess. And no one can tell…like not even the car companies know whether you have to lease, if you can buy, which ones you can buy. And it all has to do with this like pissing match thing where they want all of the…the subsidy cars have to have a certain percentage or maybe it’s all of it, I’m not sure, of the components made within the United States. But, at the moment, all of that is a nightmare mess. So people don’t know which electric car they can get $7,500 subsidy on.
But, there is a $4,000 federal subsidy that is more straightforward and not all fucked up and confusing.
That’s good to know. Like Virginia recently passed a gun law that makes a lot of sense to me. I’m not opposed to all gun laws, I guess, except in the abstract way or I don’t like law as a system, but they passed a thing that’s just like subsidies for people to get gun safes. It’s not a requirement. It’s not a like safe gun lock up requirement, although I think that that should exist, but maybe not in a law way but in a cultural norm way. But yeah, like if you want people to change an economic system, and we do. We need a different economic system, or a different…Well, we did a lot of different things to be changed, but whatever. I don’t know. Okay, so Finally, my small thing is that the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC released a new report. We’re fucked. I mean, we’re almost certainly going to overshoot the Paris Agreement, of capping climate change at 1.5. C [degrees Celsius change] And 1.5. C is where you start getting runaway feedback loops, at least according to…I mean, everyone’s given different numbers. Some people, I’ve heard 2 C [degrees Celsius] or whatever, but like, yeah. It’s bad and things need to change more dramatically than I believe the current system is capable of changing things. So as much as I’m like, “Oh, money for electric guitar,” Guitars? Electric guitars for everyone. Because then if you’re all vampires, you can like [makes guitar note noises] like, the Crow. But I think that fundamentally and dramatically shifting the way that our governmental and economic systems work is a more likely way to stop climate change than convincing our current governmental system to effectively address it.
Right there with you. I bet our friends over It Could Happen Here will probably read that report and talk about it in depth. I know they did last year when that report came out. And that was pretty good info they distilled down there and so hopefully they’ll do that again for us.
They’re not our friends. We hate them. We’re starting beef with….No. They’re all so nice. They’re also, they want to…I also work for them. But yeah, okay.
They play games with us. We like them.
Yeah. What else? We’re coming up on an hour. We got anything else?
Oh, that was my list.
Okay. Well, I think we can change things fundamentally. And I also think we can build the systems by which to mitigate the worst effects of the changes that are going to happen. And I think we can do that by building together in community minded preparedness ways. Brooke, do you want to start a podcast with me about how to do individual and community preparedness? We can make it be weekly. Give it some name, like Don’t Die Weekly or….
I feel like Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness already produces something like that. And we might be on it right now.
I know. You can listen to it starting weekly, starting right now.
It’s actually called Live Like the World is Dying and Margaret, you do most of it. Though, I think the toothache is making you forget.
The Vampire Cast.
Come to Oregon. Become a vampire. Or not.
Yeah, it’s true. Oregon’s could still hang. I mean, my toothache is fucking me up. I’m not even on drugs for it yet. I’m just excited to finish so I can take ibuprofen.
Well, how can we finish?
Thanks so much for listening to the latest installment of This Month in the Apocalypse. We come to you as members of the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness publishing collective. We produce three, soon to be four other podcasts, create zines and publish books. You can check out that great stuff on our website, Tangledwilderness.org. We’re also on some social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
And Vampire Freaks.
We are able to do these rad things because of our Patreon supporters.
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We only add you on Friendster if you support us on Patreon, I’m sorry, them’s the rules.
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They’re in our top eight.
Were you not a MySpace kid?
I was but I don’t…Oh! Yeah! The little the board thing with the squares. Yes. Okay, I forgot we called it that.
Your top eight friends.
Yep. All right. We want to say thanks to Hoss the dog, Miciahah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, paprouna, Aly, Paige, Janice, Oxalis. And yes, thank you so much.
United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru, Republic Dominican, Cuba, Caribbean, Alabama, Alaska. El Salvador too,
We actually like you all individually. I’m sorry that we made it…it’s a toothache. Bye, everyone.
Margaret and Agatha talk about mutual aid in Ukraine and Agatha’s experience trying to go there to fight in an anti-authoritarian platoon, but ending up doing a bunch of mutual aid supply distribution work instead. They talk about he intricacies of relief work and some of the special circumstances in Ukraine. Heavy content warning on this episode. Towards the end of the episode around 46:00, Agatha starts to tell a really intense story about being in a war zone. Around 56:00 is when it begins to get graphic.
Agatha (they/them) can be found on IG @jalutkewicz
You can donate to their mutual aid work on venmo @agathawilliams or on Paypal @email@example.com
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for it feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And I’m really excited about this week’s interview, I am going to be talking to an old friend of mine from quite a while back who haven’t talked to in a while about what’s involved in anarchists mutual aid in war zones, and specifically, Ukraine, and in the things that are going on there. Yeah, I’m really excited for you all to hear this conversation. But first, I’m excited for you all to hear that we’re a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.
This is Margaret, from the future, coming back to say that this episode deserves a content warning near the end of the episode and there’ll be some heads up. We will be talking about, “Hey, so I hear you were attacked.” That part contains graphic descriptions of war and violence. And so listener discretion is advised.
Okay, we’re back. So, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of a brief description of why you are in a good place to talk about anarchists mutual aid in places of active conflict.
So my name is Agatha. My pronouns are they/them. Yeah, I went over to Ukraine last year about this time to do mutual aid support with anti authoritarian units and anarchists units. Things got fucked up on my way over there. So, that wasn’t a possibility any longer. So, I just started doing aid runs with a convoy of other solo operators who went over there to try and do something to help alleviate the suffering of folks. Yeah, I’m here to talk about that.
So one of my questions about that, is, what do these aid runs look like? I’m under the impression there are different organizations working to try to get new vehicles and armor and all of these things that, you know, to frontline units, to anti authoritarian units. And these are like, organizations from outside Ukraine that are like sending people and supplies to then deliver the supplies? Like what does this look like?
Yeah, so me and a few other folks went over there with a group of cash all of our own, you know, what I mean, and we use that for operational costs, which was, you know, feeding ourselves buying diesel in Poland. And then we worked with some more wealthy sympathizers to the cause, who, one person we worked with owns a distribution company, and they have a giant fucking warehouse in Warsaw, Poland. And, you know, they would make sure items that needed to get to folks close to the frontline, where bigger NGOs wouldn’t go, could get things that they needed that were not getting there, i.e. like medicine, sanitary products, food, you know, and then later on body armor and diesel. So, this person would basically…they have a bigger organization that looks a lot friendlier on their website, and you can go and donate money and it has pictures of like Ukrainian kids smiling. So, the run would start like this, we’d get a text from this wealthy patron and they’d be like, “Alright, I’ve organized another run,” you know, “Meet me at my warehouse Saturday at four in the morning and bring four vans,” you know, “and eight drivers.” And like, we wouldn’t know where we’re going. We wouldn’t know what we’re doing. And then we’d get there at four in the morning and then there’d be all these like, gnarly angry Polish dudes just like moving boxes around and making piles. And then the, you know, the person who lead everything and orchestrated everything, she’s just a very strong, amazing woman. And she would come out and just start barking orders and be like, “You, you’re driving this van, and you’re putting all this in your van, but like, I have some other shit to hide at the bottom of the pile. So don’t load it yet,” you know, “load this van.” And then she’d like really quickly, have one of her cronies, bring out a pallet full of body armor inserts that were like, made at a metal shop out of like, AR500 steel that can withstand 556 and 762 rounds.
Yeah, gun Twitter will be very upset about this.
I said gun Twitter will be very upset that they’re using steel.
I know. But if you’re out there fucking around, you want something more than nothing, and it’s not gonna spatter, AR500 is at least not going to spatter on you, you know what I mean? Yeah, it’s not going to create any spalding. But, that regardless, you know, she did her own research on what steels are like the most bulletproof and then she fucking contacted a metal shop with a brake press that could you know, bend quarter inch thick steel that was hardened. And then she had them plasma cut out the designs that fit into vests that she had manufactured from different tailors around Poland, you know, it was just like, it was 100%, DIY, you know, ballistic vests. And it was just amazing. And she’d be like, “Alright, you’re delivering all this, like toilet paper, and ibuprofen, and like, you know, baby food to this one location, then you’re going to meet with my people at this location, and you’re gonna give them these 10 boxes,” you know, and those had whatever in them. I never asked, you know, but and then she’d be like, “Give them these 50 vests,” you know, “they have like a poorly equipped unit that needs them. They have a mortar unit that’s taken a lot of casualties because they’re so ill equipped,” like, blah, blah, blah. And then she’d be like, “Also, the next van, we’re gonna fill it with all toilet paper. But, at the bottom of the toilet paper pile, we’re gonna hide 300 gallons of diesel, you know, in these little containers.”
Why are you hiding it?
Because there’s like tariffs involved with transporting body armor and transporting fuel across conflict zone lines, apparently. I don’t know very much about it. I just know that like, there was like, a big to do. And you had to file a lot more fucking paperwork that took weeks and weeks, if not months to get like 50 fucking vests across the border, and then to the east of Ukraine. Whereas she was just like,” I don’t give a fuck, you’re going there anyways.” I mean, she was crazy. She was like, linked up, she’d be like, “Alright, these are your things you need when you get to the border. If you get there early, wait till 5:30 shift, change or whatever. And wait till this one dude is working. Show him this paperwork, and he’s gonna let you through without giving you hassle or looking in your van. If you go at other times, I can’t guarantee you’re gonna get through without a hassle.” So, she had stuff going on, that I didn’t know about. And I didn’t care to ask about. I was just into helping and I was good enough just bringing food and medicine. You know. When I found out we were bringing other shit and like hiding it. I was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I was like, “I’m into it. Like, I’m sketchy. Like, I’m down.” you know? And so we just like, we would wait, we’d pack up all the vans at four in the morning when we met her there. And then there was a few Polish dudes who would run the convoy once we were on the road. And we all had radios. So, it’s like, you know, head convoy dudes like, “You guys got to pick it up, we need to make better time.” or people in the back would be like, “Hey, head of convoy slow down, we’re losing ya.” Yeah, because all our shit was painted drab green and had the organization we were working for plastered all over the side of it. So, we wanted to look like a convoy while we were in Poland and the West of the country, and stick together. And then once we’d get across the border, and hit Lviv, you know, then it scattered and we would take magnets off, and we didn’t want to look like a convoy, because convoys get targeted and like, all this other junk. So we had basically leave Warsaw at like five or six in the morning, we’d drive for fucking ever, we’d get to the border, we’d sit there forever, you know, we’d give our slips to the guy we were supposed to give them to, they would just wave us through, they wouldn’t search our shit. And then we drive fucking forever to Lviv. And then at Lviv, we’d unload like 80% of the stuff, you know, four out of six in the convoy would go back to Warsaw. And then you know, I was generally one of the ones who would go further east. So, I’d stick around, we’d get coordinates to a new warehouse that we didn’t know about, and then we would go refill our vans and Lviv with other shit going further east. And then from there, we’d hit Kyiv. We’d drop a bunch of shit of in Kyiv. If we were transporting vehicles, we’d bring them to the specific units that was asking for them, basically just four by four vehicles that can carry around and a little Assault Squad through mud and shit that they didn’t have. And then we’d deliver that shit. And then, you know, we’d spend a night in Kyiv and then we’d get more coordinates the next day. We’d go to another warehouse. We’d fill it up with whatever the fuck was planned for us. And then all this is going on while we are like doing our own shit. Like, last time we were in Zolochiv, they needed salt because their bakery had run dry of salt. They had everything to make bread for the frontline troops except for salt. So, they’re like, “We need three vans worth of salt” you know, “We need like 5000 pounds of salt.” So, we’d be like moving our salt around to make room for our wealthy patron’s shit that she wanted to go to specific units that she had friends in, or whatever that were hard up. You know? So we were just have to like, juggle shit around. And then like, make sure everything fit, throw our 50 gallon drums of diesel on the fucking roof of the car and siphon it out and fill our fucking tanks back up, because you just can’t get diesel in Ukraine when we were there. So we had to smuggle in all the diesel for the entire trip. And then, we’d be on our way again. And then we’d eventually get to Kharkiv or wherever, in the far east of the country, get rid of all our shit. And then just like, usually pick up some passengers who wanted to get the fuck out of Kharkiv or wherever the fuck they were, and bring people back and get them out of sketchy situations. And then we’d slowly make our way back to Poland. And we didn’t really stop when we were driving. So, some days we drive for like 48 hours straight or some couples of days and then we would take naps and switch out drivers. But on the way back, it was a little more relaxed, like we’d get a hotel or something like in between Kharkiv and fucking Kyiv and try and take showers and get like a good night’s rest and then whatever. And then we finally make our way back to Warsaw or Krakow, wherever our next pickup was. We’d rest for 24 hours without doing shit. We would just eat food sleep, nap, like fucking whatever the fuck we felt like doing. Go on walks. Then we’d get another another call from from our person who was funding a lot of this and she’d be like, “Meet me at the warehouse, Tuesday at 1″30 in the morning and bring seven vans this time,” you know, so yeah, that’s pretty much the cycle that was going on when I was there.
Yeah. Okay, so I have a bunch of questions about this. There’s so much that’s curious to me. Yeah, one of them is like, like, what’s in it for this lady? Like, I don’t know, if you want to like out her specifically or whatever. But like, it’s international solidarity? Is it like…
I couldn’t tell.
Is it just like, we don’t want Ukraine to fall because then we think we’re next? Is it just the same reason you’re there, we just got to fucking help each other? Like, what’s going on?
So, everything I gathered from talking with this person was that she just like, thought what was going on was super fucked up was like, disgusted that like civilians, were paying such a high price for the actions of, you know, a fascist imperialist government’s need to try for a land grab and was just like, honestly disgusted about how little the rest of the world seemed to care about these people who, like, were fucking starving to death and are still starving to death and like fucking living in occupied villages that change hands every couple of weeks, and like, can’t get anything because NGOs won’t go there. Because Red Cross thinks is too dangerous or whatever. Yeah, I mean, it is but like, that’s your fucking job. Like, that’s what you should be doing. And it like, came down to like, hundreds and or thousands of like, solo operators who have like these little groups, there’s a bunch of us, like, but it’s like, hard to…It’s hard to say what her end game was. Like, she had a bunch of fucking dudes who, I don’t speak Ukrainian or Polish, but there’s some words that are the same, you know? And I mean, like, we’d be driving and the radio chatter would be all Polish. And I’d hear like “Americanski,”” and then, “Blah, blah, blah,” and then nothing for a minute. And then you’d hear like, “Blah, blah, blah, Pistoleta, blah, blah, blah.” And I’m like, what do they got in their van? You know what I mean? But I’m not asking, you know. The most I ever asked was like, the lead dude who took us on the convoys just seemed like he knew his way around a warzone, knew his way, you know, bunch of those motherfuckers were into Brazilian jujitsu. And that’s where we like, connected a lot, because that’s something I’m into, and they all knew how to handle themselves. They all seem like ex military or something. And one day, I was just like, I was like, “Hey, dude, like, are you ex… It’s like, don’t answer mean if you don’t want to, but like, are you ex military or like current military or something?” And he says, “Kind of.” and then walked away. And I was like, “Okay, that’s enough.” You know what I mean? So like, I don’t know what their motivations were. They were like, super not into Russia, I can say that. It like, a little uncomfortable for me because like… and especially the closer you get to the border of the Russia, the more you start hearing terms like ‘orc,’ and like, stuff like that, as opposed to ‘Russian.’ I don’t know, they had seen more shit than me at that point, had really strong opinions and like, as much as I could tell, they just wanted to, you know, kind of ease some of the suffering that normal everyday people were going through because of the conflict.
Yeah. Okay. So that brings it back to like, you know, you mentioned that you, you headed out there hoping to specifically work delivering aid to the anti authoritarian units and stuff. Is that work that you got to continue to do or like?
in some ways. So, just to clarify, I originally went out to fight in an anti authoritarian unit made up of English speaking foreigners. That was my my first goal. I had issues with getting my passport in a timely manner. And then there was this like, horrible incident where the unit that had accepted me, they knew when I was coming, they had someone picking me up to bring them to the base and get me situated and fucking geared up. But they’re like, “You need body armor. You need a ballistic helmet. You need your own IFAK. You need like, your own fucking compass, you know, basically full kit was needed to be provided by me, because all they were going to….they’re going to stick me on a mortar team and I was going to be like, stuck with that mortar team with whatever I brought, or essentially, and then, on my way over there, something happened where the platoon leader was found dead on base. They got assigned a new Platoon leader. This dude was like, “You guys can still fly you’re anti anti authoritarian and anarchists flags as a unit, but we’re not taking in any more foreigners. And that’s that.” So while I was on my way there, I was told, you know, “No go on the, on the infantry unit. Blah, blah, blah.” So I just like, didn’t know what to do. I had like $5,000 worth of tourniquets, and quit clot and fucking chest seals. You know, I had I had ballistic helmets, I had a level four ceramic plates with me. I had more shit than I could carry. I looked like an asshole coming from the Warsaw airport to my hostel, you know. And then I couldn’t leave my hostel for like, a week and a half, because I had like, all this gear in there that wouldn’t fit in my tiny little safe and like, everyone was like, “What the fuck are you doing with all this shit? And like, why are you here?” And I didn’t want to say anything. So I just like seemed sketchy. And then I eventually found a group that was working directly with anarchists fighters at the front. And I was like, “Hey, I brought all this medical supplies. It’s basically only heavy bleed stop supplies to treat gunshots and amputations and things of this nature. Do you want it? Like, how do I get it to you?” And they’re like, “Yes, totally. One of our people, we’ll get with you soon,” you know. And this is when I started my waiting game in the hostel trying to like, not leave my shit for too long. And be there waiting for the call. And like a week and a half went by before I got any kind of information. And honestly, I was like, kind of bummed out. This group seemed like they knew what they were doing. Their social media presence was like on point. They were like, just vague enough to like, promote their cause, but like, not giving too much information out. You know, they’re just like, whatever. So, I was like, I’ll deal with these guys. Fine. I’ll give them this medical equipment. And then they just like, totally dropped the ball. And like, they kept saying, someone’s going to call me. Every day I texted them. I’m like, I’m sitting on all this crap, I need to get rid of it and be on my way and try and find another way to like, do what I’m trying to do. And it just kept going on. And then, you know, a week and a half. I’d never left the country before I left for this. And I speak no other languages. I’m like super neurodivergent, have like really high anxiety and was just in this foreign city where I didn’t understand anything. And just like, every day felt like a week. You know, I was just waiting for my phone to ring and then I could hand the shit off. And like, I had a couple of leads on folks who were like, “Yeah, when you’re done doing your thing, like, give us a call and we’ll set you up doing some aid work.” So I was just waiting and waiting. And then they finally called me. They’re like, “Go meet this person at this address. And they’ll take all your shit from you.” And I was like, “Okay, great.” So, I take a fucking cab like across Warsaw, I ended up at this place. I eventually find out it’s like, basically like a methadone clinic for like houseless people. I was like, oh cool, whowhoever’s doing this also works doing this kind of work you know, but then I just look like a sketch ball, sitting outside of this place with like three fucking duffel bags, waiting for….
Yeah, I have no idea who’s coming to meet me. Every person that walked by I’m like, “Are you them?” You know like, yeah, I don’t know shit. I’m there. Like the time they’re supposed to meet me goes by. I got there like half an hour early because I just wanted to not fuck this up. And then like the time they’re supposed to meet me comes and goes and then it’s like an hour later. And I call my dudes and I’m like, “Hey, your person’s not here yet.” They’re like, “They’re on their way.” and then they hang up and I’m like, okay, like literally like four hours goes by of me doing this. Like I’m just like, whatever I’m so bummed and then this like, door flies open to this place and this little person comes out and they’re like, “Hey, are you Agatha?” And I was like, “Yeah,” and they’re like, “Alright, I’m gonna take this shit. Like thanks a bunch.” and then like, drags in three duffel bags really quick and slams the door shut and I’m like, fuck like they knew my name, but like I’m pretty sure that was who I was supposed to give this to you know, and then I go back to my hostel and then like whatever. So like, it was like super disheartening to be told I couldn’t be in this fighting unit, and then like it was super disheartening to have trouble handing the shit off, but like, in the end, it was probably the best thing that could happen to me, because like, after being there for a while, I was like fuck, “I don’t know if I could have been of service in a unit where I have no military training,” like, you know, I probably would have been a liability more than anything. So like, Thank God that happened. And then I got hooked up with these people who like, it was like perfect for me. You know, I just drive for 30 hours and then like that was fine with me you know? Like I traveled the country a million times as like a dumb useless punk. Like this was like the same shit, just like felt better because I was like helping people you know what I mean?
Thousands of dollars of gear.
For everyone that’s listening. That’s how we that’s how we know each other, is being dumb, useless punks traveling the country.
So, I just applied whatI knew about like traveling and being comfortable being uncomfortable with like, doing shit and it was like a perfect fit. So, I originally went over to do that. Yeah. And then it switched to this. And then I was only there for like six more weeks. But, I did a bunch of shit while I was there. And, you know, I will probably get into it later. But, I needed to do like a lot of trauma therapy once I got back and like, it’s been a year and I just felt comfortable enough to buy another plane ticket there and I’m on my way back. But this time, I don’t have to figure anything out. I already have a crew. We have a fleet of nine vehicles. We have deliveries lined up for fucking months. So it’s like, I can just jump right back in you know, and like, it’s just nice when you like hand a bunch of fucking hungry people food or you know, yeah, like. And that’s the thing that struck me most is I went out there as an anarchist and then while I was there, I kind of just turned into like a humanist. I was like, you know, I just didn’t give a fuck who I was working with anymore. I was like, “Oh, you’re hungry and you need food. I’m gonna bring it to you,” and it didn’t matter to me anymore who was picking it up. You know, I even worked with some known fascist units who supposedly kicked all the Neo Nazis out, and anti Semites got kicked out, but they still have unscrupulous pasts as like street gangs and stuff, but like, you know, I was bringing them stuff to like, keep people alive. I didn’t. I just stopped caring, you know, about political affiliation and shit.
No, it makes sense to me though, like, because one of the things that has been so interesting to me about like studying disaster stuff and disaster responses, right, are these like, you know, there’s this moment that I wasn’t there for but sticks in one of my head, my head is that one of my best friends. I’ve probably mentioned this on the show before, but one of my best friends is this, you know, crusty traveling punk kid who went to go do flood relief in a place that you could normally drive into, but could only be flown into. And the people who were flying in, were all of these people with like, tiny airplanes, which means rich libertarians. And you know, and so my friend is like talking about being like, and you know, and they’re nervous person, and they’re in this tiny airplane driving and like flying into a storm with this, like, random libertarian guy, right? And it’s just like, and they were fine. And they landed and they delivered supplies and they got food out and got stuff out to people who needed it who were trapped and hungry. And I think that’s what’s so interesting about disaster, whether it’s, quote unquote natural, like the accelerating climate disasters, or, you know, the invasion of an imperialist power into your country is just this like….like the goal isn’t to help anarchists. The goal is to help people who are being destroyed by an imperialist power. You know?
It’s interesting to me, because I do have I have a…like it’s like cool, right, supporting the anti authoritarian unit specifically. It’s cool and like anarchists organizing this is cool, but a lot of that is like…well, I’m excited that an anarchist is at least one of the drivers of this organization that you’re working for, you know. Like you. You know? What is it? What is it like interacting as an anti authoritarian person within this like…you know, yeah, you have this like, rich industrialist lady who’s just like, pouring everything and all kinds of risk into just providing things for people and I presume you have this very…like is it this melting pot environment. Like, what is it like socially?
It’s fucked up, man. Like the guy I got stuck with like, when the group I started driving for wanting to vouch for me, they’re like, “We have a solo run. It’s like not very sketchy. We’re not going that far east. We’re just going like outside of Lviv. It’s like a fucking shit ton of sanitary products. And then like, you’re going to come back to Częstochowa and you’re going to fill up the van full of strollers and bring it to this orphanage that’s only run for orphans that were victims of losing their parents in fucking Bucha you know.
Well, it better be anarchists babies, because otherwise they don’t deserve strollers.
Yeah. But, the fucking guy picks me up and he’s wearing a fucking Black Rifle Coffee Company t shirt.
And I was like, What the fuck is this? You know? And I was like, this sucks. And I was like, cuz I knew they weren’t going to be anarchists. But I was like, this dude is wearing just a straight up fascist companies t shirt.
Yeah, this dude wants to kill you in the United States.
Yeah, well, he’s from Canada. And that’s the thing, like, his view on it was like totally different. I was like, you know, after like, nine hours in the van and like 18 cups of coffee. I was like, “So what’s up with your shirt, dude?” And he’s like, “Well, I just really like their coffee. And like, they have pictures of guns on their shit. It’s like good advertising.” I was like, “You know those are the assholes who like bailed out Kyle Rittenhouse, right?” and he’s like, “Who the fuck is Kyle Rittenhouse.” and I’m just like Jesus Christ. And, it was just like, super fucked up and like, we had like really long conversations about what like being an anarchist means to me. And you know, the more we talked, the more I realized our like end goal was exactly the same. He was like, just a farm boy from from South Central fucking Canada who grew up on a fucking….what’s that stuff called? I don’t want to say the name of it cause I hate it. And there’s another name for it. He’s from a canola farm. And he joined the military when he was young. And he’s like….I’m a pretty tall person. I’m like 6’2″, and he’s like three inches taller than me, built like a brick shithouse.Just look like the dude you don’t want to run into as an anarchist in like a war zone wearing a fucking Black Rifle Coffee Company t shirt. But the more we talked, the more we were just like yeah, we just want to fucking help people. And like that’s it. Like, I just don’t care anymore. Like it basically came down to everyone in our group wanted to ease some suffering that was happening at the behest of like, fucked up agitators who were acting on like imperialist like logic, you know? And yeah, that’s basically what it all boiled down to. So, like I went there as an anarchist trying to support anarchist endeavors….and because they were helping just normal people, right? And and then it just turned out like, you know, circumstances change. They didn’t…like multiple groups didn’t want any more foreigners. You know, I was never given explanations as to why….Someone said it was because my social media presence was too hard about going to Ukraine, and they didn’t want people getting their spots blown up. But, I was like literally all I said is I’m going to Ukraine, bringing medical supplies to anarchists units. And if you want to donate, donate here. I gave zero information on what unit I was delivering to, where I was going, who my contacts were. It was like vague as possible to just get donations, so I could buy more tourniquets. That’s like all I was doing. That’s that’s the most explanation I got, which never added up.
They must have had their own shit going on. There must have been like something that had happened recently or like something within the internal structure where they were like trying to hold on to their anti authoritarian unit within an authoritarian structure, you know?
Exactly. And I later found out like, once I was back from a couple runs, and the unit that had originally accepted me, and said no more was like, “Hey, we got a guy coming to Warsaw and he wants to meet you.” And I was like, “Okay,” and it was just like the most giant man I’ve ever met and he was just like, decked out in like fucking workout gear and he’s like, “I’m coming from the gym and I only got an hour I’m going back to the gym. I’m with this unit. I’m on leave blah, blah, blah.” And I guess what it was was like, you know, it was other foreigners who were in the group who were posting shit online they shouldn’t have been, you know, and one example was, there was someone who posted a picture of themselves outside of a building being like “Training for the good fight,” or whatever. And whatever fucking Russian like ops that we’re monitoring social media saw a picture of the building, did a bunch of fucking research, found out where it was, what the building was, and fucking a missile strike happened and like 500 volunteers died or some shit.
It was like super fucked so like, I totally got it, but like, and I wasn’t gonna argue with them, you know what I mean? I was like okay, I’ll find something else to do, but like that’s not me. And that’s not what I’m doing, but like, whatever I’ll try and help out some other way. So, I think that’s the kind of shit that was happening that led to me not being invited into these like strictly anarchist groups, because I mean, you know, fucking anarchists. Everyone’s like security culture. Like the feds are like bugging my phone because they want to know what dumpsters I’m hitting or whatever. You know what I mean? It’s like…
Oh my god.
Only here, it’s like they’re actually throwing missiles at you.
Exactly. Exactly. So I was like, I get it but, like whatever, so I think that’s really what it was and like I couldn’t fault them for it. I was like whatever, but yeah, I’m just some like scumbag from America anyways. Like you don’t know me. Like you don’t know if you can trust me like. Sure, I have tattoos on my face, but like whatever. Like you know what I mean? Like yeah, so I got it but like, I don’t know. I’m kind of rambling at this point. I’m gonna let you direct the conversation a little more.
No, no, I’m really curious about all of this kind of stuff, like I’m very curious and I think the audience will be curious about….I mean, even down to like how do people take you as this tall, you know, person who presents somewhat masculine, but often has a non masculine name, has face tattoos, doesn’t have like, you know isn’t like mister Mr. heterosexual cis man, but also is like a tough as fuck looking, like face tattooed punk, right? Like, what do people make of you? Like how did that go?
It just depended, you know, some people were just like, “Who the fuck is this guy?” Like? Yeah, cuz I mean, I do have a lot of visible tattoos, but just to like, give it some context. Like my tattoos are like of puppies and like, I have a giant heart on my throat. You know what I mean? They’re not like tough guy tattoos. Aside, I have some air 15 magazines tattooed underneath a “Do not resuscitate,” tattoo on my chest. My chest looks like some pre-schooler went to prison and got tattooed or something. It’s like light hearted. There’s like skulls and puppies and yeah, rifle parts and like a ‘do not resuscitate,’ banner and like shit, but like, that’s not stuff people generally saw. But they’d see my heart tattoo on my throat and my shit on my face. And like my hands were all blacked out. And you know, people were either like…A good example is like, people either didn’t say anything, or they’d be like…like, one time we were in Kyiv we’re kicking this grifter who had gotten caught up in our shit out. We needed like five to six hundred litres of diesel that we had shoved in his van. We needed to get that out before we kicked him out. Because we knew he would just steal it from us. I mean, I found out the guy had gone through my phone when I was sleeping. There was like links to his aid organization to the like, PayPal link on my phone. Like my Safari was open. And it was like, please enter your Paypal password to donate to this group. And I was like, “Who the fuck is this group?” And then we realized it was this guy and we needed to kick his ass out. But like, whatever, we didn’t know where to kick him out. Like we didn’t know if he was gonna get violent with us. So we picked like a super populated spot and Kyiv which is where we were at the time. And we’re like, “Meet us here,” you know, “at this parking lot for this fucking train station.” But the parking lot was closed. And, it was like, all the spaces were empty, but we couldn’t get in, and there was this like drunk ass dude wearing a body camera in this little booth. And he was like….we just went up and we’re like, “Hey, are you the one watching this parking lot right now?” And our interpreter could not understand a fucking word this guy was saying. He was so drunk. And it’s like the farther east you go like, the more the dialects change, so like our interpreter was 18 years old from from Lviv. He had never been this far east, you know, which Kyiv isn’t even that far. But like, you know, if you’ve never been to Kyiv really and you get there and then there’s people from the opposite end of the country who you know, I mean, it’s just like, there’s a big disconnect with with local dialects. He could only you know, figure some shit out. And we eventually paid the guy like a bunch of grivna not to fucking, just do this deal real quick. We’re like, “Hey, we’ll give you this wad of cash. Just let us park here for like 20 minutes, this guy is going to meet us. We’re going to move a bunch of shit around from Van to van, and then we’ll be out of your hair,” and he’s like, “Alright, fine.” But, he was like fucking hammered. And he would not leave us alone. And he was like, uncomfortable drunk where he was like in our faces, like breathing on us, asking us questions. And our interpreter was trying their best to like, fucking answer. And then it just got hot during the day, and I went to take my shirt off, and all my tattoos are black line work. They look like fucking prison tattoos. And this guy, I see him catch my eye as my shirts about to go over my head for a second. And I pulled my T shirt down real quick. And he’s like, “Ah, prison.” And I was like, “No, no, no, no, not prison,” and he’s like, “Prison.” And I was like, “No, it’s not prison,” and the guy just wouldn’t shut up about it. He just kept saying “prison” to me and like, give me the ‘okay’ sign with his hand. And I’m like, “No, dude,” you know? So, it’s like, it was like, stuff like that. And then other people just being like, “You’re a fucking freak American? Are they all like you”, kinda shit. it was just like, I don’t know, it was super weird. I got some shit for it. But like, most people, like I would talk to them for five minutes. And they’d be like, “Oh, you’re just a person who wants to like, do shit.” You know what I mean? But then, the more I got into this shit, and the more I was like, getting deeper into the east of the country, like, it got like, less and less about personal identity and what you what you were presenting to the world, right? Like I am an assigned male at birth guy who’s six foot two inces and like, I have tattoos everywhere. And I carry myself like, like, really confidently, because I’m a martial artist, and blah, blah, blah. I’m just like…and I don’t take shit from people like…It just was like a little easier for me to get by. But like, I was with this really well known fascist unit, who was giving personal protection to this trans woman, who was in the east of the country and had been there for months. Like she had gotten fired from her news organization because she started using the term ‘Orc’ in her in her pieces, and they’re like, “You’re no longer unbiased.” And she and she was like, “You can’t be unbiased. If you’ve been out here,” like, “These Russian soldiers are fucking pigs. Like, they’re like, they’re raping people. They’re killing children. They’re doing all sorts of shit. They’re bombing schools. They’re bombing hospitals, like, and all these people could just shoot their officers and come across the line with a white flag. And the Ukrainians would treat them fine, right? Like yeah, but they’re not doing that they’re doing what they’re told. And they’re being complicit in these atrocities, blah, blah, blah.” So she was like just going around doing all these pieces and her personal protection unit was all these supposed fucking homophobic, you know, fascist pieces of shit and granted, I never got drunk with these guys. I didn’t have beers with them. I don’t know what they really think but, they thought what she was doing was important enough to like give her a pass, you know what I mean? And like protect her, and get her to these like places to interview these people. And that’s the kind of like, shit I mostly ran into, was like, you know, you don’t have to agree with me right now, but we have a goal in mind. And once the Russians are gone, fuck it. We’ll figure out our differences later, but like right now, like were chill, and I got like pretty hopeful about it till I met this like, platoon leader in an infantry territorial defense unit who, after…we were bombed at one point our fucking vans got destroyed, and we were looking for a mechanic to fix our shit, so we could get out of the east of the country. And this dude who spoke perfect English came up to us and was like, “What are you doing? What are y’all doing?” We told them what was up and he was like, “I’ll try and find a mechanic. I got a mechanic buddy, like right around the corner, blah, blah, blah.” And then while we were waiting for a callback, me and him just like got some coffees and like, talked for a while it turns out, he’s like, uh, you know, he was a fucking, like, a human rights activist who was a lawyer forever, and like, graduated college in ’92, and started his own organization to help like, LGBTQ refugees from like Belarus and shit, you know? And I mean, he was like, super fucking cool. Yeah. And the guy just eventually was like, “Yeah, I went to school at a military accredited college. So when I joined the territorial defense units, they’re like, “You’re an officer. You’re, you’re in control of a whole platoon,”” and he like, tried so hard to convince them that he was not their guy.
That he has the wrong platoon.
Yeah, he’s like, “No, dude, I don’t know how to fight blah, blah, blah. These are all like seasoned infantry men that I’m supposed to be….” So he’s like, “I just fucking started listening to the most experienced dudes in my company and like, like, let them decide basically,” and then, but like I got talking to him, I was like, yeah. You know, I introduced myself to him as my birth name. And he’s like, yeah, you know? And then we started talking and it became apparent that he was not straight and all this other shit. And I was like, “Yeah, like, we’ve been working with this one group,” and he’s like, “Oh, yeah, they’re bad news, you know?” And I was like, “Are they, though? Because like, they’ve shown me to be like, pretty decent to like, a lot of marginalized folks. As far as I can tell. I don’t know.” Yeah. And I was like, “I go by Agatha in the states and like, my crew calls me Agatha. But like, I do feel scared enough to not introduce myself as Agatha to the people in this unit, because they’re, they’re staunchly fascist, right? Like, you know, they, they’re not into it.” and they’re like quick like without missing a beat they’re like, “Oh, yeah, no, do not introduce yourself to these motherfuckers as Agatha. They’re like, they did get rid of a lot of antisemites, they did get rid of a lot of overt racists, but there’s like homophobia is still a huge problem in the Ukrainian military and population in general. It’s very conservative. And so like, he like really opened my eyes that like, I was like, “Yeah, we’re all in this together. Like, who gives a fuck your political affiliations? You know?” And then he was quickly like, “Yeah. No, people still disappear all the time during wartime. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, watch your fucking ass and like, keep doing what you’re doing. But like, don’t get too comfortable with these people.” And it was just like….It was hard because like, I fucking was just feeling good about, working with people of different ideological backgrounds. And it felt good to just feed people and have this shared goal. And then just to be like, brutally reminded that, like, that’s not actually the case. And it could get backwards really quick. You know what I mean? If I like yeah, said the wrong thing to the wrong person. Like, I have like an antifascist action pin on my hat. It’s just like, you know, the little two black flags. It says “Anti-fascist action.” He’s like, he’s like, “I wouldn’t wear that, you know, I just wouldn’t. you know, and I was like, “Okay.” I listened to the guy, you know, he’s fucking awesome. And I like, kept in touch with the dude through Telegram, and it was fucking on and then he got captured by the Russians, and he’s still in captivity, and like, they’re trying to act like he’s a super Neo Nazi, because, like, that’s what they do to human rights…and you know, people who are obviously leftist who get who get taken prisoner. But, you know, he’s facing fucking 12 years in prison in the Donbas now, you know, and I’m just hoping, because he’s an officer, they’re going to do a prisoner swap, you know, but they’re like not into it. And I, you know, if I had weird questions, I’d ask them, and then they’d always give me like, a nice response. And, you know, didn’t treat me like an idiot American. They’re like, yeah, “You just don’t know the culture, blah, blah, blah.” So, now what?
Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good…it’s a sad, but it’s an important counterpoint in this conversation we’re having is to realize that like some of the civility between these units is probably short term, probably a veneer, and like, probably necessary veneer to drive out the invading force, but it makes sense to not to get too comfortable with it. And that’s sad, but it’s interesting because it’s like, I hold, perhaps naively, that a lot of center Right, people really are distinct from far Right people, and like, have, you know, some really good ideas in terms of “Hey, what if we all left each other alone and sometimes took care of each other?” And it’s like, easy for me to say as like someone who lives in a rural center Right area, but not a far Right area. And that’s an important difference, you know?
Yeah, but I think that’s like a pretty fair assessment too, of people out there. It’s just it doesn’t…you just can’t count on that for long because even though like you could be a center Right, dude, and then you spend nine months in a fucking infantry unit full of fucking mutant goons who are espousing all this hate and it’s easy to go from center Right to far Right, you know?
Yep. Yeah, no, totally. And it’s…Yeah, fuck. Well, to go from that light subject to another really light subject. You mentioned that you were attacked, your caravan was attacked.
Do you want to talk about that? Do you want to say what happened? Is that right?
Sure. It’s hard for me to just like, do it kind of like, you know, like, give you the synopsis. Like I kind of rant about it when I start going into details, because I start going into like lizard brain thinking about how I felt while I was there. So, with the caveat that like I want you to like be like, “rein it in,” if you’re like…if I’m given too many details, or if I’m going off on a fucking rant or whatever. Basically, we had done….we had been driving for like 48 hours on and off. We left Krakow. We got to Lviv. We dropped a bunch of shit. Picked up a bunch of shit. Got to Kyiv, dropped off a bunch of shit, picked up a bunch of shit, and this all started like insane. I was at the fucking ladies warehouse, loaded up like usual. And that grifter dude we were working with….so his thing was, he was working with the….What the fuck is their name? Not the Rotary Club. They’re like something like that. The Lion something? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Yes, one of those like weird things. It’s like not the Masons, but it’s basically the Masons.
Yeah, t’s not the Masons, but it’s kind of like the Masons, and they do like whatever…..So, he, I don’t know how he fucking did it got a bunch of funding for them, bought like two brand new vans and was out there, under the auspice that he was working for them. But he had all these weird things he was doing that he wouldn’t share too much information on. And he had a Land Rover and it was one of those fucking British Land Rovers with a steering wheel on the wrong side, or the other side, not the wrong side.
When we’re British people, we can say the wrong side. That’s fine.
So, we’re loading up all the shit. I’m waiting for the rest of my crew to get there. We got there a couple hours early. We get all loaded up. And I’m like, “Hey, person who runs the shit, like, what can I do to be of help while I wait for other people? Do you have shit that needs to get like moved around in the warehouse? You know, like, what do you need for me? She’s like, “I need you to get this fucking guy off my back. He won’t leave me alone. He wants to leave right now. And I told me, he’s got to wait till the rest of the convoy gets here so you all get to the border crossing at the same time when you’re supposed to. And you can give this paperwork to the guy who needs it.” And I was like, “Okay.” So the guy won’t shut up. Eventually, they get in a huge fight. He says, “We’re leaving,” and looks at me. And I was like, “What?” and the lady’s like, “Alright, good luck crossing the border,” you know. And he’s got his own van and he’s like, “You’re gonna drive this Land Rover full of shit by yourself. And you’re just gonna follow me to Kyiv where we drop this off to a unit of American volunteers who are all ex military. And they’re working on their own outside of the Ukrainian military. And they need a four by four vehicle to get in and out of like weird spots.” And I was like, “Okay, fine.” And then. So, I call the main planner of my group and I’m like, “Yo, dude is trying to be sketchy. He got in a fight with Lady. They’re at each other’s throats. He just wants us to leave. She wants us to get the fuck out of there just so she doesn’t have to deal with like, this, like sketchy male bodied person yelling at her. She just doesn’t need this, you know?” And he’s just like, “I’m so sorry to do this to you. But like, just go with him. Just like get out of there with him, like, help him out. We need his van space once we hit Kyiv because we have more supplies than we can bring to Kharkiv in the space we have. So, I was like, “Okay, fine, whatever.” And this guy like we eventually….She looks at me, she gives me a big hug. And she says, “I’m so sorry about this.” And I was like, “Sorry, about what?” And then she looks at the guy and she’s like, “Have fun crossing the border,” and handed him a thing of papers and like was like, “See you guys.” And then she’s just like, “Please stay safe, Agatha.” And I was like, “Okay.” And and then I was like, I don’t know what’s going on. This dude throws a radio on my lap. I had never used a fucking CB radio at this point in my life. And he’s just like, he’s like “Try to keep up.” And then he like fucking takes off on me. And I was like, What the fuck, and I’m like, racing to keep up with him. But, he’s passing all the semis on the highway and I’m driving a right handed vehicle. I have to get all the way in the other lane to see if there’s oncoming traffic, which is sketchy as fuck. I have never driven one of these things. It’s still like normal driving lanes, you know what I mean? It’s just a different driving side on the car. And it just was like the most stressful thing that’s ever happened to me. For four hours trying to keep up with this guy. And then we finally get to the Ukrainian border. We’re well outside that window of time she told us to get there. And he’s like, “Don’t worry, let’s skip the line. Let’s drive on the outside of the line in this like break down lane and get up to the gate and I’ll get us through.” And I was like, “I don’t think that’s gonna work, bro.” And he’s like, “Whatever.” We get all the way up there. I’m still sitting in the car. I see him arguing with the border guard. The border guard’s just pointing to the back of the line and then I’m like, “Fuck,” and then eventually he’s like, “Oh, we gotta try again blah blah blah.” And he like turns around and we go…we do this like three times. He argues with three different border guards. And eventually we just have to sit in line for like eight fucking hours like Lady told us we were gonna have to do if we didn’t fucking wait and he’s all griping about it and blah blah. Yeah. And I’m just like I want to be like, “I fucking told you so.” I don’t like this guy already. He’s like, super macho, has no regard for other people’s emotional like capacity for anything and it’s just about him and blah blah blah and he’s got to get this vehicle to this unit or they’re fucked and blah blah blah. We finally get through. He does the same shit, and I don’t know if you know anything about Ukrainian roads, but they are that was fucked up roads I’ve ever seen in my life. Like, before the war. Like there’s just like…they are fucked up. It’s like the main highways are just packed with potholes that like, are just so devastating when you hit them. You’re like, Oh my God, and like, he’s just flying down this highway and like, he’s like, “Keep up,” like I keep hearing in the radio get more and more staticky. He’s like, “I can’t see you back behind me. Like keep up. Blah, blah, blah.” And I was like, “Dude, you’re going too fast. Blah, blah, blah. We do this for a whole day. And we get to Lviv and then whatever….I missed a detail. It wasn’t Kyiv we were going to deliver this vehicle to. It was Lyviv, which is much closer to the border. We get we get to Lviv, and he’s like, “We gotta meet this fucking dude, and hand off this fucking vehicle. And I was like, “Okay, fine, whatever.” We finally get to this gas station. And there’s these two dudes dressed in fatigues with their weapons out, like totally out of place, and they’re holding gas cans. And he’s like, “There’s my dudes.” And I was like, “Okay.”
From the Lions Club or whatever?
Yeah, yeah. Well, no. He didn’t tell me how he knew these guys. He alluded to the fact that he was in Afghanistan for a while working with Blackwater motherfuckers doing the same shit, but just equipping Blackwater units like not other stuff. So, I was like, alright, this dude’s got sketchy friends. Whatever. Turns out this dude doesn’t know the fighter at all. They met through the internet. He’s not donating this vehicle. He’s selling it to them and then fucking dudes like all sketched out because he looks at this Land Rover and is like, “So, this thing’s good to go. It’s all like mechanically sound?” And dudes like “Yeah, it’s good. I had a mechanic look at it and everything in Poland blah, blah, blah.” And I was like, “Yo,” I could not shut up. I was like, “Yo, I drove this thing from fucking Krakow and it is not sound. Like you at least need new tie rod ends.” Like I’m a proficient mechanic. “I was like, You need new tie rod ends and or like fucking drag link for your steering unit. And like, I don’t know if you’ve looked at the back hubs, but like, they are rusted to fuck, like, Good luck getting the rotors off of the hubcap kind of shit. You know what I mean?” And he’s like, “Well, what the fuck, I can’t use this dude, we already paid you. I told you this was to get infantry units into hot zones, to do some sketchy shit. And to get out. Like, you told me this thing was going to be mechanically sound, and it just wasn’t and like, blah, blah, blah.” And I still had my whole kit from when I thought I was going to use my time there fighting. So, I feel bad for this guy. And I was like, “Hey, do you guys need any like, PPE or anything for one of your members of your unit? Like, he’s like, “Yeah, the Russians just overran our base. And we lost everything. Some of our dudes are wearing jeans and sneakers.” And I was like, “Okay, I got like, three sets of BDUs. I got a pair of combat boots. I got knee pads. I have a fucking thermal imaging camera. I have weapons sights. I have, like, you know, weapon attachments,” all this shit. And he’s like, “Oh, fucking A. Thank you so much.” And he’s like, you know, “Fuck this dude. I don’t know how I got mixed up.” I was like, “Whatever, just take all my shit. And we’re gonna get out of your hair. I’m so sorry this happened. Yeah, blah, blah, blah.” We get to Kyiv. We kick them out like I told you we did with a drunk dude. And then. And then like, another day later, we finally ended up in Kharkiv. We get rid of all our shit.
Okay, how much of this is lizard brain? I’m just…
A bunch. But I’m I’m at the point now it’s starting to matter.
I appreciate that you’re telling like a hitchhiking story. So it’s like, it’s very relatable to me. Yeah, please continue. Sorry.
So, we’re in Kharkiv. We’ve given up all our shit. We’ve re-supplied and done that shit like four times. We have one more delivery to do. And then we’re going to head back to Poland. And….
Wait, who you with at this point? This is the rest of…The rest of your crew has caught up with you at this point?
Yes, yes. The rest of the crew has caught up. They caught up with us after we handed off that vehicle to the unit. And they caught up with us in Kyiv. We did a bunch of drop offs. We did a bunch of pickups and then we all drove as a unit after we kick that dude out to Kharkiv, which is, I don’t know. It’s like 20 miles from the Russian border or something like that. I could be wrong. It’s not far. I mean, while we were there, you could hear artillery going off in the background. Yeah. You know, whatever. So we have 75 IFAKs to deliver to this one particular unit who, we had another wealthy benefactor, those two were in contact, the unit and this wealthy benefactor, this wealthy benefactor said “I know these people who will deliver it to you,” and that was us. So, we have 75 IFAKs. I don’t know if you know what an IFAK is.
Yeah. Individual first aid kit. It’s a trauma kit for gunshot wounds, for anyone who’s listening.
Yeah, it’s got a tourniquet. It’s got some quick clot. It’s got a chest seal. It’s got like a aluminum brace, it’s got all the shit you need to like, stop some bleeding for 20 minutes to hopefully get them to like a more well equipped place but…
They save a hell of a lot of lives.
They save so many lives and they’re so important and like…So, we were delivering 75 of those. We’re meeting this unit at this restaurant. It’s one of the only restaurants open in in Kharkiv that we can find. There’s like three Ukrainian families eating there. And we just start hearing artillery getting closer and closer to us. And we’re like, “Fuck, this is getting scary.” Like, we start feeling it in the table. Our glasses start shaking. And my friend with the Black Rifle Coffee shirt, he’s like, “Fuck, they’re bracketing us.” And I was like, “What is that?” And he’s like, “It’s when you have a, you know, an end goal in mind of where you want to hit. And then you like launch a round of munitions. And through whatever means whether it be like drones or whatever you see where it hits you readjust your calibration on your aiming device, you launch another round. It gets closer and then you’re getting closer to your target, right? Yes, I think they’re bracketing us.” The shit is getting closer and closer, because we’re at the base of the Soviet monument. And it’s like a 100 foot tall statue of a Ukrainian dude wearing like Russian combat gear from World War II and it’s like, supposed to be a Soviet monument to people who lost their lives fighting the Nazis in World War II, but someone had climbed all the way up there and taped a huge Ukrainian flag to their to their gun and it was like…it just seemed like that’s what they had to have been aiming for because it was like a big “Fuck you,” to Russia, you know what I mean? And yeah, so we’re like okay, and you know, we’re trying to get our social media presence up so we can get more donation so we ended up with this fucking Tik Tok’er with 2 million followers with us. And he doesn’t want anything to do with us most of the time. So, he got an Airbnb. We’re getting bracketed. We’re waiting for the….
This sounds like a movie. You’ve got a Tik Tok guy with 2 million followers….
It’s insane. It was fuckinginsane and we’re waiting for this military unit to come pick up the 75 IFAKs. We have our food boxed up. We’re like as soon as we give these dudes this shit we’re out of here. We’re leaving Kharkiv. And then someone’s like, my buddy, who’s the main planner is like, “Yo, y’all need to go get dude, he’s at an Airbnb, like fucking 10 blocks away.” So, we’re like, okay, so me and Canadian infantry dude get in a van and we start like going like 110 kilometers through the middle of Kharkiv literally shit blowing up all around us. We’re trying to get to this fucking dude. And we finally get there. And we’re like, “Where are you?” on the phone? We’re like, “We’re down here. Get the fuck in the van.” He gets in the van. We throw him a fucking vest with like body armor and give him a helmet and we start racing back to the fucking restaurant and it’s just like…there are just like artillery munitions going off all around us. it was fucking terrifying. And then we finally get to the park where this monument is that and we have to park, walk through the park itself to get to the restaurant where all the rest of our crew is at, right? So, we park our last two vans we have in the convoy. Me and Tik Tok’er get out. Dude I’m with gets out. Se start walking across the park and I mean even with….like people are just used to artillery going off in the city right, so there’s like old people everywhere soaking up the sun on benches and shit like that and people just like ignoring it and then we get like about I don’t know 30 minutes or 30 meters into the park and then all of a sudden I hear this explosion really close behind me. I turned around I see all the glass in our vans get shot out all at once. And then something blew up like right next to me and I lost consciousness. I woke up on the ground. Tik Tok’er was confused and like we both didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t hear anything. All I heard was like the biggest like ringing in my ears I’ve ever heard. My chest hurt from the impact of like the sound wave hitting me.
Yeah, yeah, I couldn’t breathe. I was just like freaking out. I just started like grabbing my body armor and seeing if there was like blood anywhere. I was like whatever, and then I realized I’m okay and then I’m like, “Fuck all the windows of the the restaurant that my buds were in are blown out and it’s like fucking on fire. It was like….so I run over there. Buddy is trying to….military dudes trying to tell me to get back in the van. I was like “I’m not getting back in the van, like that things like destroyed and blah blah blah.” And so I just follow him and we both run in and he’s just like “Boys, boys, where are you?” and we hear them yelling from the kitchen and everyone that was in the the dining hall went to the kitchen and we’re hiding behind this like knee wall and the military unit we were supposed to give this shit to was there and I was like “Fucking great. Like, there’s someone who knows what they’re doing.” Yeah. And everyone’s like, “Are you okay? Are you okay? Like, what’s going on?” And Meantime, there’s still rounds hitting all over the fucking place. And he’s like…everyone’s like, “What do we do? What do we do?” And I was like, “Yo, we got 75 IFAKs in the van right now. And there are people like hanging out with like, missing limbs and like, screaming, bleeding everywhere outside, like, we need to get out and try and help people. And I tried talking to the medic who was with the unit that we were meeting up and he just like, didn’t understand me. The interpreter was having a hard time. They lost their shit, you know? Yeah, everyone’s freaking out. And like, I’m just trying to get these people to follow me. I was like, “Just come to the park. Like, we know how to put tourniquets on. We know how to pack wounds, like, please, like, let’s just do this.” And everyone’s like, I don’t know.” A few of the people in my crew were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And then the people of this unit, like pissed me off, they’re like, “No, we should just hang out here till the artillery barrage stops.” And I was just like, “Fuck you. I’m going.” And then like me and four people went out. We ran to the vans, we fucking grabbed all these IFAKs and then we just like, dumped them on the ground and started ripping out tourniquets. And then we split off into different little teams and just started fucking tourniqueting people who were bleeding everywhere, like this one dude was like missing limbs and was just like screaming. It was like the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced. He ended up fucking dying. Like, it was just like, so nuts. And that went on for like, 25 minutes, 30 minutes. And, um, and my personal IFAK that I wore on my chest rig was like, that was the first one I ripped off, you know, and yeah, tourniqueted at this lady was bleeding heavily from her inner thigh and I was scared it was like a femoral artery or something. And, after like, 30 minutes, this ambulance shows up. And they’re just creeping by the park. They’re not stopping. And I was like, “Fuck,” and I like, stopped what I was doing because I had treated everyone I could find at this point. And I was like, in like, crazy mode. I was like hiding under a tree that would provide me no protection from an artillery round, but I was like, freaking out and then I saw them ran up. I was like, “Yo, you guys gotta get out of here. There’s people bleeding all over the place. Blah, blah, blah.” And then the military dude, I realized the medic had never even opened his fucking med kit. He was just standing there with hi AK watching us like tourniquet up…watching us of civilians like tourniqueting up all these people, and then fucking whatever. They’re like, as soon as the EMTs arrived, they eventually get out. They start tending to the people, we had been triaging. And then the military dudes just like, “Alright, we gotta get out of here.” And we get in our vans. We realized neither of them start. There’s like shrapnel gone through the engine compartment. So you can see a huge hole, yeah, radiator, whatever. So we get into their one of their vans, and we’re following them, then their car dies, because their shit was parked right next to us. And then eventually we make it to this military mechanic. And then we’re just sitting there and we don’t know what to do. The military unit doesn’t know what to do with us because we’re kind of their responsibility now. And they’re like, “We have a safe house in Saltivka.” It’s one of the biggest like developments in Kharkiv. It was, you know, it kept getting made bigger and bigger by more successive leaders of the Soviet Union trying to make their mark and blah, blah, blah, but huge apartment complex. And they’re like, “You can hang out here till we fix your vehicles.” And then basically we just hung out in this like barren apartment, drinking and taking our medics Tramadol, and trying to like not think about anything, and like, had like a corner of the apartment where all our bloody clothes were stashed. And you know what I mean, we didn’t want to go near it. And we hung out for three days getting bombed until we got our shit fixed. And then, you know, it was another two weeks before we finally got out of the country because their shit kept breaking. We kept coming across fucked up situations, but, and that’s eventually why I left you know, like, I was super traumatized. I had never seen someone die before. I’d never seen these fucking kinds of wounds before. You know, I’d never heard anything so loud before. Even that was scary. You know what I mean? And I was just, like, useless. I was like, “Guys, you can’t rely on me anything right now.”
I mean, you weren’t useless.
Well, yeah, I mean, I was like, “You guys can’t rely on me for anything. I can’t drive. I can’t like, go get snacks.” You know what I mean? I was like, in the back of the van just like crying. I was like, I didn’t know how to process what had just happened. And and as soon as we got…two weeks later, as soon as we got to Krakow, I like use the last my money to buy a plane ticket home. And, you know, I started doing trauma therapy again, because like, I’ve done a lot of trauma therapy from like, childhood abuse stuff. And, you know, I was like telling my therapist, I was like, I fucked it up. I was so good with my PTSD. And now I redid it and they’re like, “No, this would be way worse if you never did all that trauma therapy for the other stuff. Like you’re good. Don’t worry about it.” So, it’s just been like a year of trying to like come to terms with all that shit. So, that’s the short and long of it. I’m sorry, I went lizard brain on you.
No, no, I mean, one. I hope it’s like useful for you to talk about and I hope it’s useful for people to hear.
It really is. it really is. And I don’t mean to interrupt you again. But like a good talking point to that is like, I have no one to talk to this about with like, yeah, other than the people I was there with because like, I don’t want to trauma dump on civilians and like, or people who haven’t been in, in these kinds of situations because like, the few times I’ve been like, people are like “You want to talk about it?” And I do this and I tell them and they’re like, “What the fuck?” You know what I mean? They’re fucked up from just hearing about it. I’m like, I didn’t want to do that to you. Yeah. And then like, the other option is like, I’ve tried finding like vet groups where like, it’s all combat vets who want to talk about shit. And I’m not invited there. You know, I’m a scummy anarchist, who was not in the military, but they’re like, the only kind of people I can kind of relate to or whatever, but so that that’s, that’s a big thing. So it is really helpful. And I appreciate you holding space for it. And like, yeah.
Yeah, you know, we’re…I feel sort of bad that this is kind of coming in at the end of our end of the episode, but um, do you think you could talk….Do you want to like….So like trauma therapy? Is that the answer to how to deal with this kind of stuff? Is trauma therapy? Is that the kind of?
For me. Yeah, I don’t know about other people. You know, I was just talking today on Signal with some folks who were there. I was like…they were like, “We’re so glad you’re coming back.” Well, because a bunch of them never stopped. You know, some of them military dude from Canada went right back home. A couple other people went right back home. Our interpreter ended up hitting anti tank mine in the Donbass like fucking three weeks later, and everyone in his crew died except for him. You know, like, other people did different things. But like a bunch of us kept doing what they were doing. And I was like, “Yeah, I’m really sorry, I needed to take so much time. I don’t know how you guys got over it so fast or dealt with it so fast.” And they’re like, “We didn’t. We just have different ways of dealing with it.” So like, for me, it’s trauma therapy. For other people, it’s different things, you know?
Yeah. Well, do you, like out of this are you hoping, you know, for people to support the work that you’re doing? Is there something…or whether it’s supporting you directly? Or are there other things that you would like to point people towards if people who want to support getting shit to where it needs to go in Ukraine?
I mean, honestly, like, I can be, like, selfish and be like, donate to our org and like….
I mean, you can if you want.
I know, but like, it’s just like, at this point, I’m like, if you wanted to help by now, you you probably would have. I don’t know. I’m like super….
No, don’t be cynical about it. Like what? There’s like someone who’s listening who probably gave some stuff at the beginning, or maybe their financial situation has changed since the last time that someone reminded them you know?
Exactly, I would say for anyone who wants to help and is like, not wanting to go there and physically help rebuild houses or like help at an orphanage and change diapers or like bring aid to someone or go fucking fight like whatever. If you can’t do that, I would pick an organization that is really transparent about what they do with their money. Talk to the people doing the actual runs, because in my experience, everyone’s more than welcome to tell you what they’re doing, what they’re spending money on, how they could use more money. Determine whether or not it’s like a good thing for you. Like if you want to focus on just you know, medical gear going to places who need it or food to like villages where it’s only the elderly left, who haven’t left, who can’t leave, you know, whatever, aligns with your specific worry about this conflict and donate some fucking money to him because like, you know, most of my friends ran out of their savings. They fucking used everything they had. They’re in debt now. Some of them just stay there because it’s cheap and they don’t have any more money and they can be of service there you know? So like, that’s what I would do. I raised like 5 or 6 thousand bucks my first trip and I totally exhausted all of my funding resources, so I have no more way to like get funding other than I’ve just been working on for like seven weeks straight.
Do you want the people who are listening to this to fund you is what I’m getting at?
Sure yeah, if you want me to drop my Pay Pal on my Venmo.
Absolutely, please do.
So my Venmo is @Eric-Woodbury-2. That’s my birth name. I don’t give a fuck I’m not….
Can you spell Woodburry? And Eric actually can you just spell that for people.
Capital E-r-i-c dash, capital W-o-o-d-b-u-r-y dash 2. And my picture on there is a picture of my ex holding my son. Yeah, and then my my Pay Pal is @firstname.lastname@example.org.It’s my mom’s maiden name. I’m Polish from the Ukrainian border. Live my heritage. So, I’ve just always embraced my mom’s maiden name, but that those are my things. I’m hesitant to give the name of the organization I worked with, because I haven’t talked to them. Any money you give to me will go right to them.
Yeah, I think people now believe you from….as you’re describing the amount of work that you have gone through to give people the things you bought.
Yeah, you know, I just always feel like a fucking beggar or something. You know what I mean?
No, I mean, I understand feeling that way. But no, like, don’t feel that way for at least in this context.
I’ve saved up like five or six grand working in the last two months. And I’m just using. I’m just paying my own way. And using that, so yeah. But I want to thank you for having me on and giving me space to like kind of rant about this stuff. I don’t talk about it a lot. And I would like for other people to, to, you know, be able to hear what’s going on and like know about some of these experiences people are going through and if anyone out there wants to reach out to me, my instagram is @Jalutkewics. My profile picture is a tooth with a giant hole out of it that someone ripped out of my face, because I have bad fucking teeth, because I grew up in fost care, about like, whatever I’m down to like talk about shit. If you want to talk more about like how you can help, I can give you some direction or whatever, or just to say hi, like,
Okay, well, thank you so much for coming on. And I I hope that we get to have you back on to talk more about the stuff that you’re working on in the near future.
Thanks, Magpie. And I really appreciate you know, you reach now with our history and stuff. I was a scumbag when I was younger to all the listeners and like not the coolest guy, but like I always had good good moral compass and blah, blah, blah. But what….
You were the first person who is visibly amab with a woman’s name that I hung out with.
That was really useful for me.
Oh, that’s great. I know. I’m surprised now like when I meet that, like, it’s still kind of rare. But I like you know, gender queer politics and like, I don’t ever identify as like a cis man, whatever. So it’s been great. Like reconnect. I’d love to come back on.
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