Monday, November 30, 2015

Chinese Yuan Expected To Be Added By IMF

From the Guardian:

China’s efforts to make the yuan an international currency on a par with the US dollar are to receive a fillip with the International Monetary Fund widely expected to add it to a special basket of global currencies.
Analysts say the shareholders in the Washington-based IMF will vote on Monday to include the yuan, also known as the renminbi, as the fifth member of its special drawing rights currency basket alongside the dollar, the Japanese yen, sterling and the euro.

China has been lobbying for the IMF to add the yuan to its basket of reserve currencies, which it uses to lend to sovereign borrowers. A vote to include the currency in the SDR basket would mark a significant milestone for Beijing, according to experts.

“The direct impact won’t be felt in the near term, not least because implementation of the new basket won’t be until Q3 2016. However the symbolic importance cannot be overlooked,” said Andrew Malcolm, Asia head of capital markets at law firm Linklaters.

“By effectively endorsing the renminbi as a freely useable currency, it sends a strong signal about China’s importance in the global financial markets.”

This is BAD news for the United States.   The Chinese have been working for years, playing the long game, to replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world.  Basically after World War II, we became the world's global bank.   Everyone buys goods with U.S. dollars.  If the country of Georgia wants Russian oil, they would convert their money to dollars, buy the oil from Russia, and Russia would either hold onto the the dollars in an account or convert it to the Russian ruble.

Because our Federal Reserve has engaged in bad monetary policy to prop up our economy -- printing money, monetizing our debt by buying our treasury bonds with U.S. dollars, which is essentially like paying off one credit card with another -- and because we have ballooned our debt in the last 12 years (and yes, the GOP is to blame as well, the rest of the world is looking to dump the U.S. dollar.

We have flooded the world with U.S. dollars, and now the world is looking to ditch them.   What happens when you have a very large supply of a commodity that suddenly no one wants?  The value of that commodity plummets.   This is called inflation.   The price of goods is not going up; the value of the money used to purchase the goods is going down.

Inflation is already creeping into the price structure at the retail level -- look at the cost of meat, bread, eggs, and milk compared to 12 years ago.

If the U.S. dollar is dropped as the world reserve currency, we can expect hyperinflation and an economic crash that is going to make the last recession and the Great Depression look like minor market corrections.

Many countries already have agreements to trade in the yuan instead of the dollar, like Australia and Russia.  Essentially, I think the world has come to the conclusion that the United States cannot get its fiscal house in order, and that until we do, they are not going to be tied to a currency that is rapidly depreciating into worthlessness due to our high deficit spending trend and the inability to live within our means.   It's what banks do.  If they have a customer they consider to be a bad risk, they do not approve the mortgage, credit card, etc.  

Most people in the U.S. think the federal government will never run out of money. The truth is we ran out of money $19 trillion  ago, and now the consequences of our actions are having systemic, economy threatening repercussions.

The sad fact is that China has its own economic issues and was forced to devalue its currency in August as its stock market crashed.  The yuan is far from a sure bet, but at this point a lot of the world may be playing the odds and judging that the dollar is more vulnerable in the long term.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 606: Always Accountable



Episode 606: Always Accountable

 Daryl: It's the principle of the thing.

Synopsis:  Daryl, Sasha and Abraham reach the 20-mile mark and leave the herd behind, but come under attack and are forced to separate.   Abraham and Sasha lose their car but win the gunfight, and Daryl hides in some burned forest land, where he encounters a trio or survivors on the run. They disarm him and tie him up, thinking he is one of the attackers looking for them.  The encampment they fled is not a great place to be, and they go to find someone called Patty, which turns out to be a truck.   Tina has diabetes and faints, and Daryl makes off with the pack with his gear in it, but finds Tina's insulin and returns it.  They hide from the search party.  Meanwhile, Sasha and Abraham realize their attackers were looking for someone else, and hide in an office waiting for Daryl to find them.   Abraham finds an abandoned Humvee with some RPG rounds and a box of cigars, and secures the launcher from a soldier who has turned.  Abraham makes a move to widen his relationship with Sasha, but she demurs. Daryl's party comes upon the bodies of two people his companions knew, but when one of the women lays flowers next to them, they revive and kill her.   The other pair steal his bike and crossbow, then ride off.  Daryl finds the fuel truck and uses it to pick Abraham and Sasha.

Always Accountable is yet another one of those fallout episodes that tend to tumble out from the season's opening action.  The advantage to this style of serialized storytelling is that you can build a coherent narrative theme over the course of several episodes.  The Walking Dead is more like a novel than a TV show at this point, and I have no problem with that;  I think the writers do a much better job of this than, say, Lost, which really re-popularized the serialized story concept for the mainstream.  Let's face it, I still have tons of unanswered questions about Lost whereas this show does a pretty good job of weaving in plot points and the A-B story resolution.

Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham arrive at the 20-mile mark and leave the herd behind.   They accelerate away, but are confronted by armed men who attack them without provocation.   Daryl wipes out on his bike, losing contact with the other car as they attempt to break contact with the ambush.  Sasha and Abraham crash their car but kill their attackers, and are forced to flee when reinforcements arrive.

Daryl, meanwhile, hides in a patch of burned out forest land.   He tries to reach the others, but he is hurt, either from contact with the pavement or a bullet graze on his arm.  As he checks his wounds, he hears something moving and hides his bike under some debris, but finds two sisters, Tina and Honey, who surrender.  Just then, though, a man knocks him unconscious.  The man, who is referred to as D, wakes Daryl the next morning and tells him they are not going back to the camp.  Daryl tries to tell him he is not with the others, but D is not listening.

The four move out, with Daryl's hands tied, because they are looking for "Patty" so they can be on their way.  Dee tells Daryl he and Honey burned the forest to kill all the walkers, and state he thought that was what everyone was doing -- fighting walkers and rebuilding society.  He found out they were wrong.  They arrive at a fenced-in lot full of walkers, and the three holding Daryl panic because Patty is not there.  Tina faints, and in the confusion Daryl grabs their bag and runs away.  He frees himself, and tries the radio again, but no one answers.   He finds his gear in the bag, but also finds a cooler full of insulin.  Tina is a diabetic, and she fainted for this reason.

Daryl is a good guy. Too bad she dies anyway.
Abraham and Sasha realize their attackers were looking for someone else, and decide to lay low in a nearby abandoned town and wait for Daryl to find them.  They write the name "DIXON" on the door of their hide, which will mean nothing to anyone but Daryl, and take refuge in an office.  Abraham stands watch while Sasha tries to sleep.  He wants to kill a walker locked in a conference room, but Sasha tells him that would be reckless, and he needs to be accountable for that story.

The next morning, Abraham finds an abandoned Humvee containing rocket-propelled grenade rounds and a box of cigars.   He sees a soldier-walker impaled on a piece of pole handing off the bridge with the launcher, and manages to reach out far enough to almost reach his prize, but can't get there.  He retreats to the Humvee, where he watches the walker while smoking a cigar.  Suddenly, the riled up walker's should gives way and it falls, leaving the launcher behind on the pole.   He retreats to the office, where he says Sasha is right about his recklessness, and that he wants to get to know her better.   Sasha tells him he has some baggage to unload first.

Daryl cannot catch a break.
Daryl's group comes upon a pair of bodies encased int melted glass in a burned greenhouse.  As Tina kneels to lay flowers beside them, the corpses come alive and kill her.  Daryl kills the walkers, and the group buries Tina.   Daryl asks D the three questions:  how many walkers had he killed, how many people has he killed, and why.   Daryl invites them to Alexandria, but instead they rob him of his motorcycle and crossbow.  Later, Daryl finds a fuel truck with the license plate PATTY.  He kills a walker inside it then picks up Abraham and Sasha.  They try to reach Alexandria by radio, but another voice comes of the speaker, and says, "Help."

Preparedness Discussion

As the saying goes, all politics is local, and these locals play hard ball.   Rick's crew has been in the Alexandria area only for a few weeks at best.   They have butted heads with the Wolves, the Alexandrians who took them in, and now with another rogue group.  They people Daryl wants to help rob him instead.  Oh yeah, and then there are walkers.   It's a bad, bad world out there.

Daryl, Sasha and Abraham's two vehicle convoy is hit with an ambush, while accelerating away from the herd.  There rate of speed was a bit shocking, considering they could have hit random walkers, abandoned cars, and other potential hazards.  How many crashes occur every day because a driver expects for the road to be clear, rounds a curve, and plows into the back of a car stopped due to road work or some other delay?   EMS and fire crews would respond in the real world, but in the reality of The Walking Dead, you are your own backup.  There isn't going to be a helicopter to fly you to a trauma center. 

Convoy operations have very specific tactics and considerations, and the U.S. military learned some hard lessons on the subject in Iraq and Afghanistan.   There are procedures for approaching choke points, and even cresting a hill.  If you are planning for a crisis situation, and you think you might be forced to move as a convoy of vehicles with your group, it would pay to download the manual hyperlinked above for your review. You won't have air support for backup, but the security procedures for convoy movement are valuable tips that can help keep you safe. James Price, founder of Death Valley Magazine and a private military contractor for several years in the Middle East, runs a mobile scout school that teaches convoy tactics and procedures.  There are other schools out there as well, but this one has come highly recommended by the guys at the In The Rabbit Hole podcast.  You can check out that episode here.  For that matter, just practicing good defensive driving helps.

This point plays into Abraham's recklessness, and underscores Sasha's point:  he plays way too fast and loose with his own safety.  His actions in pushing to get the rocket launcher from its precarious spot could have resulted in him face planting on the pavement below.  Sure ,the rocket launcher is a good find, but it's still not worth your life, even in the walker-filled world of the show.  (Editor's Note:  the launcher in question is an RPG of the kind used by Russian forces and third world guerrilla forces around the world against our troops.  While the U.S. Army is testing an Americanized version of the weapon, no such launchers are standard in the U.S. inventory, nor were there any when the TV show world ended in and around 2010-2011.  I have no idea why the producers didn't choose a few AT-4 rockets or even a Carl Gustav, which was first adopted by the United States Marine Corps but has seen use with the Army.)

Sasha may be just the person to rein him in for his own good, but how will Rosita handle it?  She obviously was not up to the challenge.  She was too young, and it took her putting a hand on her gun to stop him.   How will that shake out?  Group dynamics rears its ugly head again.

Lastly, I a) how does insulin still exist several years into the Apocalypse, and b) how can an insulin dependent diabetic still be alive this long into the Apocalypse? Finally, what are the odds of the truck starting?  I guess the trio Daryl ran into maintained it before they fell in with the bad guys.  That makes sense.  If the insulin stayed refrigerated, it could remain good after its expiration date, but that is an awful big leap.  They cannot even find antibiotics anymore without going to a vet clinic, so unless the group managed to secure a stockpile early and kept it cold, Tina should have been dead long ago.   If you are dependent upon a long term maintenance medication for your health, you need to keep a stockpile on hand.  Find out the earliest possible date you can refill a prescription, and get the refill well before you run out.  After a few times, you could have an extra 30 day supply on hand or better.

What do you want to bet it's Glenn on the radio?

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 606:
  • Learn good defensive driving techniques, and practice them.  Take note of potential choke points and blind curves in your area and remember to approach them with caution. 
  • In a survival situation, you have no backup.   Treat your body as indispensable, because it is.
  • Make sure you have a good stockpile of prescriptions and over the counter medications and rotate them frequently.

Next week:  Morgan and Rick have a talk.  This should be interesting.

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 605: Now



Episode 605: Now

 Jessie: This is what life looks like now. We have to see it. We have to fight it.

Synospis: Alexandria is recovering from the Wolf attack, and Michonne is breaking the news to Maggie about Glenn, when Rick comes running with a huge zombie horde on his tail.  He gets inside just in time, as the half of the the quarry herd that got pulled off the road by the horn surrounds the wall.  Rick tells the survivor Sasha, Abraham and Daryl will return soon and use their cars to lure the horde away, but until that time, they have to hunker down, conserve food, and try not to draw attention to themselves.   Some of the residents try to raid the pantry, but Spencer stops them, only to raid it himself.  Deanna is trying to make sense of everything, but still can't kill a walker without help.  Aaron and Maggie try to sneak out to find Glenn, but cannot get through the horde.  Maggie reveals she is pregnant.  Carl and Ron get into a scuffle over Enid, and Ron later parlays it into a bonding moment with Rick, who shows him how to shoot.  Denise and Tara grow closer, and Jessie mobilizes the rest of the Alexandrians by telling them they need to stop sticking their heads in the sand.  Jessie and Rick kiss, but the episode ends with blood dripping down the walls near the lookout tower.

Now is the aftermath episode that seems to me should have happened directly after Thank You, but hey, I'll take it as it comes.   The hour ends with no resolution to the Glenn cliffhanger, but with lots of little character moments that flesh out just how traumatized the residents of Alexandria are following the attack of the Wolves and the onslaught of the dead.

The episode begins with Deanna on the wall, watching in a daze as the survivors collect the dead from the Wolf attack while Michonne tells Maggie that Glenn and Nicholas got cut off but that Glenn promised to signal if they could.  No signal was detected.

Rick yells for them to open the gate and sprints through a gauntlet of walkers to safety just as the half-sized horde surrounds the settlement.   Rick assures everyone that the walls will hold, but that they have to keep noise and light to a minimum until Daryl, Abraham and Sasha return with vehicles to draw them off.  Aaron confesses that the Wolves found them because he dropped his pack at the cannery, but that Rick's plan drew half of them off and away from the camp.  Later, Jessie attempts to bury a dead Wolf, but Rick reminds her that they don't bury killers inside the walls.  He says they'll have to wait until the herd goes away.

Several residents try to raid the pantry, feeling it's futile to try to stretch the food supplies, but Spencer stops them and tells them that if they do this, they will destroy the community.  Later, he confronts Deanna while drunk after raiding the pantry for himself and says that all of this is her fault for making them think they were safe.

Let's face it:  Aaron's seen better days.
Aaron finds Maggie at the armory gearing up to go find Glenn.  She is planning to distract the walkers with flashlights and create a path, but he knows a better way -- an old sewer tunnel from a preexisting neighborhood that was torn down to create Alexandria.  They proceed down the tunnel and battle badly decomposed walkers, but are dismayed to find that the herd is too big and has swamped the sewer entrance.   They can't get past the gate.   Maggie confesses that she is pregnant and that they can't go forward and chance it, because she has to think about the baby now.

Carl asks Ron to come outside the wall to help him find Enid, but Ron refuses and they fight.   Ron tells him that if Carl tries to leave he will tell Rick, and Rick will go looking for him, and might get hurt.  This persuades Carl to stay inside.

Denise is in the infirmary, trying to figure out how to treat Scott, who came back with Michonne from the quarry mission with a wounded leg that is now infected.   She is in way over her head, and confesses so to Tara.  She wants to leave the infirmary to someone else, but she is the sole surviving person with medical training.  Later, she finally finds a a way to drain his leg and stabilize his condition.  She finds Tara, and as they talk, she kisses Tara, telling her she doesn't want to waste any more time.

Heavens to Betsy, Jessie.
Jessie walks by a house and discovers a walker inside (this is Betsy, by the way, who slashed her own wrists after hearing that her husband died on the quarry mission) and kills her.   Other Alexandrians are horrified, but Jessie tells them that this is the way the world is, and they have to see it and deal with it.  She later tries to get her younger son, Sam, to come downstairs, but he refuses to, because of the violence perpetrated on the first floor.

Ron shares with Rick that he stopped Carl from going after Enid, and tells Rick he wants to learn how to shoot.  Rick has him fire some rounds into the herd below for practice.

That night, Deanna is walking when a Wolf that Carol shot earlier in the day attacks, having succumbed to his wounds and turned.  She stabs him repeatedly with a broken bottle until Rick arrives to kill it.   She asks Rick if her original vision was just a child's fantasy, and he tells her no.  Later Rosita is relieved by Spencer on the wall, where he drunkenly eats some crackers and stares at the horde.

Jessie and Rick discuss all the events that have happened, and Rick confesses he thought that the others would be back by now.  They kiss.

In the final scene, Deanna is walking around the perimeter again, steeling herself for what lies ahead.  She slaps the gate, taking out her frustration by striking at the walkers out of reach just beyond, but as she walks away, drops of blood can be seen on the wall next to the lookout tower.

Preparedness Discussion

The crew of Alexandria is in a tight spot.  They have suffered grievous losses at the hands of the walker herd and the Wolves, the herd has them surrounded, and their best, most experienced hands are missing in action.

Rick's orders to maintain light and noise discipline are the right move, but telling the residents in a loud voice next to the wall with a pack of walkers on the other side was stupid.  Likewise, maintaining a watch on top of the guard towers where the walkers could see the sentries ostensibly to watch for the returning members of the team is another bad move.   Sasha, Glenn, Abraham, and Daryl have radios, and they should be expected to call in when they get close to home.  Don't call for light and noise discipline if you aren't going to maintain it yourself.

We have so much background noise around us at any given time, we hardly recognize what quiet is anymore.  Turn off everything in your house, kills all the lights, and even turn off the heating system so that your house is completely quiet one night.  Shut your eyes and listen.  That's what noise discipline sounds like. Conversations should be in a whisper.  Go outside with all the lights off and have a family member move through the house with a flashlight to check and see if any light leaks around curtains, etc.

The benefit of noise and light discipline is that it gives you an advantage if you don't want anyone to know if you're around, and especially if you think your home or bugout retreat is being observed by someone or if you want to prevent someone from finding your bugoug location in the dark.   It's a passive security measure. While in most situations, you want a potential criminal to know you are there so they don't attempt to rob your house, there are some instances where staying quiet during a bug-in or at your bugout location would be advantageous. 

While Here's Not Here showcases the need for a group in a long-term survival situation, New highlights the risks.   Group morale and cohesion are breaking down.   The "native" Alexandrians have gone from a relatively secure, placid existence to one where their very lives are at stake, and they are not dealing with it well.  Even Spencer, who calls out everyone else for raiding the pantry, is teetering on the edge.   Things are not going to be always rosy in a long term survival.  There are going to be peaks and valleys.   If you cannot maintain morale and individual trust in the community, things can break down in short order.

Finally, let's talk about rationing and how the group is maintaining its stockpile of food.  It is not a very good idea to keep all the food in one place.  I have stated before, this group seems to have zero fire-fighting capability, and decentralizing makes a lot of sense.   Practicing the same methods can pay off in your own preparations.  See my previous entry on the storage totes you put under beds with extra supplies in them. Not only will this protect you from losing your supplies, to say, a kitchen fire, it can also help preserve them from thieves.  After all, who puts groceries under the bed?

If you have a secure spot off site, like a trusted family member's house, and there is some extra room in their closets, drop  a couple of changes of clothes, some toiletry supplies, and some food there as well, with their permission, along with perhaps an encrypted thumb drive with your important information saved to it.  That way, if there is a fire and you escape with only the clothes on your back, you at least have your important documents and a few days worth of supplies at another location.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 605:
  • Noise and light discipline can be a powerful passive protection device in certain situations.
  • Think about how your group might deal with losses or adversity.  It's important to maintain optimism, but understand that not everything is going to go your way.  Plan for contingencies, and work to make sure group morale doesn't suffer.
  • De-centralize your supplies.   This provides redundancy and security.
Next week: Daryl, Abraham and Sasha get their gun on when they are attacked by unknown assailants, and we'll see if Sasha decides to get on board the A-Train.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 604: Here's Not Here


Episode 604:  Here's Not Here


Eastman:  That's the thing, Morgan.  Here's not here.

Synopsis: The Walking Dead takes a big detour into a super-sized flashback that tells Morgan's backstory.  The story begins with Morgan still at his compound in the town where he and Rick met, and he is ranting maniacally to himself. He accidentally burns down his abode, and ends up in a patch of woods, killing walkers and burning them.  He also kills any humans he comes across.  He finds a cabin owned by a man named Eastman one day, and is knocked out when he tries to kill the man.  Gradually, Eastman, who is a counselor, nurses him back to good mental health, but a final breakdown results in Eastman getting bitten and infected.   Morgan decides to leave and find Rick.   It was an essential piece to the character's story, but is told in an hour and a half and feels a little indulgent on the part of the writers.  Lenny James (Morgan) and John Carrol Lynch (Eastman) are very talented actors, but it all seems just a little bit overwrought.  Less is more.

He has to clear.
The episode opens with Morgan recounting his journey to the Wolf he captured in Alexandria's makeshift prison.   The action flashes back to King County, Georgia, where Morgan is ranting to himself in his makeshift safe house last seen in Season Three's Clear.  He topples a kerosene lantern, burning his house down.   He relocates to a makeshift camp in the woods, and clears the walkers in the immediate vicinity by killing and burning them.   He erects sharpened wooden stakes around the area to keep out the walkers while he is sleeping, and uses walker blood to scrawl messages on the boulders strewn about the forest floor.  One day in the woods, he finds himself pursued by a pair of men, who he ambushes and kills in cold blood.  His actions, give him pause, but he continues on his path of action.  It's as if he wants to change, but doesn't know the way out of the way he is now.

He is drawn deeper into the woods by the sound of a bleating goat, and finds a remote cabin that looks inhabited.  A man's voice calls out to him, asking him to leave the goat alone.  Morgan fires blindly then attempts to gain entry to the cabin, but is knocked unconscious.   He awakens in a cell with metal bars inside the cabin.   The man who has captured him introduces himself as Eastman, and Morgan pleads with him to kill him.  Instead, Eastman tosses him a book, The Art of Peace.  He feeds Morgan, and keeps him in the cell until slowly, Morgan begins to return to sanity.  

That's some appreciation there, Morgan.
You see, Eastman was a forensic psychiatrist in the old world, and his job was to examine people who had committed heinous crimes for their rehabilitation potential.   He sees something in Morgan that gives him hope.  Eastman runs outside to kill a walker with his staff, and drags the body into the woods.  Days pass.  Morgan still talks to himself, but he is intrigued by the martial arts practice outside.    Eastman finally tells him the cell door is unlocked, and he is welcome to crash on the couch.  Morgan attacks him, breaking a piece of drywall with a child's drawing hanging on the wall.  Eastman grabs the artwork and leaves the house.  Morgan returns to his cell voluntarily, knowing he is not yet ready to walk through the door.

Eastman explains that due to the nature of his work, he turned to Aikido, a Japanese martial art, for peace and solitude that eluded him.  He received a flyer on Aikido the day after his daughter gave him a rabbit's foot for luck, and he claims it gave him peace.

The next day, Eastman asks Morgan to watch over Tabitha, the goat, while he takes care of some things.  Some walkers attack her, and Morgan, with no other choice, handles the situation.  Eastman thanks him, but tells him he has to repair the fence he has broken, and shows him what he does with the bodies.  Each one gets a proper burial and wooden cross.  He uses their identification to make the signs.   

It's a buck and a quarter quarter staff.
Morgan is given his own staff, and the two practice Aikido together.  It's all so very zen, but there is something Eastman is hiding.  He tells Morgan that one of the prisoners he interviewed, Crighton Dallas Wilton, who he recognized as a true psychopath.  Wilton snapped and tried to kill him, and Eastman fought him off with Aikido.   Eastman recommended he be turned down for parole, and Wilton escaped long enough to go to Eastman's house and kill his whole family, then turned himself in.  The cell in the cabin was for Wilton, as Eastman had formulated a plan to kidnap the kill from a work detail and watch him starve to death in the cage.   When Morgan asks if he follows though, Eastman replies "I have come to believe that all life is precious."  Morgan tells him he is good at deflecting his Aikido opponents and the conversation.

Eastman decides they should leave to find more people.  He wants to scavenge some supplies, and Morgan leads him back to his camp, where he retrieves the supplies he took from the two dead men.  Sensing that Morgan is having trouble, that this spot represents where he was, Eastman orders him to practice Aikido with him.   A walker approaches, and as Morgan goes to kill it, he realizes it is one of the men he choked to death earlier.   He freezes, and as Eastman is pulling him away the walker bites Morgan's mentor.   Eastman kills the walker, but Morgan, enraged, tells him he shouldn't have interfered and attacks him.  The bigger, more experienced man subdues him, then carts his final body off to the burial ground.  Morgan eventually follows, but runs across a starving young couple.  He lets them live, finally having the breakthrough Eastman was trying to provide:  all life is precious.

Morgan backtracks to the cabin to find Tabitha being devoured by walkers.  He kills them and takes them and Tabitha to the graveyard.   As he is digging graves for Eastman, who is now feverish and weak, he sees a marker for Crighton Dallas Wilton.  Eastman confesses he followed through on his plan, and it took 47 days for the convict to starve to death.  Afterwards, Eastman went back to Atlanta to turn himself in, only to find the world had ended.  The artwork Morgan broke was from a wall on his house where his daughter had used a part of it for a canvas. Eastman cut it out of the wall and brought it all the way back to the cabin to remember her.

He tells Morgan he could stay at the cabin, but he really shouldn't be alone.   Morgan leaves following Eastman's death, and tracks down Rick.

Back in the present, the Wolf asks Morgan if he thinks that could work form him.  Morgan says yes, but the Wolf tells him that he is going to get out and kill everyone.  Morgan, frustrated, leaves him tied up in time to hear someone yelling to open the gate.

Preparedness Discussion

So after the bloody, shocking and all out pace of the first three episodes, after all this time traveling from Georgia to Virginia, after the show seemingly kills off one of the original characters from Atlanta, the beloved Glenn, we ... go back to Georgia?

Sigh.   I love the character of Morgan, as well as the actor who plays him, Lennie James.   He was a main star in another genre series called Jericho, which is one of the initial items which got me interested in prepping and threat assessment.  It was through reading about that show that I learned about a book called Lights Out, about an electromagnetic pulse attack on the United States, that led me to some prepper forums, and to where I am today.  

I also admired the job John Carroll Lynch, who plays Eastman, does in this episode.   He has tons of expository dialogue -- I mean, Shakespearean soliloquy level -- and he handles it effortlessly, delivering it with a sort of affected meh matter-of-fact attitude that feels authentic, like you are at a mid-America diner having coffee and talking about small town politics.   

It pains me to not like this episode.  I wanted to like it.  I know we had to have it to serve the story.   It just seems indulgent to spend an extended episode telling it.  Morgan is a fan favorite, but after the roller coaster of the previous three episodes this kind of pause feels forced.  That's the primary reason for Here's Not Here's rating of only three stars.

Let's get on with the preparedness discussion.   Eastman has a great retreat set up, with solar power, a water source, and stored and grown food.  He is a vegetarian, putting into practice his convictions regarding the sanctity of life.   The only thing it's missing is people.   He is alone, and the solitude is taking its toll, just as it did with Morgan.  Whereas Morgan is haunted by the guilt of his responsibility for his son's death, Eastman has forgiven himself and moved on to the business of survival.   Morgan is the worst possible result of the mental deterioration that occurs when afflicted with long term isolation.   Humans are social creatures, and lone wolf survivalism is simply not an effective strategy.  I might work in the short term, but the shear mountain of tasks that must be accomplished in a survival situation will lead to stress, exhaustion, and mental distress in the long run.   Preparedness is best approached as a group activity with like-minded people.

I like the idea of using something besides a gun to subdue walkers.   Eastman has mastered the art of self defense with a simple wooden staff.   It doesn't need reloading, won't rust, and if you break it, you simply go out into the woods and find another one.  It's also very quiet.  We've seen this before, with Michonne's katana and Daryl's crossbow.  All three require a great deal of practice and skill.   Skills trump gear again.  With proper skill, an ordinary piece of wood becomes a deadly weapon.

Finally, every prepper should look into growing their own food if they can do so.   It can be as simple as container gardening with a few tomato plants in flower pots, but doing something to provide food for yourself will be beneficial.  Learning to garden takes time.  Start small, experiment, and grow what you like.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 604:

  • Humans are social creatures, and preparedness is a group activity.  Find a group of like-minded, trustworthy people with complimentary skills and work together to make things better for all involved.
  • Investigate ways to practice self-defense without a firearm.  Martial arts, pepper spray, and other defensive weapons are options, if you practice their use.  Always check with local laws regarding possession of such items.  You can't prep in a jail cell.
  • Figure out a food you can grow, and start small with container gardening.   You will be taking responsibility for feeding yourself, and it will feel great!

Next week:  Alexandria endures a siege of the dead, and Maggie reveals something to Aaron.   Oh, and the new doc kisses Tara.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

So where am I?

I'm still here.   I've just been a bit busy with work and life.   I also needed to process Episode 604 of The Walking Dead, "Here's Not Here."  I honestly was really torn about the episode, and needed some space to think.   I'm going to try to knock out the Episode 604 and 605 before Episode 606 airs on Sunday to catch up.  

I also have about three or four gear reviews and a couple of other preparedness related posts to finish up, and I want to add some video as well, but I may not get to that before the new year.  I want to make sure I do my research and not mislead anyone or misrepresent something.  I don't want to give bad advice. 

Stay tuned.