You may have noticed we posted a blog as usual on Tuesday this week, and then we posted again on Wednesday. There’s kind of a story to that, one that harkens back to the odd way the universe often unfolds for us.
Last week we had two bizarre coincidences related to back issues of The Economist and The Guardian that my dad saves for me. These accumulate during the growing season when I don’t have time to read much, and I get caught up on them in the winter.
On Tuesday I shared an article with Michelle about the story of the artist behind the “big eyes” paintings. We were both familiar with the paintings but didn’t know the story behind them. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Keane)
On Tuesday night we watched the movie “St. Vincent” and one of the previews for upcoming movies was for a movie called “Big Eyes” about this story. Now, I’m sure the Guardian story was related to the fact that there was probably a book about the story that had now been made into a movie, so I get that. But it just seems strange that I’d read a random article about something I’d never heard of and then saw a preview for a movie on that subject that night. What are the odds? Really.
On Friday morning I was reading The Economist from the week Nelson Mandela died and he was on the cover. There was a great obituary that I read to help fill in some of the gaps I was missing about his life. Michelle came home from Tamworth later in the day with our Friday night video. She had chosen it without any input from me or any knowledge of what I’d been reading. It was the movie “Mandela.” Do do, Do do (theme song from The Twilight Zone)
About a year ago we had just about completed our book “The Sensible Prepper” but it did not have the advance sales with our U.S. distributor to warrant a large print run. As the book business has evolved and our book sales have decreased, there was no longer an economical model for us to continue large print runs sold through a distributor. So we put the book on the back burner.
Recently we got back to thinking about finishing and publishing the book. We are using a service from Amazon called CreateSpace which is essentially a ‘print on demand’ service. You order the book, they print it. We make less money, but we don’t have to put up a whack of money for a big print run to get the ‘per book’ cost down, and potentially take a hit if they don’t sell.
We had the book ready for printing about a week ago and then I switched to getting the eBooks ready. We figured we’d pretend we were a real publisher and roll out the eBook along with the printed version. There’d be marching bands and parades to celebrate.
I had been struggling with the various electronic formats for eBooks … “ePub” for Apple, “.mobi” for Amazon Kindle … the regular headaches. I couldn’t get the table of contents to translate, blah blah blah. Finally on Tuesday morning I got the Kindle version working, it passed the test and we got it uploaded. It would be available for sale within 24 hours.
That’s when we got the phone call. It just seemed very strange to get the call the day the book was available.
There was this strange thing happening in Toronto. A ‘bunker’/’tunnel’ had been discovered in a conservation area near a university. The story led all the newscasts, local and national for the day.
Because the bunker was near one of the venues for next summer’s Pan-Am Games people seemed to freak out. Surely there was a sinister plot behind the mystery hole. On Monday night I heard the Toronto Police were going to be giving a press conference on Tuesday.
Every radio newscast on Tuesday led off with the “tunnel” story. After lunch we got a call from a reporter from The Globe and Mail asking for my comments on the bunker. Really? My comments? They asked if I thought it was the work of a survivalist? At that point I didn’t have much context about the bunker but it certainly looked well constructed and perhaps it was.
I suggested to the reporter how great it was the some people in the city had so much energy they could devote it to endeavors such as this. They moved a lot of soil in their excavation. But here was the problem. I realized it didn’t matter what I said, I was likely to be portrayed as the ‘survivalist’ preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I explained to her that our new book “The Sensible Prepper” is not a guns & ammo extreme survivalist book. It is a logical guide to some of the steps people in a technologically advanced society should take to deal with the potential outcomes of extreme weather that climate change is causing.
I suggested that FEMA and most governments in the developed world are starting to educate citizens that they need to stop assuming that power and water and food systems will always function uninterrupted. They are victims of their own success. Because we’ve had so many decades of reliable public services we can’t imagine a time when they won’t be there. And when some random flood or ice storm or Super Storm Sandy leaves hundreds of thousands of citizens without those systems, they are simply too overwhelmed to deal with the fall out. Is it ‘extreme’ to suggest to someone it’s not a bad idea to have 3 or 4 days worth of food and water in their home? Is it ‘radical’ to recommend someone in an apartment have a sterno stove to warm up some soup if they lose power for a week? I don’t think so.
Regardless, I got a sense that it didn’t matter what I said, the reporter was simply going to keep chatting with me until they got the response they wanted. And I made it very clear I was not a ‘survivalist,’ merely someone who had gone off-grid to reduce their carbon footprint and was merely passing along some of the things I’ve learned about living independently and ‘preparedness’.
And that’s how I got quoted in Canada’s National Newspaper … as a survivalist. Sigh.
Oh well, as Anita Roddick from The Body Shoppe used to say, no publicity is bad publicity. Mayor Rob Ford proved that for Toronto, right?
After I saw the details from the press conference I think there’s a very good chance it was built by someone prepping. If they’d moved the pile of dirt they dug up further away and spread it around it may never have been spotted. And if the police wanted to know whose hole it was, why didn’t they just put some of those remote cameras on it, the kind Canadian Tire sells for hunters? They were in such a panic to fill it in. If they’d been patient they could have asked the builders ‘what’s up’ because apparently they didn’t break any laws. And then whoever dug it could have had their 15 minutes of fame and been headline speakers at “The Survival Expo” in Niagara Falls this summer. https://www.thesurvivalexpo.com/ That’s right. A whole weekend long expo about off grid living, homesteading, and prepping. I wish they’d skip the survival word, but extreme always sells better.
Apparently there is interest in this topic by the public. If you would like get a gentle initiation into the whole concept and help yourself relax and be mellow next time the power goes off, you can order “The Sensible Prepper” here.