Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Home Front: Training and Skills

As I mentioned in my opening post, I believe there is a lot we can do in order to be ready to face a disaster or catastrophe. Not just stockpiling needfuls, or getting the best kit and setup. More than choosing a prime bug-out location or arming yourself to the teeth, knowing how to survive in the face of hardship, and having the skills to get you out of a tight spot, and make it work in the long term to my mind is the difference between the gormless masses and the prepared. Molding the body and mind, as my kendo instructors have taught me, takes time, effort and dedication. Good teachers will guide, but it is up to the individual to learn, work and expand on that. I was inspired at an early age reading my fathers extensive library of Golden Age sci-fi. I came across this quote and it's stuck with me.

"A man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." Lazarus Long Time Enough For Love - Robert A. Heinlein 

I like to think that in my life, I've managed to accumulate a number of skills, and more importantly an attitude much like those referenced by Clint Eastwood's character GySgt Highway in his 1986 film, Heartbreak Ridge "Adapt, innovate, overcome!". Somethings, like raising and keeping chookens, and growing a vegetable patch are pretty pedestrian, and apart from the space and effort of maintaining them, they are pretty low-skill skills to acquire. A while back I decided that the feral doves that were raiding our chooken food were worth potting, so modified a part of the bunny hutch to make a "lobster pot" type trap. 
After catching a bunch of them over the space of a few days, and plucking, gutting and cleaning them, I was able to make a variety of reasonably-tasty meals with what was essentially foraged meat. Later after deciding that it was a LOT of work for what it was, we returned the wire extension to the bunnies, much to the delight of Triceratops Girl (or in this case, Bunny Girl)

Cross training, is a skill that can be applied to -life-, not just the adventurous. I happen to be adventurous, so my cross-skilling takes that path. I can sail-board, snorkel and SCUBA dive, I learned to drive a 4WD in the desert of Dubai, in preparation for possible evacuation in the lead up to the First Gulf War as a teen, though it was a lot longer till I was road-licensed. Spending a lot of time climbing indoor walls (and buildings, before parkour became a "thing") whilst in uni gave me a good feel for rope use, rigging and ascension. Not to mention how to get into places that you generally shouldn't or expect to be able to.

I took woodwork in Junior High in Canada, from which some skills with hammers, nails, chisels and saws came, good for building, breaking and repairing when simply buying a new one isn't an option.Having "handy" skills is a real draw-card, I've found, and opens many doors, especially when in a community that might otherwise lack that particular set. Knowledge is currency in the information age, but so are social skills. Being able to network with those around you is just as much a learn-able and valuable skill as being able to knock together a coop, turn a couple of hand fulls of seeds into hearty dove stew or rigging a rope bridge across a chasm. Not everyone can be good at everything, and one person, whilst able to accomplish a lot, will be taxed and stressed enough by a disaster situation, without having the pressure of "doing it all themselves". Gather your crew, work out who can do what, who is willing to learn and do new things, and how you can improve and develop everyone's skills, and attitudes.

Most people wont find the prospect of my training for the Tough Mudder to be very appealing, then again, who relishes the idea of digging in the fields to get next seasons crops in, or doing a full inventory audit of your supplies? Some things need preparation, in order to be ready for the challenges ahead!

We have a saying in our house, which is pretty well understood by us and ours "you get a place in our bunker..." (and the converse, equally holds "they DON'T get a place in the bunker..."). So perhaps you need to ask yourself, have you got the skills it will take to adapt, innovate and overcome? If not, or if you think there are things you could learn, train and develop in yourself, when is too soon to start? gambatte!  


  1. Realistically if you have skills or the ability to adapt you shouldn't need anything else.

    It just helps and makes life easier if you do.

  2. While I'm no-way fit enough at the moment, the tough mudder sounds like fun.
    You must visit some weekend (maybe after you've been up to Selby)

  3. alert, aware and informed, its the way to be!

    if you can do all that, and have fun doing it, so much the better! a weekend visit sounds awesome Chaos!


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