Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prepare: SHTF Movie Villians - Seargent Jody "Earthquake"

Nobody likes a good end of the world movie more than me. But too many of the heroes tasked with saving the world are cardboard characters. The villians, on the otherhand,  in SHTF movies are usually so far over the top they make an otherwise cheesy movie that much more enjoyable.

"Earthquake!" released in 1974, was the masterpiece of disaster movie mogul Irwin Allen (with a screenplay partially written by Godfather author Mario Puzo!). It starred heavy hitter actors Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and Lorne Green among others.

An ensemble cast, the plot centers on different people's individual stories after a killer earthquake hits 70's Los Angeles. People are stuck in highrises, flooding ditches, underneath downed powerlines and even in aircraft circling devasted LAX airport flying on fumes looking for a place to land.

Our villian of the day, Seargent Jody, is a California National Guardsman sent with his unit into post-earthquake LA to maintain order and prevent looting. But his story goes further than that.

In his dayjob, weekend warrior Jody is a miserable employee at a supermarket where he has a stalking, peeping Tom, perverted crush on shopper Rosa. When the possibility of an earthquake looms, Jody is activated for duty, however, first he has to deal with the trio of bullies in his apartment building who pick on him at each chance. Jody will deal with them later in the film natuarally.

In the aftermath of the quake, Jody arrives with his men for patrol duty. As they arrest looters, Rosa is discovered among a group of suspected thieves. Jody has her turned over to his custody where he hides her away in a damaged building with no intention of letting her go.

Eventually, Rosa is rescued and Jody put to his demise by tough, but lovable cop, Lew Slade (George Kennedy), but not before uttering some of the best villian lines of the film.

A few choice selections:

Rosa: I'm so scared. I am worried about my brother, he must be looking for me.
Jody: Aw forget about him! He's probably dead. Besides you have me to take care of you now.

Jody: So, found some looters with jewelry, huh? What else did you take? Some dresses? What are you? F***ots?
Bully/Looter: Come on Jody. We were just kidding. Let us go.
Jody: (Laughs). Sure go on, I was just having fun.
Jody: (Automatic fire, shoots bullies in back while they run) All looters are to be shot on sight!

Jody: As soon as this is over I am going to open a karate studio. I've been saving up.  There's big money in karate!

Jody: (To Officer Slade and Heston) This area's under quarrantine! Go away, go around somewhere else!

Interestingly enough, the role of Jody (we never hear his last name) was played by actor Marjoe Gortner. An evangelist before going into acting, Gortner was the subject of an award winning 1972 documentary about his ministry. Gortner also produced an album of his own music (where he sang and played most of the instruments) and starred in several other movies.

But for our purposes, he will be forever known as Seargent Jody, a post-apocalyptic villian extraordinaire.

Prepare: Are you really a survivor?

The news these days is pretty glum. Unemployment at ten percent. Jobs scarce, pay is down, and everyone is feeling the pinch. So, are you really a survivor?

Most people aren't.

Does this sound familiar?

"I lost my job. I want to do what I did before for the same money. I want my old job back. I want to go to work at the same place I used to work at. I want my old position back. It's not fair. I don't want anything to change."

Whoever says things like this is not a survivor. Sorry, it sounds heartless, but it is not meant to be.

Change the wording.

"There was a nuclear war/plague/zombie attack. Civilization broke down. I want my old life back. I want to go to work. I want to go to the mall. I want to watch TV again. I don't want to salvage old buildings for canned food and supplies. I don't want to work in the garden today. I don't want to stand guard tonight. It's cold outside. I don't like change. It's not fair. This is hard. I want things to be the way they were".

 Get it?

I have said before again and again. Survival situations come in small doses. Loss of job here. Foreclosure there. Economy collapses. Governement falls. War starts. Things go from bad to worse.

Sure, in the fictional world, the hero has a paid off retreat with full garden, off grid power and all the ammo he can eat, but in the real world, most of us are just getting by. And when the chips come down, too many whine rather than adapt. It's easier and society has trained us to be victims. Wait for a handout. Wait for the government to do something. Where's that check? Where are those government jobs? When do I get mine?

Sound heartless? It's not. It's reality. Survival is about adapting. Sometimes you overcome, but usually, you just get by.

So, are you really a survivor?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prepare: North Korea Nuke Alert

South Korea has accused North Korea of sinking one of their warships. North Korea has taken two steps forward and is making threats against the South and everyone else. The US has jumped on board and says it will support South Korea. The president has suggested that the US military needs to be prepared for a new international order which includes a belligerant North Korea.

So what happens next? Odds are another round of sanctions against North Korea. That country is already cut off from most of the world and with the exception of shipments from Burma or China, is pretty much on its own. But sanctions and denouncements from the UN are the best expectations.

Now, what is the worse case scenario?

First, the South procedes with sanctions. The North, knowing their have little to lose and all that military might and energy poised on the border, takes a tougher stand. They resume lobbing a few shells at the South, reopen some tunnels and drop more mines and mini subs in the waters between the two countries.

Eventually, someone else gets hurt. The South goes on wartime footing and masses defense forces on the border. The US president, reluctant to up the ante, advises non-essential Americans to consider leaving the country and orders an aircraft carrier from Japan to the coast of South Korea.

South Korea catches an armed group attempting to enter the country through a series of underground tunnels. At the same time, a number of sabotage attempts, some successful, are made on facilities around the South such as power stations, water treatment plants and fuel storage facilities.

The South, begins agressively patroling its borders and a number of skirmishes are reported. The US, unable to deny that resumption of hostilities are possible, prepares two divisions in the US for deployment to the region as well as three more aircraft carriers. Troops in Iraq begin preparations to quickly move to the front if needed.

China enters the scene and declares that any agression by the US towards North Korea will be met with a "harsh and complete response". China begins to mass troops of its own on the border with the North and moves a number of warships to the area. Russia is planning on "watching the situation closely", but is also mobilizing its military in the east just in case.

The US asks the UN for a resolution and for immediate peace talks, but China vetos the motion and instead demands the the US pull out additional troops and ships from the region.

North Korea, enjoying the attention and lack of decisive action, launches a 24 hour attack on the South and pushes several miles across the border before pulling back. There are US service casualties and the president, facing pressure from both sides of the aislie, sends the US Air Force into action to both bomb North Korean positions and achieve air superiority.

Both North Korean and Chinese aircraft respond and there are losses on both sides. With limited resources available to the US due to additional troops and aircraft not yet arriving from the US and the drain on the US military in the Mideast, the president has no choice but to pull back to a defensive position.

The North Koreans and and increasingly antagonistic Chinese military push back and begin a full scale invasion of the South. US forces retreat to Seoul and then further south. The US begins a massive effort to evacuate the thousands of US citizens in South Korea with civilian airliners. When an American Airlines passenger jet is shot down over the China Sea, the US is forced to go to full retaliation.

Cruise missiles and aircraft from the South, Japan and the US begin bombing the North and along the Chinese-Korean border to stem the flow of troops and supplies. The Chinese retaliate against the US fleet and damage and sink several US ships including one aircraft carrier.

The US president warns China that nuclear weapons will be used unless it pulls back to the North Korean borders and China responds by firing a nuclear weapon off its coast at US forces at sea.

In the US panic erupts as millions of Americans rush to grocery and hardware stores in an attempt to prepare for nuclear war. City residents protest in the streets demanding to know where the "bomb shelters" are in the cities. Millions pack their possessions into cars and head to the country emptying grocery stores and gas stations along the way.

In these critical hours, Russia warns both the US and China that if further nuclear weapons are used, they will be forced to unleash their inventory as well in a pre-emptive move. The US president attempts one more gesture at peace by sending the secretary of state to Bejing in an eleventh hour mission of urgency. When that fails, he addresses the public and urges them to remain calm, assist their neighbors and work with their communities. He also imposes some purchase limits on grocery shoppers and gasoline customers which only results in the complete opposite reaction from the public.

That night, shortly after midnight, China launches several nuclear missiles aimed at Japan and the US West Coast. The US, after a period of delay, fires a like number of land based missiles at China which triggers Russia to launch a greater number at both countries.

Within one hour, the world has changed forever.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Prepare: Vivos Constructs First Underground Shelter

Remember Vivos? I posted the story here not long ago. There is a follow up story on CBS of all places today. Fair use applies.

Vivos is the brain child of inventor and real estate investor Robert Vicino of San Diego. The concept behind Vivos is simple; a network of underground shelters with space for sale to persons wanting to avoid end of the world scenarios like nuclear war, plague or some "2012" disaster.

In my origional review, I was skeptical about Vivos for a variety of reasons namely, none of the shelters had been built. That is allegedly not the case now.

Vicino announced that the first shelter is under construction in an undisclosed location (near Barstow, CA). Using a defunct, Cold War era telecommunications shelter as the framework, founder Vicino has plans for a fourteen thousand square foot underground compound.

That's good news for the reportedly "hundreds of investors" who have given money for the project as they now may soon actually have somewhere to go in the event of a disaster.

There were some points made in the announcement which struck me...

"There will be double layers and razor wire. This will be an impenetrable compound when we're done," Vicino said  

We all know, no compound is impenetrable. If the front door is locked, go find a window.

The first is being built here in the Southland this summer, converting an old blast-proof Cold War relic, which was designed to keep copper phone lines alive.

Well, we know where it is (Southland, Barstow, CA) and it is part of an existing facility (phone lines) which means Joe the Raider or one hundred thousand refugees know where to go as they flee from LA.

In the event of a disaster, Vicino said owners would meet at rendezvous points and could be escorted in by helicopters before the facilities would be secured.

Even the government has a hard time gettting that plan to work well.

"You know, I've had a lot of people say, 'I don't know if I want to be around after something like that happens,'" Vicino said adding, "Why? It could be a nuclear blast, you need shelter, but the rest of the world might be fine. Who is to say that the world won't be fine afterwards? Might have a lot less population, but it could be very nice world."

To be fair, this actually is a good point which nay sayers overlook. A nuclear war will most likely be limited in today's world. Having a shelter to go to will put survivors ahead of most of the populace. I just have a hard time with the $50000.00 price tag per person. Oh well, time to start digging.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Prepare: Tornado Safety

It's that time of year again. Tornado season. It may not end the world, but a tornado can sure end yours. Get started now on tornado safety before you end up on the six oclock news.

Tornados can happen anytime and anywhere. Unlike hurricanes or earthquakes, nearly every location is tornado country. I heard once there had been a tornado in every state on each day at one time or another, so everyone is at risk here.

Know the warning signals of a tornado. During a storm, pay attention to the weather alerts and keep a radio or TV on for up to the minute information. Generally, the conditions are strong persistent wind rotation, heavy rain or hail followed by calm or drastic wind shifts, and a loud rumble like thunder but that does not fade.

If at home, have a safe place designated now. That should be an interior room, hallway or bathtub. If you have a basement, all the better. Make sure you have mattresses, heavy blankets or sleeping bags for protection from debris handy.

At work or school, know the tornado drill and know where the safe places are located. Stay out of atriums, gyms, auditoriums or any type of arena.

Mobile homes and cars are no place to be in a tornado. Get out of the mobile home and seek shelter, even outside is safer than a manufactured home in a tornado. In the car? You cannot outrun a tornado. If you see one far off, move away from it. If it is too close, get out of the car (after pulling over to a safe location) and get to low lying areas like a ditch or culvert, if a building is not nearby.

When seeking shelter, keep you head coverered with your arms and lie face down on the ground. Find anything you can put over your head to protect yourself from flying debris.

When the tornado has passed, check yourself and others for injury. Help may not come for hours or even days, so you may be on your own. Be ready. Have stored food, water, a portable radio, flashlight and tools for extraction from debris.

Tornados are the real deal. Leave the "chasing" to the professionals and seek shelter immediately.

Ten years ago, my home was hit by a tornado.Strangely, it "bounced" from the neighbors house on one side to the other neighbors on the other side. My home suffered minimal damages, but the blast blew open every door and window in the house. We lost most of our trees and my car was crushed under three trees alone. We had no power for four days. It was not fun, but it was  a reminder, never underestimate the force of nature.

Do you have food insurance?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Prepare: The spectre of nuclear war

 The meeting in New York this week between several nations discussing the proliferation and threat of nuclear weapons brings up today's post. The threat of nuclear war is still with us, but is far different than it was originally.

In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the possibility of full scale nuclear war appeared imminent, here is what the family of the time faced. Dad might be a few miles away at the factory or office, or maybe downtown whereas the family lived in one of the new tract home suburbs popping up across the United States.

A fallout shelter might have been in the basement or perhaps in the backyard if they had the time or money. It was stocked with cans of Campbells Soup, powdered milk and Sanka instant coffee. In the event of a nuclear attack, Civil Defense sirens would sound their low warbling tone, and radio stations would switch over to the Conelrad system with the purpose of instructing listeners of what actions to take.

An nuclear attack on the US in 1962 would have been carried out with long range bombers, some short range submarine launched missiles and a several intercontinental ballistic missiles. The US would have had anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour or more before a bomb might land near their location. At the same time, the US would have scrambled hundreds of bombers from across the US and launched its own intercontinental ballistic missiles once confirmation was received. Submarines would have moved to launch positions and wait for the second or third salvo. Some US Navy ships would do the same.

1962 Dad may have time to get home and get the family to the shelter. Mother would have filled water containers and collected more canned food from the kitchen. Sissy would get her favorite doll and Junior his baseball glove. Dad would have collected a flashlight, batteries and maybe a portable AM radio and placed them in the shelter. The family might have to spend as much as two weeks in the shelter to avoid fallout.

If Dad could not get home, or if other family members were away, they might have had to shelter in one of the public fallout shelters found in many office and public buildings. There, they would have access to basic medical supplies, energy biscuits, canned water and other supplies put in place by the Federal Government Office of Civil Defense.

Today would be a different situation. Very few countries possess the ability to launch multiple nuclear devce bearing vehicles at the US. In today's terrorist attack world, a nuclear device may be smuggled into the country and detonated in a van or storage container. The nuclear weapon may actually only be a conventional bomb with nuclear material creating a "dirty bomb" instead.

In this case, there would not be any advance notice or time for preparation. If a country did launch an attack on the US, most people do not have a fallout shelter or access to one. The US Civil Defense Department was renamed FEMA and in the past thirty years, has removed nearly all Civil Defense supplies and closed public shelters. Even the old Fallout Shelter signs have been taken down.

People who used to work in the same communities they lived in, now may be 40,50 or 60 miles away from home. Mom and Dad both work these days and Junior and Sissy might be at school, an activity or at a sitters home. Basically, the whole family could very well be miles apart when an attack happens. Further, as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina showed, a nuclear attack would quickly overwhelm city and public services nationwide and the government may be days away from any response.

In a nutshell, let's hope that the world powers work out a good way to avoid nuclear war, rather than make it a possible reality. Simply put, we are not ready and as a society, would most likely not survive.

Do you have food insurance?

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