Review: Prepping, Part 2

Trump had won, and my feared doomsday scenarios had not come to pass. However, there immediately arose the self-styled “Resistance,” as well as government insiders (soon to be termed the “Deep State”), who were intent on thwarting Trump at every turn or even driving him from office. Still, with the election over, I breathed a sigh of relief.

 

The next major hurdle was the inauguration. I was particularly concerned someone would try to assassinate Trump during the inauguration, such as while he was giving his inaugural speech at the Capitol. I was asked by the president of the student association at GW that I was serving on to be one of a handful of students who would attend an inaugural event put on by Politico, as a representatives of our school. I accepted, but was a little concerned about being in D.C. if chaos unfolded.

 

The event was held at the rooftop level of the W hotel next to the White House. I saw protestors on the other side of the W at the fences blocking off the inaugural parate route. They had locked arms so that people couldn’t pass through the fence to attend the parade. One held a sign that said, in Russian, “Not my president,” a reference to the newly-minted liberal scapegoat theory that Russian hacking had won Trump the election.

 

Later when I got home and posted the photos, a friend saw the human barrier and amusingly commented, “So they do like walls.”

 

 

When I finally got in and got to the coat check, I had planned ahead of time that I would have to be separated from my coat during the event (a nice black Calvin Klein pea coat I got at Men’s Wearhouse for $80, a good deal), and I had a few survival items I wanted on my person at all times. So, I stuffed them into my suit jacket pockets. I surrendered my coat and headed to the elevator in the gilded hotel lobby. I head a medical face mask on me in the event of tear gas (to dispel a riot) or, God forbid, a chemical or biological attack, either from disgruntled leftists or from Islamic terrorists. I had a snack on me also, cash, earplugs in case of loud rioting, and one or two other things. I knew I would not be able to take much.

 

I got upstairs to the top level of the building, where I met my handful of fellow students. We commenced mingling. The president of my org asked me to do some social media posting for our Twitter and Insta accounts, so I did, which was great for me because I’m an introvert and was totally sick of the networking scene of DC, which basically consists of 2+ people yelling past each other over the noise while sipping drinks that aren’t that good. I had already decided by this time that I was only taking one more class at GW, and that I never wanted to live in or work in D.C. I did join a few conversations though, in between the televised inaugural events. One of my friends and fellow students, we’ll call him Alex, found a student who was in one of his other classes (Alex and I had been in several classes together) and together we laughed about various crazy moments from the entire 2016 primary and general cycles. I respected Alex because although he was a liberal, I could at least talk politics with him without getting scolded for voting for Trump. People like that are all too rare in D.C. Perhaps it’s because he was not from the area, and his family, to my knowledge, was not part of the Swamp. He had been a lawyer out in SoCal and decided to make a career change into politics, and came to GW.

 

I was very pleased to see Rev. Franklin Graham give an opening prayer before Trump’s speech. I drank that in, and I thought about the DC elite and future elite around me who probably had no concept of what I was feeling while watching Rev. Graham’s prayer and statements. I caught myself thinking, “That’s right, Swamp Creatures, for 364 days this year you can forget all about flyover Americans, but today you are forced to look at us and acknowledge our existence!”

 

Trump gave his speech, and thankfully no shenanigans occurred. When it was over, he and Melania walked Barack and Michelle Obama to the South Lawn and the latter boarded Marine One, which took them to Andrews AFB across the Potomac. Anticipating their flight path, I hurried to a window and managed to capture a photo of their helicopter flying past! Let me tell you, it was a very welcome sight. Bye bye Barry. I texted the photo to my dad and gave him permission to post it to Facebook with an accompanying witticism. He said he would let one of his friends do the honors—this friend basically epitomized the conservative middle-aged white male ex-mil stereotype to the T and I knew he would do us proud.

 

I did some more mingling in between speeches and social media posting on my phone for my org, and eventually said goodbye to my friends and left. The parade was in progress, but I frankly didn’t want to wait for President Trump to reach our location. I was nervous and wanted to get out of town, especially with Beltway traffic to worry about. So, I got my coat, left the W, and hoofed it to the nearest red line metro stop. New York Avenue was completely empty—a bizarre sight—due to being barricaded off. I made it home without incident.

 

After the inauguration, my pace of acquiring prepper items slowed. At this point I had most of the things I wanted to have, and I didn’t want to spend more money on it. At GW, my team won a social media contest and I received a $125 Amazon gift card, which I used some of to buy a few remaining items I wanted: More medical masks, glowsticks, and mortar and pestle, and one or two other things.

 

The next prepping scenario that arose was the threat of a nationwide set of riots on November 4th and 5th, 2017. This was all over the internet and I watched every YouTube video about it I could that I thought might give me valuable information. Basically, the left wing group Refuse Fascism was calling for a day of nationwide protests. It was also being said that Antifa was going to make a major move in our cities on that day. This was roughly one year since Trump was elected, and it also coincided with the meme of the “Fifth of November” from V for Vendetta, in which the protagonist blows up the UK Parliament as a strike against the totalitarian regime. Additionally, the Great American Solar Eclipse had happened not much earlier, and there were a lot of other possible signs and coincidences including planetary alignment (potential biblical prophecy) and other factors I learned about. Needless to say, I had plenty of reasons to be on edge about November 4th.

 

Part of the supplies I had bought back before the election were several pieces of dirt bike armor. It was both affordable and provided some level of protection in the event of a fistfight in a riot. I had armor for my arms, legs, and hard plastic knuckle dirt bike gloves (I checked the laws and metal knuckles are illegal in Maryland) just in case I had to fight my way out of some Anitfas or other rioters during civil unrest.

 

I accumulated a small burst of prepping items just before the 4th, including a respirator and the coup-de-grace of my suit of armor, a dirt bike helmet. Those helmets aren’t cheap—it was something like $70—but I returned it a couple days after the 4th was over and the feared riots had not occurred. It offered full-head protection, not just the top of the head like a bike helmet. One driver in my desire to get a helmet was a video I saw of protests at Berkeley in spring 2017, the one during the daytime where the conservatives actually beat back the liberals and forced them to retreat. At one point though, before the chase started, there was a guy wearing a red sriracha hot sauce shirt (you can look this up), arguing with liberal protestors. Someone, who was later ID’d as a faculty member, ran up and hit him on the head with a bike lock. The poor guy was in shock and was just standing there staring at the blood on this hands and clothes, because the hit had immediately drawn blood from of his head. Some people nearby surrounded him and had him lay down and to my knowledge he ended up being OK, but I did not want something like that to happen to me if I ended up fighting Antifa. Clearly, they have some bad apples on their side who don’t mind risking brain damage to shut down an argument.

 

I also saw some videos about liberal gun clubs. In one video, I saw a group of gun-toting socialists marching in formation down the street somewhere in Arizona, and a journalist was questioning them and arguing with them. The socialists were in fatigues with red bandanas and other socialist insignia. There were other videos with people talking about a potential Antifa uprising.

 

November 4th came and went, and the Refuse Fascism marches ended up being a total laughingstock, and Antifa didn’t try anything. I breathed a sigh of relief. There weren’t any big dates coming up on the political calendar, so I returned the helmet for a full refund.

 

Summer is always a worse time of year for crime and civil unrest. It remains to be seen what might happen this summer. However, although I am basically done buying prepping stuff except replacing some canned food I left in Maryland when I moved to New Mexico, I sleep better at night knowing I have some basics if something bad really happens. And I’ll say this: I’m way, way less concerned about an uprising out here in Albuquerque than when I was in Maryland, sandwiched between Baltimore and DC.

 

So in conclusion, some people take prepping way, way further than I have. There is no way to know if those people are wrong because we don’t know the future. I am comfortable with having spent around $500 over a period of over a year to acquire some basic supplies. If you are uneasy about the future, you might give it some thought. I am not here to persuade anyone to be a prepper, but I will share one thought that continually ran through my mind: Many nations have experience economic and social collapse. When the world becomes an unsafe place, the last thing you want is to have to leave your home to go stand in a bread line.

 

A great online forum about prepping can be found at www.survivalistboards.com and as far as I know it’s free to read.

Review: Prepping, Part 1

I’ve always been a little bit of a survivalist at heart. I thrive in the rugged landscapes of New Mexico, with its spiky plants, sometimes violent weather, crazy pests, and rustic panoramas. Yet it was only after I moved to lush, green, developed Maryland that I became an amateur prepper.

 

The 2016 election cycle was unlike any other. Then-candidate Trump’s initial comments about Mexico at his announcement speech set off the first of a long chain of firestorms. Seasoned conservatives like myself, used to a certain level of crazy from liberals, initially wrote it off as another liberal outburst. However, as Trump began to elaborate his views on various topics, tossing Molotov cocktails at the Left’s sacred cows, the usual liberal bloviation began to escalate. It wasn’t long before the Left had reach complete hysteria. Everything Trump said was suddenly the most offensive thing that had ever been uttered. The thing is, a lot of what he said made perfect sense to Flyover Americans whose imaginations had not been stunted by political correctness. Liberals were not self-aware enough to stop and question how and why they were so offended over his comments (and generally still aren’t). And so the cycle of mania continued.

 

Things seemed to have hit a crescendo with Trump’s call for a Muslim ban. I maintain that he partially did this to secure a victory in the South Carolina primary that was going on at the time. And win it he did. Over time, his Muslim ban de-escalated down to a travel ban on certain terror-prone countries which happened to be majority Muslim. But the liberals still haven’t forgiven him for the original proposal.

 

This combined with his border wall and his many other offenses continued to drive rage among the Left. We began seeing more and more riots, political violence, destruction of property on college campuses, and street fights between Trumpists and the Hard Left. Similar scenes were unfolding in some European countries as well, like Germany.

 

Around this time I began to wonder how much worse things would get. My mind flashed back to the Baltimore riots, which occurred at the beginning of May 2015, only a 30-40 minute drive from where I lived. I had never seen a riot like that in an American city before (I was too young to remember the LA riots in the 90’s). The Baltimore riots, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the police, created a two day period of complete breakdown in certain parts of inner city Baltimore. I remember watching the news footage and seeing firemenn trying to put out a fire. A masked man in all black ran up, cut a hole in the hose, and ran off. This was on the first day of the riots, before the night the city actually burned.

 

The next day, I was at my brother’s wedding, and the best man, who is more well-read in politics than either of us, explained that career anarchists try to exploit situations like the one in Baltimore in order to collapse society usher in anarchy. The idea of a “career anarcist” blew my mind. As I did more and more of my own research, and Antifa simultaneously began to rear its ugly head, I grew concerned about where far left hysteria was leading, especially if Trump were to win.

 

So it was the threat of civil disorder and breakdown, not natural disasters or other typical factors, that got me thinking about prepping. I knew little about prepping except what I had heard and seen clips of on shows like Doomsday Preppers. I knew there were people who had huge storehouses of canned food in their basement, and I knew that people in rural Montana wanted to live “off the grid.” My journey into (what I would consider amateur) prepping began with basic internet searches on what emergency supplies I should have, and with a copy of American Survival Guide I happened to glimpse in Bass Pro Shops one day back then. It actually had a feature on rioting, which I devoured. My prepper mindset had begun. I started to live with the constant awareness in the back of my mind, and often in the front of my mind, that if society collapsed or the electrical grid failed, things would get real ugly real fast.

 

I was a little surprised to find the plethora of prepper and survivalist websites that existed online. But I quickly snapped out of it: “Wait, this is the internet. Every topic gets blown up into its own universe of websites.” So I dove in. I began to make a list of survival supplies I wanted, and quietly gathered them over the next several months. This started probably June of 2016 and I was “on the clock” to be done by November 7, the day before the election. I was still getting my Master’s at GW at the time, and I sometimes carted the latest American Survival Guide magazine (I had subscribed) to campus with me to read on the metro. I even bought John Wesley, Rawles’ book Patriots, but it proved way too dense and technical for me to make it past the first couple of chapters. (That first chapter though…scary!) I kept my prepping a total secret until right before the election. As I gathered my supplies over the months, I told no one, although I dropped small hints here and there and I think one or two people had an idea.

 

An amazing thing happened after I had assembled my first real collection of basic prepper supplies. I slept better at night. If the economy crashed and there was no food left in the stores, I had probably a month’s worth of food and water, from canned food to MREs to cereal to jugs of water to a Lifestraw for the pond behind my place. This meant I could go a full month without leaving my house if the world became too dangerous. I read online news like a hawk in those days (too much, really) and watched for any sign of impending trouble. I watched footage of the latest riots at university campuses, studying the tactics of the left wing attackers, and read the latest demands of deluded left wing groups. They were getting more and more hateful and vitriolic. It seemed like the various figureheards of the far left could not top themselves fast enough, as if they were competing with each other for share of voice on social media by saying more and more hateful things to get attention (which I’m sure was and is a factor). For example, it’s not enough for white people, or Christians, or men, to do X to expiate their oppressor nature; now they must do Y to appease the anger of deranged lefties. But next month, they have to do Z, and on it goes.

 

For my 30th birthday, my brother got me the SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman. I think he knew I was doing some prepping because he bought me this. I had mentioned having gone to a military surplus store in Rockville MD and liking it, which I think gave it away. SAS Survival Handbook is a great book, full of practical knowledge and color illustrations, and I highly recommend it. As I began to think more about a “grid-down situation,” where refrigeration and conventional cooking would be unavailable, I read about how to find edible vegetation, fruits, and nuts. There was a big ravine behind my place that I sometimes walked in and I started imagining how I could forage there. What would the world be like if I had to navigate a concrete jungle alone, eating fruits and nuts and vegetables for survival? These were common thoughts for me at the time, even as I was sitting in a crowded DC subway in a suit trying to make my way home from school at night.

 

The day before the election, I let my mom and dad know simply that I had enough non-perishable food in the house to not have to go outside for a few days should something bad happen. I didn’t want them to worry about me, especially if cell phone service and the internet went down. My car had some supplies in it in case I got caught out somewhere due to a riot. In fact, I took the day after the election off work—planned well ahead of time—so that I would not have to leave the house that day. I stayed up until about 3 AM when they officially called it for Trump, and went to bed happy…after checking the news for signs of rioting.

 

The next day, there were no riots serious enough to worry about. However, as we all know, Trump’s campaign and his victory was just the beginning for left wing hysteria.

 

To be continued…

How to Plan a Speed Networking Mixer

While I was attending GWU, I was also the alumni relations director for the student association of my graduate program. This was an “elected volunteer” position. My chief accomplishment in this position was having organized and ran a “structured networking event” near the end of the school year that brought in alumni of our program whom our grad students could network with. Planning it was a months-long process.

 

Structured networking is basically speed dating but for networking. We had multiple tables with two alumni at each table, and every 15 minutes students would rotate tables, getting the chance to talk career and exchange business cards with a variety of professionals. I had attended an event like this in my first semester at GW and wanted to mimic it. I worked with the head of the official alumni association to get the alumni needed.

 

I had never planned an event before in my entire life, and this was not an easy first event to have to plan. I made sure to give myself a generous timeline to start putting the pieces together, knowing that we would encounter problems and delays along the way. The first task was to nail down the date, time, and venue. The date and time I decided in conjunction with the other four officers in my org. We basically checked the academic calendar to make sure there were no conflicts and checked that none of the officers were planning anything else at that time. Picking a day of the week was difficult because my grad program is exclusively night classes and has class every day of the week except Fridays, when most people in DC are out socializing (read: drinking at a bar) and often won’t go to something like a networking event. I believe we landed on Thursday because it had the fewest classes. We had to pick a time that was not so late that people would have already left campus, yet late enough to give people off-campus time to get there from work. I think it ended up being a 6:30 PM start time.

 

After that was the venue. This was actually the hardest part, because the Events office at the school was very bureaucratic and not user-friendly. I went back and forth with them in a long chain of emails and even called a couple times to iron out details. At one point I got really upset because the directions on how to get an alcohol permit were not clear enough and jeopardized my timeline once I realized the full extent of what was required. In the end, they worked with me. You may be wondering why alcohol was so important. Actually, you can’t have a networking event or reception in DC without alcohol. In fact, DC has the highest per capita alcohol consumption of any state, which should tell you something about our government. Not that I wanted to contribute to that problem, but I don’t think anybody had more than two drinks (I think we only gave each person two drink tickets).

 

But back to the venue. Hoping for a showing of about 60 people, I reserved a ballroom I had been to for other events on campus. I didn’t want to try to navigate reserving an off-campus location since this was my first time ever planning an event and I felt off-campus would be more complicated. I had to specify the exact furniture arrangement down to number of tables and chairs, as well as the audio equipment required, and tables where the catering and beverages would be set up. I had to reserve it well in advance, and even then the calendar was so booked that I had to push out the event later than I originally wanted. It just goes to show, start early!

 

Next were the alumni themselves. The head of the alumni association mostly handled this. I asked him to cough up 15-20 people who would volunteer to come and mingle with the students. They had a variety of professional backgrounds, some from big name employers, some from smaller ones. Some had worked on the Hill or had been federal employees. I asked for their names, current employer, and what branch of our grad program they had completed. The night before, I made name tags for all the alumni (and the students who had registered).

 

Then I had to market the event. I got our comms director to design a graphic that I could send out in email blasts, since email marketing fares better when it’s all in one big image. I navigated the association email account and learned how much Gmail hates it when you send bulk emails, and how you have to be very careful or you’ll get blacklisted. Thankfully that didn’t happen to me, but I had issues where the emails would not get delivered for some people and would return delivery error emails, one by one for each address in the list, at a slow trickle, and at one point I had to count how many people had not gotten the email the next day before deciding whether or not to do another blast. I searched Google’s forums for help but didn’t find anything, so I just winged it.

 

I also posted a few times on our official Facebook page and maybe Twitter and Insta, can’t remember. I also made an announcement in class with the approval of my professor.

 

I tracked registrations through a Google Form. The back end shows you a spreadsheet with a row for each person who signs up, including duplicates. In the end, we had about 23-25 students sign up. About 15 actually showed up, plus a few who were not on the list. The day of the event, you don’t really care if they’re on the list or not, you’re just happy people are coming to your event.

 

Because alcohol was going to be present, and this event was on campus, we were required to have a GWPD security presence. So, I called the GWPD station and asked what to do. They directed me to an online form to fill out. I also had to take a module online about the responsibilities of having alcohol on campus. Basically, if we messed up, our entire student org could be dissolved. We had to pay for two GWPD officers to basically stand around for three hours. In theory they were there to make sure no one got disorderly (or tried to take alcohol outside of the venue, I guess).

 

The catering was, thankfully, easy. We went with GW Restaurant Associates, the standard vendor who does the lion’s share of GW campus events, and they made the process very easy. Deciding what to order was tough, and I had to brainstorm with the president of my association on how many people could eat how much of which dishes. We paid for the catering out of our budget, but thankfully the alumni association paid for the alcohol, which was great because the alcohol was more expensive than the food. Alcohol is very expensive in DC (and in Maryland).

 

I got there an hour early the day of, and everything was already set up, including a table outside where I could mark people off and give them their name tags. My association president manned the table with me. I felt a sense of pride as people started showing up, including the alumni and the alumni association president.

 

At the official start time, I went inside and my colleague stayed outside a little longer to hand out name tags. I went up to the lectern, introduced myself and explained the purpose of the event and how it would work, and then had the alumni association president come up and say a few words. He echoed me in terms of what we wanted to accomplish—to give the students a chance to meet some of our alumni. Then the event began. The official structured networking was six 15 minute blocks, followed a half hour of “unstructured” (a.k.a. regular) networking.

 

The only real challenge I had was that a lot of times people wouldn’t change tables when I told them to because they were so locked in conversation. (I felt a little silly urging grown adults to move in the first place.) I was glad people were having such good conversations, but it’s only fair to let the other students who are waiting to circulate have the advantage of talking to specific alumni also. I didn’t figure out any great way to get people to comply, but only a few times did people have to wait around.

 

We didn’t have to break down tables when it was over because the school staff would handle it. The caterer came and got everything. We had a lot of food and booze left over (and soft drinks, because you want to have a non-alcoholic option as well). In the end, the event was a success, and during the unstructured networking I joined in. I learned that the president of the alumni association, who I knew had worked on the Hill, had worked under Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who had just been in the news over his remarks about immigration and “someone else’s babies,” which set of a firestorm on the Left (just like everything does). As soon as he mentioned Rep. King’s name, I had a good laugh. Apparently he hails from one of the most conservative districts in the entire country.

 

So there you have it, how I ran a high-profile structured networking mixer as my first ever planned event, with a fun little vignette at the end. If you find yourself planning an event and aren’t sure where to start, feel free to come back and consult the details here.