What’s in my bag?! (Apocalypse bag.)

If you’re one of my regular readers, you may have noticed that I’ve had survival on the brain these days, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my EDC (Everyday Carry) has evolved into a compact survival situation – I’ve been referring to my handbag as my “apocalypse bag.” I’ve only been half-joking. It’s basically a smaller version of a 72-hour bag, which is, in turn, a smaller version of a Bug-Out Bag (BOB).

There’s room left in this bag when fully packed, but it isn’t light. To solve the problem of Callaghan wanting to put stuff in my bag (thus making it heavier), I’m considering getting him a Man-Bag, Dammit (MBD), so he can carry his things around in his NutSac.

That aside, my apocalypse bag is unassuming enough. We went to Target on Monday evening, and Callaghan took this pic of me in the parking lot just to give you an idea:

 

Me with my EDC (aka apocalypse bag)

 

–See? You can’t tell that it’s holding everything AND there’s probably a kitchen sink in there somewhere, too.

–There’s an orangutan on the side because it’s a Kipling bag. I kept it there because why remove a perfectly good orangutan.

–Yes, that is my bra. No, I didn’t realize it was visible until I saw this pic. Thankfully, this top is only see-through when the camera captures me in the light of a brilliant Arizona sunset, and at this particular angle. Also because of the sunset, my black top, pants, bag, and shoes all came out in shades of orange. My hair came out red. I don’t usually filter my pics, but this was definitely a job for a filter. I went with the first one I tried (“vintage”), because in addition to kind of correcting the color, it lent a sort of noir energy to the pic, which I thought was apropos.

Here’s the apocalypse bag just sitting there:

Apocalypse bag, full

 

Here’s how I organized it:

1). Front compartment: Keys. I keep a miniature pocket knife on my key-chain, along with a bolt snap.

Apocalypse bag, front

 

2). Side compartment 1: Kleenex, gum, glasses lens wipes.

Apocalypse bag, side

 

3). Side compartment 2: Earbuds.

Apocalypse bag, other side

 

4). Back compartment: Folding fan.

Apocalypse bag, back

 

5). Middle compartment: This is my main tool compartment. It holds my folding knife, which I keep attached to the sewn-in key-clasp. My knife is a Victorinox one-handed lockblade Trekker; I covered the handle in gun grip tape for a more secure grip (pro-tips). This compartment also holds my Gerber multi-tool (mainly for its pliers, wire-cutter, and wire-stripper); portable phone charger; mini scissors; mini flashlight; spare batteries for the flashlight; lighter; nail clippers; tweezers; travel adapter for electrical outlets; pen; pencil; neon post-its. With the exception of the knife, pen, pencil, and post-its, everything is packed in protective pouches and plastic zip-loc bags.

Apocalypse bag, middle

 

6). Main compartment, which includes an inside zip pocket that holds my passport and emergency cash stored in a zip-loc bag. (Travel-ready, though I don’t know where I think I’m going with my bag that’s full of all sorts of tools and blades and scissors and whatnot. I always have my passport on me, regardless, so it’s just a habit.)

Apocalypse bag, main compartment

 

See how there’s still room left in there? There’s a ridiculous amount of stuff in this compartment:

Under the top layer (normal handbag-type things), I keep four protective pouches/zip-loc bags that hold: a). disposable rubber gloves; antiviral face masks; antibacterial hand wipes; face wipes; bandanna; gallon zip-loc bag for soiled/contaminated materials (or vomit); extra Kleenex; extra lighter; extra pen and neon post-its. b). toothpaste, folding toothbrush, dental floss. c). aspirin; upset stomach tablets; ibuprofen; Emergen-C packets; antibacterial wound spray; band-aids in three different sizes. d). protein bars, fruit & nut bars, peanut butter packets.

I can also put an empty water bottle that can be filled wherever there’s water. Sometimes I have it pre-filled. A double eyeglass case for glasses and sunglasses also fits.

Here’s the empty bag:

Apocalypse bag, empty

 

The bag is made of water-resistant nylon. It’s very light, which is good; the only weight I’m carrying is of the stuff inside. The canvas strap is thick and adjustable for length.

That covers it, for now. This is a work in progress! I’m going to add gauze, sterile tape, and some sort of thin, strong rope. I thought of adding pepper spray in case of dog attack, but I don’t like the idea of pepper spray in my bag. I also thought of a whistle, in case of drowning emergency. (I did learn something from Titanic.)

I just like feeling ready for basic emergencies. And if the apocalypse is a zombie apocalypse, I might be able to survive that with this bag, too. (But do I need a hammer? Must research.)

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How I Alone: Halloween safety precaution edition.

Callaghan’s been back for 11 days. I’d been alone in the house for 12 days, which isn’t an unusual situation, as he does have away-business of one kind or another every once in a while. I’m not here to gloat about the awesome time I had with the whole house to myself for almost two weeks. (Of course he was missed, but not terribly; thanks to Skype, I “saw” him several times a day.) I’m here to gloat about how I totally outdid myself on the aloning this time.

Yes, there’s a difference between “aloneness” (neutral/positive) and “loneliness” (negative). And yes, it’s “doing alone,” rather than “being alone.” I’m declaring “alone” to be a verb, because this is my blog, so I can. “To alone” refers to how you behave in the absence of human company, of course. You aren’t alone alone when you share your abode with cats or dogs or fish or iguanas or horses or an ant farm or whatever-you-have. (We have two furbabies of the feline persuasion, in case you weren’t aware.)

Aloning is an art, but this time, it occurred over Halloween, so there were special safety precautions to be taken, and that put a different slant on things. It was a learn-as-you-go sort of situation since I’d never aloned over Halloween before. As you can imagine, I came away with a wealth of knowledge. Such as, at dusk, you should close all the window coverings on the south side of your dwelling (in case of a siege such as zombie apocalypse).

You should fill up all of your five-gallon water bottles and hoard them in a closet (in case of zombie apocalypse).

If you don’t already have loyal animal children who will guard you with their lives, you can get a guard dog of some kind. If you’re more of a cat person, you can get an ocelot. If you’re allergic to dander and alligators aren’t your thing, you can get a carnivorous plant or a saguaro. (In case of zombie apocalypse.)

 

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

 

(The saguaro cactus in the picture isn’t at my house. It’s just near my house.)

You can keep a stash of delicious pickled turnips (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can play the ukulele (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can keep the gas tank in your car topped off in case the zombie apocalypse happens and you need to drive to Mexico, where zombies don’t go.

There are many things you can do that you’ll never realize until you’re alone over Halloween, and this is invaluable, especially since zombies are much worse than other things that can happen, such as three consecutive earthquakes (in the desert) one night and a threat of a mass shooting at your workplace the following day.

Each time is a learning experience. Maybe next year Callaghan will be away in early October and I’ll be able to write “How I Alone: Columbus Day edition.” The siege threat in that case would be even more formidable than zombies!

People in the Wild, Downtown Tempe edition: Five types I see on my walk to work.

As I’d recently mentioned, I’m in the habit of walking to work these days. It’s just over a mile and a half, and it’s straight down the street, so my thoughts wander while I walk. I observe, and my mind does that thing human minds do and it classifies people.

Today, I thought I’d present my scientifically precise classification of the types of people I observe on my walk to work every day (and home from work 3x/week). The following is brought to you by my notes:

Group one: Exercisers.

There’s always an assortment of people doing healthy-human things, such as cycling, running, or power-walking (with and without hand-weights). I see them alone, often in pairs, and sometimes in small groups. The sight of them makes me happy.

Then, at the opposite end of the health spectrum, we have:

Group two: Altered-state people/zombies – (???)

In this group, I run into “regulars” and random people, alike. Some of them are homeless, some are not, but they all display the under-the-influence characteristics of the shuffling walk and the glazed-over eyes.

This compels me to share an anecdote:

Walking to work mid-last-week, I passed four random people as I was heading east and they were heading west. They seemed to be inebriated to varying degrees, but it was all pretty normal until the last guy shuffled my way and did something totally random and unexpected: he literally (emphasized because I never use the word “literally” unless it absolutely is) lifted his arms straight out in front of him, turned his sightless gaze to my face, adjusted the position of his feet so as to steer the vehicle of his body in my direction, and moaned a long, gutteral “Uunnnhhhuunnngg” as he approached.

Okay, I never make things up, but just so you know, I am SO not making this up. Neither was he playing around. There was nothing behind this person’s eyes, no hint of cognition whatsoever.

A chill skittered down the back of my neck like an insect with icy feet as I quickly side-stepped him to rush past, because in that instant, the word ZOMBIE flashed through my brain while my neurons fired in all directions with the realization that should a zombie apocalypse occur, I AM NOT PREPARED. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST.

 

THIS WAS HIM.

THIS WAS HIM.

 

I mean, what could I have done? I didn’t recognize the guy’s zombieness until he was directly in front of me, and that, my friends, won’t cut it. My brain generated questions I couldn’t answer, and I mentally floundered for the next five or ten minutes as I pondered. How do you handle zombies masquerading as normal drunk people? Even if you recognize a zombie from further away, how could you know whether he’s a fast-moving zombie, or a slow-moving one? WHAT IS MY LIFE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS MAYBE I SHOULD START WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD SO I CAN GET SOME PRO TIPS.

These were my thoughts until I came across the first of two specimens I’d see that morning from the next group:

Group three: Leaf-blowers.

They’re so polite, the leaf-blowers. They cease their activity as soon as they note your approach, and they smile and nod at you as you walk by. Leaf-blowers are our friends!

Next, that same day, I spotted some people representing the fourth group:

Group four: Circle K regulars.

As with Group two, some folks in this category are homeless and some aren’t, but the characteristic that bonds them – the one, critical thing they all have in common – is that they know a good cup of coffee when they have one in their hands. That’s why they’re Circle K regulars. They hang out in the shade at the front of the building, or off to the side, usually in pairs or in small groups.

Basically, anyone with any kind of java savvy at all knows that the best-kept coffee secret in Arizona is that humble little pot o’joe at the Circle K.

Anecdote two: When I worked as a barista briefly while I was in college, I used to open the shop on the weekends, so I’d get there very early in the morning to grind the beans and prepare for opening. I started giving free cups of fresh coffee to the homeless couple who lived in their car on the periphery of the premises. We became friendly fast. We learned each other’s stories, and sometimes, in addition to coffee, I’d give them “old” pastries or muffins that were being replaced by fresh ones. After a few months, one of them landed a job, and they were able to rent a place to live. I missed them after they left… they were the nicest people, and the smiles on their faces when I’d give them coffee made my day.

Group five: Skateboarders.

Skateboarders are plentiful around town, and they embody an awesome sort of freedom in movement and spirit. They’re also the most diverse of the groups listed here. I see younger and older people on skateboards, and people of varying gender. There are skateboarders of all shapes, sizes and colors. There are girls in hijab on skateboards, and people dressed as students, professionals, professional students and professional couch-surfers. I see them getting from Point A to Point B on their skateboards, and I see them just hanging out, practicing their kickflips and heelflips and what have you.

This leads me to anecdote three: Walking around to the entrance of my building at work recently, I ran into two young guys on skateboards. They were practicing tricks flying off a ramp. The guy poised with his board at the top of the ramp looked over at me and said to the guy on the ground, “Okay, this one’s for her.” And he shot off down the ramp… and missed his landing. His friend cracked up, but the guy nonchalantly got up and called to me, “Well, I tried!” With a big grin on his face. And I couldn’t help but smile back as I walked away.

Online Advertising FAIL Leads to World War (A)Z

You know how it is when you search for something online, and within days, that very thing pops up in your Facebook news feed while you’re scrolling through it? I found it disconcerting when it first started happening, but now, I’m accustomed to it. I’ve gotten used to the internet spying on my web-browsing habits and keeping track of my site visits, though I’m not less annoyed by it.

But I have some reassuring news to share: the internet is not as all-knowing as it appears to be, and it’s nowhere near as adept at learning about you as you might think! There are grave flaws in its insidious little system, bugs in the mechanism behind the personal-habit espionage that goes on every time we enter the ether that is the internet. I know this because I visit at least one Arizona State University web page per day, yet earlier this week, an ad for Alabama State University gifts inserted itself into my news feed and passed before my eyeballs as I scrolled through. Why? Because ASU.

 

Not my ASU! My alma mater is Arizona State, not Alabama State.

Not my ASU! My alma mater is Arizona State, not Alabama State.

 

YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, robotic internet spies. I have never searched for Alabama State anything! Ha!

So, if you feel that you’re being overly-surveilled online, take heart. The robotic internet spies can’t tell the difference between one “ASU” and another – they don’t know if the “A” is for “Arizona” or “Alabama.” They don’t know that we’re the Sun Devils, not the Hornets, and they actually don’t know anything at all. This is not a complex epistemological matter. Arizona and Alabama are two very different states, and the robotic internet spies don’t know that.

This is not to diss Alabama, mind you. I’m just saying that there are big differences. For instance, in Arizona, if you accidentally dump a full container of water on yourself in the car during the summer, it’s no big deal because after you exit your car and walk across the parking lot to the store, your shirt will be completely dry. The hot, dry air works like a gigantic clothes dryer when you cut through it. In Alabama, on the other hand, it’s humid… so if you dump water on yourself in the car, you’re likely to be even wetter by the time you get to the store.

Somehow, I’m reminded of Sheriff Joe, our sheriff who decided against running for governor. I think his decision was a sound one, and not just because “Governor Joe” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Sheriff Joe” AT ALL. I have suspected for a while now that Sheriff Joe, aka “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” has been secretly working out a zombie apocalypse plan for Arizona. How else would you explain the mysterious statement he made when he announced that he wasn’t running for governor:

“I cannot in good conscience leave the sheriff’s office now, since that would be necessary if I declare a candidacy for governor,” Arpaio said in a press release. “Currently, I have several sensitive investigations in progress and am facing many challenges in my office. Because of this, I will not desert the people of Maricopa County who have elected me six times. Further, I cannot desert my dedicated employees.” (source: The Entire Internet)

Obviously he’s talking about the zombie apocalypse! There are zombies all over his statement, and it’s true… if there’s no Sheriff Joe, who will lead us when it hits?

I just keyed “sheriff joe zombie apocalypse” into my search engine. I can’t wait to see what ads will show up on my FB feed now.

Happy Friday, All!