C5 Gets Messy With ‘Doc Michael From ApocaDocs

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With your Host, Category5…and a hangover.

 

 

(This is a long read but stay to the end as there will be prepper goodies to hand out like a Survivalist, Satan, Santa Clause)

 

Lets start with some secret ninja survivalist music I have been saving for a special occasion.

Blacksploitation and shaded titties included. Free of charge.

Soooo…. I got sloshed with Doc Michael last night… and that is a good place to start an interview. I contacted him and said, “Lets get shit faced”. Actually, this was at our wives prompting. It started with them revealing to each other that both of us get way too philosophical while drinking… and this was annoying them. Their solution was that we should go be philosophical (annoying) somewhere else.

This was a perfect excuse for a Man Date. Its actually part of my evil plan for world domination. Building community, one beer at a time. Growing social capital with a shot of scotch. Its one of the real down sides of our individualist society that it is easy to be segregated from others and hard for men, particularly, to form or keep social bonds. Bonds that are ESSENTIAL as society is falling apart. Thus, part of my genius plot of thinking up just about any reason to get people in the same room together. Any excuse.

Building Apocalypse Resilient Community, one Dark Green Hangover at a time. Think globally. Drink Locally.

 

With that intro, lets bring in our other hungover guest.

Doc Michael was a co-founder of the ApocaDocs blog that ran from 2008- 2016, under the catch line, Humoring the Horror of Environmental Collapse. I seem to recall ApocaDocs  was also cross posted over at  Desdemona Despair. Serious doomers will know that name.

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C5-    Welcome, Michael, to the Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre. Why don’t we start by telling the readers a bit about yourself.

 

Doc Michael- Hey C5. So enacting our goal to get shiftfaced together may not have been fully epic, it was sufficient. A twelve-pack and a gallon of Grant’s? Yes, sufficient.

C5- Age and alcohol tolerance kept us from throwing up, breaking down into tears, naked drum circling or throwing beer cans at passing cars… though I was tempted to tell MrsC5 you hit me with a bottle and we now both have court dates coming up and I would need some lawyer money… but I just couldn’t pull it off with a strait face in my foggy state.

Doc Michael-  A bit about myself? Well, I’ve been ecologically woke since the late 70s, when I learned about “carrying capacity” for species, from an amazing professor at Indiana University.
I’ve been alert since then, but I really got rolling when my lifelong buddy ‘Doc Jim and I decided to try to develop a website that might make a difference in the world, back in 2007.
Our first foray was a literary clusterfuck intended to appeal to postmodernist intelligentsia, using the collapse of society as a leitmotif for a plotline of three conflicting schools of thought about the true meaning of apocalyptic collapse. At the core of the faux conflict was a 100-question “PostApocalypse Survival Aptitude Test (PASAT),” that someone could take (“Can you build a fire? Set a broken bone? Recognize wild edible roots? Sing a song? Comfort someone in despair? Break down and clean a shotgun? Set a trap?), to determine one’s likelihood of surviving the upheaval when the SHTF. Would you be a Leader, a Follower, a Loser, or Meat?
It was all very twee and postmodern. But it seemed like an ironic, accessible, potentially viral tool, back in 2007, for informing about the basal realities that were approaching.
 –
As I said last night on my fifth Scotch & water, we wanted to jolt the academics with the harsh realities we saw approaching.
By 2008, because we had been researching the PASAT (100 questions is a LOT of questions, and we had to have facts to back each up), Jim and I realized that, well, the shit was ALREADY hitting the fan, ecologically. And so, some other approach was required.
We decided we needed to find a way to make confronting the crisis somehow palatable. Nobody likes bad news. We concluded that we needed to follow the science, and make fun of it. For every story (about arctic meltdown, weird weather, ocean acidification, species collapse, toxic buildup, or whatever), we would include a jape, a quip, a pun, a joke. By “humoring the horror of environmental collapse,” we hoped to break through people’s casual resistance to acknowledging what we are doing to our world.
Today, two years after we shut it down (after almost 8,000 news items and quips, and more than 8 years of daily posting), if you go to apocadocs.com, it’s a sad thing. Many of the cleverly programmed elements no longer work; the weekly Pre-Apocalypse News & Info Quiz (PANIQuiz) is no more; the week-by-week Apocalypse Wayback Machine no longer functions.

 

But stuff on that site still survives. The 96-page book (written in 2010) is still available for free ( Read free online:  FREE in HTMLFREE Adobe PDFFREE .epub eBook

Note: HTML and .epub versions may have format oddities. All that said, the book is still mostly not wrong.
And the five main Collapse scenarios (and one Recovery scenario) remain explorable on the site:

[Species Collapse]   [Infectious Disease]  [Climate Chaos]   [Resource Depletion]   [Biology Breach], and of course, [Recovery]

The above include a brief essay on the problem, and 100+ stories and their quips. It gives you a flavor of what we were doing, for almost eight years.
During the heyday of Apocadocs, I had also moved to Nova Scotia from Washington DC. After cashing in most of my retirement account, and in order to become a permanent resident of Canada, my wife and I bought an organic-ready farm, that might be self-sustaining, and become our longterm survival locale: 95 acres (50+ acres of half old, half mature forest, 45 acres of fields, a stream down the middle, a river on the property.)
And from 2009 to 2016, my wife and I did all we could to become successfully self-sustaining. That’s worth part of the conversation (as it did last night, as we discussed and confronted the near-impossibilty of “self-sustainability” outside of a community).
So, to answer your question: I’ve been alert for decades, but really spent about eight years, actively engaged in near-daily attention to what injuries society was doing to the ecosystem. Day after day, week after week, the two of us recorded and be-quipped stories with profound consequences. It was stunning, stupifying, enraging, and enlightening.
That’s probably more than you meant, when you provided the above opening, C5.

 

C5-  Jesus, Doc. Sure. Lets bypass the peck on the cheek and snuggle and jump strait to the XXX, double penetration, money shot. Well, I figure my readers are past the apocalyptic romance novel, light reading, phase.

Yup, its an ongoing  thing we point out here at DGM that “Self Sufficiency” is a bit of a ideology driven myth. That it is not physically possible to achieve or maintain. That it doesn’t exist anywhere in real life.  Too much to do. Too much to know. Too few sets of eyes. Just ask any of us that have actually tried it.

A few years back, Michael and myself teamed up to do a public talk at our local “Free School” event, titled “Bridging the gap between Prepping, Permaculture and Transition Town”. I was sharing, based on my knowledge of the prepping world. Michael was representing his local efforts in the Transition Town movement. It has been my proposition that all three of these movements have much to teach but also come with their own shortfalls and baggage. For Resilient Preparedness, these three would act as the three legs of a stool for a more stable base. Left to their own devices, they are ineffectual and would fail.

It was clear, right from the start, that some people were clearly there for a, lets crucify C5 because he is evil, party. But Doc Michael had my back. He interrupted the zealots, with the words “We are here to ask the question of whether our survival advice can produce ‘Actual Survival’ (An epic line I have gratuitously stolen and readers have heard me use several times before)”. He then continued, “What have we actually achieved? We started a farmers market (that farmers don’t use and the locals don’t shop at). We started a barter currency (that nobody uses)… But we do have a float in the town parade”. At which point you could here the crickets in the room.

 

Doc Michael-  Yeah, C5, but beyond the float in the parade, what that Transition Town stuff also did was build community — that fourth(?) leg upon which survival really depends. We gathered in committees, and exchanged ideas, and reminded ourselves that our small region had more resilience than we thought. We met a bunch of interesting people, like you.

Over the ten years we worked the farm, we developed relationships near and far: buying in bulk with these guys, loaning tools to that family, paying Ben down the road to clear the snow off our long lane (which helped him pay for the equipment that meant he could do it), trading seeds at the seed swap, exchanging head-shakes and stories about collapsing pollinators….

All these sorts of community elements are part of the woof and weft of the fabric of a strong local survival system.

My wife and I were trying initially for “self-sustainability.” We also were trying to use hand tools as much as possible, since gas or diesel might become very hard to come by, right? And, being cityfolk, we had this crazy idea that if you planted a seed in soil, it’d grow, and then you’d eat it, like a big garden: how hard could that be?

Well, actually, it’s really fucking hard. The spring day a neighbor (the same Ben who cleared the snow) came by with his tractor and discs, and in an hour, turned more than a team of ten men using hand tools could do in a week, I realized that, well, hand tools are great, but machines are indispensable (if you want to grow more than a wee garden).

A line reverberated in my head year after year: “shit wants to grow.” But that means the burdock and lamb’s quarters, and the potato beetles and the slugs, as well as the carrots and peas.

If you’re thinking that your garden-in-a-can is going to sustain you, you’ve not tried to live on what you can grow. If you think you’re going to hunt-and-gather when the SHTF, then you haven’t done the math, or thought “what if Black Friday happens in late fall, and there’s six months till anything will grow again”? Yes, we all should store beans, and peas, and cans of soup, and extra ammo. But that’s like trying to turn a couple of acres of soil with hand tools. A supportive community is more like Ben’s tractor: indispensable, if you want to do more than call starvation “survival.”

C5- Well, you are talking to the guy that introduced to the prepper world the rule,

C5 Rule of Survival- The single greatest survival skill set is… envelope please… The Dinner Party.

Creating community is the The Holy Grail, The Philosophers Stone, The  Alchemists Gold. Easy to identify as the problem. Nearly impossible to produce. I’ve know survivalists that gave up on prepping because they understood the only way for people to survive the catastrophic changes about to happen was to be part of a rather large and complex group of diverse skills. Faced with that they could not bring it about, no matter what they tried, no matter how much effort they put into it, they gave up on future survival.

I find myself near that same place. I have tried, more than most, to bring this about. We have gotten close a few times. So far, none of what we have tried has worked. This has sort of put MrsC5 and myself into a kind of holding pattern. This is as far as we can go on our own and its hard to get the motivation to push to the next level, without many people with many shovels.

I think both you and I have hit that wall. Starvation is the issue. Its coming… but lets put a pin in that subject for the moment.

I mentioned in the Farmgal interview, that while we were doing one of our “Dinner Party” events, someone asked, “What book, what movie or event made you KNOW we were fucked”. Yours answer was something I had never heard before… and I figured I had heard it all. Something to do with the letter K factor that I have since forgotten.  I mentioned that it started for me around age ten when my young mind first grasped what an exponential growth graph meant for the future. Hang on. Its time for one of my favorite  youtube clips.

Everything speed up in the last few minutes.

 

Doc Michael- C5, I could not agree with you more.

Though, “Dinner Party” can also be coffee-at-the-coffeeshop, or committee-meeting-of-likeminded, or chatting-at-the-farmers-market.

I’m not looking for a “community” who signs up to be one, or even agrees to be one. I want a “community” who would recognize itself, especially in a crisis.

Because (to my mind), the Crisis will be painfully slow to build. I’m not expecting the Shit to Hit The Fan. Instead, I’m expecting diarrhea, slurrying off a slow-moving ceiling fan. But a single, recognizable, SHTF, “This Is The Crisis” crisis? Nah.

 

But if I have a community that I can call on, who know my beliefs and fears (even if they thought I was “a little extreme”), then they’ll likely listen to me ever-more closely. They’ll be more likely to become part of a Crisis Community.

I want them to know my face, my heart, my presence, and my commitment to the community.
In your heart, C5, don’t you want to have a bunch of your friends say “You were right, C5, the status quo cannot stand, we have to shift to a different reality, tell us what you’ve imagined we should do”?
 –
 –
 C5- Well, as much as I want people to say, “We’re off to see C5, the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of OpocalypZ”, by that point, it is a little too late. As much as I have signed up for that job, there is only so much  I can do with those that had the opportunity but actively choose NOT to prepare. I’m reminded of an old article,
 –
 (To be read. Not bypassed. A must read article)
Now, I am not That Guy, who I consider a Douche with a capital D. But his point is real, especially the last line.
“…there is only one way that we might allow someone to show up on our doorstep without resources. Consider the role of an indentured servant and let us know if that appeals to you because that would be your only option.”
Doc Michael-  We have lots of deeper knowledge, but that might come later. First, it’s to guide people in the right direction, away from Panic, so that we don’t kill each other, but rather try to strengthen each other, in order to weather the storm.
 –
The point is, a Community is simultaneously my friends, and friend’s friends, but also my acquaintances, as well as their friends. It’s the guy whose yard sale I bought that vacuum, as well as the worker behind the coffee bar, as well as the Crisis Community who self-identify — IF I have been clear about my worries all along, and clear about the need for strong community, to “weather the storm.”
 –

Our job as preppers/transitioners/doomers may in fact be to pre-communicate the value of Community in a time of Crisis. Full stop.

C5- with that said, This is a good time to point out another video, one of my heroes of the apocalypse, Chis Martenson recently put out. (Oh look at that face. Who’s a good boy. Who’s a good boy…. sorry. My dog looks at me the same way. Please, Gods, turn me into the man my dog thinks I am )

With that in mind, how can DJ-C5 not go here…. Despite all my Rage, I am still just a Rat in a Cage

 

Doc Michael-  So you asked about Species, and special “K,” C5 — so here goes.

As I mentioned when giving you my background: “I’ve been ecologically woke since the late 70s, when I learned about “carrying capacity” for species…”
That environmental biology professor made a whole lot clear, but “carrying capacity” became a lodestone for me, because among environmental biologists, it was one of the few one-name truths. It’s called “K.”
That’s right, just K. It’s so important, it’s like physicists’ E, or m, or c in E=mc2. It’s like Sting, or Cher. It’s such a base fact that it has its own one-character reference.
 –
If an ecosystem is in balance, K is rarely met. Predators numbers keep prey in check, prey numbers keep predators in check, and few critters starve.
We humans are screwing with K in a big way.
There is a K for humans on this Earth. Is it 9 billion? 11? Or maybe has that number been disrupted by the short-term amphetamine of cheap coal and oil? Could it be that K for humans, in a natural system without energy slaves, is actually only a billion or two?
Probably that’s true: we have vastly overrun K for humans (who are predators unlike any the ecosystem has ever seen). We’ve pretty much killed off all large herbivores (apart from cattle), pretty much killed off all predator competition (like big cats, wolves, even coyotes), and have devised fishing practices that have denuded the ocean of predatory fish (as well as prey fish).
That’s just K. I won’t go into invasive species today, or into how prey vermin (rats, mice, insects) have evolved to reproduce rapidly (because they’re prey). I won’t explore how evolutionary dynamics between species over tens of thousands of relatively consistent climate created interdependencies, which now are out of whack.
Species Collapse (http://apocadocs.com/species_decline.html)  is about biodiversity decline, about K, about ecosystem disruption, about koyaanisqatsi, “life out of balance,” and how that may lead to unfixable horror. Extinction is forever.
As we say in the above description for Species Decline: “Without wild and domestic bees, for example, a large proportion of food crops (apples, soybeans, almonds, peaches, cherries, strawberries, and more) would not bear fruit. Without a robust bird population, many beetle and locust populations might explode. Without amphibians like frogs, mosquito and other insect populations may swarm, imbalancing yet other ecosystem interrelationships. And, without critters we hardly pay attention to — say, a particular kind of plankton — then the tiny plankton-eaters, which feed the small fish, which feed the bigger fish, which feed the sharks, all crash. The web of life becomes tattered.”
C5- And this is the shitstorm we have to navigate. As I have said a few times before, “Do you have anything better to be doing with your life? Really? Like What?”
So, Doc, this is usually the place where I ask a guest to give practical survival advice to the readrs to improve their chance.
Let me start on this one. One of the most practical things that Transition Town Initiatives and other groups have promoted is “Seedy Saturdays” (or Sunday depending on location). This is of particular importance to point out to preppers or Adapters. This event started in Vancouver, BC in 1990 and has spread far and wide to most cities and towns.
Wikipedia says, “The heart of a Seedy Sunday or Seedy Saturday event is the swapping and sale of seeds of landraces, folk varieties, farmer varieties and heritage seed. Sharing information about the social, cultural and culinary aspects of the seed is an important part of heritage seed saving around the world. Providing education about techniques for seed-saving, small-scale agriculture and horticulture,”. Not just seed sharing but skill sharing.
One of the reasons for Doomer Adapters to actively participate in Seedy Sat-Sundays is to share out working seed you have, to keep seed diversity happening in your region. If you completely lose a crop, hopefully someone in your region kept it alive. If some new disease comes in to kill off one species, hopefully some other variety can take up the slack. Actively giving is in your best interest.
Now, over to you Doc.

Doc Michael-   “Practical advice,” C5.

Yikes. That’s where the rubber meets the, um, lubricant.
After some thought, let me frame it, more or less, as I’m trying to live it.
I concluded in 2009, 2010, and onward, that I had entirely underestimated the world economy’s ability to manufacture faux solutions.
That system invented several trillion dollars, out of whole cloth (“quantitative easement” I, II, and III), and kept the status pretty much at quo.
I think that same economy probably has one more final invention up its sleeve, which will slow down the next collapse: uncollateralized debt obligations, based on inherent debt bond triage of expectation differentials, otherwise known as InDeBTED. Or whatever the fuck.

They’ll figure out a way to keep the rubes in the game, one more time. But probably only for the last time. What we spend that imaginary money on, matters a lot. Is it spent on recasting the energy economy? Is it spent on further-enriching the already-fantastically-wealthy?  Is it spent on societal infrastructure?

Hard to know. But for the next three to six years, strive for a recovery agenda.
Work as if we can stop the bad that we’re doing, and reverse what we’ve done to the world.
There is an outside chance (like, far out in the wilderness, an “outside chance”) that we can save the fucking world.
There are radically humane elements who *could be* convincing, especially in response to fascism, or to overweening capitalism, or to corporate overlord-ism.
We *could* salvage this clusterfuck, by shifting to a different kind of culture, where extreme wealth and extreme poverty are treated as equivalent aberrations, and where world-saving is the metric against which GDP is measured.
Yeah, I know, not likely, but WTF, might as well go for it, eh?
No time like the present.
But during those next three to six years, and beyond, do the following, as well:
  •  Experiment yourself: grow stuff on whatever land or roofs you can find. Learn about your microclimate, and what can grow when, and how much work it is.
  •  If you can, plant perennials (grapes, nuts, fruits, and plenty more) anywhere and everywhere
  • Share the bounty when you have it, with neighbors. Organize workshops on how to store, preserver, or freeze that bounty
  • Get to know your neighbors, and their networks. Learn about who knows what skill.
  • Get rural: find a $35k house in a RURAL TOWN (emphasis, C5s) , two to six hours away from the urban center, and begin to buy it. Figure out how to spend time there. That is likely your future home (forget your cabin out in the woods — that’s a death trap).
  • Initiate social events. Don’t be shy. In the city, people want an excuse to socialize. In a small rural town, people are curious about you, and why you bought that house. Any overture for socialization will be met with approval.
  • Don’t scare them. But talk about the decisions you personally made, and the reasons for them. Ask them questions, but don’t think you have the answers.
  • Suss out the parameters of your own reality. Not everyone can buy even a $35k house five hours away. Pay attention to what you *can* do, given your constraints. Join with others to purchase the $35k house? Purchase rooftop easement in your city, with a team?
  • Socialize on purpose. Invent reasons for a potluck, invite people for a music night, create a penny-ante poker night, have a monthly “let’s all get shitfaced and sleep on the floor” party.
  • Converse, but don’t lecture. Sure, we know what’s coming better than many, but if they stop listening, it doesn’t matter what we say. And besides, they probably understand the community as well or better than you do. And probably understand the future better than you think.
  • Prepare, via social engagement, for a future where your social capital and community is just as important — probably more important — than your salary.
Survival is based on food and water, of course. But it’s also based on your ability to negotiate complexities we can only imagine, in a quasi-functioning society of constrained and sometimes desperate circumstances.
Try to find a place you can ride out a long, strange, unexpectedly weird collapse, that will happen much more slowly that we all imagined. Culture and society will change, in the next five to ten (to twenty) years, in ways we did not expect.
How we respond will affect whether we are part of the solution, or part of the dross that collapses.
In the end: Don’t expect the shit to hit the fan.
Instead, expect a slow, painful, brutal degradation of the fan, yet hope for (and work and strive for) a rejuvenation and re-imagination of how we deal with it.
That’s what I have to recommend, to increase you readers’ chances of survival.
Best,
‘Doc Michael
C5- Well, readers, is it possible in any way, shape or form to end an interview any better? Lets give a hand to Doc Michael. I think we can sum up this entire interview in three magic little survivalist words.
BUILD     SOCIAL     CAPITAL
————————————————-
And now I have to be a buzz kill.
I have decided I need a substantial break from this blog. Fourteen months and fifty four posts from when I began this site, Its time to give myself time to mentally rejuvenate and focus on my own world… instead of always thinking of the best way to translate my world to others. I know I wont be back till winter… and we will see how it goes from there. I think I am going to try and disengage from the internet as much as possible. While the world is warm outside, I want to be engaging in it. Not always working on my next post. Winter is coming.
But I am not leaving you empty handed. I come bearing a very valuable gift. A link to a site I have been searching for… for years. Literally years. It was letters and numbers and…how was anybody supposed to remember a name like that?
Now. I know  you spend your days thinking, What will that wild and crazy C5 talk about next. Will he do a post today? That C5 is so dreamy. I cant live without my C5….
So, During your morning period, I wanted to leave you with the hugest trove of survival knowledge out there…. and after several days of searching, I found it. Hopefully I get a big HERO COOKIE for this one…
…Only to find a memorial page that its creator, Alex Weir, passed in 2014… and the site with it. But someone had put up a mirror page. Here it be.
The bad news is that a number of the links no longer work…. but a huger trove still does… and that should put a fire under someones seat that is far more Asperger than myself. Someone with a huge memory card and alot of time should try to save as much of this as possible in case it disappears for good. Yup, this is the moment for some Aspergers to show their social worth to the world.
I can picture someone crossing the wasteland, pulling a “Book Of Eli” moment, approaching a  Collapse Community, and in exchange for being taken in and being fed, says to the watch on the boarder wall, “I have a mostly complete, printed on real paper, version of  CD3WD !”
“Quick! Open the gate and let him in!”
Clearly, others have thought the same. Read the section about survivalist interest in this Wikipedia description.
And Wikipedia gave a Bit Torrent link to this, which we are trying to load as we speak. But it is a huge file (26 GB) we will try to move to an external hard drive thingamajig. Its all Greek to me.
Well, you cant say I never gave you anything. In trying to find it, I briefed over a lot of other preppers survival libraries and was truly embarrassed by the usual regurgitation of useless Paladin Press, Loompanics, and military manuals that was once thought valuable by Klu Klux Klowns. Yawn. CD3WD is more useful if your plan is “Actual Survival”.
So, enjoy the summer and fall and hopefully I will be back once I have recharged.
I leave you with one last photo of a photo from one of my other lives. I have been trying to communicate all this to people for a lot of years. One of those phases was when I dumfoundedly discovered I was an artist, while just trying to make some rustic furniture to get some groceries. Next thing I knew, I was in galleries. This was from my first show, titled, “When The Money Dies”

 

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One thought on “C5 Gets Messy With ‘Doc Michael From ApocaDocs

  1. Ha Ha you left the comments open, I would normally make you pay for that, look around and put my tongue on everything, leave links to the “Support Trump 2020 campaign” but I am in a Mr Rogers kind of mood today, but next time……
    Peak Prosperity News Update 6-22-2018 Rats in a cage. Yup

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