We live in the age of anxiety. The reasons for this are up for debate – is it the economy? The internet-fueled acceleration of cultural turnover? Something in the water? – but everyone handles it differently. Me, I favor the “get drunk and shirk all responsibilities” approach to anxiety reduction. Maybe you prefer yoga, or Xanax, or just being really really uptight all the time, to the point that when you walk into a room, everyone heaves a sigh and braces for shouting.
Or, if you’re more into the literal approach, you could just turn your house into a fortress in preparation for some ambiguous future (but always imminent) apocalypse. This is what my dad did. I visited him recently, and we went to his picturesque mountain cabin-slash-prepper bunker. He showed me all the new prepper stuff he’d gotten in the past few years, and I have to admit, some of it was kind of cool. Even if you don’t think that the private military of the New World Order is going to kick your door down any time soon, you might enjoy having some of this stuff around the house, if only to post photos of it on Instagram.
There are two ways to approach this one, and my dad did both. (Eye roll.) First, he took a small room with wood-and-plaster walls, and then lined the walls and the doorframe with steel. Then he hung a steel door on it that opened outwards, so no one could kick or batter it down. (Throughout this explanation, I continually asked him who exactly he envisioned battering his door down, but he would just look over his shoulder and say “shh!”) Once you’ve locked yourself in, there’s no way anyone can get to you. This could conceivably be useful in non-apocalypse situations, like on Saturday morning when your significant other realizes you used the last of the coffee and didn’t buy more even though you went to the grocery store.
The “elite level” version of the panic room is to hide the entrance; behind bookshelves or under staircases seem to be popular choices. My dad went with the bookshelves. My main criticism of this idea is that if I were hiding in there, and I heard the home invaders getting really frustrated trying to figure out where I’d gone, I’d probably start laughing.
The “go bag” or “bugout bag” is a big thing with preppers. Basically, it’s a bag pre-packed with everything you might need in an emergency, that you leave by your door in case you have to “bug out” in a hurry. Usually they contain snacks and ammo, with maybe a bottle of Cipro thrown in. This new minimalist “bug out tube” is like a go bag for people who own Apple Watches, and was designed in Japan for a city dweller who had to flee an earthquake or other natural disaster in a hurry. Inside that umbrella-sized aluminum tube (which also functions as an emergency flotation device) is a radio, phone charger, lantern, water canteen, poncho, and a whistle. Forget an earthquake, you could just take this tube to a Nats game.
Confession: I’m bad at grilling. Additional confession: your grilling sucks too. I know, it’s hard to accept, but it’s true. Cooking meat over hot coals is always going to produce minimally edible food that’s encrusted on the outside with a half-inch of carcinogens and that’s seething on the inside with E. Coli and worms. That’s just how it is. Why not give your poor friends a break this summer and cook your burgers in a sun oven instead of on a grill? It’s environmentally friendly, costs nothing to fuel, and takes zero effort. No flipping or monitoring, just toss them in there and sit back. How’s it work? I dunno, it’s a big metal box that reflects the sun into the middle. The website says it can reach temperatures of 400 degrees, which is totally insane and might be the final piece of info that makes me stop tanning for good. We made two steaks in it; I thought they were going to taste like meat left out in the sun, which is literally what they were, but they were actually really well-cooked.
Most preppers have a folding bike to use for transportation after the devastating global apocalypse that will probably be brought on, directly or indirectly, by the stupid huge pollution-emitting trucks they drive. (Most preppers actually can’t wait for the apocalypse to hit – I mean, think about how much time and money they’ve spent prepping for it and thinking about it. It would be anticlimactic if it didn’t happen.) My dad had this Montague Paratrooper folding bike, which is apparently the BMW of folding bikes. I can attest to the fact that it unfolded unbelievably easily, and rode just as well as a regular bike. It was light, too, and not that bulky when folded up. I would go so far as to say that everyone should have one of these in their home, just as a backup mode of transportation. We’ve all been late for something, and can’t get a cab, and the Uber driver is stuck ten minutes away for some reason. I guess you could get a regular non-folding bike, but trust me, it just seems cooler to unfold this bike and hop on. Just don’t make “Transformers” noises with your mouth as you’re unfolding it