Are you prepared to be wrong? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Art welling 3-22-1999

Howdy friends.

Have you all asked yourself that question? "Am I prepared to be wrong about the Y2K issue?". I know 'prepared' is a word that means careful planning if you are a business and wacko survivalism if you are an individual. At least, that's how the major media portrays it.

Take it whatever way you want, I consider prepared as being ready for possible futures. I was a boy scout. My pocket knife has a can opener.

So... are you prepared to be wrong? No matter who you are or what you think about Y2K are you ready to be wrong in your conclusions?

Lets take the wacko survivalist side first. You know, us family types who are putting away some food and water, maybe a generator, gathering some simple first aid supplies, all that kind of wacky stuff. What if we are wrong? I guess the answer lies in how far we go to calm our fears. If we sell our souls to the fear and go all out, have we been careful enough to allow room to be wrong? I know at least three people who have sold out everything and bought small farms. Sounds extreme, doesn't it? Well... Not really. In each case they are happier now and owning that farm is something they always wanted anyway. If they are wrong about Y2K being real bad they don't care, they did what they would have done anyway.

How about filling the basement with food, getting drums to fill with water, buying a woodstove and putting all your worldly money in mason jars under the porch? In each case, unless the house burns down, you get robbers with shovels, or decide to stop eating food sometime soon, you have lost nothing but some time and interest. A credible argument can be made that you might actually SAVE money with all that food, as long as it's stuff you eat anyway and not some kind of freeze dried moose meat which cost it's weight in gold dust.

How about.... you quit your job, cash out the 401K at a loss, buy a small cabin on two acres of woods up in North Jabip, tell your family to either join up or die, and hunker down with an AK and 100 cases of MRE's at $50 a case? See a problem there? I do. There is no back door, no way to come back if you are wrong, or they are wrong, or the magic microchip fairy waves her wand and all is well. Besides which, it's a recipe for disaster. After you eat the first ten cases of MRE's you'll want the AK for a purpose other than what you planned. One MRE is an adventure, two are a chore, a steady diet of MRE's is a short trip to insanity.

The guy with the AK and the cabin filled with MRE's is not prepared to be wrong. He'll tell you he is ready for anything but he's incorrect. He's not prepared to be wrong in his assessment. Unless of course his life's goal was to live in a backwoods cabin in East Jabip with indigestion for the next five years.

Please don't take me the wrong way. I am all for, 100% behind, and determined to be ready for Y2K with preparation. My assessment is that society is likely to take a big hit and hard times are on their way. However, I give myself the same advice I do friends who are getting ready. Don't sell your soul to Y2K. Take whatever precautions will make you comfortable with the risk you perceive but leave that backdoor. If you are truly into being prepared then you must also prepare to be wrong in your assessment.

What makes me comfortable is some food and water, sources of heat and light that don't need the power company, a way to defend it all, communications so we won't be 'in the dark', and plans to go further if we must. Much further. What if I am wrong? Well, we are ready for that too. We have made plans to continue eating the rest of our lives, to continue making the power company whine by leaving our electric heat off as much as possible, and to make ham radio a life long family hobby the same as shooting is now.

So, what about those folks who's assessment of Y2K is 'no big deal', or 'it's all hype', or 'they'll take care of it', or 'I have a snickers bar and a bottle of Evian water so I'm ready'? What if they are wrong and are not ready for being wrong?

Somebody with these attitudes, if they are honest, will not bother to stock up on anything or prepare for a loss of power. The average home already has a three day supply of food and a three hour supply of water. The average home does not have a way of heating the home without power, nor a way to have light more than a few days from candles or maybe an oil lamp. The average family might, maybe, possibly, but probably not, have a weeks worth of cash laying around. Half the homes in America have a weapon in them but at best only 10% of those people are prepared for defense. Maybe 1/2 of 1% have communications other than a phone or computer modem.

So... what if the polyanna's are wrong and are not 'prepared' to be wrong? What's in store for them? Hmm... Maybe Paul Milne's remark is right. "If I'm wrong, so what. If you are wrong, you die" or something close to that. Maybe it's won't be so extreme but those are the stakes we are playing with. A polyanna by definition won't prepare to be wrong. Polyanna's don't have life insurance, don't wear seat belts, do curse at bikers, and consider life vests on small watercraft to be style cramping.

Someone who honestly has decided Y2K is not a big deal is another story. If you have come to the conclusion Y2K is a flash in the pan or a bump in the road, think about the question. What if you are wrong? Are you prepared to be wrong? Forget about 'survivalism' for a moment, are you prepared to wrong in your assessment?

If I buy a months worth of food and I bet wrong about supply problems, then we just eat the food. If I were to bet we didn't need it, and was wrong, then my family gets hungry. I am not prepared to be wrong that way. If I have 300 gallons of water in a wading pool and 200 gallons of potable water in drums, and I am wrong about needing it, then my kids get to play and I water my garden. If I have none and ended up needing it......... I am not prepared to be wrong that way. If I have a ham radio and means to power it by solar panel, and I'm wrong about needing it for Y2K, then I'm ready for field day anyway. If I don't have it and end up sitting in the dark wondering what's going out there in the world, I would not be happy.

I am 'prepared' to be wrong about needing all our preparations. In fact, I pray I am wrong every day. What I could never be ready for is not preparing and being wrong about that. The stakes are far too high to not buy this insurance. I have never in my life been unhappy about not needing my life insurance yet.

What do you think is going to happen next year? Are you ready for what you think will happen? Are you prepared to be wrong?

-- Art Welling (, March 22, 1999


Well- I wish you were my neighbor! Print that up and distribute it will you. In my humble or not so humble opinion, it sums it all up pretty well.

-- anita (, March 22, 1999.

We had this question two weeks ago. See this thread. <:)=

-- Sysman (, March 22, 1999.

yes, i'm prepared to be wrong. i want to be wrong, on the positive side.

-- jocelyne slough (, March 22, 1999.

How about.... you quit your job, cash out the 401K at a loss,
buy a small cabin on two acres of woods up in North Jabip,
tell your family to either join up or die, and hunker down
with an AK and 100 cases of MRE's at $50 a case? See a problem
there? I do. There is no back door, no way to come back if you
are wrong, or they are wrong, or the magic microchip fairy
waves her wand and all is well. Besides which, it's a recipe
for disaster. After you eat the first ten cases of MRE's you'll
want the AK for a purpose other than what you planned. One MRE
is an adventure, two are a chore, a steady diet of MRE's is a
short trip to insanity.

Well, Art, unless you know that Y2K is not going to be TEOTWAWKI, where do you get off declaring that this scenario is not in line with prudent individual preparation? What if your job is in New York City? Yes, a steady diet of MREs would not be very nutritionally balanced, but there are all kinds of options here, especially on a farm.

The point is, until we know what is going to happen, there really are no right or wrong answers here. Each must assess Y2K in terms of risk and make decisions accordingly. Generally, the better the plan is for TEOTWAWKI, the worse the plan is going to be in terms of the exit strategy in the event that things turn out OK, and vice versa. We do not know what "reasonable" Y2K preparation is, because we do not know how bad Y2K is going to be.

I think that all we can do is ask people to understand Y2K, and then they can make their own decisions. If someone believes that they will be better off in a high rise in NYC, more power to them. (Hopefully electric.) If someone believes that totally bugging out and living in the woods is the way to go, likewise more power to them. You pays you money and you takes you chances.

-- Jack (, March 22, 1999.

We had the question before but Art put it better than anyone I've seen. Way to go, Art. My own preparations are almost identical to yours, for the same reasons.

-- Shimrod (, March 22, 1999.

I'm not only prepared to be wrong, I'm hoping to be wrong, too. But whatever happens,from a total meltdown to the merest of blips, I will always be prepared to survive on my own, if need be. Storing and rotating food, having a garden, saving seeds, generating solar electricity and learning to do a whole lot with a whole lot less just makes good sense. I don't enjoy a lot of what constitutes preparation - for instance, I detest gardening, but I have a 500 square-footer for some years... I dislike firearms, but I own four, and I'm safe and proficient with all of them.

I remember reading a tag line of someone from CSY2K that went something like "the more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the pipes." As a civilization, we're so far out on the supply lines that it's almost a certainty that one day we will meet with a supply-chain disaster like Y2K. Being ready for it, in whatever guise it assumes, is prudent.

-- sparks (, March 22, 1999.

JSprat said:

>> Well, Art, unless you know that Y2K is not going to be TEOTWAWKI, where do you get off declaring that this scenario is not in line with prudent individual preparation? What if your job is in New York City? Yes, a steady diet of MREs would not be very nutritionally balanced, but there are all kinds of options here, especially on a farm.>>>

Look, I never said it was wrong. Read it again, or maybe for the first time. I said there was a problem with that scenario. I know more than a few people who have done the back woods cabin thing without burning bridges, AKA kissing off the job and giving the family an ultimatum. I LIKE back woods cabin living. Came THIS close to buying the land and building last Summer.

On another note, a steady diet of MRE's is quite nutricious, just boring and tastes bad. If you had nothing but MRE's and some sprouts you could survive quite nicely. One big problem with MRE's is that every thing in them but the crackers and the so-called brownie goes squish. I have had the pleasure of eating them daily for a week or so... interesting but nothing to look forward to.

I thought the whole point of what I wrote was clear. Simply this: As long as you are preparing for everything else, Preparing to be wrong would also be wise. I wrote this for other venues than this forum, but I figured someone here might get some use from it. It's something I have to keep in my own mind at times. 'Being Prepared' is not a simple undertaking.

-- Art Welling (, March 22, 1999.

I have never wanted to be wrong about anything so dam bad in my entire life. And that's a strange feeling. Wanting to be wrong. But the feeling is there in spades. I hope to be wrong. I pray to be wrong. I beg the 'fates" to be wrong.

But I think I am not stupid enough to palce my bet on being wrong. The "down side" is just too great in the negative catagory.

I have been doing, for about 8 years now, what Art alludes to in the original post - trying to figure out how to use a finite, limited budget (learning to wean myself from credit) to become more self reliant. The goal of total self reliance is hardly achievable to some average shmuck like me. I don't have the money now and will probably never in the future. ( I do buy one lottery ticket a year). My continuing goal is to change the way I live to achieve a tad more self reliance every time I see the opportunity. This is a continuing struggle. But one that feels dam good. Baby steps. Then more baby steps. Then one day an adult step.

I don't mind the taste of the MREs, they're just too expensive for some one with Scots genes. (Or as we would say in Texas - Skotch jeans)

Some among us just need to take a bunch of baby steps as quickly as possible. Maybe have the baby running at full speed for a while.

--Greybear. PLEASE, PLEASE let me be wrong.

- Wanna Bet?

-- Greybear (, March 22, 1999.

The idea of "playing both sides" with Y2K is great, but I doubt if it is feasible for a lot of people, especially at this late date. I fully understand what you are saying (and did the first time, I thought), but the reality is that most people can't have it both ways (its a matter of money more than anything else).

And no matter how you cut it, if you have to choose, I would say that its better to have a good entrance strategy and a poor exit strategy than vice versa, for what I think are very obvious reasons.

-- Jack (, March 22, 1999.

As in most things in life, he who has the most options wins. I urge everyone to have multiple backup plans from Bump to Infomagic. Good post & thread.

-- RD. ->H (, March 22, 1999.


We are in the process of selling our home and buying 73 acres with 1/3 mile river frontage 1 hour away from the city. Y2K motivated us to consider doing this but we also had to decide, if there was no major problem, could we live with this decision.

Actually, we probably would never have been so adventurous to make such a drastic move if our concerns over the Y2K problem weren't so strong. My husband has worked 7 minutes from our house for 30 years. He has decided that he would be willing to drive 1 hour to work for the next 12 1/2 years until retirement. We will begin a new life as rural homesteaders learning to fish and hunt. The prospect is very exciting, but can be scary at times. Questions I ask myself are: can I deal with the pitch-blackness of the forest or the rustling sounds of the woods' animals? How will I feel when I encounter my first snake? Would I be able to dress a deer or turkey if that became necessary?

These are some of the questions I'm asking, but then I come back to the old adage, "you only go around once in life". So to answer your question, yes I hope we're prepared if we're wrong, but I think in the long run we will be alright either way. At least I feel now we have done what we thought we had to do based on our assumption of what Jan. 1, 2000 will bring. Mary

-- Mary (, March 22, 1999.


I'm glad you posted this. I respect you for taking the actions you have. There's not much I can add, but let me try with these points:

1) Much of the discussion on this forum seems to have a premise that people have the ability to do what they think is a good idea. So the discussion is usually around what may be a good idea.

Unfortunately, many people do not have the ability to do what they would, because they do not have the money required.

Why some enjoy greater incomes than others is not relevant to this board. But I suggest that although it is good to discuss perfection as a goal, the incessant "money is no object" attitude is not always helpful.

2) If I may toss in a religious thought for your consideration: For years I believed that "idol worship" concerned praying to a statue.

Recently I have come to think that it refers to expecting an inanimate object to provide you happiness. For example, I was guilty of thinking that a luxury car and an expensive stereo system would provide me happiness. I now believe that my belief constituted idol worship.

I fear that in the quest to prepare, all of us, including me, lust after inanimate objects such as lanterns, water containers, weapons and power generators.

I suggest that it is mature to prepare for both the expected and the unexpected, but I urge us all not to fall prey to the temptation of believing that our future happiness will depend primarily upon the purchase of survival goods.

-- GA Russell (, March 22, 1999.

Art Welling,

Thank you so much for sharing such genuine, well considered and balanced perspectives with us. Your wisdom is superb.

I wish you well in all of your endeavours.

-- Watchful (, March 22, 1999.

I want to be right because we need a cleansing of the gene pool, a new government, and warriors that will defend this country and what it use to stand for. We need a cleansing of the judicial and political system, a cleansing of the earth in hopes that it recovers from all the pollutants that we are destroying the earth with. Yes, I do want it to happen so we can get back to the simple way of living, get back to where families are together and taking care of their elderly instead of shipping them off to some building to die. Be at home to teach our children right from wrong instead of shipping them off to a day care or some public school that teaches them immoral behavior. I want to see people taking care of their own business and working together for the good of the community in love and harmony. It probably won't turn out this way, but I do hope it happens.

-- dreamer (, March 22, 1999.

Actually, since there are SO many possibilities and SO much that one can choose to do or not do, it's possible to distill everything in life regrding potentially traumatic or hazardous situations to two steps...

Education and Balance.

Education in that you find out what's going on and how it may or may not impact you and those you hold dear. Balance in that you act in accordance to what you conclude is prudent and necessary without going to any extremes. (After all, over-prepping can be every bit as bad as under.)

The first is easy. We've all been involved in this part for however long we've GI. It's that second one, balance, that is tricky. Lessee, do I buy that extra two crates of canned foods and increase my storehouse of food to accomodate a couple drop-in relatives? If I buy it, do I sacrifice a meal or two for my family this week to pay for it? If I don't, and I have a couple drop-ins, can I live with turning them away or could my storehouse handle the extra load without jeopardizing my family?

Education is easy. Balance is subjective and there are a lot more variables involved in what makes a balanced response to Y2K than there are involved with the actual issue itself. Mr. Welling's synopsis speaks volumes about balance as a well-balanced decision carries minimal consequences if you make a wrong choice since you chose with all you knew in mind. Balanced decisions are almost always reversible or in cases where someone loses catastrophically no matter what you do, a balanced decision will be the least of all evils in the long run.

Find your balance.

OddOne, who's seen firsthand the after-effects of unbalanced thinking on a smaller scale thanks to hurricane Andrew...

-- OddOne (, March 23, 1999.

Mary, you'll do fine.

We moved to the country on account of Y2K in September of last year. Since then my wife has butchered and cleaned chickens, reached up into a goat's birth canal to help turn a breached kid, helped me press out a puss-filled abcess on a cat's head, helped me splint a goat kid's broken leg, and on and on and on.

For those who can do it, a move to the country has very few downsides and many, many upsides. My children love it out here. They know now that to eat meat, somebody has to kill an animal. They know where milk comes from and how to make bread.

I'm with Greybear (Greybear, you are great!). Lord, please, let me be wrong about Y2K. But if we are wrong, we ain't goin' back to the 'burbs.

-- Franklin Journier (, March 23, 1999.

Most GI's that truly get it are ready for everything with motivation and confidence. That includes all scenarios. That's what "preparedness" is all about.

Mr. K
***prepared to dance the night away with Mrs. K, lights or no lights, come 2000***

-- Mr. Kennedy (heart@peace.aboutit), March 23, 1999.

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