Category Archives: emergency preparedness

(#VIDEO UPDATE) Apocalypse Now: What does the threat bring out in you?

Someone asked, “Do you really believe we’re headed for an apocalypse?”

Dude! The apocalypse is already here!

Sci-fi writer William Gibson said the future arrives at different speeds. Same is true of the end that could throw us backward a hundred years.

I look around and I see the power of antibiotics fading as the bugs come back stronger. There’s an excellent chance we won’t be able to have the surgeries we have now because our antibiotics will no longer work. Do you want to go back to pre-1928 medicine? Of course, not. Nobody wants to die of a sore throat, a bladder infection or appendicitis. But that is our present course. 

I see fracking causing earthquakes and flammable water in kitchen sinks.

I see perma-war.

Most disturbing, I see an unwillingness to change, anti-science and anti-intellectualism. 

Worst? I see a lack of compassion.

Citizens are in big trouble on Spaceship Earth and a lot of people, speaking from fear and ignorance, seem determined to be dicks about it.

One reviewer of This Plague of Days asked, “Why does everyone have to act like assholes in the apocalypse?”

I answer that reviewer directly in Season Three, but look around. The answer is obvious. People don’t think we’re in an apocalypse now (if they aren’t from Detroit or along the Mexican border or in Uganda.) But there already assholes everywhere. Panic and pressure brings out the nastiness stronger. It’s a scary world and people can be monsters. I didn’t invent it. I reflect it. You need look no further than the instincts of your average Internet troll.

But pressure makes diamonds, too.

Heroes can emerge. Will they? I don’t know. Are you willing to be a hero? An apocalypse — to nature, to people and to human dignity — is everywhere.

If you’re waiting for the siren call to action, it’s already howling. If we wait for the actual civil defense sirens to crank up?

Too late.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write suspense fiction. The scariest stuff I write doesn’t feel like fiction. (But you can hang out for the jokes, too.) If you’re looking for thought provocation along with action amid monstrous destruction and desolation, have a look at This Plague of Days, Season One. The whole first season is on sale for only a buck on Amazon.

Click here for my Amazon page.

All three seasons are now available on Kobo.

To get the This Plague of Days trilogy all at once for an awesome binge-read this summer, read This Plague of Days Omnibus Edition and find the secret video link to get another free thriller.

TPOD OMNIBUS ON AMAZON

TPOD OMNIBUS ON KOBO

 

 

 


This Plague of Days: Is it me, or are things really getting worse?

As I begin to work again in my Massage Therapy practice, I’ve noticed a difference in clientele since my sabbatical began two years ago. People are poorer and their conditions are worse. I’m seeing people at the clinic with very serious problems and very long lists of medications that: help/hurt/they are addicted to. Lots more Oxycontin than I remember ever dealing with, even though my practice often focused on chronic pain patients. There’s a shift in the landscape that I might have missed if I weren’t coming back to it with fresh eyes.

Today I passed through a mall that is close to a senior’s community. Between the awkward gaits and bent over postures, it was impossible not to think of zombies on the lunch lurch. I’d seen that before, and maybe this was just a fluke, but it seemed too prevalent. Maybe it’s just the bubble of the baby boom generation out and about, but the way is littered with walkers, wheels, crutches and canes. And sad people. I saw a lot of sad people today, concentrating furiously on taking their next step. People in need of help and rejuvenation are everywhere.

As a news junkie, I’m aware of the dysfunctional governments around the world and, as a horror author gathering material, there’s no shortage of bad omens. Sure, there are glimmers of hope here and there. New research points to the cause of fibromyalgia. Obama and Kerry have a deal with Iran over no nukes which could stabilize the region and lift the punishing sanctions that hurt more than they helped.

However, when you look at all the spewed hatred, racism, the collapse of civility, fraud, hypocrisy, failing infrastructure and all the plain bad information and bad news put out there, am I right in saying things are generally getting worse?

That was an honest question.

Are things really getting worse or is my serotonin low?

I just wrote a scene in Season Three of This Plague of Days about grief and foreboding. One character (no spoilers!) anticipates the impending loss of another. That’s kind of how I feel about the world. It’s slipping away from us. We’ve lost our grip on what’s important and everything on mainstream news seems so depressing and disempowering. Generally, we’ve lost the can-do in our attitudes.

Consider this:

Millions of empty homes and millions of homeless, and yet…

The troops are honoured in speeches but no food stamps for veterans and their families…

Despite all the research, when was the last big medical discovery that really shook us in our socks with pride?

If not only for moral reasons, how about stimulating the economy? Ford paid his factory workers so they could own the cars they built. Germany does pay their autoworkers well and have a very healthy auto industry with great profits. Workers need a living wage so they can buy things and capitalists should want that. Still, Wal-Mart and many companies like them (and don’t forget oil companies’ corporate welfare!), with profits in the billions, are subsidized with tax dollars at the expense of the working poor.

Much of the “middle class” falls under the category of that more honest label: Working poor.

The average age of a fast food worker is now 29. Working midnight at the drive-through window isn’t a way to save up for college. It’s the second job to try to pay for the hyper-expensive college degree that didn’t get you a paying job.

Patriotic declarations are ubiquitous. Patriotic actions are not.

We’re in serious danger of living in a post-anti-biotic world in a few years. That’s not the nanobots-in-your-bloodstream-to-solve-all-your-medical-problems future we’ve been talking about. The Singularity may be nothing but a pipe dream because we’ve stopped fighting the bug war and antibiotic-resistant diseases are on the rise.

Most journalists aren’t journalists anymore. They’re carnival barkers inviting you to tweet your opinions in the debate they’ve failed to inform you about. They aren’t seeking truth anymore. Reporting is all about “balance” now. Few but alternative media are telling you there actually are people to blame and pointing fingers really is good as long as the blame is hooked up to facts. (“Facts? What’s a fact?”)


 

This week I heard a guy say we should not worry about global warming.

He wasn’t denying it’s a problem. He just figured it’s too late and governments are committed to not committing so too bad, so sad, give up and forget about it. (Presumably, we’ll remember when a good chunk of New York City is under water.)

So, if all is hopeless, it’s up to us now, as individuals.

We can try to prevent the apocalypse in all its many forms and, failing that, prepare for the worst while, somehow, finding it within ourselves to hope for the best.

Good luck with that. As you can probably imagine, optimism is not in my nature. I sure hope it’s in yours.

 


If you survived the apocalypse, what would you miss most?

The Walking Dead is about to come on, but I had to dash this off quick.

I was just listening to a TED talk about medical breakthroughs with gene sequencing, growing artificial bones and organs and individually tailored drug therapy. Despite how bad our schools often are and how nasty society can be, a lot of great things are coming our way, if the human race survives long enough to see the dawn of these discoveries.

In This Plague of Days, the Sutr flu killed sixty percent of the world’s population. That leaves a lot of screaming eating for the Sutr-Zs and the Sutr-As, but what does it leave for the surviving humans? Would you really want to survive such a harsh, uncertain future?

In World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler, the protagonist is a former businessman who, after the fall of the world as we know it, becomes a fiddler and carpenter. He has useful skills, is well-liked within his little community and things are fairly peachy for him. One thing that stands out for me about his new life is he doesn’t really seem to miss his old one. There’s no processed food to eat so most everyone’s healthier and, it seems, just about as happy.

I liked World Made By Hand plenty, five out of five stars, but that one detail didn’t ring true, for me at least. If and when the world collapses and there’s no steady power to depend upon, it shall sucketh.

In This Plague of Days, Jack and Anna lament the loss of Facebook. I would, too. Maybe that makes me pathetic, but getting together with people on social media and keeping in touch with friends is a worthy thing I don’t want to do without. I’d adjust given no alternative, of course, but I sure wouldn’t embrace being Amish.

Most of us went without the Internet for many years. We didn’t know what we were missing, but now that we do… There’s an old song about WWI that asks, “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That about sums it up. Nobody wants to go backward in time.

Here are things I’d miss, post-apocalypse:

Clean, running water and a hot shower each morning, as easy as turning on the tap. Working toilets also rock. Outhouses stink.

Hot coffee (Starbucks and Williams and even Tim Hortons.)

Access to medical care. Like I said in TPOD about the ever-so-cool Walking Dead, what are these people fighting so hard for? I don’t want to die of appendicitis or pray for death, enduring an abscessed tooth, waiting for the septicemia to shut down my brain.

Facebook, Twitter, news, politics, and easy access to the world’s knowledge with a Google search? I love being plugged into the hive mind.

While looting is easy and cheap, everything I would want runs on electricity!

My secluded fortress/log cabin in the woods is awesome. Love the fireplace and the stock of wood out back…but when you don’t want to cook, it’s great to be able to pick up the phone and order in Chinese food, isn’t it?

Gosh. I hope we make it. I’d rather live in a world with working hospitals and medical miracles on the way.

What about you? What would you miss most?

 

 

 

 

 


Episode Two of This Plague of Days: Everything breaks

Read This Plague of Days. (And please, wash your hands frequently.)

This Plague of Days, Episode One (99 cents)

This Plague of Days, Episode Two (99 cents)

or

just grab

This Plague of Days, Season One

at a discount for only $3.99.

TPOD Episode 2


What About BOB? A Guest Post from Jordanna East

jordanna 1No, not the early 90’s movie starring Bill Murray. B.O.B. = Bug Out Bag Every household should have one. Our household has two. (But we also have some kick ass weapons, so when the lights go out, don’t try to steal our stash.) You might think you don’t need one. But you do. One only needs to think back a few years to confirm this. Hurricane Katrina is the obvious example that comes to mind, with the Boston Bombing Manhunt (and subsequent city lockdown) as the most recent. But think about Hurricane Sandy or the NYC blackout last winter, which was related to Sandy. The people who were prepared surely had the easiest go of it. Hubby-pants and I weren’t always so prepared. Then I read Run by Blake Crouch. Then Half Past Midnight by Jeff Brackett (Now that dude was prepared!). And most recently, Stephen King’s Under the Dome. (Chazz’s This Plague of Days is next!) These books will terrify the pants off you if you’re not prepared for tragedy to strike your area. So last year, Hubby-pants and I started watching Doomsday Preppers on TV. (We admit, some of those people are just plain and simple whack-jobs. Others were just trying to be prepared. We learned from the latter) We took notes, had our Amazon wish lists at the ready. And here’s what we ended up with:

  • FOOD – Not only did we invest in canned goods (and a dozen can opener tabs in case there’s no electricity), but our BOB’s are full of Emergency Rations. They’re kind of like RTE’s (Ready to Eat meals), but simpler, high-calorie, cracker thingies. Quick to ingest. No water or heat needed. Probably taste like pasture patties (AKA cow dung), but we won’t starve. And if we need to raid some stores, we have three-in-one utensils so we don’t have to eat with our hands. (We’re animal enough to scavenge around abandoned stores and homes, but we firmly draw the line at eating with our freaking fingers.)
  • WATER – We have a bunch of water packets. Lighter-weight than bottles, shelf stable for the foreseeable future. We also have water sanitation tablets in case we run out of water and have to visit the not-so-fresh Cooper River up the street.
  • SHELTER – If for some reason we’re driven from our house, we have a simple tent that drapes over a branch or line of rope to keep us out of the elements. We also have ponchos. (Those fold up into nothing. You should definitely get a couple.) And mylar blankets for warmth…or in case the sight of blood causes one of us to go into shock. (Which we highly doubt. We’re a tough pair of peeps.)
  • MEDICAL SUPPLIES – We have a fully stocked first aid kit and can do anything short of perform surgery. We plan on adding some Canadian antibiotics to our supplies, but as of right now we might just die of an infected scraped knee.
  • LIGHT & WARMTH – We have two LED flashlights and an LED lantern. All of which are bright as hell. Loads of extra batteries. As for keeping warm, we have a magnesium flint stick (to generate sparks) and waterproof matches with ready-made kindling. If we still can’t get the fire started, I’m fully prepared to spray aerosol sunscreen on it.
  • UTILITIES – Sometimes you just need “stuff.” So we have rope, binoculars, a collapsible shovel, duct tape, and various knives.
  • PROTECTION – We’ve all read enough books and seen enough movies and television shows to know that crisis brings out the best in some, the worst in others. If anyone tries to bully us for our supplies, they’re gonna be met with an axe, a machete, and a crossbow pistol. Boom! (We’d like to get some actual firearms, but golly-gosh they’re expensive!)
  • BOOK BAGS – This post is about bug-out BAGS, right? Well, of course we need something to put all our stuff in. We bought two durable book bags with lots of pockets and whatnot. The supplies are as evenly distributed as possible, in case we lose one. They’re heavy, but not too heavy for either of us to handle. We keep one in the front half of the house and one in the back so if disaster strikes we don’t bottleneck the hallway trying to get everything from one location.

  Of course, we’re still missing a lot of stuff, but we continue to add to our stash. It’s a start. If there’s a natural disaster, a city-wide lockdown, or a PLAGUE OF DAYS, we’re more prepared than most. Can you say the same about yourself?

Jordanna 2BIO Jordanna East readily confesses that she started writing a novel one day when she was broke and unemployed. Her cable had been turned off. SHE WAS BORED. So she sat down on her bed and started writing…and she hasn’t stopped. Though, now she has cable and pens her Psychological Thrillers at an actual desk. Blood in the Past is the prelude novella to her debut Blood for Blood Series, which follows three lives entwined by deaths and consequences, revenge and obsession. Blood in the Past is scheduled for release June 19, 2013.

 


Scary news on MERS from the Middle East

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikie...

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikied from en.wikipedia.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reblogged from Business Insider:

There are still many things researchers don’t know about the new SARS-like virus now called MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) that’s been infecting people in the Middle East.

There’s no vaccine against the new virus, but a study published in the journal Scientific Reports on March 27 showed that the anti-virals ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b seem to stop the virus from copying itself in the lab. About half of the 40 infected people have died.

Here’s what we know happens when you get infected with MERS…

Read the rest here.

 


What do we really need to survive disaster?

I just ran across a great website called Survival Cache!

Follow this link to their 100 suggestions about stuff you need and what disappears first in a disaster. 

It’s a thorough and fascinating list. In the first four episodes of This Plague of Days (to be released soon!) the Spencer family is under siege from the world flu pandemic.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

They stock up on what they can as prices soar and canned goods are flying off the shelves. 

I’ve seen that happen personally on a small scale. During the SARS crisis, you couldn’t buy a bottle of hand sanitizer for any price where I live. The supplies were all gone in the worry and panic over SARS.

Then, at the end of the first season of This Plague of Days, the crisis shifts. Over the next four episodes, The Spencer family loses a lot, including much of their cache of emergency supplies. Once they’re on the run, they can’t take everything they need. Then they can’t carry everything they need. When traffic jams block all escape routes, survivors have to get innovative.

So we need to think carefully about our go-bags.*

What do we absolutely need and what luxury will feel like it weighs a ton by the fifth mile of our hike to safety? Individual capacities will vary. Maybe you’re a Marine who can huck a heavy ruck 25 miles a day, but what weight can your ten-year-old daughter carry? Is the weight in the harness rig on your dog balanced? Can grandpa walk out of the flood zone unassisted or should he stay behind and hope for a helicopter? Do you have alternate escape routes and fallback positions? What’s the backup plan behind the backup plan behind the backup plan? 

What’s in your backpack?

When many people think of prepping, they picture a fortress, panic rooms, a bunker, a defensible Wal-mart or a castle with a moat. They picture infinite supplies and relative comfort. But what if the hurricane takes away your supplies and screws up your plans for holing up and waiting out the flood, fire and armies of crazed zombies?

To be zombie-ready, we have prepare to be mobile, too. Get out your clipboards, pack and repack and weigh. Start crossing stuff off your awesome list. Figure out what gets packed in the basement, the family van and what you can carry on sore, aching shoulders to safety.

*More on go-bags in a coming guest post by friend and fellow author Jordanna East.


H7N9: The new bird flu

Remember the threat of H5N1 (AKA Avian Influenza or Bird Flu)?

 Here’s a link to an article about H7N9. It’s killed 22 in China as of this writing, but because infection hasn’t occurred in migratory birds and markets that

 

English: Chinese inspectors on an airplane, ch...

English: Chinese inspectors on an airplane, checking passengers for fevers (a symptom of swine flu). Taken in China after arrival, prior to exiting the plane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

sell the birds have been closed, the spread of the disease has been slow. What’s most worrying about H7N9 is that appears to spread to humans easier than previous strains of bird flu.

 

One of the other things that’s aiding global safety from world flu pandemics is that, after denying that SARS was a problem, China was embarrassed when they finally had to admit they had a huge problem with the disease. After they lied about their SARS event, the Chinese government took unprecedented steps toward transparency. They’re better at reporting their problems with contagious disease now. Awareness and sharing of information are ways we will have a chance at containing outbreaks and preventing contagion.

You’re being tracked

 

Another interesting approach comes from a marriage of epidemiologists and the Internet. Internet searches are tracked for key words. If there’s an uptick in people googling flu symptoms, for instance, maps can be made of the spread of viruses based on the searchers’ locations. This grassroots epidemiological data tracks rates of viral infection and serves as an early warning system so authorities can take steps to warn and protect health care workers, hold quarantines, restrict travel and warn the public to use precautions.

 

Precautions in case of world flu pandemic may include:

Public awareness campaigns to wash your hands (do that anyway, for God’s sake!); social distancing; banning public gatherings; house arrest; quarantines for public safety; border closings; travel restrictions; promoting the use of masks, etc.,…

 

When the crap hits the ceiling fan, it pays to be warned and prepared for a world flu pandemic. Governments are working behind the scenes (often with underfunded agencies, departments and programs) to get ready for such catastrophic events.

What are you doing to prepare?

 


Media Fails: Don’t trust them in a crisis

The bombing of the Boston Marathon taught us a lot:

1. Good people outnumber the bad.

2. People can respond well in a crisis.

3. Law enforcement can be excellent and relentless in the pursuit of justice.

And the media often sucks at this!

TV reporter John King went on CNN to say a suspect had been arrested for the bombing of the Boston Marathon. King spoke on camera with Wolf Blitzer (who repeated the word “exclusive” so often you’d think he was working up to an orgasm). King said reliable sources had captured a “dark-skinned man” they blamed for the attack. King was wrong, though CNN took their sweet time admitting the mistake. First was more important than right. As a former journalist myself, it was frustrating to watch the media raise a city’s hopes and then crush them (while contributing to the confirmation bias of racists.) It was a bad day for everyone and a black mark on CNN’s record.

The suspects were soon killed or caught and they were white. But the media mistakes don’t begin or end with CNN. For days it seemed that any picture of a dark-skinned person wearing a backpack at the marathon was reason enough to identify innocent bystanders as suspects. Identifying the wrong people for horrific crimes in photographs is dangerous business. A Saudi citizen was reported as a person of interest (a report the police quickly denied.) Newspapers printed pictures of suspects who were not suspects, leaving those pictured in fear for their lives twice over. What would these reporters say to the victims of these misidentifications, especially if they were murdered by well-meaning and misguided vigilantes? The potential damage outweighed any news value. The only reliable pictures were supplied by police investigators and the  FBI at the news conference which identified the prime suspects.

In the absence of facts and with too much time to fill, reporters quacked through their 24-hour news cycle with more speculation than reportage. Some right-wing radio personalities, including professional alarmists, conspiracy theorists and gold hawkers Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, took a little information and spun it out into free association diatribes meant to inspire fear rather than enlightenment. However, they are commentators, not reporters, so they’re free to get it wrong and reframe their mistakes so, somehow, they’ll appear right. That’s free speech. Real reporters aren’t supposed to have the luxury of being gullible and making things up.

Old-school journalists were about facts and used multiple sources to confirm stories before they delivered the news. When they got it wrong, they were supposed to be first with that admission and an apology. Now, due to competition and relaxed standards, they’re just about getting it first, right or wrong, even if they’re “first” by only a few seconds. CNN used to be America’s most trusted news source. Now the most trusted man in news isn’t in news. He’s in comedy and he’s Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

 

When disaster strikes, most of what you hear is wrong

Amid panic, rumours take root. Sometimes it’s a child’s game of telephone, where messages get skewed in transit and really screwed up upon delivery. Speculation is often treated as fact. On September 11, 2001, it was reported that the attack on the Pentagon had been an exploding military helicopter. No one remembers that now, but it was a serious consideration for a short time. Sometimes law enforcement releases leaks to mislead their prey and the media are dupes or useful tools. That stuff only comes out when books are written and historians take over from the journalists.

On that horrible  sunny morning in September 2001, there was a brief brown out in my area. The TV was out and, as I listened to events unfold on my wind-up radio, I jogged  next door to ask the neighbors if their power was out as well. One fellow wondered if the power outage was part of the terrorist attack, too. Maybe that sounds silly now (and I went into denial rather than give the thought any weight) but in the moment? You never know how widespread a disaster really is. On 9/11, we sure didn’t see an invasion of Iraq coming, for instance.

What should you expect from media amid a disaster?

Rumour. Panic. Speculation. Worst-case scenarios. Fear-mongering. Hype. Worry. Sensationalism.

Be particularly wary when you hear repeated use of the word “exclusive”.

Media: You have earned our distrust.


This Plague of Days: Today’s taste

This Plague of Days 0328From today’s revisions:

She had been wrong to trust Chester, but the man with the long knife and the stolen Mercedes had taught her a few things:

First, there was fuel everywhere. Second, she was lucky to have a length of old garden hose in her hand to siphon gas. Third, she’d overestimated her ability to judge people. Fourth, life and death situations make English majors with unfinished masters theses in Elizabethan poetry feel awfully stupid.


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