February 25
Weather beaten, divorced father of 4 through a lot of changes and far happier than I have been in my entire life... in spite of the day to day crap coming my way. The ability to find the humor in it all and maintain a sense of openness and respect with those with whom I choose to share my free time, makes it all worthwhile. Expect intermittent rants of whimsy as time permits. And maybe the occasional political rant to get my left leaning friends all in a dither.


Gwool's Links
DECEMBER 29, 2010 8:56PM

WTF? Emergency Preparedness Recipes Guy Style

Rate: 26 Flag

When I read the open call notification before clicking on it, I immediately went back to my time managing two households in an ice storm that knocked power from one for 13 days and the other for 14 days.  At the time I was also a selectman in a community that was the epicenter for the storm, and was therefore in daily conference calls with the Governor’s office while hearing from angry citizens.

That was the easy part.  The hard part was also dealing with an ex wife whom I had recently left while trying to maintain that home from afar.  That’s like a marine veterinarian cutting himself shaving and then trying to hop into the shark tank to give them some inoculations. 

 It might be for their own good, it might be your job, but Sweet Jesus what a price to pay.

So reading the open call turned my mind to things like generators rather than casseroles.  How to wire pig tails to panel boxes so you can fire up a generator, turn off the main power feed, and run your basic household requirements such as refrigerators and heaters in the dead of winter.  I thought of the need to fill bath tubs if you have well water.  I thought of the need to have PCs and video game consoles if you have self absorbed teenagers.

I turned to the cycling of generator use to cut down on gas and keep pipes from freezing.

Food was not on my list.

So I had to think back on what “meals” I had during the 14 day period of walking through the Winter War Zone that was my internal and external life but two short years ago in the middle of an ice storm when such preparedness was critical.

I got nothing. 

There was no guy equivalent of Martha Stewart dancing in my head when you were still concerned with tree limbs falling and potentially killing you as you tried clearing the debris around homes and in the roads to be able to navigate around the communities.  To this day when I hear a branch crack, I immediately tense my body, look up, and get ready to run or dive.  I suspect it will always stay with me.

 Those mothers are not called "widow makers" for nothing.

I mean, when a 10 foot tree limb with a diameter the size of your upper thigh crashes next to you while you have a chain saw running so you don’t know it til the wind blows as it misses being a direct hit on your skull by less than six inches, you stop the chain saw and go inside to change your underwear.  You’re not thinking of what can go with your fava beans and nice Chianti.

So while this is right up the alley of One_Irritating_Mother and IamSurlierThanABullMooseButWithoutTheSenseOfHumor to go toe-to-toe in their Bette Davis/Joan Crawford imitation from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I am all out of prizes that relate to food recipes from some smarmy Midwestern Gingham Living Magazine that would make Laura Ingalls puke on the set of Little House in the case of the former, nor do I have some heart-attack-in-cans concoction from the 1970s in the case of the latter.

I cannot even tell you what I ate during those two weeks.  I was more concerned with freezing pipes, irate citizens, sufficiently fueled generators for elderly neighbors, and the continued secrecy of the community where I was a selectman that I did not live there anymore.

But here’s a few recollections:

  • Cans, and I don’t mean the film festival in France, either.

    I ate Dinty Moore Beef Stew.  I ate baked beans.  I ate soup.  I ate Chef Boy Ardee Ravioli.  I ate undrained tuna so I could choke it down and fill myself up with a mercury/protein burst for long lasting energy.  I think I might have even eaten some canned vegetables. 

    Key there, of course is power.  The typical generator cannot take the draw of an oven, but it can handle a burner or a microwave fairly well if you keep the tunes down on your stereo.  Thank heavens for iPods.

  • Freezer Food was Fair Gameand Fairly Gamey

    The stuff was thawing, anyway, so I had to chow it down.  I think I ate some Raspberries picked during the Good Bush Administration.  (For you bomb tossing lefties who give no quarter, that would be HW Bush, to you.)

    The freezer was an odd archeological dig of various major parties at the lake house.  Four year old pig roast remnants tested and tossed in the garbage.  Specific types of breads bought by specific, regular guests at the home likely from different New Years or Labor Day extravaganzas.

    It wasn’t as bad as Elaine Benis in Seinfeld woofing down a piece of wedding cake from the Duke of Windor’s Wedding bought at Auction by neurotic boss J. Peterman, but you get the idea.  Some of the stuff got left outside for the animals and was turned away.  You know it’s tough when a family of skunks turns down your food offerings.

  • Trail Mix

    That stuff is the WD40 or Duct Tape of food stuffs.  It’s good for any time of the day.  Fruit, nuts, and chocolate.  What’s not to like?  Protein, good carbs, and desert all in a fist.  Been living on that stuff for 2 ½ years.

  • Cheese

    Once again, you got your protein.  Likewise it’ll keep you slowly regular, which is a good thing when water is at a premium, as it were.

  • Spam

    I couldn’t fucking do it.  I’d sooner eat one of IAmSurlyasShit’s 1970s Hazmat recipes while Agnes Moorehead as Endora gave me an erotic massage with ashes falling on me from the butt hanging out her mouth while singing Raffi tunes to me than choke down a piece of spam.

No Open Call submission, I am sure, is complete without a recipe card, so here’s mine.

Gwool’s Emergency Preparedness Pot Luck Casserole:

  • Recognize Power has gone out.
  • Flick enough switches to no effect to get it through your thick head.
  • Open door of abode and look outside.
  • Figure out you’re fucked.
  • Close door.
  • Scream.
  • Open Refrigerator.
  • Make mental checklist of what will spoil first and eat in order of expected shelf life.
  • Open Freezer.
  • Make same mental checklist.
  • Find phone book.
  • Hope you have an old fashioned phone not needing electricity.
  • Determine what restaurants have back up power at the least.  Prioritize by those that can also deliver.
  • Dine as needed in sphincter tightening leisure while constantly running the mental checklists of what you have to do to forestall any further property damage to you and to those close to you.
  • Meditate after meal to calm oneself and digest the indigestible by chanting softly “Fuck off, Surly… Fuck off, Surly.”
  • Repeat as necessary until the power comes back on.
In loving memory of that ruddy, quick witted survivalist who would surely still be alive today had he not likely prepared one of those 1970s chemical fests plugged as nostalgia by that dietary Kevorkian, IamSurlyasShit .... although, had he had to run a chainsaw with a branch landing near him by surprise, he just might have cut off his schlossen.
Floyd R Turbo 

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You worried about the stuff in the freezer? Really? And it was freezing cold outside? Ooooooooo!

So tell me, Swifty, how much of that food did you manage to scarf down "so it wouldn't spoil" INSIDE the house you were keeping warm enough to thaw it?
Sounds like a good way to lose weight.
Sky, sky, sky. It was 14 days. The first 48 hours were a race against time to get a generator when there were fist fights at Home Depots over them before the pipes froze. Once that was solved, that left 12 days when the house was alternately powered by the generator to keep the inside sufficiently warm enough for said pipes not to freeze and for it to recover quickly enough when I returned home to it after heading elsewhere to triage the power crews rewiring a community and keep an eye on another location.

So, yeah. If the power goes out, your freezer is going to let go. Particularly, say, if you are in hurricane weather. Good thing you aren't an eskimo or I suspect you'd have your own, private ice floe by now. :)

Blu: Yeah, a few pounds came off during that time, and it had me change my vacation plan from helicopter skiing in cold weather to kayaking in tropical weather. I still cringe when it's first cold based on that experience. Really sucked. But, when I think emergency preparedness, that's where my mind goes.
I'm beginning to think that you and I are almost meant for each other. Must be the memories of the hurricanes and no power for three weeks that has me thinking this way.
(Think Eddie Murphy doing Ralph Kramden)

It's my Republican Genes, Norton. I know, that you know, that I know ....
Haven't seen Floy R Turbo in a long, long time. Hilarious post.
The Dietary Kevorkian
That's classic, old man! BTW, don't knock Midwest Gingham ... that is how I made my millions. That and sweatshops.
But what do you really think about Spam?
This is one funny, great post. Happy New Year. -R-
Amy: Floyd was a favorite. Inserted the line referencing the Schlossen cut off. Our family had a small, weird trail we had to take at a ski mountain we visited every year for 15 years we called the Schlossen cut off. Kids had no clue the meaning until they saw one of the Best of Carson DVDs... at gun point ... at my insistence. Kids also liked the Ed Ames Tomahawk chop to the crotch. Timeless classics, that crotch shot. Funniest Home Videos in general and Bob Saget in specific have made a bundle off our perverse pleasure in that activity... when happening to someone else.

Imom: I thought you made your millions with multipurpose battery operated, um, kitchen gadgets for the frustrated homemaker not being made, as it were.

Bonnie: Yeah, it's a new variation on a joke between my brother and I. "Hopping in the tank with the sharks and hoping you hadn't cut yourself shaving" was one. Feeling like "Sonny at the toll booth" when he gets machine gunned in the GodFather was another for a business presentation gone horribly, horribly wrong. Just a reframe of an old inside family joke for public consumption.

Cranky: Even on the most debaucherous of all male canoe troops when greasy carbs are that for which the body screams, I could not and would not joke that crap down. Never could, never will. I'll take Agnes any day.
Wuss -

I will grant that my experience didn't last as long and did not involve sub-zero temps, but...

Coming home from out-patient surgery (and bleeding all over friend's car since the priority for the recovery room staff was to get you out ASAP) to a city without power due to sustained Category 1 winds in a part of the country that never experiences such things.

Instead of 1) going to bed, and 2) healing, having to head out to scavenge for a camp stove, fuel, and an ice chest. Plus buying food since eveything perishable had perished (bleeding all the while, since the doctor placed a drain in a place that NO man wants a drain).

Trying to keep clean to prevent post-surgical infection, and having strange women (home nurses) show up every day wanting me to drop trou so they could check my progress.

Fun times - happy memories! Hope it never happens again.
Markin: Wuss? So you were bleeding? Haven't you ever heard of cauterization. Fire up a stogie, poor some precious Moonshine on the wound, you Hillbilly, and put the cigar out on it and be ready to blow the flames out. I mean, I did it to my hemorrhoids during the ice storm, but did need a fan, as try as I might I just can't blow smoke up my own butt.
Markin: PPS: What did you eat during that time ... besides vicodin, that is.
This makes perfect sense to me...first things first I always kept kerosene lanterns around when we first moved into our government housing. The electric went off every storm.
This was totally funny!!
Lunch: glad you liked it. Really doesn't matter how much money you have when there's a crisis. Either you got the kerosene and candles or you don't, and no amount of cash will get them for you when stranded ...
Brings back such memories.

We still keep a rotary phone in our house for such occasions.
Those in the know (who've spent entirely too much time in LA) know that it's the Slauson cut-off, as in Slauson Blvd., which is evidently everywhere in LA.
I made a helluva pot roast out of spam once. But then, there was ample whiskey. Nowadays I always keep a dozen extra cans of Campbells in the back of the cupboard, because you never know when the young folks are going to fuck up everything and it'll all go kaput.

Enjoyed this...and the free thinking way you share it.
I am sure you will win the prize with that recipe.
rated with love
Now, I appreciated and was entertained by all of it but this is going in my OS Hall-of Fame:


I couldn’t fucking do it. I’d sooner eat one of IAmSurlyasShit’s 1970s Hazmat recipes while Agnes Moorehead as Endora gave me an erotic massage with ashes falling on me from the butt hanging out her mouth while singing Raffi tunes to me than choke down a piece of spam.

HAHAHAHAHA! That is genius. I am right with you. I would lick an anchovy's ass before I would eat that collection of sick shit cramped into a can. My mother used to fry that shit and the smell was unreal. Spam night=beating is the truest formula I have ever seen.
I was in a power outage for nearly 40 hours with a whining 18 month old and a chatty five year old and thought I would go nuts. I can't imagine what I would do without power for 14 days, but I have a feeling when it all ended, I'd be in BIG trouble.
I'm not sure whether I didn't understand your reply or you didn't understand my comment.

When I was growing up we had NO such thing as a refrigerator or freezer. In winter we used a "window box" to store frozen food. This is a box nailed to the outside of a windowsill. You open the window to put food in or take it out. It stays at the outside ambient temperature - below freezing.

I live at the northern tip of Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada. That blizzard that came up the east coast of the US just went through here. It knocked out our power. As usual. Every winter we can expect a half dozen power outages - some as long as three or four weeks.

Most people here do not have a generator. They survive very nicely. I do have one. Got it last year after the power was out for about 10 days, because at 70, I'm getting a tad long in the tooth and don't have the strength to do a lot of the things that make winter little or no problem.

BUT I do have a kerosene heater and a half dozen 5 gallon tanks of kerosene. When the power goes out, the food in my fridge gets transferred to two wooden boxes. One goes in the back porch - it has the food that should keep cool. The other goes on my picnic table, outside and drawn up next to the porch, and has the stuff in it that must stay frozen. It does.

I have a simple two-burner camp stove and a dozen bottles of propane. I have back-up battery units for power to my computer, clock and radio. I have both electric and propane lanterns. I keep a two month supply of canned and packaged foods on hand. I leave the water running slightly in the bathtub because it is furtherest from the water inlet pipes - moving water doesn't freeze in most cases. I don't suffer at all.

Now sir, may I make so bold as to say that unpreparedness and lack of knowledge of how to deal with cold weather without electricity were your MAIN problems - NOT the cold weather itself.
Jim: I remember that damn period of time everytime my knees start to ache from the cold... I was eating alleve like candy back then.

Old/New: Couldn't remember the exact spelling, but remembered the chart. Then again, I am way younger than you, anyway.

Dr. Lee: Just be thankful these young folks haven't messed up medical research or you, sir, would be kaput.
Yow, sounds like a meal fit for a...whew, I'm not sure who to wish this on.

On the other hand, nothing wrong with a couple of pine cones sauteed in garlic.
Gotcha on the Spam, but didn't need the visuals really Gwool..
funny stuff.
JD: "WTF" is my tip off for what follows being little more than a stream of consciousness rant. Come to think of it, all of my blogs should have that in there ... :)

Romantic: Not so sure about that. Didn't have pretty picture cards of aproned females in Jane Russell Bras with avocado green and harvest gold appliances with fake brick countertop splash backs as they slathered nitrate ladened meat products with canned vegetables and cream of mushroom soup so vital to the diet that keeps Surly, well, Surly.

Spud: Don't be dissing the anchovy, man. It is great on Caesar Salads and Pizza. Yes ... Pizza.

Fay: After a while you just get numb to it. I won't equate it to fox hole living in war time, but it is somewhere between that and just living in a normally heated home. Likely what pioneer life was like... Sucked, particularly as you saw other homes getting connected back onto the grid while yours remained dark.
I have to respond to skypixieO's rather smug lecture. I live just on
the line between rain and disaster from that storm, and because of
luck and quick response by the socialist municipal electric company
power was restored rather quickly all over town. However, I have a
camp just across from Geoff in NH, and travel was nearly impossible
due to fallen and falling tree parts. His camp is not really intended for year round occupation (hence, camp) but at the time he was living there do to his marital (I typed 'martial' originally) status. And... he
had to schlepp the 15 miles back to the homestead. He had a lot to

BTW, the temperature sat just below freezing for nearly a week
after the storm. Not real good for frozen food.

As for our camp, the backup generator ran for three days before I
shut it down (100 hour service interval and all that) and just turned
everything off, winterized the plumbing, and put the gas stove on
to keep the place at 40deg F.
Great blog, but one problem: There was no good Bush!
I have no idea what I ate during that week. Obviously, canned stuff (maybe even Spam - I like it) - but the details, thankfully, are not easily retrievable.
I like old people, especially the ones who live about a block up from me, because of them, the last big ice storm we had that knocked power off for weeks for a lot of my friend, the power was back on within less than a day for me.


Xenon: I love you baby, don't ever change.

Tink: There's actually some strict power line protocols. They do the top wire first, which is the main feed. Those who wire that have to come back and do the wires underneath, because if the top line was done incorrectly, it can fry you.

Secondly, after wiring up the main lines, they do not stop and do the connections to the house. So if you house connection is OK, you get it right away, while the one who had a problem with their connection to the street have to wait.... it's a triage.

As such, once the main connections are done, you have some influence over which houses get connected, but not much.

But that is tough to explain to folks who see the power lighting up their streets, particularly if on the main streets which then connect to secondary and tertiary routes. THEN they go back to individual homes.

So, yeah, a house on a main drag could conceiveably be without power for, say, 14 days, while the neighbor got it within 3 days. Those are tough calls to field.

In our situation, the entire power company grid system was wiped out. 100% black. It took three days coming through other towns before there was any juice in the community. This was viewed as them having ignored us. It wasn't. It was a build out right from the plant. It was an ice storm. 15 miles from us was no problem. For us we had roads where tree clearing took two weeks with citizens helping in pick up trucks. One road had 13 poles snapped in a row.

That's a lot of infrastructure rebuild.
sounds brutal. spam included.
Guy style, indeed. :) Rated