Please donate to either the Red Cross or Operation USA for Hurricane Katrina relief. Anne has family in NoLa, and, while they’re okay, a lot of people won’t be. Plus, hell, a quarter of my genes are from Louisiana. Thanks.

One of the few merit badges that’s stuck with me is Emergency Preparedness. It’s one of the few Boy Scout badges that literally saved my ass. When I was caught in the avalanche in high school (and I’ll tell you that story another time), the bit about What To Do If You’re Caught In An Avalanche lept right into my forebrain, and I managed to get on my back and do the elementary backstroke uphill, just like I’d been taught. As far as I’m concerned, EP embodies the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

After watching the jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching incompetence of FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Guard, the people who, y’know, are supposed to be ready for this kind of stuff, I am now certain that, if Los Angeles is hit with an earthquake, typhoon or Godzilla attack, we are fucked. Absolutely, completely, 200 proof fucked. There will not be any mobilization, there will not be any help, there’ll just be the Governor and the President flying overhead saying, “Damn. That’s a big fucking footprint where Santa Monica used to be.”

It’s one thing to have an emergency bag, but, after Katrina’s aftermath, we’re going to have to turn our bags up to 11. Here’s what Anne and I will each be carrying with us from now on:
2 1 liter jugs of water
12 Protein Plus bars
7 Tasty Bites (can be eaten cold; plus, curry makes disasters fun!)
2 16 oz packages of trail mix
7 freeze-dried meals (a luxury, sure, but what the hell)
1 Swiss Army knife with can opener, screwdriver, mini saw
1 backpacker’s first aid kit
1 mini Maglite with extra AA batteries
1 lighter
12 storm matches in sealed container
4 fire starters
1 pair walking shoes
1 pair jeans
1 rain poncho
2 pair socks
1 pair skivs
1 bottle SPF 45 sunblock
1 emergency blanket
7 Glow Sticks

Then, between us we’ll have
1 propane camp stove
1 bottle propane
1 water purifier
1 bottle water purifier solution
1 hand-cranked emergency shortwave/FM/AM radio

I thought about taking a firearms class and buying a pistol and ammo to go with the packs, but then realized that these packs are more for fleeing than fighting. I think if we have to leave Los Angeles on foot or on bike, we’re going to be a wave of refugees who’ll be too damn tired, hungry and scared to fight. Waving a gun is only going to make things worse.

I miss anything?