Thursday, October 07, 2021

The Collapse LXXXIV: Supply Chains

09 April 20XX+1

My Dear Lucilius:

It appears that I have a “line” (as they say) on some quail.

Well, technically I do not, but Xerxes does – or rather Stateira, Xerxes’ girlfriend. A friend of a friend, as it turns out – or really, what we would call a quail lover and hobbyist. I have no idea if they are my “sort” of quail, and frankly do not care. The ongoing survival of the colony has been a worry of mine since last year (quail’s life spans are rather short – two years or so – so this was definitely going to become an issue soon).

Quail – like many things once upon a time – used to be something that (literally) could be done online and far away. One ordered the fertilized eggs and they shipped them overnight. Into the incubator they went until a few weeks later, one was in the quail business. There was always an effort on my part to find a way to make a sustaining colony, but it was never a huge concern because – after all – one could always get more.

Supply Chain, my dear Luculius. We had almost godlike supply chains that made anything possible.

I remember seeing lamb from New Zealand that was cheaper than lamb grown locally – thanks to supply chains. I bought strawberries and tomatoes out of season – again, supply chains. And who could forget the ubiquitous large online retailer that made everything available anywhere with 7 days?

Supply Chains.

My personal supply chains shrunk over time, of course. Part of the matter was simply the realization that needed less unnecessary things – and certainly, simplifying one’s life will simplify one’s supply chains. Part of it was some kind of attempt – feeble on my own part, I suppose – to attempt to source things more “locally” (if by local we can include the continent instead of overseas). And part of it was simply that at time went on, some things became quite unavailable and thus, there was no need for those supply chains.

That was probably a sign, looking back – not the event itself per se (although hindsight is always so clear) as it was an indicator of risk. Our supply chains were at risk because we had built an economy on the concept that a supply chain would always function, and would always function perfectly. After all, why would that not be true? Supply chains were based on economic wellness, and everyone wanted economic wellness, did they not?

My supply chain, now, is at best a five mile radius.

I have no idea I am going to need to exchange for the quail – my standard offer of “honey” was not of interest this time. Interestingly enough, Xerxes had asked if I had seed so I will go through the packets, looking to see what I can spare.

Those, too, are in short supply – the packets more than the seeds. Some supply chains failed long ago.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Almost kinda scary that you can use real-time current event headlines for interesting chapter material.

    1. Leigh, it is. All it takes is a little systems knowledge and a little imagination to play things out to their logical conclusion.

  2. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Of the 12 blogs I read every morning this has been a recurring topic for the last 6/8 weeks. We were becoming aware in 2020 but for most it was thinking it was a blip without any understanding the reason why. I commented on it a year ago to friends and family. Oh, MOMMM!as only children can do. Friend called yesterday and was surprised that the market she shopped at was limiting purchases of all paper products. Horse, water. What can you do. I am running out of room and wondering where I can put the extra cans and products. I listened, read and bought extra each week.

    1. Margi - It is not just among bloggers. We had a work related meeting today and the subject of supply chain issues was discussed. It is a risk our business is actively trying to manage, and we are (I am sure) far from the only one.

      The reality is that something of this magnitude impacts everyone, and people who would not otherwise pay attention suddenly get involved when their "x" is no longer easily available.

      It is a shame that it takes this much to get people to pay attention, but if it gets 10% of the population actually thinking about such things, it may have a beneficial effect.

  3. I like to supplement my house furnace with kerosene heaters. Yeah; those ones that were ubiquitous in the 70's. We use them as needed where we spend the most time. We leave the house furnace set at 68* or lower, and the thing usually doesn't even turn on, even on cold days. Enter "supply chains." I'm reading of shortages of, you guessed it, kerosene. So far, the stuff is still available here in the Wild, Wild West, as the warm weather holds here a little longer. People haven't given thought to keeping warm yet. I stocked up today. If you have something of the "seasonal" nature on your "to buy" list, don't wait until you need it!

    ...This country becomes a little more like Venezuela every day, with totalitarianism creeping up on many like a cat on a dove... Now's NOT the time to be a dove...

    1. Pete, we had a Kerosene heater in our first rental. We were quite happy with it. But yes, the seasonal purchases are a good idea. I have been thinking of the same thing.

      We are becoming a little more like a failed economy every day. The next great "revelation" I am waiting for from government is how "less food, less climate control, less consumer goods, and less travel" is "Patriotic".

    2. Oh, you KNOW that's coming! "You'll eat your Spam Christmas dinner and be glad you have Spam!" Meanwhile, at Obama's multi-million-dollar waterfront Martha's Vineyard estate...


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