Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Collapse LXXXXVII: Waiting

 08 May 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

I hope you enjoyed your missive from Pompeia Paulina. She has been remarkably silent (and one might add, a bit smug) about her letter to you and has made me swear that I will not read it until she so decrees it shall be read. In deference to her, of course, it will remain unread. That said – and as you well know – loose ends nibble at my mind like nothing else can.

Ah, well, I could a dose of simple mind nibbling now.

There is much to do here of course. Spring continues its inevitable lurching towards us and once it hits, of a necessity all will have to hit the ground running. At the advice of Pompeia Paulina and Xerxes, I have kept my seeds and seedlings inside the greenhouse longer than I have done in years past. They assure me that this will increase my overall success and not significantly harm the overall output. I am taking their word – almost on faith as it were, although I know they both have more experience growing here than I do. One of the risks, I suppose, of living somewhere but not talking to anyone that lives there – you do not garner the benefit of experience.

One can live on one’s own in a world where everything is readily at hand. In today’s world, perhaps not so much.

You may also remember that I mentioned that the post office had been reoccupied by some young people to use as a contact point. I have been reliably informed by Young Xerxes that this Saturday is intended to be a trade and market day. They have put notices up and down to the aforementioned North Town and South Town and the small settlements in between, and there is some evidence (per Xerxes at least) that there may actually be folks from both ends of the Valley.

I do not know that I have anything specific I am in need of, but I suppose I should look between now and then – nor, I suppose, do I fully know what I would trade if given the chance. One can always say “food”, of course, but that will likely always be true, and what might I have to exchange for it? Honey perhaps; that seems a logical thing that I have and would likely have some sort of market. That said, I have my current stock in larger 12 ounces plastic containers; I wonder if it would make sense to put them into smaller containers.

Perhaps I shall ask Pompeia Paulina for assistance – likely Young Xerxes will be well engaged in the event (he seems to know everyone) and she may have a better idea than I what is likely to sell.

Marketing, Lucilius. I was never good at it, be it for myself or for anything else I was selling. Although to be fair, Pompeia Paulina assures me that my lack of experience in marketing myself is a “feature”, not a “bug”.

Even in a world with no computers, we still make such references. I wonder how if, years from now, it will become one of those sayings that has a meaning which is colloquial when the circumstances around the actual meaning have long since disappeared.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Was delighted to see a new letter!

    Was mildly depressed that Senaca indirectly pointed out in my mind the loss of information. He's speaking of having faith in the local knowledge of others. It reminded me of how much useful information I've found and used from others on the internet.

    I've tried to do hard copies of everything but it's overwhelming and expensive. And I know too well I have "dead computers" in my storage with useful data I'll never recover. Hopes to recover that data springs eternal.

    So much useful data, so much local knowledge unshared.

    So many farming-irrigating-public sanitation-road building and roman concrete details were lost and some rediscovered after generations of struggle in the renaissance.

    Dirt farming is more than a harsh bare survival at best existence.

    I wonder if the monks rushing about to save knowledge from the ravages of the dark ages maddened crowds and the termites of decay felt like that?

    Maybe I should have waited until a cup of coffee cheered me up. Sorry.

    1. Michael - I always remember a scene from The Name Of The Rose, where Sean Connery's Monk character, who finds himself in the midst of a medieval library on fire with works he has never seen before, is looking around him wildly trying to decide which books to save. To me right now, the world feels just like that: we are trying to gather together the information of the past - whatever one's interest may be - before it is lost in a conflagration.

      Not just an actual fire - simply putting something on the electronic stream means it can be lost via any number of ways or even simply censored or removed. I actually worry a fair amount about this.

      Local knowledge is critical. I say this as someone who is uncomfortable making new acquaintances in new places. But it is extremely critical if you want to avoid years of experimentation.

    2. Our history is indeed being burned, TB. The ancient Jews saw the same thing happening and squirreled away what they deemed most valuable. Thanks to them, the Dead Sea Scrolls are with us now to corroborate the Bible's Old Testament, proving its prophesies were correct and not just reverse-engineered from later events. We must do the same if the future is to know historical TRUTH...

    3. I am doing my best Pete, I am doing my best.

  2. We finally cleaned up the greenhouse, I filled the water barrel and my wife and MIL planted some seeds. It is still plenty cold for them but I'm afraid that if we don't, it will turn too hot for them before they are ready for transplanting. I really dislike these long cold springs that we've been having.

    1. Ed, I as well. We are in the midst of early Summer days but late Winter nights. It is a little too early to plant - the soil temperature is still too cold - but the temperature will go to Summer overload within two weeks of it deciding to. I am going to try to split the difference and get everything ready over the next two weeks.

  3. Anonymous6:11 AM

    One wonders what finds and treasures would be unearthed at trading posts in a Grid Down world. Black velvet Elvis posters ? Tea spoon collections (some of those are REAL silver).

    And what would consider valuable barter items that are 'totable' but worth something. We have a local flea market adjacent to a 'Winter Texan' mobile home park which often has many finds. Old tools, quality manufacture of years long gone now up for sale for example.

    1. It does boggle the mind, does it not? The closest thing I have read about is from Alas, Babylon, where the market day was described (going off memory here) as a combination of some things of value and lots of the equivalent of Black Elvis Posters. I think James Rawles also wrote of something similar in one of his books as well.

      Location likely matters too. In this fictional case, this is a fairly rural area. I suspect urban areas would likely have less "useful" items for the sort of situation Seneca now finds himself in.

      My guess is similar to yours, likely: small items like odd ammunition calibers, tools that are duplicates, perhaps some level of food (if you do not like hominy, no reason not to trade it). I am sort of excited to see what Seneca sees.

    2. I think a lot of what will count as "valuable" will depend on what kind of SHTF scenario plays out. I remember the grocer in Alas Babylon was stuck in the "money" mindset and was selling everything in the store not realizing he was basically giving away everything He would need, as money would become worthless and food priceless. There was also the woman who was wheeling and dealing and whose yard and house were filled with stuff that WOULD become valuable IF the lights came back on... The one who died of radiation poisoning because she was hiding radioactive jewelry in her bed.

      My take is that there WILL be a lot of barter going on, but that there will also be some kind of monetary means of exchange. Maybe it'll be silver and gold. Maybe people will just continue to use dollars and cents. After all, our money is actually worthless. It's only worth something because people agree that it has value; kinda like wampum or the company tokens that served as "pay" for Appalachian miners. Cash is nothing more than a placeholder for the value of other things.

      I guess all we can do right now is pray on it and prepare accordingly...

    3. Pete - Alas Babylon still remains one of the great post-apocalyptic books in my mind. And I do remember that scene - people focused on all the wrong things.

      Silver (and Gold) - I am not sure how that would work out. More than one person has commented that we are so far removed from precious metals as currency that it would be difficult to restart. Cash? Possibly, but as you point out it is only worth something to those who feel it is worth something. Company tokens are an interesting thought.

      Indeed, all we can do is pray and prepare accordingly.

  4. Nylon126:37 AM

    Market day in a grid down time, one way to get news from here and there.

    1. Indeed, Nylon12. I suspect there will be more than a little of that going on.

  5. Valued in a grid down situation? Using my time in Africa where grid is seldom Up.

    Oddly as man is a social creature communications-information-entertainment (dance, song, music).

    Folks actually PAID good money or traded for RECHARGE their Cellphones. Often used as a music item.

    Food, safe water, stuff to fix your home, decent clothing, socks, did I mention socks and shoes-boots. The barefoot thing is really poor as you easily pick up various worms from fecal debris and injuries are a real issue there. Antibiotics, pain relief, very valuable. Herbal cures that worked almost as valued.

    When life is close to the bone, trinkets and such are still nice bit the above stuff was far more important.

    1. Interesting on the entertainment, Michael - but not surprising in a world where it would largely have to come from someone, not something.

      The charging station is an interesting concept.

      The other thing you list - yes, those all seem to make sense. And everyone will have their own little luxuries they covet.


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