“Left of Boom” is originally a military term referring to the timeline before an explosion. When the explosion happens (the boom), then the timeline shifts to “right of boom”. Left of boom is where you want to be. This gives you time to avert the explosion, or at least prepare for it. Right of boom is where you do not want to be. Being right of boom means you now have to shift from averting and preparing to focusing on recovery. The whole concept embraces a timeline of “before”, “during”, and “after” a calamity, be it personal or systemic.
On a personal level, although you may not have thought about your life in terms of left and right of boom, almost all of us continually apply the concept in everyday life. Why do you buy insurance? The answer, of course, is to prepare for a “boom” (house fire, car wreck, illness, et cetera) that you hope will never happen. However, if it does happen, the insurance is a preparation meant to at least soften the blow. Left of boom thinking is why people board up windows ahead of a hurricane, sandbag flood-prone areas, exercise, get medical checkups, and the list of actions goes on.
Enter the Prepping Mindset
By definition, preppers are engaging in left of boom activities. Whether your preps are massive and costly or simple and free, the general concept is the same. You are preparing for what you believe is a coming hardship or calamity– a boom. However, there is often a problem many preppers don’t realize. A lot of people are “prepping”, but they’re doing so without a goal (or goals) in mind as to what they are prepping for. Their acquisitions become almost aimless, sometimes jumping from one category to another with no real plan behind their actions. Occasionally, these acquisitions are driven by the illogic of what becomes available at a given time. For example, there may be a sale on some particular category of goods; other times people focus on a category of preps based on what’s “in vogue” at the moment, due to a television show or news broadcast. Most of the time, though, our preps coalesce around a half dozen or so categories that are always at the top of the discussion in blogs, articles, television shows, et cetera. What comes first to mind? Food, water, shelter, defense, or maybe lists based on clichés, like “beans, bullets, and Band aids”. Sound familiar?
None of these activities or categories are bad, of course, and some prepping is better than none. However, I would like to suggest a better way of thinking and a more directed approach to your prepping. Not only will your thinking be more focused but so will your resource spending, whether that be in terms of time, money, space, or location. Since none of us has unlimited resources to spend, it behooves us to make the most of what we do have. Here is my suggestion.
Thinking “Left of Boom”
Start thinking “Left of Boom”. Sit down with your prepping partner(s) and identify a calamity (a boom) that you think is likely enough to happen that you believe you should prep for it. Let’s say for example that you focus first on a “grid down, lights out” scenario. First, draw a facsimile of this on a sheet of paper: Left of Boom, Lights Out!, and Right of Boom.
Now, with your partner or partners, do some group thinking (sometimes called “brainstorming”), which works really well here, and start focusing on what you can do now while you are in the green area (Left of Boom) to minimize the problems in the red area (Right of Boom) that the boom will create. For the moment, don’t worry about other catastrophes; just focus on the one you picked for this scenario. Start a list of priorities. Think of this as your “A” list. It’s the list of preps you believe are necessities for you and your group if the predicted event should happen. Here might be a way to start. Now assume you are “Right of Boom”. Ask yourself and your group the following questions:
- What would we need if the power outage lasts for 24 hours?
This would likely be a local event. Inconvenience would probably be the worst problem experienced by most, except perhaps for people needing powered medical devices. Although your list at this point will probably be quite short, pay close attention to any items you do not have. These are the things to acquire next.
- What would we need if the power outage lasts 72 hours (3 days)?
This now becomes a bit more serious, especially if it occurs in colder months. As the list of needs grows, where are the gaps in your preparations? The gaps are where you should focus your priorities.
- What would we need if the power outage stretched to a month or more?
Remember, when there’s no power (you are now right of boom) it means there are no lights at night, no electric appliances working (think refrigerator and freezer here), no electronic entertainment, no power tools (at least after the battery runs out), possibly no heat, possibly no cooking, maybe no water from the faucets, probably no gasoline except what you have in your vehicles, and almost certainly lots of desperate people. The list of needs grows.
- What would we need if the power outage were projected to last a year or more?
Now, of course, we are into something like EMP territory. Whether man made or natural, it makes little difference, at least for this exercise. The results are essentially the same. Your list is likely now quite long. How many items on your list do you already have? Don’t focus on what you have; focus on what you don’t have. The “don’t haves” are now what needs to be added to your preparations.
Now you are ready to pick your own scenario. Draw the timeline again. This time you fill in the blank with the scenario you believe is most imperative. Left of Boom, fill in the blank with the scenario, and then Right of Boom. Then ask yourself questions, like “What would we need if…?”
Smoldering Fuse in a Major City
One “Left of Boom” scenario I strongly encourage readers to game out (if it applies to you) concerns living in major cities. Life-threatening calamities can happen anywhere of course, but large cities and their immediate surrounding areas, especially those run by left-wing administrations, pose a special threat. Face it, the risks of living in Chicago or Los Angles are a lot different and more numerous, than living in Mayberry. The current socialistic political winds, the perceived war on police, and massive unemployment have made larger cities more dangerous than ever for anyone living in or near one. In some cities, some 911 calls are going unanswered due to reduced budgets . In other instances police are reluctant to exit patrol cars and risk lack of supervisor backing, if a situation goes sideways. Perhaps more than ever, your safety is in your own hands.
Large cities are also demographic powder kegs, and the fuse is smoldering. The political left wants open borders, “free” entitlements, and voting rights for all comers, regardless of legal status. Unfortunately, that could happen. (See: The Left’s Secret Immigration Plan, at: http://www.billoreilly.com/show?action=latestTVShow#1). The basis of this commentary is a NY Times article outlining the political left’s view on what immigration rules, in the United States, should be. If you set out to deliberately design a society sitting on a mountain of sociological dynamite, you couldn’t do better.
The vast majority of these new entrants to the U.S. will likely gravitate to the 30 or 40 largest cities, because that is where most of their brethren already are and it’s easier for them to make a living there whether it be on entitlements, entry level low wage jobs, or criminal activities. Keep in mind also, most of these metropolitan areas are “sanctuary cities”, deliberately protecting criminals, often vilifying law-abiding citizens and attracting miscreants of all types. If you live in one of these places, you are currently left of boom. Are you comfortable?
Another scenario I suggest you game out is a currency crisis. It is not widely known, but your bank deposits do not legally belong to you. Yes, you read that right! Those deposits belong to the bank. You are now an unsecured creditor of the bank. Legally, you have “loaned” your deposits to the bank. Google the term “Bail In”, and you will get a good sense of what this issue is all about. Yes, the bank owes you the money, but there are numerous reasons why they may refuse to immediately return it to you. Even under current calm conditions, there are increasing numbers of stories of people trying to withdraw modest sums from their accounts and being refused or hassled with paperwork and delays. If a serious financial crisis occurs, even retrieving small amounts from your bank accounts could become problematic. At present, you are left of boom of a serious banking crisis. Are you comfortable?
The good news is that as you game out scenarios using this approach many of the same individual items will appear on different lists, because they are virtually a staple good. For example, your first scenario list may include a Big Berkey water filter. Then you find that the Berkey also appears on every other list. Just because it gets listed six times doesn’t mean you need six Big Berkeys. You only need one to cover all scenarios. Well, maybe two. Redundancy is never a bad idea. Just don’t forget extra filters.
By all means, prepare, but do your homework. Prepare with direction, not aimless bouncing from topic to topic. Spend your resources on things you are sure, or reasonably sure, you and your group will need. To do less is to waste precious time, money, and energy on a “hope”. Hope is not a strategy. Your list of necessities will not match mine, your neighbor’s, or some armchair expert’s list. Don’t let that weigh you down with doubt. Learn from others. Listen to their ideas. If invited and you are so inclined, share your ideas with them. Adopt good ideas from others, and discard bad or irrelevant ones. Learning what others are thinking will pay off in ways you would never think of on your own. Suddenly finding yourself “Right of Boom” can be deadly. Being “Left of Boom” never hurt anyone, and preparing can provide some level of contentment in a world that seems to grow crazier by the day. Be a positive force! N.C.L The Retired Professor