Interesting article by someone who thought they were prepared for disaster when the storm hit Puerto Rico and what they experienced in the aftermath.

The observations of the behavior of others and their own experiences are useful information to folks who themselves want to be prepared for emergencies.

Four items struck me as of particular interest:

1. Communications Infrastructure Vulnerability
The high tech system like cell phone and internet were apparently the first to fail. Those are the system most people rely on today for information and the ability to communicate with others. I think he errs in believing that the older wired phone systems would be much better. While at one time they were very physically robust the old mechanical switches and electrical parts of the phone system have been replaced with computerized digital hardware which is, itself, just as vulnerable as cell phone and the internet.

Perhaps more attention needs to be paid to have older, more traditional means of gathering information such as short wave radios and a way to power them. For those who have the knowledge perhaps ham radio equipment? But at least a short wave that can be powered by a crank or batteries and some general familiarity with actually using a shortwave to gather information.

Many years ago before the internet I was an avid shortwave listener and found it fascinating to listen to news sources all around the world. Even today I still spend an hour or so in the evening every month or two just working through the dial, adjusting an antenna to see what is out there on the shortwave bands. Might be a fun and entertaining family activity on occasion… Shortwave Night. Radio Havana has some great Cuban music. Shortwave stations are free… well except for the price of hearing the propaganda of whatever country is hosting the station.

2. The Author WAS Prepared and Fared Well Compared to Most.
He points out that compared to most others he and his immediate group fared pretty well. They had power, water, food, shelter and, with some work, at least some communications.

3. Water Was Key
They had access to water and a way to purify it. He made note of the way that many other were stopping to collect spring water since the normal sources of safe water were gone. As it is often said “You can go 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water.”

4.The End Game
He and his immediate group seem to have finally been able to escape the situation there and flee to a part of the world which had not endured such devastation. Which immediately brings to mind, to me at least, what if they hadn’t?

I imagine decisions were made at the time based on the knowledge that soon they would be able to escape the situation in which they were in. I wonder how those decisions would have been affected if they knew they would NOT be able to escape the situation or that there was no where to which TO escape.

What if, as in the case of a solar EMP there was NOT A PLACE to which to flee and the situation they were in was the situation everywhere and for the indefinite future?

The Librarian


Well age and senility and perhaps just general stupidity strikes again.

Turns out that when I tried to copy the Scientific American files I was most recently working on to the Flash Drive I was preparing to send out I made a small error.

I had already copied them on a few days before into the Directory I put on outgoing drives to hold files in progress… and completely forgot I did so.

Normally that would not be an issue except that the Scientific American files are in the neighborhood of 30gb. So not without those files the Flash Drives still had about 50gb of free space. Plenty to hold a copy of the Scientific American files with a good bit of space left over.

Once I deleted the duplicate directories there is plenty of space for the foreseeable future expansion.

So an unnecessary exercise. Still nice to have the feedback so that when it DOES become an issue in the future I have some idea where to head.

The Librarian


FEMA Director Urges Americans to Develop “a true culture of preparedness” But No One Is Listening

Have to admit I’m stunned and impressed at the same time…

A Federal government employee, of FEMA no less, who openly states that the Federal Government can’t take care of and rescue everyone and that people need to look out for themselves…

Of course that’s something many of us have known for a long, long time and have pretty much given up hoping the government would figure it out.

It’s refreshing but I do have to wonder how long he will keep his job after saying something like that in public.

I’ve mad a note of the date of this story and I’ll be checking back with the FEMA site periodically to see just how long he remains in place. The entrenched bureaucracy in D.C. has a vested interest in Americans NOT believing they can take care of themselves and should rely on government to take care of them.

Someone in government openly stating the converse just seems to much like the protruding nail that someone will take a hammer to as quickly as possible lest his ideas spread.

I’ll be watching to see how long he remains or possibly recants his heretical statements.

The Librarian


I was copying file to a flash drive last night to send to someone this morning when I discovered a bit of a problem.

With the addition of the Scientific American collection the complete Library exceeded the capacity of a 256gb flash drive.

The collection is not complete as there are still a significant number of missing issues I’m assembling but even the ones I have push the Library beyond the room available on a 256gb flash drive.

So looking for your feedback on the best way forward.

The most obvious solution that comes to mind is to start using Portable Hard drives instead of flash drives.

Portable hard drives are available in a wider range of sizes at reasonable prices since smaller hard drives (i.e. under 500 gb) are in wide supply at low prices.

The next step up from a 256gb flash drive is a 512gb and the prices on those are in the $200+ range.

So I’d like your feedback and opinions. Portable USB hard drives? Multiple flash drives?

The Librarian

p.s. I’ve also removed the Flash Drive option to buy a copy of the library for the time being.


When I first posted the Scientific American (First Series) I mentioned that some of the Issues were missing from some of the Volumes. They were missing from several of the sources which I used to collect them.

When I started doing a more in depth search today I found a collection at Cornell University which seems to have the missing issues.

Unfortunately Cornell does not store them as PDF files, like most libraries do, but as individual GIF image files for each page. That means downloading every page of a missing issue, converting each page to a different format then creating a PDF from the resulting images. Not hard just tedious.

Fortunately I have a collection of old TV episodes to watch while I work which helps relieve the tedium.

So the missing issues have been posted and each one has an annotation next to it in the index saying Updated. That should make it easy to grab the missing files if you’ve already downloaded the others.

I’ve been working through the New Series and have found a number of those missing also from all the sources I had been checking. I’m going to go back and start over and try to fill the missing issues from the Cornell collection. Tedious and slower but I think it’s worth having the entire set.

The Librarian


I’ve posted the first Scientific American Series which spans the period from 1845 to mid-1859. That comprises Volumes 1-14. They issued one each week so generally 52 issues each year. In mid 1859 they cut volume 14 off at issue 42 and started a totally new series with a new issue every 2 weeks for 26 a year.

There are a few issues missing in some of them such as Volume 6 which I couldn’t find at any of the sources. I’ve added those to my “Missing” list which I periodically check for.

I’m working through the rest of the volumes and will post them in sections as I get groups of them finished. The newer series runs through Volume 99 and there don’t appear to be as many missing from those as from the First Series.

The Scientific Americans are particularly nice since they delve into what was, at the time, new emerging technology and try to explain it in terms that common readers would understand. For those of use looking at books on 1800s technology these are extremely useful since they can help make sense of some of the technology which we are not familiar with yet would like to learn.


The Librarian


One of the Library Patrons found the missing issues of the 73 Magazine Category
the 3 issues from 1960
the 1961 issues
the holiday issue from 1976

Thanks a lot!

The Librarian

p.s. I spent most of today (Saturday) working on the Scientific American Collection. Having to check each volume for missing issues and then download and rename those so they all have consistent names. Made it through Volume 3 of the 99 volumes.

Fortunately only a few of the volumes are missing issues so most of that was working out efficient procedures for building the catalog as I go.


I’ve been seeing lots of news stories about how much more destructive hurricanes are today than the ones back say 50 years ago. I think I’ve heard the phrase “the most destructive hurricane since…” at least a hundred times a day, maybe more.

While there’s a clear obvious reason that statement is (in a sense) true the actual reason seems to be overlooked.

That is part of what leads to, I believe, a lot of young people thinking hurricanes are somehow larger and more powerful than they used to be, which of course also lends credence to much of increasingly discredited global warming/climate-change fanaticism.

Look at the images on this site:

This is Topsail Island, a local beach community near here a few miles north of where I live. It is essentially 25 mile long sand bar that’s one of the innumerable barrier islands all along the east coat of Virginia and North Carolina. (Prior to WWII there wasn’t even a bridge to the island and the only access was by boat.)

You can see in the pictures some scattered buildings, a fishing pier and a few other tourist attractions built by locals. It has a very nice beach, good fishing, some good food and back then then population peaked in the summer and dwindled to almost nothing in the winter because back then no one with any real sense thought that living full time on a sandbar was a particularly bright idea.

Jump forward to 2017…

Topsail is now a bedroom community and a year round retirement home for many people increasingly attracting the upscale community. Oprah Winfrey has a very large and nice house on Topsail Island. It is a busy place with three separate communities; North Topsail, Surf City and Topsail Beach.

Think about that… essentially three towns jammed onto a single 25 mile long sandbar each with it’s own Police Department and City Hall (and incidentally different speed limits in each community which, with 3 separate Police Departments and a LOT of tourists in the summer, contributes to city revenues). And no I haven’t been a victim of that but having been in Law Enforcement I’ve seen that phenomenon in many small towns.

When you drive around Topsail today there is very little land upon which has not been built a house, a hotel, a business or is a cleared lot for sale. The houses reach to the very tip on either end of the island and line both the sea side and the inland waterway side. The communities built artificial sand dunes on the sea side anchored with sea grass and other local plants to try to “protect” the residences but they pretty much wash away every time there is a major storm and have to be rebuilt. Perhaps it gives the residence a (false) sense of security to have a tall sand dune between their house and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bottom line is this…

If a hurricane had scoured Topsail clean of buildings back in the middle of last century it wouldn’t been a major disaster simply because there wasn’t much of anything there. Prior to WWII there was virtually nothing. The locals who had piers and a few scattered cabins out there would have been put out but no one would have likely heard of it outside of the local area.

The same major hurricane today would destroy thousands of home, businesses, hotels, streets, water and sewer lines and septic tanks. A major evacuation would have been ordered and news media from around the country would have been here, as they were when Matthew bore down on the island back in 2007.

Construction has continued unabated since 2007 and there are a lot more building 10 years after Matthew. So the next comparable hurricane will, naturally, be more “destructive” then Matthew was.

Are the hurricanes any stronger, the winds blowing any harder than a century ago?

No not particularly.

It’s kind of like the difference between throwing a large rock in the dessert with no one in your line of sight and throwing that same rock on a crowded room.

Is the rock more “destructive” in the crowded room? In the sense that it hit more people and did more damage certainly.

Is it any different from the rock that you threw in the dessert which did no damage? Nope.

So when you hear people going on about how much more “destructive” hurricanes are today than they were 50 years ago or a hundred years ago consider what that actually means… especially when such statements are coming from “journalists” who often have no education in any subject other than “journalism”. Take what they say with an entire 50 lb bag of salt.

The rock (hurricane) isn’t really any larger or stronger. Individual storms vary in size and intensity. Always have, always will.

But every one of those storms that touches land does so in a much more “target rich” environment.

The Librarian