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  • It can get pretty snowy and cold in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior. One of the favorite pastimes is to snowmobile from bar to bar. Of course, trails are laid out between many of them as soon as the snow pack gets firm and deep enough. But this story is not about snowmobiles; it is about a survivalist in the late 1960s. In case nobody had noticed we have a reality TV program that features folks who are ready, or getting ready, for the end – whatever that means. Of course, real survivalists never advertise themselves because they want to, umm, … survive. Seeing the announcement of the show reminded me of an encounter that I had with Rick on one of those snow storm nights with howling winds and bitter cold [around -25F]. Our group had travelled a trail to a bar about ten miles from town and were warming up with beer, trash talk and dancing. And, lo and behold ole Rick came in and sat next to me at the bar. Rick is what some people call a “world expert.” No matter what the topic he knows all about it or has actually done it. And his list is, indeed, world class. Rick also didn’t work because he could not find a job. Luckily, his wife had a good job which left Rick to his own devices. It was rumored that he was “putting things by.” It is kind of hard not to notice the large piles of coal that he had in his yard before it all went underground and covered by dirt.

    That night our conversation went like this:
    Rick: “Are you ready for the end?”
    Me: “What are you talking about Rick?”
    Rick: “You know, the end of life as we know it on earth. The communists [always the communists] are on the verge of trying to take over this country. First they have tried to poison us with fluoride in the water and they have infiltrated our government. The coup is about to happen.
    Me: “No Rick, I guess that I am not ready for that.”
    Rick: “Well we are! I am sure that you noticed that we put almost five years worth of coal in our yard and covered it up.”
    Me: “I thought that it was a bit strange. Coal does not make good fertilizer.”
    Rick: “No. That is to keep us alive during the times ahead when our society is in chaos. Why, my wife and I have put away at least five years of food. We are going to survive the coming catastrophe but it looks like you are not. But it is not too late. I can tell you everything that you know to make it, put you in contact with the right people and even give you sources of materials and supplies.
    Me: “Thanks Rick, I’ll think about it.”

    Two minutes of silence between us

    Me: “Rick, I seem to remember that you don’t believe in guns.”
    Rick: “That’s right. I am against the war in Vietnam and I am a pacifist.”
    Me: “Well, you know Rick I think that I really am prepared for the end.”
    Rick: “YOU ARE??? HOW??? You haven’t put anything by.
    Me: “Rick, I don’t need to. When the end comes I am going to come over to your place, shoot you and your wife and move into your house.”

    For one of the only times that I ever found Rick speechless it was that night. He got this sick look on his face, put down his beer and high tailed it out of the bar. The next day I was in town on errands and saw Rick come out of our local gun shop carrying a rifle and ammo. Oh well, I guess that I really wasn’t prepared for the end after all.

    Think about it.
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