Backwoods Prep Kit for Coronavirus- May 2020



There’s a pandemic happening.  Supplies will get harder to find.  But you’ll want certain things in order to mitigate risk when you go out in public.  Also, if you do get really sick- you may need to improvise treatment as you may not have access to a hospital.  So because you like to be prepared, here’s what you should get.

Preventative-  The goal is to not get sick in the first place, which is easier for some than for others.

DIY Masks-  Wear masks when you are shopping,  in spite of what the federal govt tells you to do.  The hoarders bought them all in January- so you’ll have to make them.  Fortunately, you can make ones that work well, and to do so you’ll need two materials, cut them and sew them together:  1) vacuum bags, and 2) elastic.  I bought both on eBay.

  • Studies show that vacuum bags are a close 2nd place material to surgical masks themselves
  • Vacuum bags- get a good quality, name brand. Should be labeled as HEPA, hypoallergenic, N95
  • Elastic- get ¼” width or close. In a pinch you can innovate with hairbands or maybe rubber bands but they won’t be as comfy.
  • Comfy is as important as filtration, or else it won’t get worn consistently.
  • I bought mine on eBay. From U.S based shipper, otherwise they’ll never show up.


  • get rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach. Still work great.  Put in a spray bottle and dilute as needed for cleaning surfaces or hands.
  • Set up a station by your front door to make it easy to sanitize when you walk in.

Immune system

  • Eat better. This is especially hard in times of crisis bc we turn to junk food when we are stressed.   Good foods help your body’s immune system.  Bad foods distract it.
  • Take vitamins. Vitamin C, D, zinc especially.  Take them every day.
  • Research adaptogens. These are supplements that have been traditionally used to boost the immune system.  They work better as preventatives than as treatments-.  Ginseng, schisandra, maca, rhodiola


In case you actually get the Coronavirus and its critical.  These are the things that will get increasingly hard to find.  Basically, you’ll need two things- supply of steady oxygen, and anti-virals.

DIY oxygen-   you’ll need a tank with built-in regulator and fill gauge, plus a mask.

  • get a setup like they prescribe to folks with emphysema, user-friendly and plug-n-play.
  • Chemically there’s no difference between ‘medical oxygen’ and regular oxygen- just be wary of very old tanks coming from welding kits.  Also, tanks are all stamped with a 10-yr timeframe and refillers won’t fill them back up if they are expired.  So avoid buying expired tanks.
  • Regarding the size of tank- remember that you aren’t replacing the air we breathe so much as supplementing it. It’s not like a scuba setup where the air in the tank is the only air you are breathing.   Common misconception here.
  • Get some masks that have a little reservoir bag that gets filled up, and when you breathe in that’s where the oxygen comes from. I got these on Amazon.
  • Improvise with the regulator, tubing, mask design as needed.
  • If you can, make friends with someone who can help you refill the tank. g. welders.

Anti-virals-  not sure how to help you on this one.  Lots of theories online as to what works.

  • Some commonly-mentioned anti-virals: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.  Do your homework because these are dangerous drugs with high toxicity and side effects.
  • Before, you could order meds online from Canadian or Indian pharmacies, but not likely for a while going forward.
  • Some natural medicines to consider are adaptogens, but if you aren’t familiar with herbal medicine then now would be a hard time to start.
    • Be reasonable with any alternative medicine. In my experience, herbal remedies usually work better as preventatives, and I would consider them a complement to western medicine as opposed to a replacement.   If I could get my hands on anti-virals right now, I would.  I still keep echinacea tincture, elderberry, garlic, ginger nearby for all kinds of ailments and this pandemic is no different for me.
    • Remember that when Tylenol reduces fever, it reduces your body’s intentional immune response. So be smart and work with your body instead of against it.

Conclusion:  Do your part to flatten the curve, be smart and be resourceful, take care of your family and be a responsible part of your community at the same time.   Don’t be selfish, don’t hoard, and don’t worry about things outside of your span of control.  Just do your part.

The Scarcity that binds us after disasters

South Asia’s traditional caste system has been around for several millenia.  The idea that people are borne into their status in life- it seems offensive- an idea that we should reject if we believe in meritocracy.  But here’s another unpopular opinion- Caste societies have a rational, if exploitative roots.  They start with identifying groups of people who have fallen into a trap, and then taking advantage of them while they are caught.

  • Poverty causes the Scarcity mindset*, creating a cycle of poverty with a foundation of short-sighted habits that once were effective in helping one survive, but now only serve to inhibit one to plan for the future.
  • These habits, like any habits, are social- meaning they are passed along to friends and family.
  • Therefore the concept of a “Caste” society has a legitimate foundation in recognizing the cycles that some groups are perpetuating, and serves to label them permanently as Losers instead of just people caught in negative, self-perpetuating cycles.

The roots of this problem likely starts in crisis.  Crisis is what disturbs our healthy equilibrium- our sense of moderation and discipline.

We were doing fine, walking down the modest path of slow-growing prosperity.  Slowly accruing wealth, getting exercise, working most of the week and then spending time with friends and family the rest of us.  Giving back to the community, developing hobbies and sharing them.

And along came a Crisis.  A flood.  Or mass layoffs.  Or a medical procedure that bankrupts us.  Or suddenly becoming the caretaker to someone else.  Some Crisis that levels our sense of balance with our money, our time, and our health.  How resilient are we in the face of this Crisis?

Crisis disrupts our healthy living;  Scarcity replaces our sense of disclipline as developed in good habits; and then Castes and predatory capitalism keep us in a state of Scarcity- fat, broke, sick, and desperate.

Resiliency ought to be measured in so many other ways than we see it now.  It’s more than Jobs.  It’s the fabric of our daily lives. Are we back to getting enough exercise?  Are we eating well- mostly vegetables, not too much processed crap?  Are we saving money again, do we have time for the people and activities that make our lives meaningful?  If the answer is yes- then we have Recovered.  We are Resilient.  But if we are still living on short-term measures- meals that come out of a box but take their toll on our health;  a budget that gets us through the month but at the expense of our retirement; a schedule that keeps us in our homes but defers all of their required maintenance; a job or two that leaves us too tired to socialized, and too busy to volunteer;   then we have not Recovered, we are not Resilient- and we are still stuck in the Scarcity Loop.


*for more info on Scarcity, check out the excellent book written in 2013 by Mullainathan and Shafir