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Update: Items in storage box determined to be road flares, not dynamite

Commentary: Always something to panic about

Remember the panic of Y2K?

As the calendar turned toward the end of the 20th century, many believed that our computers would not make the transition from 1999 to 2000.

As a result, the computers controlling our banking systems, our hospitals, and our air control system would fail at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, and our bank accounts would be wiped out, our life support systems would come to a halt and patients would die on the operating table and airliners flying at midnight would crash because air controllers would be unable to communicate with pilots.

Those inclined to panic built shelters where they brought generators, huge quantities of water, a supply of food that would last for years, gold and silver and enough guns and ammo to protect themselves from neighbors who wanted to break in and share in the sanctuary.

Well, computer programmers worked out the conversion from 1999 to 2000 and Jan. 1, 2000, began a happy new year without complications.

I wonder if those who had prepared for the worst still have those generators, AK47s, ammo and pork and beans.

There is always something to panic about for people who are inclined to panic. The result is called "survivalism," which is making of preparations for an expected long-term or complete breakdown of society, also known as THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (TEOTWAWKI) or WHEN THE S_ _ _ HITS THE FAN (WTSHTS).

Those who do it seem to have two things in common: extreme paranoia and extreme wealth. It's been going on for generations and it's still going on today. Some call themselves "preps" (as in preparation).

One solution is former ICBM silos. There is a broker who sells old missile silos. The preps who buy them worry about events developing and something like the Russian Revolution — a total takeover of the government and takeover of private wealth. Some of them have outfitted themselves with private planes and helicopters.

One of the silos is found north of Wichita, Kansas. It is protected by a large, steel gate with a guard dressed in camouflage and carrying an automatic rifle. Inside is a condo survival project, a 15-story luxury apartment complex. The silo cost the developer $300,000 and the construction was completed in December 2012, at a cost of $20 million. The units are selling for $3 million each.

Other preppers believe that survival depends on getting as far away from America as possible. The destination of preference for these doomsayers seems to be New Zealand. There is a real estate broker in Auckland, New Zealand, who specializes in high net-worth clients looking for sanctuary in times of world crises. One client, a U.S. hedge-fund manager, defends his interest: "This is no longer about a handful of freaks worried about the world ending — unless I'm one of those freaks."

There is no limit to the possible disasters people worry about: the Bubonic Plague in Europe during the Middle Ages, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, the Great Depression, the Global AIDS crisis, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa, a nuclear war started by North Korea, a race war in America, another great flood (one group is building an arc), the U.S. government coming to confiscate our guns, a deliberate move by our Congress to dumb America down, or U.N. black helicopters occupying America to enforce a New World Order. You can think of other examples and so can I.

You can be a survivalist or a prepper if you are sufficiently panicky about real or imagined threats or disasters, but can you afford it? I can't, so I'm hunkering down right here in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota with fresh flashlight batteries, pork and beans, chicken noodle soup, a can opener and lots of good books.

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