Prepared? When Ebola hits your town you will want to be antifragile.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Back in July, I was pointing out my concern about air travel
between Africa and Texas.

Then some time passed.

Back on September 8th, thinking about my personal situation, I asked the following questions: 

    At what point do we implement:

  •         tele-commuting
  •         home schooling
  •         top off the farm tanks
  •         close the gate
  •         no guests
  •         staycation

    Do I wait until Ebola cases confirmed in USA?

    Do I wait until Ebola cases confirmed in my state?                           

    Do I wait until Ebola cases confirmed in my city?

    Do I wait until Ebola cases confirmed in my neighborhood?

Then some more time passed.

Well, now that Ebola has actually traveled on a plane from Africa to my home state of Texas, thanks to our government's inaction, I can eliminate the first two questions.  Let's discuss some practical steps we all might take at this point.  For the sake of this article, I will assume that many ZH readers have made at least some zombie-apocalypse preparations, maybe even along the lines of my article from 2012, Fear we are returning to a time in history where it is a common occurrence to fight for one's life? 

Item 2

Develop a basic mindset.  Here are some ideas.  Commit to prepare for zombies, so that currency collapse, EMP, hurricanes, revolution, world war, [edit: Ebola Pandemic] or anything else will seem relatively mild.  Understand that the time to make a plan and prepare is before, not after a zombie invasion.  Understand that there is no way you can plan or prepare for every contingency, but doing something today goes a long way to peace of mind, and eliminating any regrets should the shit actually hit the fan.  Realize that everything is likely to cost more next year, if you can get it, so better to buy it now.  Acknowledge that nobody really knows if, what, when, or how anything in the future is going to is all just speculation.  Finally, always remember that, "on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero," so don't get too worked up, or go into debt, just because of this little exercise in paranoia.


One place we do tend to start our preparations is by trying to define the peril, or perils.  Today, the obvious one is infection of myself, or family member, by the Ebola virus.  But is that really the biggest peril?  Maybe a bigger risk, for me, is financial.  How might my business be affected by quarantine?   Maybe, if someone in my family were dependent on dialysis, then the big peril is a collapse of the healthcare system, like in Liberia.  Maybe, if the local grocery clerks decide that they would rather not risk infection for $7.50/hour, the big peril is starvation.  Maybe, if others don't have food to eat, and I do, the big peril is looters.  Maybe, our current government will never let a good crisis go to waste, and the biggest peril is to our freedom.  Maybe, Taleb is correct, and we would all be better off if we stop trying to predict what exactly the Black Swans will be (not likely), when a Black Swan will arrive at our doorstep (less likely), and instead we start trying to be more antifragile, as described in his book of the same name.

"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better."

Apart from option straddles on airline stocks, and going long MIC leaps, how can I become more antifragile?  By thinking about Ebola arriving in my home state, I may have discovered that it isn't as difficult as it sounds, although becoming antifragile is not something that we can do in a hurry.

Sure, over the last month, I topped off the propane and diesel tanks on the farm.  Why?  First, it is easy, because I already have the tanks, and I already have an account with the suppliers, so all I had to do was make a couple of phone calls.  Second, if our prayers for the best work out, then I am not out anything, because I will use the fuel over time.  Third, if delivery drivers start thinking twice before going to work, and gas stations start closing down for lack of fuel, I will have options, and will not be put into the perilous situation of searching for fuel and waiting in lines to get a little.  Taleb doesn't say this, exactly, but my interpretation is that being antifragile is mostly about having some good options when shit goes down in unexpected ways, as it always does.  As an aside, what can you do if you don't have a farm or farm tanks?  You could seek advice from the fuel can oracle.

I admit that I also made sure we have plenty of examination gloves, masks, gowns, rubber boots, and decontamination supplies.  But does that make me more or less antifragile?  Would I really benefit from having these things if Ebola cases started popping up in our school district?  We do not have the inventory to sell these supplies, and if we did, I would just give them away, rather than profit from others misery.  I guess it comes down to one's definition of benefit, and interpretation of antifragile.

In reality, I feel that most of the actions I can take to be more antifragile are long-term lifestyle actions, habits, not quick fixes or purchases in a panic.  For example, as you all know, we live on a small farm where we grow healthy food for our familyWe exercise regularly, and are not on any medications.  We take our personal defense seriouslyWe take some responsibility for our children's education.  We work on strengthening our relationships with each other.  We seek to remove the middlemen from our lives through disintermediation.  I believe that these are some practical ways to be more antifragile, although Taleb might disagree with me on several accounts, and so may you, dear reader, in the comments below.

Have we pulled the kids from school, closed the farm gates, and started an extended staycation because there is an African Ebola patient in Dallas?  No.  Have we stopped eating out at restaurants, traveling in airplanes or any public transportation, and consuming sugar in amounts that weaken our immune systems?  Yes.

Peace be with you!


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pacu44's picture

I am in New Orleans, we have 3 people quaranteened for ebola "like symptems" in the greater New Orleans area....


S#!* just got real

Doug Huffman's picture

Good for the proper take on Taleb!

Buy Clorox sodium hypochlorite.

theprofromdover's picture

What if some idiot in NSA or Homeland Security or wherever thinks this will be good test to see how well they can monitor ordinary folks movements.

Lets say they think they can track an American doctor returning from West Africa thru his gps cellphone, and everyone else he comes within 10 feet of from the minute he lands on Texan soil. Then they think they can track all of these folks and everyone they meet and share air. Then they think they can round them all up ???

So they let him in without quaranteeing him and everyone elso on that plane.

You know someone will think its a good idea, you know, to see how good their coverage is. So what if it gets a little out of control for a while.

Don't be surprised, there aren't a lot of sensible people left inside the hive.

AgentScruffy's picture

I agree that keeping your nutrition up is very important, not only for immunity but also for emotional resilience....and for being able to avoid hospitals.

I used to work in an office in downtown D.C. within walking distance of the White House. Some sort of 'medical' training school opened up on the same floor. The students--many of them looked as though they didn't take care of themselves. The women's bathroom on the floor became a disturbing scene of bodily fluids and excrement on surfaces. Women started going to other floors to avoid it. The source of this: students attending the medical training school.

One day I came upon 3 of the students, in their scrubs. One was angry over it...I asked them a question, and she said one of the teachers was trying to teach them basic personal hygeine and found it challenging. He took to swabbing office door knobs, and telling them what they were spreading: staph, etc.

Bottom line: how many of these 'medical training schools are diploma/cert mills, that exist only to get govt funding, given out liberally to anyone who "needs" training for a job? These graduates go on to take your x-rays, draw your blood, and do all sorts of low level jobs in the hospitals...touching door knobs, bed rails, stairway railings.  In my opinion this is a major reason major bacterial infections are increasing and becoming common in U.S. hospitals.

Anyone remember the news stories about how U.S. hospitals are bending over backwards to try to convince their infantile personnel to wash their hands? They pipe in live reminders from call centers in India to remind Americans to wash their hands. Our health centers are now a mix of world class + 3rd world. Let the quote below sink in.

"Studies have shown that without encouragement, hospital workers wash their hands as little as 30 percent of the time that they interact with patients. So in addition to the video snooping, hospitals across the country are training hand-washing coaches, handing out rewards like free pizza and coffee coupons, and admonishing with “red cards.” They are using radio-frequency ID chips that note when a doctor has passed by a sink, and undercover monitors, who blend in with the other white coats, to watch whether their colleagues are washing their hands for the requisite 15 seconds, as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. "

This is one major reason why the government is wrong when they say the American hospital system is ready to handle Ebola with no infection spread.

What you can do: know a doctor you trust? Ask him about the hospitals in your area and their history on hygeine, bacterial outbreaks. Pick the best hospital to go to should you need surgery or other care during this Ebola thing.

Another thing you can do: Go ahead and get your annual check ups: dental cleaning, vision, physical, mammogram, whatever. Get current, get it out of the way.

Another thing: Get your car maintenance up to date. Transmission flush. Timing belt change. Whatever.

Peace to all. And remember, if you plan now, you're already ahead of 99% of the public. If you make sure you get good nutrition, and don't have magnesium, D3 etc deficiencies, you're ahead of most Americans.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

Opposite of fragile is hardy. Perfectly good word,been around for years. Hardy plants are plants that do well under a wide range of conditions, so too hardy peoples.

good link for ebola info:


JoJoJo's picture

Stay away from those monkeys in Africa. LEAVE them alone.  Dont touch DonT chop Dont cook and Dont eat those darn monkeys.

Skateboarder's picture

click clack took took pop dingaroo clock clock wheep wheep

Translation: "Mind your own damn business Yankee. What do you know about the delicacy of monkey brain?"

Joe A's picture

This article could have been perfect if he had thrown in a picture of one of his home made cheeses. Yammy.

himaroid's picture

The BIG question is, how does one refrain from medicinal greens and ales and fermentations of all kinds. Not everyone is excellent at self medication. Yeah, yeah, I get high on life and a good workout, and natural healthy food. But the dinosaur dick does not come from that. THC, Southern Bourbon, coca leaf extract, jUan valdez morning magic. Red meat. Pork. Fowl, Fish. Mushrooms. Come on dude. Tell it. Tell it.

Bloppy's picture

Elsewhere: Government's Ebola fiasco seems to have Rush Limbaugh, Anderson Cooper in rare agreement

himaroid's picture

That's no dilemma. I just pray that evil is as much fun to slaughter as it is to worry with.

buffalosky's picture

1 billion people will die from Ebola and worst case scenario is coming I'm afraid. It's the start of the perfect storm so I've got my mountain bike, gore-tex gear, and other essentials ready for my trip to S. America where it'll be time to enjoy some country scenery at the end of the world - figuratively speaking.

Source: Gut

mastersnark's picture

I thought "antifragile" meant you don't cry when helping to force immigrants onto buses to the "safety camps."


JetsettingWelfareMom's picture

Cases may be piling up, but has anyone else noticed that most of those people have not died? So to me it's a really awful dengue fever type flu virus from hell, and that's on the off chance that I get it to begin with.

I'll work at natural means to boost my immune system, thank you very much. Pass the garlic and anise...

Karaio's picture


Will die smelling! 

Garlic and anise is interesting! 


therevolutionwas's picture

As with most diseases, if your immune system is down, if you live in poverty in an area with poor sanitation,  poor diet, you stand a good chance of not surviving the disease.  Most Americans are not that.

Of course, the US gov't researchers could have come up with a more deadly form.

q99x2's picture

I can jog 18 miles nonstop and if ebola hits my town I'm certain I can go a heck of a lot farther.

Grouchy Marx's picture

Keep jogging until the epidemic is over I'd guess.

Hope he takes extra shoes with him.

yabyum's picture

H&H, Hope the crops did well! I had a fair year and hope for a late frost. Wash your hands! and cover your mouth....common courtesy! Meeting in the hospital am, meeting now  called "Now what do we do"? PS there is a plan but some common sense  will go along way..

Renewable Life's picture

Great common sense based article, I too am "topping off the tanks" but the hardest part of being "antifragile" is getting the people around you to just be aware enough and agree to prepare enough, so it's not all in vain!!

Mareka's picture

"Topping off the farm tanks"

Had mine filled last weekend.

Fuel truck driver apologized for being late. 

He said he's been super busy the last few weeks filling tanks in 3 surrounding counties.

Remain calm... all is well.

cobra1650's picture

This ebola deal is a hoax....utter bullshit.

Texas is the best-managed state in the country.

MollyHacker's picture

Thomas Eric Duncan
going down in history like
Mrs O'Leary:-

Mareka's picture

Thomas Eric Duncan. 

Each news report I read in the US media descibes his as in Dallas "visiting his familiy".

He was in Liberia in contact with a woman who later died from ebola.

3 days later he lies about the contact to get on a plane to the USA.

He knew it was likely he was infected and was getting to a country with decent hospitals, intentionally transporting the virus to US soil.

He hadn't "visited his family" in years.

This guy transports a disease into our country and our MSM is so paralyzed with polital correctness that they can't even call this what it is.


Grouchy Marx's picture

Spot on, Mareka. I read he was "visiting his former wife". Now, who visits their ex?

And flies thousands of miles to do so, at great expense?

I've lost all patience with the "authorities". Every time somebody gets in front of a microphone and tells me there is no reason to worry or there is "zero chance" of something, I want to scream. Dammit, I have a constitutional right to panic or not as I see fit. Just give me somebody with a pair of balls who can tell me the truth - about anything! Every single person in authority seems to have been schooled in the idea that everyone in positions lower than themselves are as stupid as trees and need to be handled like children.

The problem is, the children are running the asylum.

TheReplacement's picture

There you go again.  Acting like you believe this is all a matter of incompetence or stupidity.  Ha.

83_vf_1100_c's picture

  I considered doing so at one time but after I thought it through I decided my lilly white ass would not fare well in the prison system.

robnume's picture

Although I just posted a comment, I'd like to add an apology to the writer of this article, who seems to be a decent human being. My rant on Texas is based on my own experiences there and I don't want folks to think that I am a Texan-hating moron. My uncle was a Fulbright Scholar in linguistics and chose to teach at U of T in Austin, where he and my cousins still reside. I love Austin and San Antonio, Corpus Christie and Big Bend country, too. All apologies to any, especially the author of this well thought out article, Texan who was offended by my comment. We like-minded need to come together, not divide.

Emergency Ward's picture

"You can cover up rose buddie, bud, but you better not cover up TEXAS!"

-- Stan Freberg

"She's the sweetest little rose bud that Texas ever kneeew!"

Emergency Ward's picture

"Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the deeew!"

robnume's picture

I'm sooo sorry that you have to live in Texas. I lived in Houston for a few years and Texas is truly another world. On one of my European trips last decade I found myself - somehow - surrounded by Texans in London. More obnoxious people I could not imagine. Whether sitting in bars, restaurants or airports, they were there, talking as loudly and proudly as possible about what a great place the USSA was - Texas, in particular, of course. Most of our fellow Americans were quiet, low key folk, but not the Texans. All I could think was, "Why don't you stay home for your vacation, if it's so great there". They would not have, I'm quite sure, taken advantage of the  print news and televised media in Europe which, at that time, ran stories about the USSA which we Amerikans never see in our own press outlets. Before I left London for the continent I saw an Al-Jazeera documentary, shown on BBC, about the shock and awe campaign perpetrated on the Iraqi citizenry by us and the UK. It was eye-opening, to say the least. I and my family participated in the San Francisco pre-Iraq anti-war demonstrations - both of them - so I was always against that war. But the documentary evidence of the carnage we unleashed on a country full of innocent people was truly horrifying to anyone with an ounce of compassion for their fellow human beings. WE ARE THE EVIL: the new Nazi Party, whether rethuglican, dumbocrat or tee tee party. I'm still not so sure that the African peoples are not correct in their assumption that the USSA, et al, actually started this whole damned Ebola mess. This nation would do anything, no matter how reprehensible, to foment trouble and forced population control on any nation, place or person(s). We are a nation of dangerous, out of touch psychopaths. That is all.

NoTTD's picture

I'm assuming this is satire.

Karaio's picture

No it is not! 

Also have witnessed scenes like this here in Brazil. 

: - /

SumTing Wong's picture

My biggest problems in Europe have had New York or New Jersey accents. Two youngJersey  broads in a Chinese restaurant in Paris were going on and on about who they were bedding in English. I was just getting take-out for my family, so on the way out said, "You never know who speaks English around you. And pretty much everyone here in Paris does." Shocked the shit out of them...and they embarrassed the hell out of Americans everywhere. I was glad I could pass for a local, having lived in that Arrondisement for a couple of years. 

nmewn's picture

"This nation would do anything, no matter how reprehensible, to foment trouble and forced population control on any nation, place or person(s)."

So, you shared your family values with the folks at your little San Francisco anti-war demonstration did you. What was their reaction when you brought up Dr.Gosnell? ;-)

DrewJackson's picture

The real problem with Texans, is they are becoming texans...   They talk a good game, but their policies and action show the truth.  Texas is no longer unique, the people have been watered down....  they will be a blue state too and never succeed no matter what out rage DC forces down their throats.


Texans are ALL talk and bask in the history of their REAL Texan fore fathers...  SAD.


Of course the other 49 states pretty much suck too, but none of them hold themselves up as a Whole 'nother Country either...


Buster Cherry's picture

Like Hawaii, it was...


And...whatever.... I should be thankful for the haters. Hopefully they will encourage those in other parts to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

When a state has a history such as Texas does, it can be downright difficult not to be proud of it.


Now run it down some more....

Wahooo's picture

Tend to agree. Whenever I'm in Austin, I feel like I'm in Portland. Houston is just a big sprawling city. San Antonio nothing special. Dallas reminds me of Atlanta in a way. I do like the state's heritage of independence, though, and some people there seem to have a strong connection to it. Many other states seem to lack a heritage that is expressed in the present day.

Buster Cherry's picture

Well, I happen to be in Texas right now. Why don't you come visit so we can fulfill your perceptions and beat you to death?


I'll bet you live in the Key West fudgepacking district.....

zebrasquid's picture

Oh, Yeah, that little redneck trash talkin' just made your state proud, son. Pfftttt.

forexskin's picture

one more poorly told anecdote that conflates the government with the people.

i've known some gems from texas and some real shitheads from europe - proves nothing.

i still gotta believe that when push really comes to shove, the better part of american character, dormant for 40 or so years, will shine again.

cause if not, we are lost.

nmewn's picture

Well whats on the menu for this evening? What, more leftover ebola!!!

Yuck, I'm going for takeout.

Oliver Klozoff's picture

Restaurants and fast food is off the menu in my household.