In southeastern Tennessee, Doug is known as the “Rockman.” No, it has nothing to do with his passing resemblance to retired WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels, who was part of a tag-team called “The Rockers” in the 1980s, when Doug last cut his hair. Instead, Doug is called the Rockman for a far more direct reason: he finds, excavates, and sells rocks. Boulders, to be specific, of the visually appealing kind that find their way into carefully designed landscaping projects for commercials and residential clients. It takes a discerning eye, and not a small amount of brute force.
Like tens of thousands (if not millions) of Americans, Doug is worried about an economy he sees faltering and on the cusp of failing. This has become the most common recurring theme pushing people into prepping nationwide, both on and off the show.
In order to have something as a trade good after the expected collapse of paper dollars, Doug has come up with an interesting way to “prospect” for silver, at his local bank. Doug exchanges his paper money for roll after roll of half-dollar coins, and takes them home to crack them open. Once opened, he looks only at the edges of the coins, quickly discarding those that show copper, to single out older coins that might be made of silver. In the 2,000 half dollars he picked up during this bank run, 12 of them were older coins made with varying amounts of silver. The $6 of coins are actually worth more than $100 in silver. Doug will keep these for barter, while rolling the rest and shipping them back to the bank for their face value. One day soon, he’ll repeat the process again.
As part of Doug’s other preps, he’s decided to take some of the “heavy metal” equipment from his quarry operation to his 50 acres of land to help bury a shipping container that he’ll turn into a bunker. This will be the family’s living quarters if the worst occurs. Unlike most preppers on the show who have gone the route of putting in a shipping container and simply burying it in dirt again, Doug has moved some serious rock to put in a massive downslope septic tank and a solid reinforced-concrete slab two-feet thick. His crew will then waterproof the container’s exterior before lowering it into place, where they will then lay down concrete on the sides and top. Doug intends for his bunker to last 150 years.
Considering Doug’s skill with moving rock and boulders, it isn’t a surprise that he uses this most durable of building material to create and shield his supply caches, nor that he uses it to create fortifications and other defenses. He’s created strategic rockslides that can be triggered to block roads leading to his property, and a quartet of stone pillboxes to create defensive firing positions around the bunker.
Despite all his “rock solid” work, the show’s experts weren’t as impressed with Doug’s food, water, and security measures, which I can only presume means the lack of obvious weapons training and just Doug and his friend Inéz defending the property and their families. That allowed, they expect Doug to last a year with a full 12 months of survival time — and that ain’t bad.
Jeff Flanningham faces a tough obstacle for a prepper: trying to find a mate who will come live with him in his underground missile silo.
Oh, this is going to be fun. Can Jeff fail any more spectacularly than Brian Murdock in Episode 2?
Like Doug (and everyone else), Jeff is prepping for the pending economic collapse. Maybe Doomsday Preppers should simply be named Preparing for Obama’s Second Term. Or is that too political?
Jeff’s bug-out location is 800 miles away from his Wisconsin home, far away from everything in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. The decommissioned Atlas F nuclear missile silo is an impressive underground structure that is rapidly decaying, and the moment it first pops into view you get the distinct impression that Jeff has bitten off far more than he can chew.
While Jeff isn’t without allies, he does seem to be without much of a clue. Despite spending tens of thousands of dollars so far, Jeff still hasn’t even gotten the basic electrical needs of the upper and lower command modules squared away, and the only light comes from bare bulbs suspended from what appear to be dangling electrical cords.
The show then gets painful to watch as Jeff goes on a series of dates arranged over the internet.
Now, I’ve never claimed to be a ladies’ man, but even I have the sense God gave a rock never to ask a woman you’re meeting for the first time if she “has any survival skills.” That his first date, “Stephanie,” doesn’t lay down covering fire as she beats a retreat for the nearest exit bleating on a rape whistle is a minor miracle, and I hope the show’s lawyers are picking up her counseling bills or the poor girl may never go on another date again.
Being a prepper, Jeff has “backup plans” and so has combat medic “Laura” as his second date of the evening. Quite frankly, Laura is what my generation would call “a trip.” She hunts, quilts, can run a backhoe, and has an endearing honesty to her personality, and actually hopes the guy with his own missile base calls her back.
“Serlé” is Jeff’s third and final date of the evening, and out of the gate he asks her if she’s into shooting sports, which sets her back on her heels. She’s former Navy with a search and rescue background (which is intriguing in and of its own right) — and an attractive lady. After Jeff springs the “I’m the owner of a missile silo” bit, she thinks he’s a little nuts.
I wonder why.
When we come back from the commercial break, Jeff calls Stephanie, for a second date.
She agreed. Further, she agreed to meet Jeff at his remote, abandoned missile silo. Either asking a woman if she has survival skills isn’t as much a turn-off as I’d thought, or Stephanie has simply determined that life is no longer worth living.
We know Stephanie wants to die (or really trusts that the camera crew isn’t filming a snuff film), because when Jeff meets her in podunk Kansas and explains that he wants to blindfold her to keep the exact location of the silo hidden, she agrees. Stephanie is very cute, but her actions suggest that her family tree is 90-percent lemming.
After being shown deep underground, Stephanie is deeply unimpressed with a base that has been left to rot for 50 years until she gets to the missile silo itself. It turns out Stephanie is an avid singer, and the silo has the harmonics of a very damp concert hall.
After needlessly rappelling down the silo to collect some of the 1.4 million gallons of water, Jeff shows off his water filter. Stephanie actually agrees to a third date.
There will be no cameras on that date. Look for Stephanie on a milk carton near you.
Practical Preppers nails Jeff for having next to no food at all, and only gives a mid-range score for the silo since it still isn’t close to being habitable. He has no security to speak of (his propane “flamethrower” isn’t a match for someone with a slingshot), and, of course, his silo is undermanned.
They give him two months of survival time.
Run, Stephanie, run.
Check out the previous Installments in Bob Owens critique of Doomsday Preppers: