Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bunker Down

I certainly hope that I’m not one of them, but, one way or another, by 11 p.m. Eastern tonight – maybe even at 8 p.m. when Ohio is called - approximately half the (voting) citizens of the U.S. of A. will be predicting that Armageddon begins tomorrow.

Then there’s Sandy, which is prompting most sentient human beings to start thinking at least a teeny-tiny little bit about climate change. Which leads, for those of us who live in Low Lying Districts near The Ocean, to starting to think about flood insurance.

And somewhere along the way last week, I read an article somewhere about the prevalence of superbugs in Boston’s hospitals. Which, given how much time my husband and his faithful companion have been logging in at least one Boston hospital this year, is somewhat worrisome.

Then, of course, there are the generalized, niggling little worries ratcheting around in the background: rogue states, loose nukes, splashdown meteors…

Some folks aren’t just worrying about bad stuff, they’re trying to do something about it – if not for the common good, then to save them and theirs.

For the Corbis of Los Angeles, security ‘r us.

The Corbi family's house looks like many other modern homes in the Hollywood Hills, with white walls, large glass windows and views of downtown Los Angeles. But it has some key differences from its neighbors. The house has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster scenario imaginable, from storms to high-magnitude earthquakes to wildfires to pandemic to a rare but potentially crippling high-frequency electromagnetic pulse attack triggered by a nuclear bomb, solar flare or specialized weapon. A wine cellar in the basement doubles as an underground bunker. If all else fails, a rooftop helipad allows for a last-ditch emergency exit. (Source: WSJ Online.)

Well, maybe it’s not quite security ‘r us. Maybe it’s more like security was us, or we sometimes wish that security was us.  It’s no longer up for grabs, but last January, Chez Corbi was on the market since January, when it was going for a cool $5.9M.

Check it out, but take my meh for it: cold, over-designy, and uninviting.


From the perspective of the owner, this house makes plenty of sense, as Al Corbi is the President and Founder of SAFE – Strategically Armored and Fortified Environments, which is dedicated to “self reliance through preparation.”

And how does SAFE define self reliance?

The ultimate measure of self reliance is the ability to survive without outside assistance.  At a minimum this means operating independent of all public utilities and governmental services such as medical, protection, sanitation, shelter and sustenance.

Hmmm.  I can see how you could keep on keepin’ on with your own electric and sanitation. How you could stockpile enough  canned pineapple, linguini, and cashews to last you a while. How you could protect yourself from a lot of things, including the aforementioned “crippling high-frequency electromagnetic pulse attack triggered by a nuclear bomb, solar flare or specialized weapon” – whatever a specialized weapon may be. (Could it be specialized enough to attempt a bunker buster on the wine cellar doubling as a bunker in the Corbi manse?)

But, short of having an MD (at at least a nurse practitioner) on staff 24/7, along with a fully-stocked pharmacy, X-ray machine, diagnostic lab, transfusion capability, etc., how does one become medically self-reliant? I guess there’s always Christian Science…

Anyway, the Corbis aren’t the only ones bunkering down.

Out in the Show Me state, Steve Huff is showing everyone with a 70,000 square foot, ahh, I guess it’s a house. It just looks like a hotel.  No one better try to huff and puff and blow this house down, as it’s tornado-resistant. Which makes total sense out there in tornado alley.


And in Florida, a 40,000 square foot hurricane-proof house is going up at water’s edge.

Even lower end – if not exactly low end – places are getting in the act when it comes to Mother Nature proofing, taking advantage of all kinds of bleeding-edge construction materials technology.

I’m fine with the weather-proofing, with the caveat that if you’re building on water’s edge, all the weather-proofing technology in the world is not going to save you if the waterfront that used to be 50 yards out is now 50 yards back. Unless the technology includes placing your foundation on a raft that turns your 40,000 square foot cottage into a houseboat.

But I’m all for using enhanced technology to make homes more weather- and natural disaster (think earthquake) -resistant. Good stuff!

And I can even see, if you were super-wealthy and prominent enough to be a potential kidnapping or whatever target, why you might want to have extra-special ways – beyond a hardware store chain lock – to keep the bad guys out.

On the other hand, I do question the super-paranoid Corbi-style fortress approach. If only because I have absolutely no desire to survive a nuclear strike going off, given that, if “they’ve” hit Boston, “they’ve” probably hit pretty much anyplace I’d want to live. I just don’t want to end my days in a radioactive wasteland, thank you. If dirty bombs going off on every corner becomes the new reality, I’ll take the ‘give me death’ option.

Maybe I’d feel differently if I were half my age, but I doubt it.

But there is, of course, a market for folks who feel otherwise.

Al Corbi, the better safe than sorry guy:

…says he can outfit homes with underground bunkers up to 30 stories below ground. He has designed one bunker in the style of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, with ceilings painted with clouds to give the impression of being outside, as well as spas and movie theaters and enough provisions to keep families entertained for months of underground living. The cost can be upward of $10 million for the most elaborate facilities.

A Caesar’s Palace-style bunker, eh?

Nouveau riche, as my mother would sniff. Which meant that, if we were riche, we would be as restrained and tasteful as old money. Which I guess means stirring our martinis and stiff upper lipping it. Thumbing through old stacks of New Yorkers while waiting for The End.

Keep calm and carry on for as long as it lasts without going to extreme measures.

Sounds like a plan.

Note to MME: Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen!

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