Whenever I get too pessimistic about the future, I console myself with the knowledge that I haven't gone completely around the bend:
BUSKIRK, N.Y. - A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.
That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.
Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.
Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn't prepare.
The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.
To be honest, I've toyed with the idea of taking survivalist precautions a time or two (starting back about the time of the last oil crisis in the 1970s); nothing like having a secret cabin in the wilderness, but just having an emergency kit in the trunk of the car (batteries and dehydrated food and blankets and gold bars, cigarettes and bullets for their cash equivalency). I've never quite gotten around to it, but I know a few people who have who aren't delusionl or off-the-deep-end conspiracy nuts. But somehow, I think if I take that step, I will have crossed a line you can't come back from.