Occupy Survival Guide


Here in West Michigan we see slight flurries to road-covering, knee-high, drifting, blowing lake-effect snow but snow doesn’t have to be the enemy.

Latitudinally-challenged people like the Eskimos build their places of residence (igloos) from the fluffy white nectar of the sky. But likely, you’re no Eskimo– 20,000 folks in a small area sure can cause a lot of problems… so how do you survive?  For those Occupy Wall Street/Grand Rapids/Lansing protesters about to embrace their first lake-effect, ice-ridden winter the way a hedge fund manager embraces his bonus check, here are a few tips to keep you and your fellow freedom-fighters from sickness and freezing to death.

The bacteria swimming around all those people is pretty much like the cantina scene in Star Wars… you never know when a green alien is going to jump out and blast you.  So? What do you do? Let’s face it, most of us are not MacGyver, and if you went through Med School, you probably wouldn’t be sleeping in a tent in the middle of a city.

There are a few things you’re going to need to defend yourself.

Let’s start with occupying some clothes: Remember, cotton kills-it pulls heat from the body and doesn’t insulate well and is highly absorbent.  If you’re looking for natural fibers, wool is a much better option.  Wool can insulate you – even when wet – up to 1/3 saturation.  Obviously, go inside and warm up when possible but be aware that if you’re sweating when you leave and return to the frozen tundra, you run the risk of hypothermia and even death. Some wool has the ability to take moisture away from the skin, leaving you drier and better protected. 

Occupy your head, hands, feet and ears. Your extremities are the first to feel the pain.  Your body naturally will divert blood flow away from the limbs in order to keep protect your brain and internal organs.  As for the proper foot attire, stick with something waterproof and unventilated. And allow for some “wiggle room.”  If you lace up too tight, you restrict even more blood flow to the toes and the feet stay cold.  Blood flow keeps you warm. 

Remember, when you’re not awake, you’re asleep.  When winter occupying, you must beware if snow completely envelopes your tent because breathing eats up all the oxygen and replaces it with carbon monoxide, a poison. Yes, breathing can kill you. Take shifts dusting snow off of the tent (perhaps using a tire boot and parking tickets) and make sure to keep it ventilated.

Also, remember the earth sucks…the body heat out of you through conduction, so protect yourself by using a raised cot, sleeping pads, 3-liters of moon mist, pizza boxes – whatever you can find. You need to occupy yourself a good sleeping bag: -20 degrees is fitting for this side of the state.


Hand Sanitizer… you’re going to need to occupy a lot. Don’t stock up on that cruddy alcohol based sanitizer like Purell. You need something hardcore with what they call, “persistence.” Look for Triclosan or PCMX in the active ingredients. Persistence doesn’t just mean you’re going to occupy some space until people listen to you, or hitting on someone in a bar until they give up their digits. It means the good guys in the sanitizer are going to kill the bad guys… for a lot longer than the alcohol could.

Speaking of persistence… let’s talk about that odor issue that’s going to be occupying YOU! Don’t be the homeless guy who walks around, talking to himself, regarding his own personal hygiene.  You want people to see you when you’re out protesting, not run away from the rank stench that could knock a turkey vulture off a telephone poll at 100 yards. What do you do?  One of the ways is with a shower wipe. This can help you get the dirt, gunk, and stank off in absence of running water. I’d recommend going with something delicate, like a cucumber and aloe… which can also double for toilet paper… if you can actually find a toilet someone is going to let you use.  And, look after your mouth!  Save yourself a trip to the dentist and go out to buy some Wisps. No water needed, brush, pick, toss… and SHARE.

Money… you’re going to need at to occupy least $1000 cash for a couple of reasons. You’re probably going to need to post bail when you get arrested for continually using the Starbucks toilet without buying coffee… or… you’re just going to have to buy a LOT of coffee. Yeah, I know, $1k is a lot of dough, and you may have issues putting all that money in your skinny jeans, but people that take bribes? Well… they don’t take American Express.

If you’re not tweakin’ for the weekend on triple skinny carmel macchiato with 4 shots of espresso, you’re going to need to occupy some hydration. Protesting is a tough job, so you don’t want to go passing out and end up handcuffed to a hospital bed, or falling over when they turn the fire-hose on you. I’d say go get a Camel-Bak and fill it up with some cold water; it’s like a backpack and a water-bottle all in one.

Nutritionally? Okay, so you’ve survived the night and now it’s time for breakfast. Dunkin Donuts, for example, are high in calories, which are good, but they lack complex carbohydrates, which break down slowly, keeping you warmer longer. Staple junk foods like donuts and bagels (mmm…bagels) are loaded with simple sugars (mmm, simple) so the energy burns up quickly, leaving you like a low-blood sugar, mush-brain, with little to no mental capacity for decision making.  So stick to the complex-carbs.

What about booze?  Alcohol makes you feel warm, but in reality it makes you colder.  Cigarettes are equally unhelpful at providing warmth.  Both alcohol and cigarettes cause constriction of the blood vessels, especially to the hands and feet, limiting the blood flow to those areas=COLD. 

You’ll probably want to occupy an acoustic guitar. It’s not that “Stairway to Heaven” and every Pearl Jam song ever made get old after hearing them 100 times… but you can also smash the guitar and use it for firewood. Depending on how you play, you might actually make more friends that way.


Bring a tent big enough for 2 to occupy. You never know when you’re going to meet that special protester that dots their “i’s” with a heart on their placards. In that case, you had better occupy some condoms as well. Sharing body heat to keep from getting hypothermia has been a long standing way to stay warm in harsh times. If you don’t smell like butt-crack and tacos, there’s probably a higher possibility of that.

Occupy some duct tape. It’s got 1001 uses, right? When your shoes and clothes become raggedy tatters flapping in the wind like Donald Trump’s hair piece on a speed boat, your faith in your cause isn’t going to hold them together… duct tape is!

Move it or lose it!  Sedation is the enemy.  Sitting around will make you more susceptible to cold.  Break up the day with jumping jacks, push-ups, free-style running or cold yoga.  Blood is your body’s thermoregulator, so it’s essential to keep it flowing.  I’ve personally never seen a hippy do a push-up, but I am confident in their ability to do so (even if it’s hard to do push-ups in skinny jeans).

Following these simple and brief tips in this article may be the difference between life and death for many of the protesters out there this winter.  Otherwise, toilet paper is always an option.

If you ever have any health questions or concerns/comments please email me at dr.mik@healthylife4me.com


Health & Happiness,

Dr. Mik


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