Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reading the base line

Have you ever been on a walk in the woods and reveled in the absolute quiet of it all?  Have you ever stepped into a room and all eyes were on you for some reason?  Have you ever walked down the street and noticed that everyone was looking at you? 

This kind of thing happens all the time and I would like to think that the readers of Survivology101 blog are aware enough to notice when it happens to them.  If you have noticed this or a similar situation it is because you broke the baseline. has a few definitions of that word, the first three relate to sports but the last two are the ones that I am concerned with:

4. a basic standard or level; guideline: to establish a baseline for future studies.
5. a specific value or values that can serve as a comparison or control.

Every situation has a particular rhythm or frequency to it.  That rhythm is affected by all the factors that take place in its normal groove.  When a foreign factor is introduced the base line changes until it can readjust its frequency to the new stimuli.  This new stimuli could in fact be you.  It may be affected by your clothing, your speech, your gait, or simply your presence.  When you remain in that location or situation for a while the base line will change and it is observable.  When moving around daily before you transition from one location to the next or move into an unfamiliar environment, pause on the edge and observe this baseline.  Once you have a good feel for it attempt to blend into it.  This is not always possible but sometimes it is.  Keep in mind that in most of the places that you frequent you are part of the baseline. Observing the base line can help keep you safe especially if you understand how it works.

If I happened to be on vacation in Thailand and I walk a certain route to my favorite watering hole every day then I can recognize the normal rhythm.  If one of those days there are no kids playing in the street and the shop keepers are inside and not outside herding in the passersby, there could be a problem.  The local gang of street thugs may be in the area looking for trouble, or there could be a car bomb parked outside of the pub.  People that live there will change their routine to avoid getting dead and you should too.  But for this to be effective you HAVE TO NOTICE the change.

Have you ever watched a spy movie and when they do the surveillance they are in a van with XYZ company painted on the door?  That is an attempt at blending into the baseline and avoiding detection.  A black Government van with TLA (Three Letter Agency) stenciled on the door would stick out like a sore thumb in my neighborhood.  A landscaping vehicle with a trailer and a driver eating a sandwich can park almost anywhere and never get a second look, even directly in front of your house.  This is blending into the baseline.

Why should you care about the baseline? 

I remember a while back Jack Spirko on The survival podcast had mentioned that he and his wife were in a bad part of town (buying a vacuum bag I think) and Jack had noticed a glance from a local that was hanging out.  Jack said that the LOOK seemed to say, "I'm not gonna mess with you, but I wouldn't be here if I were you".  In perceiving that he promptly executed an about face and went back to his car.  That is a perfect example of how noticing changes in the baseline can protect you.  There is no way to know if they were ever in any danger but it is known that, if there was any danger he avoided it.  
(I cant remember the podcast# and there are too many to search through)

You can feel the base line and we have all felt that change.  Pay attention and listen to what your unconscious is trying to bring to your attention.  It is a survival mechanism that is built into everyone but we have become numb to its alarm.  Our evolution to utter complacency is similar to taking the battery out of a smoke alarm, rather than hear the annoying sound.

In nature, trackers use the baseline of the debris on the forest floor, the weaving of the trees, sounds, smells and animal habits to detect the passage or presence of the quarry.  Likewise the animals use the baseline to protect them selves from predators.  That is why they all quiet down and hide when humans stumble through their habitat like a band of drunken Sasquatch.

Reading the baseline is not only for protection either, sometime you might want to brake the baseline for attention.  Maybe at a job interview you want to present an upbeat confident attitude in an otherwise monotonous workplace.  Or perhaps you want to get and hold a students attention in class, try slamming a book down on the floor, that will shatter the baseline.  For me, I found that when I want to stand out, get noticed and be remembered, donning my Utilikilt is the way to go.

Keep your eyes up, stay alert, and stay aware because survival is not mandatory!


  1. Thanks for the mention man! Love your blog, hope to see you someday soon in the real world.

  2. No problem Jack, thanks for the inspiration, We will cross paths again I'm sure.