“Flipper died a natural death he caught a nasty virus.” – King Coffey

Late last week, a stolen cyber-weapon was wielded that affected computer systems on every continent. It sprung from plans designed by the NSA to disable computer networks that were stolen and leaked online, providing hackers with a dangerous attack tool that many say should’ve been better secured, comparing it to leaving a nuke on the coffee table.

The virus locked users from nearly 100 countries, including the United States, out of communications, health-care records, and other vital information, demanding that a ransom be paid to restore the accounts.

The news of the shutdown made me check my phone and laptop to make sure I still had service, and it caused me to think a little further about “what if” scenarios. Now, I’m a far cry from being a paranoid survivalist – I don’t have a stockpile of canned food buried underground, and I haven’t even written the first paragraph of a manifesto.

But I did do some thinking about how my grandparents didn’t get electricity or running water to their home out in the country until they were in their 30’s, and remembered how they grew their own vegetables and hunted, fished for, or raised the meat they ate. And only 30 years later, I was born.

Americans, myself included, have become so dependent upon technology – whether communication, energy, transportation, etc. – that few people would know what to do if the toilet wouldn’t flush, the light switch no longer illuminated the room, or gasoline didn’t flow from the pump. What would happen if those services were attacked and we couldn’t call a plumber or electrician? What would happen if suddenly, we had no way to send a text to let our kids know we were coming to pick them up from school? How would we know if anybody liked the picture of what we were having for dinner?

Our family has had some emergency plans in place since my daughter was old enough to know what we were talking about, and thankfully, none of the “what if” discussions have been put to use yet. But last week’s news was too close and shows that, given an opportunity, some people will disrupt and destroy things we take for granted.

So on Friday afternoon, I decided to get out and hone my skills by loading up some poles, a cast net, and some tackle and head to the lake to prove my ability to feed the family. Granted, I drove instead of walking, but if the system goes down, I’ll ride a bike or one of the neighbor’s horses to the water.

After netting some shad and bluegill, I loaded the hook and cast the bait over a submerged road bed into a dropoff about 15 feet deep. Before I got the second line in the water, a chunky 2-pound bass was trying to loot and pillage my shad, so I dropped what I was doing and cranked it in. The bites kept coming for a while, and soon I had caught several largemouth bass and 2 nice crappie.

I also missed a few bites while staring off into the blowing willow branches or watching birds flying overhead, and I had a big one take off with one of my bluegills that ended up snapping the line before I could get it in hand, but I couldn’t tell whether it was a bass or catfish on the other end. Either way, it probably would’ve been included as the anchor photo for today’s outdoor column, but me standing there with a hookless line doesn’t make for good entertainment.

Thankfully, a fix for the cyber attack has been established, but you can be sure that copycats are out there making plans to attack in stronger ways, threatening our way of life and the technologies that allow it.

So in the meantime, I’m backing up the important files and photos on Flipper (my laptop) and will keep sharpening my fishing, shooting, and campfire cooking skills.

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