Thursday, 5 May 2016

09:17 – It’s pretty miserable out this morning. Damp with a fine mist in the air, winds of 15 MPH (24 KPH) gusting higher, and temperature in the upper 30’s (~3C), with a wind chill below freezing. It’s a good day to stay in.

I think we need to replace the in-line cartridge water filter for our well water. We’ve lived here five months as of today, and haven’t touched it. Barbara and I have both noticed that our water flow rate seems lower. I just called a plumber to schedule a visit for this afternoon. I want him to show me how to replace the filter and tell me what else needs to be done routinely to maintain our water system. Neither Barbara nor I has ever lived anywhere that didn’t have municipal water, so we need to find out what we need to do.

We started re-watching Deadwood last night. I think it’s been ten years since we watched, and about all we remember is some of the main characters. Like most HBO series, this one features lots of good dresses. It’s also well-written, which makes a striking contrast with Chicago Fire. That started out as a mediocre soap opera and keeps getting worse. With very few exceptions, on-air network series succeed by pandering to the low tastes of the American public.

Posted in personal | 71 Comments

Wednesday, 4 May

09:31 – Forty-six years ago today. Four dead in Ohio. Allison B. Krause, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, William Knox Schroeder, and Sandra Lee Scheuer. Kids minding their own business. Murdered by the government. Never forget.

Barbara is spending the day in Winston-Salem, running errands and meeting the HVAC company tech at the old house so they can do a system check and replace the central filter. Colin and I are on our own for today. He’s watching the cows. There are a couple dozen along our back fence, including several babies who aren’t much bigger than he is.

More science kit stuff today. I’ll be running more labels for bottles and making up solutions. Barbara labeled about 1,000 bottles yesterday while she watched House of Cards on Netflix streaming.

It now looks pretty certain that it’ll be Trump vs. Clinton in November, two candidates whom almost no one likes, including the rank and file of their own parties. My guess is that Trump will beat Clinton. A lot of voters hate him, but the same is true of Clinton, so it’s a matter of voters from both parties holding their noses and voting for whichever candidate they hate less. How did we get to this point?

12:16 – Colin just took me out to get some exercise. For me, not for him.

As we went out the door, I threw the Frisbee as far as I could toward the treeline on our southern boundary. Colin ran after it and caught it in the air a few yards short of the tree line. He then lay down and waited for me to walk over to him. When I got about five feet from him, he grabbed the Frisbee and ran over to the north side of the property, 150 yards or so away. He lay down, dropped the Frisbee, and waited for me to make my way over to him. When I was about five feet from him, he picked it up and ran back over to the south side of the yard. Rinse and repeat. This dog has the shittiest play skills, not just of any dog I’ve ever had or known, but of any dog I’ve ever heard of. What other dog, ever, doesn’t know that when his human throws a toy he’s supposed to go get it, bring it back, and drop it to be thrown again? Colin absolutely demands full participation. He does the same thing in the house. I’ll throw the ball. He runs and picks it up momentarily, drops it where it was, and runs back to demand that I go get it and bring it back for him.

Posted in dogs, personal, science kits | 64 Comments

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

10:24 – I walked up to Bonnie’s house yesterday while Barbara was out at a Friends of the Library meeting. Bonnie bought her scooter used, and didn’t get the manual for it. It’s a Pride Mobility Victory model, and I figured it’d be easy enough to grab the manual PDF from their website and print it for Bonnie. Turns out, they make/made a whole bunch of different models all named Victory, and there was nothing obvious on the outside of her scooter to indicate which specific Victory model it was. So I looked at the images of the control panel in all of the PDFs until I found one that looked like hers.

When I dropped off the manual, Bonnie gave me some chicken plants for Barbara. She planted those yesterday, so I’m expecting a good crop of eggs once they start growing. When I mentioned that to Barbara, she just rolled her eyes. When I mentioned that if we wanted eggs we might need to plant some eggplants, she almost threw her book at me.

More science kit stuff today. We’ll spend the day labeling bottles.

Posted in personal, science kits | 20 Comments

Monday, 2 May 2016

09:43 – Barbara is at the gym. When she returns, we’ll be doing more science kit stuff. Barbara labeled 200 sterile 15 mL centrifuge tubes yesterday for the BC03 bacteria culture we sell as an option to biology kits. I need to reculture that this week, make a phosphate-buffered saline suspension from that culture, sterilize our filling equipment, and fill those 200 tubes.

I’ve also been looking at water issues this week. Our hot water is at 48C, which is a bit cool. The standard is now 50C rather than the former 60C, which was hot enough to produce third-degree burns on adults with about 5 seconds’ exposure. One issue with the lower temperature is that the bacteria that produce Legionnaires’ disease thrive at 50C, so the federal government recommends 50C for everyone other than households with an immuno-compromised resident, for which they still recommend 60C. Oh, yeah. Our well pressure tank is a 32-gallon unit, which is smaller than I’d prefer but larger than I expected. Which reminds me that I need to call and bump the electrician, who was supposed to be installing a cutover switch for our generator.

Posted in prepping, science kits | 81 Comments

Sunday, 1 May 2016

11:08 – April started out very fast for kit sales but after the first week things slowed down dramatically. We ended up with total revenue for April 2016 at about 92% of April 2015. Not horrendously bad, but not good. In talking with other small businessmen who do their selling on the Internet, it seems that despite rosy government claims things have been generally slowing down over the past year. I’d guess about 60% of the people I’ve talked to say things for them are noticeably slower, with maybe 30% saying they’re about the same, and 10% who are actually doing better in 2016 than for the same period in 2015.

Regardless, we keep plugging along building subassemblies and hoping that our traditional rush period from mid-July through mid-October will be heavy. The stuff we’re building for stock–small parts bags and similar subassemblies–have no shelf-life issues, so if we end up not needing them during the rush period this summer, we’ll have them for later. Today, we’re going to bottle some long shelf life chemicals. Which is most of them. I used to pull sample containers to test years later. I stopped doing that once I figured out which solutions had essentially unlimited shelf lives and which needed to be made up and bottled as late as possible before shipping. So we’ll make up the former ones early and leave the others as long as possible.

Posted in science kits | 60 Comments

Saturday, 30 April 2016

09:32 – Barbara is working out in the yard today. James, who mows our lawn, is coming over to help her load his truck up with some junk from down in the corner of the yard and haul it off to the dump.

I finally got KompoZer installed on my Mint 17.3 system. Debian dropped it from their repositories, which meant that Ubuntu no longer offered it, which meant that Linux Mint no longer offered it. I didn’t want to mess around with building it from source, so it was fortunate that I came across this page. FTA and for my own future reference:

How To Install kompozer

Kompozer was dropped from the repos, since it is no longer maintained in Debian. But, you can still install it on newer releases.

Use packages from 12.04 Precise

These packages are installable on at least the 12.10, 13.04, 14.04 and 15.04 releases.

First, install dependencies:

sudo apt-get install libatk1.0-0 libc6 libcairo2 libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libglib2.0-0 libgtk2.0-0 libidl0 libnspr4 libnss3 libpango1.0-0 libpng12-0 libstdc++6 libx11-6 libxft2 libxinerama1 libxrender1 libxt6 zlib1g

Then, get the two packages, and install them in the correct order.

For 32bit systems:



sudo dpkg -i kompozer-data_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i kompozer_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_i386.deb

for 64bit systems:



sudo dpkg -i kompozer-data_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i kompozer_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_amd64.deb

You can now find kompozer in the menu.

11:54 – James showed up with a pickup load of cut, split, and dried hardwood firewood, mostly oak. We helped him unload it and stack it in the rack. It turned out to be more than a full face cord of 20″ logs. Call it half of a full cord. He charged $65, which seems cheap to me. If we ever had to heat the house exclusively with wood because the power was down, I’m guessing that the load we got today would last us two to three weeks. We also have about a half cord of old but still burnable wood down in the corner of the yard, which means we could stay warm for a month to six weeks even in the depths of winter up here, or longer if we weren’t trying to keep most of the house warm. We still need to pick up a couple of tarps to cover the woodpiles.

Barbara just announced that we should think about replacing the Trooper with a pickup. I think I’ll start keeping my eye out for a used Ford F150 or F250 diesel 4×4, or the Chevy equivalent. We’ll want an automatic transmission and AC, but that’s about it. I don’t care if it has some mileage on it, and a vehicle that’s ten years old or more would be fine.

I’ve never owned a diesel vehicle, although I almost bought a diesel pickup back in 1979 when I bought my Jeep CJ new. I know that small diesel engines used to have a lot of problems, but I assume those have been pretty much fixed over the last 35+ years.

Posted in personal, prepping, technology | 45 Comments

Friday, 29 April 2016

09:55 – Barbara and I made our final working trip to Winston yesterday. We did stuff like mopping floors, reinstalling receptacle cover plates, and installing four foo-foo generators. This was the first trip that we didn’t haul back a Trooper load of stuff, because the house is empty and everything is already up here or gone to the dump.

This is the first time in more than a year that the whole house hunting/packing up/moving/unpacking thing hasn’t occupied much of our available time. We’re moved, and that’s the last time we’ll ever have to go through this. Now we can devote our time to making and shipping science kits, and I’ll finally have some uninterrupted time to work on the prepping book.

Posted in personal, relocation | 95 Comments

Thursday, 28 April 2016

08:08 – We just realized that our move is actually complete. No more trips down to Winston to haul stuff back up here. All our stuff is out of the house in Winston, and the contractors are finishing up the work that needs to be done. It’ll go on the market in the next week or so. Our only remaining connection to Winston is that the corporate bank account is still at a credit union there, but we’ll get that changed over this coming week. It’s been a long, drawn-out process, but it’s finished now. We’ll still go down to Winston periodically for Costco runs and so on, but that’s it.

Posted in personal | 68 Comments

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

08:37 – Barbara was watching an episode of Chicago Fire last night when the crew was called to a site where a house had collapsed from the weight of stuff a hoarder had collected. I expected her to make a snide remark about hoarding, and she didn’t disappoint me. I pointed out that I wasn’t a hoarder. Hoarders are mentally ill, and collect massive amounts of random junk like old newspapers and magazines that are of no possible future use. Preppers collect a careful selection of stuff that’s always useful and may at some point become essential. Granted, someone who saw my collection of several yard waste bags full of empty soda bottles might confuse me with a hoarder, but I’m keeping those for a very specific purpose: storing food and water.

Not, as I’ve said many times, that I’m really expecting a catastrophic event like an EMP attack or a killer pandemic or widespread severe civil unrest. But the chances of such a catastrophic event are high enough that anyone with any sense of history and self-preservation understands that it makes sense to be as prepared as possible to deal with such events.

I’m not obsessed with prepping. I’m not going to go out and convert everything we own to cash and then buy silver and gold, hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, and a 50 year supply of food. Nor, like some serious preppers, am I actually secretly hoping that an apocalypse occurs. I’ve read enough history to know how bad things can get and how badly even well-prepared people will suffer if the SHTF. Like most people, all I want is a comfortable, boring life. I can do without the excitement of a catastrophe. The only difference is that I recognize that there’s a reasonably high probability that we will suffer such a catastrophe, and I want to be as ready as possible to ride it out.

Posted in prepping | 15 Comments

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

09:10 – Barbara is off getting her car inspected and checked over. We did kit stuff yesterday and have more on the schedule for today. We also got about 14 liters of canola oil that we purchased at Sam’s Club in July of 2015 repackaged into 2-liter PET bottles. That’s a one person-year supply of oil.

We also got a bunch of 3-liter PET bottles dried and ready for storing bulk staples, primarily flour. I reserve 3-liter bottles and the one-gallon Costco water bottles for staples that are a PITA to get into the narrower mouths of 2-liter bottles. Rice, sugar, small beans, oats, and even cornmeal go into the 2-liter bottles without any problem, but stuff that’s either chunky (like macaroni) or very fine and puffy (like flour) are either too large for the funnel or tend to pack and jam it.

Two of Barbara’s friends from Winston are coming up tomorrow morning to spend the day, so Colin and I will be on our own.

Posted in Barbara, prepping | 53 Comments