Sunday, 13 August 2017

08:50 – It was 67.8F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0725, partly cloudy and calm.

We’re now in good shape on forensic science kits. Today we’re building stock of biology kits, as well as several other subassemblies that we use in several kits.

My reaction to the riot in Charlottesville yesterday is that it could have been a whole lot worse than it turned out to be. One dead and 35 injured as a direct result of the riot, with two cops dead in a helicopter crash that, as far as I know, was not directly related to any actions taken by the rioters.

When you think about, there were hundreds to thousands of people present, half of whom hate blacks for being black and the other half of whom hate whites for being white. Both groups are known for being armed and bringing weapons to these events. We could have ended up with a firefight that killed dozens of people on each side, and possibly innocent bystanders. This could have been the trigger for a shooting race war. It still could turn out to be.

The saga of the little Malamute continues. It turns out she is a chicken killer. We didn’t realize that Mr. Parker, the guy in the pickup who was looking for her the other day, already knew where she lived. She’s his next-door neighbor’s dog, and he caught her on video yesterday killing another half dozen of his chickens. This apparently has been an ongoing problem, and you can’t blame the guy for being upset. Letting any dog run loose in a farming area is a big no-no, let alone letting a known livestock killer run loose.

All the furor about North Korea and nuclear war has lots of people panic-prepping. One of the things they’re stocking up on is potassium iodide tablets. A couple of weeks ago, I happened to notice that Amazon was suggesting I buy some IO-SAT KI tablets. At the time, they were selling them for $6 or $7 for a foil strip of 14. I followed a link back to that product yesterday, and saw it’s now selling for $14 per strip. A buck a pill for 0.13 grams of potassium iodide. $0.50/pill was bad enough. Geez.

If you’re really concerned about keeping KI on hand, don’t waste money on these pills. Just buy USP- or reagent-grade potassium iodide crystals. Many vendors sell it on Amazon. Here’s one example at $12.35 for 100 grams, with free shipping. That 100 grams is about 750 adult doses, at about $0.016/dose.

If you don’t need 750+ adult doses on hand, buy a 25-gram bottle, for five or six bucks. That’s something like 185 adult doses. Dissolve the 25 grams of KI in one liter of water. That solution contains 25 mg/mL, so an adult dose is just over 5 mL. Call it a teaspoon. Conveniently, that makes a child dose a half teaspoon and an infant dose a quarter teaspoon.

That’s not exact, you say? It doesn’t matter. The supposed adult dose of 130 mg (sometimes shown as 131 mg) is pretty arbitrary. It happens to correspond to 100 mg of iodine, give or take. Someone somewhere estimated that 100 mg of iodine was sufficient to saturate the average person’s thyroid, so that’s what they recommend, whether you take it as the iodide or iodate salt. The recommended amount of either contains about the same amount of iodine. Taking a bit less doesn’t mean you’ll drop dead of radiation poisoning; taking a bit more doesn’t mean you’ll drop dead of iodine poisoning.

Incidentally, although the IO-SAT tablets list an “expiration date” seven years after manufacture, that’s entirely bogus. Potassium iodide lasts essentially forever. It’ll be just as effective 700 years or 700 thousand years from now as it is today. The worst that will happen is that the KI may oxidize, turning the tablets or solution a pale yellow. Doesn’t matter. It’s the iodine part that’s the active component. Elemental iodine tastes terrible, but you can reduce iodine back to iodide simply by adding a vitamin C tablet to the solution.

In fact, I make up iodine standard solution that’s 5% w/v iodine, present as 6.5% w/v potassium iodide. That means an adult dose is 2 mL, and a 30 mL bottle is 15 adult doses. I mix the stuff up by the liter and dissolve several 500 mg Vitamin C tablets in a liter of the solution to stabilize it. I then package it in 30 mL bottles, which I can hand out to friends and neighbors in an emergency.

Posted in personal, prepping | 149 Comments

Saturday, 12 August 2017

09:35 – It was 65.3F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy and calm.

More work on kit stuff today. We’re down to one of the FK01A core forensic science kits in stock, so we’ll get another dozen built today. We’re also down to half a dozen of the BK01 biology kits in stock. We need to make up chemical bags for another two or three dozen of those and then get them built.

Joanne and her family picked up the Malamute at 1000 yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, Joanne texted Barbara to let her know that the dog had escaped by climbing up to a window that was slightly open and forcing her way out through the screen. At least she’s wearing a harness, so anyone who spots her will know she belongs to someone.

Barbara was of course beating herself up for not doing enough or not doing the right things, but I told her she’d done everything she could and done it right. I half expected the dog to show up here again, and we’ll certainly keep an eye out for her. But Barbara thinks she was lost or abandoned during the US21 100-mile yardsale a couple of weekends ago and is now headed down US21 to find her way home. As Barbara said, she has enough experience with dog rescue to know that all you can do is your best. You can’t save them all.

Robbie, who delivers our mail when Lori is off, told me the other day that those scanners they use to read the barcodes on postage labels are a two-edged sword. USPS also keeps close track of their mail carriers. Robbie said that if he stood there talking to me for 10 or 15 minutes, which he did, that when he got back to the post office the managers would want to know why he was at our place for 10 or 15 minutes.

He said that had happened to him earlier in the week. He was delivering an Ennis route, near his home. He needed to use the bathroom, so he drove to his house to do so. When he got back to the post office, his manager wanted to know why he’d been at his house for several minutes during his route. He told them bluntly exactly what he’d been doing there and asked if that was okay with them.

Sometime over the next few days, I want to get some bulk food repackaged. We have 50-pound sacks each of white flour, white sugar, and white rice sitting in the utility room, and enough clean, dry PET bottles to hold all of them. At 3,000 cal/day, that’s roughly three person-months worth of calories.

Barbara’s going to the supermarket today, and is also stopping at Blevins or Farmer’s Hardware to pick us up another of these platform ladders. We bought one last year, and use it in the garage for getting to stuff on high shelves. We need another in the downstairs lab/work area for the same purpose.

We have a set of four stoneware kitchen canisters that we got from LL Bean not long after we were married. Barbara said the other day that she’d like some new canisters, and sent me a link to this set on Amazon.

They just arrived, and she’s happy with them. We use our current four for flour, sugar, tea, and coffee. I’m going to keep the current set, converting the two large ones to holding white rice and oats, both of which we use quite a bit of. The smaller ones will continue to hold tea (for me) and coffee.

The new set is smaller than the old one. I’d call the largest canister in the new set “medium”. But Barbara’s going to use Papa and Mama Bear in the new set for sugar and flour, Tweenie Bear for tea bags (for her). I’m not sure what she’ll use Baby Bear for. It’s really small.

Posted in personal, science kits | 94 Comments

Friday, 11 August 2017

08:43 – It was 64.3F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0625, partly cloudy and calm.

More work on kit stuff all day today. We had seven orders from different customers yesterday, so things are starting to ramp up. Our busiest time is generally mid-August through mid-September, when we’ll be fully occupied just building kits from stockpiled sub-assemblies and getting those kits shipped. So we’ll spend the day building chemical bags for various kits.

We really need to spend some time getting the food room organized. I had a horrible dream the other night. I was about to transfer a bunch of canned meat to the downstairs refrigerator. When I opened the door, it was already packed full to overflowing with these #10 cans.

More than 60 cans of bamboo shoots? I knew immediately who was responsible, so I ran upstairs to the bedroom, where I found Mandy, Barbara’s small stuffed panda, looking innocent. When pressed, she said that if TSHTF small stuffed pandas have to eat, too.

The little Malamute has now officially been adopted. Barbara’s friend Joanne and her family went over to visit her at the shelter yesterday and decided to adopt her. Barbara offered them our crate, which Joanne and her son stopped over yesterday to pick up. They were out buying supplies for her: a leash and harness, a name/address tag for her collar, presumably toys, food, treats, and so on.

Joanne said they’re thinking of naming her Jaimie. The vet asked Barbara when she dropped her off if we’d named her. Barbara said we’d leave that up to whoever adopted her. They’re picking her up at 1000 this morning to take her home.

They have to take her back to be spayed in a couple of weeks. Joanne’s husband and son, Jeff and Colin, wanted to keep her intact in case they decided to breed Malamute puppies, but that’s a non-starter. Like all animal rescue organizations, this one insists on pets being neutered before they’ll adopt them out.

I keep reading articles from the left and right saying that North Korea is going to nuke us. There’s just no way that’s going to happen. The Norks have nuclear fission DEVICES. There’s a big difference between a device and a bomb, and an even bigger difference between a bomb and a warhead. In my estimation, the Norks are at least years and probably decades away from having a deliverable warhead, let alone the thermonuclear warhead that various news organizations who should know better are claiming that North Korea has.

The danger, and it is real, is not the the Norks will nuke us. It’s that we’ll nuke them, and thereby open a can of worms. China has already announced that in the event of conflict between the US and NK they’ll remain neutral UNLESS the US attacks first. In that case, all bets are off.

It’s not that I think there would be a nuclear war between the US and China. Saner heads in both the US and China would prevail, as they always have. The real danger is a localized war on the Korean peninsula that gets us into a real hot war, even a conventional one. If that happens and China, say, sinks a US carrier, things could rapidly spiral into the toilet. And there’s no doubt in my mind that China could sink a US carrier if they wanted to. China could easily overwhelm the defenses of even a carrier battle group. They’re on their home ground. And that would turn into a real mess very quickly.

The danger is not so much mushroom clouds and radiation as it is shutting down commerce. The US economy depends heavily on a continuing flow of cheap consumer and industrial goods from China and South Korea. Anything that interrupts that flow could be catastrophic for our economy.

Posted in news, personal, prepping | 114 Comments

Thursday, 10 August 2017

09:07 – It was 60.6F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0645, overcast and breezy.

More work on kit stuff all day today. We had seven orders from different customers yesterday, so things are starting to ramp up. Our busiest time is generally mid-August through mid-September, when we’ll be fully occupied just building kits from stockpiled sub-assemblies and getting those kits shipped.

Bella, the little Malamute, is safe. Barbara took her to the vet, where she cowered behind Barbara’s leg while in the waiting room. The vet said she looked to be in good shape, but they’ll worm her, do a fecal check for heartworm, get her up to date on all her inoculations, and so on. They’ll also spay her. They’d let Barbara pay only the $30 examination fee; they’ll take care of all the other costs themselves. She didn’t appear to be spayed, so it’s a good thing she’s not wandering loose any more. We’re lucky we didn’t end up with her carrying a litter of Malamute/BC puppies.

Barbara’s friend Joanne stopped by about 1100 yesterday morning, after Barbara had gotten back from the vet. Joanne’s family lost a dog a few months ago due to old age, and hadn’t gotten another. We told Joanne about Bella, and she may well stop over to meet her at the shelter and consider adopting her. While Barbara and Joanne were talking on the front porch, I called the vet. I wanted to let them know that under no circumstances did we want the dog put down, and if they couldn’t place her we’d find someone ourselves or, as a last resort, take her ourselves. So they noted that in her file, and they’re going to call me if it comes to that.

I also asked the receptionist at the vet’s office who to make out a check to for the animal shelter they run. The senior vet in the practice is spending $100/day out of his own pocket to support the shelter, and I’d guess that some or all of the support staff are probably working unpaid hours to help the animals.

Posted in personal, science kits | 82 Comments

Guest post, Nick, Some thoughts on preparedness and my recent travels

As most of you who read this are aware, I’ve been on vacation for the last 10 days. First a flight to northern rural NY to stay with relatives, then a day at Niagara Falls, then a car trip across Canada to Michigan, and some more staying with relatives.

Ten days away from home and stacked preps is stressful for me (and I’ll assume for any serious prepper). Add in the car travel cross country, the travel in ANOTHER country, the flights, and the fact my family is along for the trip, and we get a great big pile-o-stress for your humble commentor. On top of all that, add typical family dynamics and a very sick father (thankfully on the way to recovery) and you get a  BIG PILE….

Anyway, here are some observations, some things that went well, and what you might want to consider in a similar situation.


NB- I will travel, I will go places that are targets, and I will subject myself to crowds because I recognize the odds are slim, and my wife and I have a philosophical commitment to giving our kids as much of the sort of life we grew up with as possible within the current circumstances. Sitting home on top of my pile of preps, forted up in my castle, isn’t desirable or practical. YMMV.

So, with that out of the way, what’s a prepper to do? I’m traveling by air, and land, and crossing international borders. Can’t carry my usual defensive tools, either in NY or Canadia. Can (and did previously) in Michigan, but the logistics of shipping tools to MI just for the 4 days outweigh the benefits. Travel by air with defensive tools has its own logistical considerations that I’ve commented on previously. In any case, it wasn’t gonna happen on this trip. This DID free up space and weight in checked baggage…

Other than my normal air travel considerations, what was especially worrisome about this trip? Well, mostly the 8 hrs of driving across Canadia and Michigan. So, I packed the ‘trauma’ bag from my truck to carry with us. We’d have a car (SUV) the whole time from landing in NY to flying out of MI. The one thing I really didn’t want was to come across a wreck and be unable to help. (Given my personal history of coming up on wrecks shortly after they’ve happened, this isn’t at all far-fetched.) No fire extinguisher, but at least I’d have my big first aid kit.

Other considerations were being in places that could be terror targets, and being away from home if a major event happened. Increased vigilance, and carrying my ‘travel bag’ addressed both concerns, as much as I could. Normally we travel very lightly when going to parks or any other activity. This time, I kept my carryon backpack with me. This gave me a few more resources if there were any major issues.

I’ve been carrying the bag, mostly unchanged, on trips with the kids for several years. It’s an old but VERY sturdy targus laptop carrying book bag style backpack. It’s from the era of 14 pound notebooks and has heavy cordura, good padding and suspension on the straps, and lots of pockets and compartments. It isn’t at all “tactical” looking, other than being black.

On this trip, I pulled out some stuff I’ve been carrying unused for some time. Nothing life saving or critical, but it made a difference and kept minor issues minor.

The first real reach into my bag of tricks was when we were getting on a sightseeing boat, and I noticed an older couple with difficulties. He had the very thin skin of the elderly and was bleeding pretty steadily from a tear on his forearm where he’d bumped into something. She was trying to mop up and control the bleeding with a napkin. From my ‘blow out kit’ (small first aid bag, meant to treat one serious injury like a gun shot or serious bleeding injury) I took a couple of extra large bandaids. I gave them to the lady  and turned their issue into a non-issue for the 2 hour tour. I had more serious dressings if that didn’t do it, but when I checked back they were fine.

I pulled out a towel for my shivering wet child after doing the walking tour at Niagara. I’ve had the tightly rolled up micro fiber ‘super towel’ in my bag for a while. It makes a decent kid blanket, or towel. It’s lightweight, and rolls up into a package smaller than a coke can.  If you’ve got little kids, get a good towel.

I used the foot first aid, blister care on my little one. I’ve been carrying the blister aid, and moleskin packages for a while. Tough resealable envelopes, weigh nothing, slip in a pocket, and invaluable when you need them.  Again, not lifesaving, but quickly addressed the little one’s pain and kept us moving with only a short stop.

The food bars, and lightweight rain coat came in handy too, as did the drinks.  My EDC knife and FLASHLIGHT got their normal daily workout.

That covered us on the road, and while sightseeing, but what about getting home in the event of a big event?


The number one prep for that was that we had a rental car.  This gave us tremendous flexibility, and many more resources.   After much consideration and back and forth, I didn’t add any additional items to my normal travel bag, other than the big first aid bag.  I decided I had enough knives and didn’t need to add a Mora.  I was gonna add a water filter, but actually spaced out and didn’t throw it in.  FAIL.

What I did do was make sure there was a case of water in the SUV and enough ‘snack bars’ that we’d be able to move and keep moving if we had to.  For the first part of the trip, we’d be at a campground surrounded and supported by family, many of whom were camping and brought camping stuff.  Several of them are Eagle Scouts, and scout leaders, so I figured that was pretty well covered if we had to stay there.

For the second half of the trip, we’d be with family in Michigan.  This is somewhat far from home, but I’d considered it as a destination if bad things down here forced a move out of the area.  Unfortunately, it’s a ‘weekend’ house and not prepped.  That doesn’t mean it’s without resources… It has all the stuff a house in a wooded area by a lake, in a small town rural area has.  Fire pit and woodpile, axes, chainsaws, other tools (but no defensive tools), gas grill, well, etc.  What it doesn’t have is any real stored FOOD, or a gennie.

I wasn’t able to add a gennie or any gubs, but I did make a start on food.  I made a mad dash thru Home Depot and Walmart before we left, and bought a few things.  Granted it is not a well considered or comprehensive list, I feel much better now that I added this stuff.

From Home Depot, 2 at 12 gallon “Tough Totes” and a food safe 5 gallon bucket and lid.  These are mini versions of the heavy black bin with the waffled yellow lid.  I went with 2 smaller bins as being easier to move.  The bucket is for rice.

From Walmart, I hit the camping aisle, got a single burner butane stove, and 4 cans of butane.  2 packs of “Hot Hands” as there were no O2 absorbers.  Sawyer water filter.  Then off to the food aisles.  I was limited in time, and by what was there.  I got really lucky as this store stocked Keystone Meats.  So I grabbed a bunch of canned meat in various flavors, some canned veg, some canned soup, 3 liters UHT milk and 2 small cans of Nido powdered milk.  One liter peanut oil, one bottle soy sauce, big package of oatmeal, 2 big jars of peanut butter, nutella, and a can of pie filling rounded out the cans.  Added 20 pounds of rice and 5 packages of spaghetti.  The shortest storage life is the UHT milk.  The rest should be good for years stored in the basement.

At the house, the cans and all the rest went into the tubs.  The pasta and rice went into the bucket followed by the hot hands and the sealed lid.  I know O2 absorbers would be better, but the hot hands have to be better than nothing.  The bins went on a shelf, the burner and a couple of leftover 6 packs of soda went on top of the bins.  The bucket sits on the floor.

It’s not comprehensive, but it should provide food for a couple of weeks depending on how many of us are at the house, and what else is in the kitchen cabinets.  I’d like a more well-rounded and PLANNED larder, but it was the best I could do quickly with what was there.  All told, I spent about $250 USD with better than $70 spent on the filter, burner, and fuel.  I put it all together in about an hour, while family was at the beach, and it takes up very little space in the basement.  I feel a LOT better knowing there is some back up food there for any winter storm, tornado, or any other reason.

Maybe on my next trip there, I can find a used gennie at a yard sale and convince my relatives that it’s worth having.  The house is already wired for a gennie with an outdoor connection and transfer panel.  I’d love to get some other stuff stored there too, but family is resistant.  We’ll see, esp. as conditions in Chicongo deteriorate….


Anyway, that’s the report.  Nothing extraordinary, but preps and preparedness kept minor issues minor, quickly provided comfort and aid, and I got a small cache established at a possible bug out location (translating everything into prepper-speak.)




(added- I also downloaded the appropriate maps for the driving part of the trip, as we’d be out of wireless data coverage, and studied the route first, in case the maps didn’t work.  Filled the gas tank long before empty too.  Avoided the cities in MI that are no-go zones after dark.  All the standard things for traveling by car…..)


Posted in guest post - nick, prepping | 36 Comments

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

08:06 – It was 57.1F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0635, partly cloudy.

Bad news about the little Malamute, whom I’ve decided to call Bella for short. One of my vendors sent me samples of a couple of learning aids designed for young children. I had no use for them, so I gave them to Barbara and suggested she donate them to the Friends bookstore or something. She decided to give them to Vickie, our next-door neighbor, to give to her grandchildren.

While she was standing out by the road at Vickie’s, a guy pulled up in a pickup and stopped to talk to her. He was a farmer from down the road, and he’d just lost a dozen of his chickens to the little dog. He was very upset, naturally, and told Barbara he’d already reported it to the sheriff and animal control. I suspect if he sees the dog, he’ll shoot her. If animal control or the sheriff’s deputies catch her, it’ll probably be a one-way trip to the dump.

While they were standing there talking, another woman pulled up. She’d seen the little dog around and said she thought it belonged to a Mexican family that lived in a house behind the trailer park down the road from us. She told them that she thought Mr. Mabe’s wife had been giving her food because she felt sorry for her.

It’s not the dog’s fault, obviously. She’s hungry and she’s just doing what comes naturally. But that won’t matter. Just like any rural area, a destructive dog has a dim future. I told Barbara that I’m going to keep my eye out for her. I’ll catch her if I can, and take her over to the veterinarian that runs an animal shelter/rescue operation. I don’t want to see her killed just because she was hungry.

So, about 1700 yesterday, I managed to lure her into the garage and get the door closed. There she stayed for the next several hours, with us checking on her periodically. When Barbara went out to check on her, she called me from the garage. Bella had climbed up the steel-wire shelving unit against the back garage window, knocking over a case of 18/400 caps on her way up. She was standing on the top shelf, three feet off the floor, looking out the back window. We got her down safely and cleaned up the 8 million or so caps from the garage floor.

Barbara decided to assemble our steel-wire dog crate. We did that and got Bella into it. She showed absolutely no aggression at any point, just extreme skittishness. She doesn’t want to be captured. She lay unprotestingly in the crate for the next couple of hours. She knocked over the bowls of food and water we’d put in the crate, but otherwise there was no problem.

It was pretty warm in the garage. We’d left a fan pointed at the crate, but after we’d gone back to bed, she started yipping and barking. Barbara decided we needed to move the crate out onto the front porch to get her some cool air. That was a mistake. We got the crate with her in it moved onto the corner of the front porch near the garage, but the door latch came loose and Bella made a break for it. We spent the next 45 minutes trying to recapture her. No joy. We finally gave up and went back to bed.

This morning, she wasn’t around when I took Colin out, but she showed up at the front door shortly thereafter. We spent half an hour or so luring her into the house with lunch meat, with Colin penned up in the bedroom. Barbara finally got her into the garage, where she allowed Barbara to get a slip leash on her and get her loaded into the car.

Barbara just took off a few minutes ago, headed to the vet’s office, which has a private animal shelter next door. I’ll call them later on today to see what they can tell me. I want to make absolutely sure they don’t put her down. If they can’t find someone to adopt her, I want to take her back. We’ll find someone, up here or maybe down in Winston, who’ll take her. As a last resort, I’m going to tell Barbara we should take her ourselves.

When we were moving stuff from the upstairs vertical freezer to the downstairs refrigerator yesterday, we were bitten by a task that’s been on our to-do list for a long time that we just haven’t gotten around to doing. That’s reorganizing the LTS food room.

Barbara keeps a “downstairs shopping list” on the refrigerator upstairs, so that when we go down we’ll be able to get what we need to bring up. She did fried rice for dinner Monday night, ran out of sesame oil, and put it on the downstairs shopping list. While we were downstairs I walked into the LTS pantry, intending to pick up a bottle of it to take upstairs. Standing there surrounded by stacks of cans, bottles, and boxes, I realized that I had no clue where exactly the sesame oil was. There should be two 12.5-ounce bottles of it, which I ordered May 2nd from Walmart and which arrived two days later. I remember them arriving. I remember seeing the bottles. I just don’t remember where I put them.

It all started when I was stacking #10 cans of Augason powdered eggs in the downstairs freezer. I remembered that I’d ordered four more cans of these from back on March 2nd. They’d foolishly priced them at $12.99/can. Amazon, of course, had matched that price, but at the time everyone else was selling them for $27 to $30/can. I ordered only four, first because we didn’t need any more than that with what we already had, and second because I didn’t want to make a pig of myself. (Amazon and Walmart are both selling them now at $35+/can.)

So, I was actually in the LTS pantry looking for those four cans of eggs so I could stick them in the freezer. Embarrassingly, among all the other stuff stacked in there, I couldn’t find them. A box of four #10 cans, buried somewhere. Oh, well. I’ll find them.

But that just reinforces that we really, really need to spend a day or two getting the food room reorganized and inventoried. I’m doing that with my new downstairs refrigerator/freezer as I load it. I’ll post a dated inventory list on the door (using Scotch tape because magnets won’t stick to stainless steel…). Just looking at the available space, I’m guessing I can fit maybe 150 cans and jars in there: 28-ounce cans of Keystone canned meats and pint jars of Alfredo sauce.

The other night, a series we’re watching had a character who was a writer suffering from “writer’s block”. I think that’s one of those mythical things that everyone has heard about but no one has actually ever seen. Kind of like a unicorn or a compassionate prog.

Writers write. It’s what we do. Someone who suffers from writer’s block wasn’t actually a writer in the first place. When I sit down at a keyboard, words just flow. If I can’t think of anything to write about, that just means I can’t think, period. In other words, I must be dead.

And I do write. Every day. What you see on this site is just a small fraction of what I write. For example, I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a post-apocalyptic novel, but I haven’t said anything about it lately. I’m currently in first-draft mode, and I’m up to 100,000+ words on it. It’s still a complete mess structurally, but the prose flows. How good it is, I don’t know. I can’t evaluate my own writing any more than any other author can evaluate his.

The problem is, I have so much other stuff going on. I’d like to get the novel finished and up on Amazon, but I can spend only an hour here and a couple hours there on it, usually while Barbara is out volunteering or down in Winston. If I were treating fiction writing as a full-time job, I’ve estimated that I could knock out three or four 125,000- to 150,000-word novels per year. Maybe more.

The novel I’m working on now is what some people call “prepper porn”. In other words, it’s very heavy on non-fictional details. Kind of a non-fiction novel, with lists. I will (eventually) post it out for anyone who wants to read it, but I should warn you that so far there are at least a dozen microagressions and three or four triggers.

The main problem I’m having, particularly working on it so sporadically, is not one I foresaw. I have trouble keeping my story straight. What happened when, who’s already there and who hasn’t arrived yet, when events have occurred that impact future events, and so on. Is the neighbor’s first name Tom or Bart? Is the last name of the chairman of the county commissioners Smith or Jones? What day does the electric power and Internet service go down permanently? If it fails on Day 12, it can’t very well still be there for scenes I’ve written that take place after Day 12.

And that’s how I’ve gone about writing what I’ve done so far on this book: writing scenes, which vary in length from a paragraph or even a sentence that I can expand upon later to some scenes that are full chapter length.

For the next novel in the series, if there is one, I’ll know better. I’ll start by sitting down and writing up a detailed timeline, day by day, with a short summary of significant events for that day. That’ll avoid the need for a lot of re-write. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually had a minor character who was killed one day re-appear several days later, alive and well. Ugh.

Posted in personal, writing | 33 Comments

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

09:04 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0645, drizzling and foggy. We’ve had about 1.7 inches (4.5 cm) of rain over the last couple of days. The little dog showed up briefly yesterday morning, but we haven’t seen her since then.

Barbara picked out a refrigerator yesterday at Blevins, on her way home from the gym. It’s a black Whirlpool model. The new one is smaller than the old one, about 19 cubic feet versus I think 23, but that’s not a problem. The old one was larger than we really needed. The new one isn’t as deep as the old one, which keeps it from sticking out as far into the room. The new one arrived hinged on the right, which is the way the old one was set up. To me, it’d make more sense to have it hinged on the left so that the door would open away from the counters and work area, which the delivery guys offered to do, but Barbara likes it the way it is.

Barbara never liked our current stainless steel model since it was first delivered and she learned that magnets don’t stick to stainless steel. The new one is already covered with refrigerator magnets, notepads, and so on. The ice-maker was optional on this model, so we didn’t get it. I’m perfectly happy with using ice-cube trays.

When we powered up the new one, we left the temperature settings at the default “recommended” levels. I stuck lab thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer compartments. The refrigerator soon stabilized at about 3.9C (39F) and the freezer at -18C (0F), which is what everyone recommends.

The delivery guys hauled the old one down to the unfinished area of the basement, where we’d already made room for it. We let it sit overnight unplugged and with the doors open to get it completely defrosted and dried out. Today, we’ll plug it back in and set the temperature controls for both the refrigerator and freezer as low as they’ll go. We did have both of them set on 3/5, but I’ll crank those both up to 5/5. The refrigerator compartment may actually freeze, but that’s fine with me.

This afternoon while Barbara is out volunteering, I’ll clear a bunch of stuff out of the freezer in the garage and move it down to the new-old refrigerator. That’s mostly two categories: frozen agricultural antibiotics and other drugs, and relatively high-value #10 canned foods like Augason Farms powdered eggs. I plan to pack the downstairs refrigerator/freezer as full as I can get it, which means adding stuff like canned meats, jars of Alfredo sauce, cans of evaporated milk, and so on. Before I do that, I’ll intentionally freeze sample containers of each to make sure they don’t burst when frozen. Until I know that freezing won’t damage the containers, I’ll keep the refrigerator set at 3/5 to prevent freezing. And there’s always more stuff that I’d like to refrigerate or freeze: less stable chemicals, heirloom seeds, etc. etc. I won’t ever be short of stuff if we have unused space.

Barbara is delighted at the prospect of getting so much space freed up in the upstairs vertical freezer. As it stands, at least a third and probably half of the freezer space is taken up with #10 cans, retort pouches of antibiotics, and so on. She’ll have lots more space available for actual frozen foods. I don’t mind changing a lot of the stuff from the upstairs freezer to the downstairs refrigerator compartment. Freezing stuff extends shelf life more than refrigerating it, but the latter is fine.

And I already have some tentative plans for that extra space. I talked to Lori a week or two ago and told her that if she ever decided to sell bulk beef she could count on us for a quarter of a beef. When Frances and Al were up last weekend I mentioned it to them and they said they might be willing to go in for a quarter themselves.

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Monday, 7 August 2017

08:49 – It was 65.3F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0655, with heavy fog. The little dog was again nowhere to be seen, although she did show up later.

Barbara is off to the gym this morning, and then to Blevins to look at refrigerators. I measured the refrigerator bay this morning to make sure that whichever one she chooses will actually fit the space.

One of my readers sent me a link to this article, with the subject line “even leftists are preppers now”. Which is true. You can’t get much proggier than Slate magazine.

But, like nearly all lefties who consider themselves preppers, this author can’t help slamming the prepper mindset. It comes from their delusional worldviews, where the government is always there to help people, 9-1-1 always works, and people never behave badly.

The old saying is that the only thing worse than a reformed whore is a reformed smoker, but I’ll add reformed prog to that list. As they say, a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, and if push comes to shove, this author–and a lot of other progs–will quickly realize that humans aren’t the sweet, cuddly creatures that progs seem to believe they are. Our species, regardless of political persuasions, is the single most dangerous animal on the planet.

Formerly, I’d have said that progs would be in deep doo-doo if TSEHTF, but that was because I temporarily forgot that progs are extraordinary hypocrites. They believe that the world owes them a living and is there for their benefit. But now progs, demonstrating that they’re world-class hypocrites, have begun buying gubs. They won’t have any clue how to actually use them, if that becomes necessary, but as they say even blind pigs get acorns. So it seems that we Normals are likely to face a bunch of armed blind pigs if push comes to shove.

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Sunday, 6 August 2017

09:41 – It was 54.0F (12C) when I took Colin out at 0640, clear and breezy. The little dog was again nowhere to be seen, although she did show up shortly after we came back in the house. She was gone again by the time I took Colin out after his breakfast.

Frances and Al made a quick trip up. They arrived Friday afternoon and stayed the night. We had an early dinner yesterday, after which they headed back home because they had things to do there.

We’ve never been happy with our current refrigerator. It’s a Whirlpool, and is the only Whirlpool appliance that we’ve ever been unhappy with. It’s only about ten years old, and we’ve had problems with it for about eight of those years, starting with the ice-maker dying shortly out of warranty. The only reason we’re still using that refrigerator is that it still works. We actually talked about leaving it at the Winston house when we moved, but there were so many costs involved in moving that we decided to take it along with us.

I overheard Barbara and Frances the other day as they were packing stuff into the refrigerator. Barbara mentioned she’d like to replace it. So this morning I suggested we head over to Blevins this week and buy a new one as an early Labor Day gift to ourselves. She said that was a great idea.

I get the old one. We’ll move it downstairs into the unfinished area, where it’ll become my lab/LTS storage fridge. I already have one of those 3-foot tall dorm fridges down there, which we’ll also keep. That’ll give us a total of four units: the new kitchen refrigerator/freezer, the old one, the dorm fridge downstairs, and the vertical freezer in the garage.

I’ll move all of my stuff from the vertical freezer in the garage. Right now that includes a bunch of #10 cans of high-value stuff like Augason powdered eggs and bulk quantities of various antibiotics. The highest value stuff will go in the freezer part, which I’ll set to the lowest temperature possible. The less critical stuff will go in the refrigerator part, which I’ll also set to the lowest temperature I can. Relative to room-temperature storage, that will extend shelf-life by at least a factor of four. I’ll pack the refrigerator part solid with stuff like jars of alfredo sauce, canned meats, Nestle Nido, evaporated milk, etc.

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

09:36 – It was 61.7F (16.5C) when I took Colin out at 0630, clear and breezy. The little dog was nowhere to be seen, although she did show up shortly after we came back in the house.

Barbara commented yesterday that she seemed kind of thin and scraggly when she saw her, when she arrived in our front yard in company with a beagle. She also noticed that she’s a girl and has her adult teeth.

I’m afraid she’s been abandoned and is scavenging/hunting. She’s a sweet little dog, and I hate to see that. I’ve given her a couple of little dog treats, figuring every little bit helps. We’re going to keep an eye on her over the weekend. If we don’t find out where she belongs by Monday, I feel that we need to do something, even if it comes to feeding her. I don’t like to see a dog suffer. It abrogates the deal humans have had with dogs for 40,000 years.

Which kind of relates to an email I got from someone who was going through the list of antibiotics I posted. He wanted to know if any of them had activity against worms and other parasites, and if not what he should be stocking.

With the usual disclaimer that I’m neither a physician nor a pharmacist and can’t offer medical advice, the short answer is no. Metronidazole is useful against giardia and some similar parasites but is not an antihelminthic.

For that, my first and second choices would be mebendazole and albendazole. Unfortunately, both require a prescription and are pretty expensive, at least in the US. My next choice would be pyrantel pamoate.

It’s widely available as an OTC drug under various names, notably Reese’s Pinworm Medicine. You can buy it at Walmart or Amazon. One ounce of the 50mg/mL suspension sells for $7 or $8, and is roughly two adult doses. Or you can buy bulk generic stuff for roughly a buck an ounce in 32-ounce bottles, which is roughly 60 adult doses. It’s effective against pinworms, hookworms, and roundworms. The weird thing about this product is that it’s intended for human use, but is purchased at least as often for treating pets and livestock.

IIRC, a normal course of treatment is one dose to kill the live worms, followed by a second dose a week or ten days later to kill any newly-hatched worms. A 32-ounce bottle provides a varying number of courses, depending on the weight of the patient. For small children, the dosage is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2.5 to 5 mL), which means the bottle contains 90+ to 180 courses. For large adults, the normal dosage is 4 teaspoons (20 mL), so the bottle contains about 24 courses.

Have I mentioned that I love living in Sparta? We just got the bill from Shaw Brothers for fixing the septic tank mess. I cringed as Barbara opened the envelope, expecting a bill for $3,000 or $4,000. It was $875, total. Of that, $350 went to the septic tank service for pumping out the tank. In Winston-Salem, ISTR, it costs $300+ per hour just to rent the excavator they used.

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