Tues. Jan. 26, 2021 – references, they’re not just something that never gets checked on your resume’

Cool and damp again.  Maybe some rain, maybe not.

Yesterday was misty in places, overcast most places, and somewhat warm for a short time.  Just a pretty gross day.   So I spent it indoors.

Solved my client’s issues with a lot of technical help from my sometimes business partner.  A piece of hardware somehow lost its “IP Table” which tells it where the other parts that it controls should be found.  The fix meant downloading a current version of the IDE, then a firmware file, uploading the firmware (32 minutes), then downloading the control software files, and finally reinstalling them.  All that messing around followed by rebooting, restarting, and testing.  Still, it got him back up.   He’s getting a bit tired of piecemeal replacement of the stuff that got damaged by lightning.  I may be doing a complete remove and replace on the system.  That won’t be cheap.  Should be good for me though.

Lest anyone think I know what I’m doing with any of the above, I have good help.  I’m just monkey punching the buttons.  I’m the remote set of hands when it comes to the software side of all that.  Kinda like here, where Rick keeps it all working, while I’m the smiling face that people see.  I’ve been very lucky in my  career to have access to really good people to backfill my gaps…

I’m sure you have gaps in your preps and skills, and I can’t emphasize enough, that you need good people to help you fill them.  Consider how you’ll repay them for the help too, either through stuff or loan of skills of your own.   There is a great feeling too, when you can help someone else with your own expertise.  It’s about building a community, or network of resources and it helps in normal times, as well as bad times.

On the other hand, your normal network might not be available.  That’s why you need a reference library.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘rebuilding society’ library, but should cover the sorts of things you don’t know well, and it should also provide backup for the stuff you DO know well- because you might not be there.

It has to be offline too.  Consider infrastructure failures.  Consider censorship.  Consider the internet balkanized.  Consider search engines distorting results.  And consider your browsing history being weaponized against you.  Can’t happen?  If I’m an oppressive government and there is a general famine, and I want to seize the “excess” or “hoarded” food, I’m going to start with everyone who bought canning jars.  I’m going to cross that with searches for “how to can vegetables” and “beginning gardening” or “stealth gardening”.   After 9-11 there were stories that various agencies went on a terrorist hunt by collecting grocery store ‘loyalty card’ purchase histories, and looking for people that bought hummus, or falafel.  It’s part of their institutional knowledge now.   Even if they don’t have the resources to do it as a dragnet, they will certainly use it to build a case, or reduce the pool of candidates.  And they’re likely going to go for recent low hanging fruit, because they’re lazy.

Now that day may never come, and you and I will both continue doing searches for what we think of as normal or ordinary things.  We’ll leverage the beast for our own betterment with youtube and google.  Just keep in mind that you really really might not want to have watched a repair video, and then ordered a gun part, after having declared all your illegal guns to be sold or lost.   Much better to have a couple of books, picked up used, to answer your questions in what might become the ultimate in ‘non-permissive environments.’

With that cheery thought, I once again suggest that you keep stacking…

nick

Mon. Jan. 25, 2021 – I think Covid 19 will be here until Social Security is solvent…

Cool and damp again, some chance of showers.

Sunday was cool and saturated.  Light mist at various points in the day.  Some light spatter of rain in the late afternoon.  Overcast all day.

I got some stuff organized.   I set up a shelf in my storage unit and took a bunch of stuff to my secondary.   As long as I have space there, there is no reason to be stacking stuff long term in the storage unit.

My wife started the carpentry badge with her Girl Scouts.  I supplied a bunch of small hammers and some other manual tools.  None of the kids, and even the other mom, had ever used a handsaw.  They had fun, and there are at least one and maybe two more sessions to get the badge requirements finished.  That’s despite the badge requirements being both simple and baffling.

GS cookie season will be starting soon.  Support your local girls.  It helps the girls and their troops.  If you don’t eat cookies, they have a program to donate the boxes you buy to first responders, and you can usually just give them cash.

I’m still slowly relocating my radios and cleaning my desk.  I’ve got the 2 all band all mode radios moved to the file cabinet drawer, and the mobile quad bander fits too.  Now that I know the concept is good, I’ll get the power and antenna lines moved so they enter the drawer.   I had the radios on a little 6U rack shelf system, and that worked, but I decided I needed them off the desktop so I had room for some organizers for my other hobby stuff.

To say my workspace is cluttered is a MASSIVE understatement.

One of the drivers for the cleanup is the amount of dust that I can’t clean because of too much stuff everywhere.   If I sit here all day, I start coughing.  Not good.  Spring is coming anyway so it’s a good time for it.

Today I have to head over to my client’s house.  He’s having some networking issues with his control system.  Stuff is dying by degrees due to the lightning strikes and pure age in some cases.  Hopefully I can get him back up quickly.

Then it’s all the normal things that need doing.

Use this relatively quiet time to get your stuff in one bag…

Keep improving your position, and keep stacking.

 

n

 

(nope, no more to be said about the post title.)

Sun. Jan. 24, 2021 – more of the same today

Forecast calls for heavier rain, T-storms, etc.  Given our microclimates, I’ll hope for the best, and find stuff to do if it rains.

Spent Saturday afternoon running around, and then doing cleanup and organizing, and re-stacking at my secondary.  Then headed home.  Not much interesting, except I’m going through a patch of increased serendipity and heightened coincidence…. and that usually gets weird.

Plan for the day is organizing at my nearby storage unit, in order to get more ebay stuff out of the foyer.  I need listed items close enough I can ship them the same day but I also need them out of the house.  The storage unit is temporary, as I clear out more space elsewhere.

Everything takes more time and more effort than you think.  That’s why it’s so important to get started.

Whatever you’ve identified as something to add to your preparations for the hard times ahead, get started.   Take the first step.

And keep stacking.

 

nick

Sat. Jan. 23, 2021 – busy day, making progress though

Cool and clear, I hope.   National map has us on the edge of a rainy area.  Usually the edge misses us.  I would like to get stuff done without getting rained on.

I spent some more time at my secondary  location doing clean up and throwing out stuff.   One of the things I un-buried was a shelving unit for my nearby storage unit.  I’ll be setting that up today if the rain holds off.  That will get some of my ebay stuff out of the house, without it being very far away.  Farther than I’d prefer, but keeping it here is not an option at this time.  Room needs to be made for GS cookies.

Yep, cookie season is almost here.  We thought it would be fully online this year, but I guess not.  Soon I’ll have hundreds of boxes of cookies in my foyer and living room.  Few of them for me, though.

My auction pickup yesterday was two ham radios.  Early 80s, solid units.   One was bringing crazy money on ebay.   I’ve got some work to do cleaning them up a bit and hopefully doing a little bit of testing.  Even as just a ‘parts’ machine, it should bring >$1100, which is nuts.  I am selling it, and not keeping it.   Need the money, have radios…   In fact, I’m toying with the idea of doing an auction in March of all the stuff I’d normally take to the hamfest.  I’ll talk to my local auctioneer and see what he thinks.

I’ve got a pickup in Conroe today, it’s stuff for building antennas.  I’m hoping to leverage some collapsible flagpoles into decent antennas.   They are always in that particular auction and go relatively cheaply.

There has been some discussion in various places regarding alternate comms and news sources.   Alex Jones led the way by having his show on shortwave for years.  Say what you will about him, a few of his darts have hit the board, and he was deplatformed before it was even a word.   He’s still around though.  I’m sure his shortwave show contributes to that.   In general, I thought the standard prepper recommendation to own a shortwave radio was not particularly useful.   The main broadcasters are religious based or state propaganda organs.  That said, many of the church people do news and talk too, and it’s possible to learn stuff from propaganda.   Given the crackdown on free speech in the US, I’m moving shortwave radio up the list a couple of notches.  Lots of good info about shortwave radios and listening on youtube.  (yes, evil youtube.  support the content creators that are making a living or living their dream on the platform.   Use patreon or whatever the creators like, and run adblockers to starve the beast.)

Compromise (or at least the appearance of ‘going along to get along’) is going to be the word-o-the day for a long time.  We need to maintain our ability to act, to support those that need support, and we need to get THROUGH this and out the other side, to wherever that may be.  There are times when that is not going to look very pretty.  I’m sure my tolerance for the necessary levels of compromise will vary and there may come a point where I can’t do it.  But given what that would cost  me, the current plan is pull back, pull in, and abide.    You may evaluate the situation and come to a different conclusion.   I may come to a different conclusion at some point too.  But I intend to survive this as intact as possible, and I’m PLANNING and provisioning to do that.

Stack it high.  Stack it in a bunch of small piles scattered all over.  Stack it wherever you can.  But STACK up some resources, friends, and knowledge.

nick

 

Fri. Jan. 22, 2021 – Finally Friday, and I can see the end of Jan. from here…

Cool and wet, super humid even if not raining.

Thursday was overcast and misty fog to light drizzle, depending on where and when.   Some of our microclimates probably stayed dry.  I was all over and it was wet wherever I went.

I spent several hours clearing stuff out of my secondary location.  This time it was mostly empty boxes.  Yeah, I save boxes.  Nope, not going to need these.   Haven’t used them in 8 years, unlikely to use them ever.   When the space was free it didn’t matter.  Now I need the space so they had to go.  Two big pickup truck loads shifted to the dumpster.  Then I moved stuff into the newly cleared area.  I think I’m going to be pretty sore today as some of the boxes weren’t really empty, and some weighed 20-30 pounds.  I had to do a lot of holding them out in front of me and over my head to get through the labyrinth…  (this falls under the heading “using what you’ve already got”)

The deal for the BOL/lakehouse fell apart.  Perfect for me, not perfect for my wife.  On top of that the owner countered with some stipulations we didn’t like,  and there are still  the questions about Army Corps flood easements…. My wife’s back looking at listings.  Armed conflict in the Capitol would have made that decision easier, but even I’m not that selfish.

I didn’t get a chance to put away all the food I bought yet.  Maybe today.  I’ve got a couple of pickups and more cleaning to do though and that’s higher priority.

I did get lucky at Goodwill and got about 10 reference books about guns, everything from modern sporting rifles, to historical black powder.   50c each.  I also got a bunch of books about hunting and fishing with a couple specific to Texas.  I like books and I like reference material in hard copy form.  With every search and web visit logged, with every purchase saved and correlated, it can’t be  a bad thing to have some stuff that is completely off the radar.  One of the books was published by Paladin Press.  Man, those guys would be going NUTS in today’s environment.  Build a reference library that won’t rat you out with every page view.

One of my local auctions closed and prices looked pretty good.  I will get some more stuff to them for their next auction.  The ‘industrial’ auction lots are getting bids this time, and look like they might be ok pricing too.  I recommend checking out your local estate sale and consignment auctions.  Lots of stuff, prices can be good to great, and “Lot 3, box of books” looks very different in a database than “Modifying your AR”, “Homemade silencers”, “Gunsmith’s Bible”, “Nosler Reloading Guide”, etc.*

One of the auctions next week is a nearby medical center that closed or somehow ended up surplussing a lot of stuff, including several pallets of masks and other PPEs.  WTF?  I guess they don’t want to just give them to the state to redistribute.   I’ll be a bidder.  Lots of weird stuff out there, you just have to find it.

And speaking of weird, this is an example of how my life works.   I bought a windows Smartab tablet for <$20.  It all works great except the wifi card.  I tried the Realtek drivers to no avail.   The card is recognized but just doesn’t work.   Just when I think I’m at a dead end with a bad card, I find the EXACT SAME Smartab in a bin at Goodwill, with a cracked screen.   I’ll be prying that one open to steal the wifi as soon as I get the time.  Weird, but that’s why I suggest being flexible and open in your plans.  Stuff happens.

Figure out what you’ve got, figure out what you might need, but be open to what the universe sends your way.  And keep stacking.

 

nick

 

*not the actual titles

Thur. Jan. 21, 2021 – 012121 – yep, easily amused

Cool and damp, may be even damper later in the day.

Yesterday was pretty nice for mid-winter high with 60s and low 70s.  Overcast all day, but shorts and t-shirt weather for me.  I got a couple of things around the house cleaned up.  Finally got the last of the Christmas decor down and most of it put away.

Because I was at home in the afternoon, I cooked a lamb roast.   It’s a great example of saving money with a freezer, vac sealer, and buying in bulk.  I like lamb.  If you haven’t had it since you were a child, it’s different than it was.  Most of the ‘lamb’ taste, the mutton/gamey flavor is gone because of the farmers growing a different breed.   We enjoy it rare to medium rare.   Anyway, I buy the bigger roast and cut it in half.  Vac seal and freeze the resulting 2-3 pound roasts, and you’ve got a roast that is perfectly sized for two adults with leftovers, or a family like mine.  It doesn’t take forever to roast at that size either.    You can get a much better grade of meat in lamb roast for the same money, than you typically can for a beef roast.  Better living for less….

I buy hamburger in a bulk pack and repack it as 1 1/3 pound slabs.  I press it into a shallow square plastic food saver package then vac seal that shape so it will stack better in the freezer.  I used to do 1 pound packs but the kids are growing.

I buy pork roasts in the 10 pound tube, and slice into center cut pork chops any thickness I like.  I also cut a couple of 2-3 pound roasts out of the whole.  All get vac sealed and frozen.   The 10 pound pack is cheaper than smaller roasts, or pre-cut chops.  I usually season the chops in the vac bag with garlic salt and chinese oyster sauce.  The family LOVES the sweet brown sauce on pork and I don’t have to make a mess at cooking time, or worry about marinading it ahead of time.  Another win!

Beef ribeye roasts get the same treatment as the pork roast, some steaks, some of the best beef roast ever.  I season the steaks before vac bagging with Adkins seasoning.  It’s a nice mix of garlic, citrus-y something, and black pepper.   It’s a lot like Penzey’s Chicago Steak seasoning, without all the hate for conservatives.

Bacon in the bulk pack is 24c/lb.  It’s double that in smaller packaging.  I re-pack it in 3/4 lb blocks which is just a bit more than we need for breakfast.    It rarely lasts until lunch.  Vac seal and freeze into one meal portions…

I should note that I’m not Rockefeller.   The vac seal and freeze routine means the meat lasts as long as it’s frozen, so I only buy the stuff on sale.  I buy a BUNCH when the price is right and store it for later.  There are significant savings to be had if you shop this way.   There are shopping trips where I might not even buy any meat if it’s not on sale, because I have some at home in the freezer.

Another thing I do is freeze the leftovers from holiday meals.   I do the same “shape them into a flat block” trick of pressing them into a plastic storage container before freezing.   It’s easy to gauge the number of portions when it’s time to eat, just look at the bag.

If you want to vac seal something wet or squishy, put it in the plastic container and freeze it first, then take it out of the container and vac seal the block of soup, or chili, or whatever.

You can vac seal and freeze partially prepare foods too.   I like to sear the meat before using the slow cooker to make stew or pot roast or carnitas.  I don’t like the smell in the house (and I didn’t have a working exhaust fan) so if I’m going to get out the cast iron and make the mess, I like to do at least 2 or 3 meals worth.   After searing,  I put the meat and juices into vac sealed bags and freeze them.  The next time I want stew or pot roast, or pork carnitas, I defrost the meat and put it right into the cooker, no muss, no fuss.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that have written or ‘tubed about the vac sealer more eloquently and more completely than I have, but these ideas should get you started if you are holding out.  I consider the vac sealer to be essential, so I have my daily driver, then another spare of a similar type, then two more  spares of the ‘seal a meal’ manual type.  I just picked up another one from goodwill this week to have on the shelf.  You’ll find uses for it, if you have one.

So that’s some ideas for stacking, get to it.

 

nick

Wed. Jan. 20, 2021 – an unhappy anniversary…

Three years ago today we lost the founder and driving force behind this site,  Robert Bruce Thompson.  It’s been my honor and privilege to keep the conversation going since then.  Thank you to Barbara for her support and to Rick for keeping the lights on.  And thanks to all of you who continue to visit and keep this place alive and growing.

Absent friends.

nick flandrey

 


 

Cool and wet.  Possibly.  Maybe.  Could be a bit like yesterday, which was pleasant enough, and even nice in the mid-afternoon.

I ran my errands and spent the rest of the afternoon sorting and going through stuff.     Today I need to do some neglected stuff around the house.  I’ve been jumping from one thing to another, and now I need to jump back.

Number one prep is keeping my wife happy and on my page.  I have been letting that slide and that is a bad thing.

No further news about the possible BOL/Lakehouse cabin.   They want to sell to us, we want to buy, but there is a question of flooding, easements, and Army Corps of Engineers interactions…. next step is a survey to locate the potential issues.  From where we sit, it looks like there would be significant limits on what we could do in the future with the land abutting the lake shore.  Those future possibilities were a large part of the appeal as an investment.


On the broader stage… I don’t know what will happen today.  I’m hoping for ‘nothing’.   I fear a massive false flag attack.  I think it’s bad enough Biden will be President for some period of time, but to start off with a tragedy would be even worse.   There is too much that is just too weird in DC for me to feel comfortable.

Hopefully, by now everyone is an old hand at staying safe from the current threats, and is working toward safety from the escalating new threats.  Time to think much longer term, 4-10 years.   You can’t stack that much so what do you do?  What you can.

I’m not taking bets on when the war really gets going.   I have already said that I expect to have a Republic of Texas passport within 10 years.  I also have said that I don’t think patsy Joe will last through March.  I don’t see any reason to change either  prediction, but they could easily advance by half.

I sincerely hope this is all hyperventilating and fearmongering.   Best case, no new laws or restrictions, stalemate in the Congress, buffoonery from the White House.   Worst case?  Not gonna even go there today.

I was heartened to hear from everyone who reported on their successes to date.  So, what are you seriously lacking? What do you need to keep stacking?*

nick

 

*moxie and pretzels to be sure….

Tues. Jan. 19, 2021 – [insert lyric from a Doors song]

Cool and wet, possibly really wet.  Yesterday was the kind of moist windy day I normally associate with spring.  It had ‘that smell’, but it’s still only January.

January seems to be taking its own sweet time.  Funny how the perception of time can change.  December flew by but January is taking forever.  I’m trying really hard not to invest too much time or mental energy in what’s coming up with the Inauguration.  Hurricane is in the Gulf, just need to get my stuff in one bag… so to speak.  I’m certainly not going to change the events that happen.  On the other hand, I’m reading folks I have been reading for a long time, and they seem oddly detached.  It’s like they’re just in a spectator mode where they can’t look away, yet their own comments reveal that they think momentous changes will be coming.

Folks, you can’t just watch this from a distance if you believe it’s gonna get ugly.  This has the potential to impact you in ways the Clinton and Obamma administrations never did.  People are being un-personed.  They are being driven out of their jobs and their communities.  The new administration hasn’t even taken office yet and they’re already messing things up for ordinary folks.

Take some more steps to help shield yourself from the change that’s coming.

Make every effort to have cash and other resources available.  Food.  Comms.  Alternate income streams.  Water will probably be available, it’s not really a hurricane, but infrastructure interruptions and sabotage are being widely considered and discussed.

As civilizations degrade, lots of things that used to work well stop working very well, and sometimes stop entirely.  We’ve already started down that path.  We are eating out our substance in some real and metaphorical ways.   Public trust has eroded away.  Some people are still cruising on inertia but more and more will become aware of the changes as soon as they bump into them personally.  There’s a lot of stored fat on the body politic, but we’re starting to burn through that and it won’t take too long before we’re eating  up the muscle.

Shortages or outages for products are becoming commonplace.  Supply chain disruption continues.

Roads aren’t being cleared of debris.  Illegal dumping seems to be increasing.  Windows are being boarded up instead of having the glass replaced.   Graffiti and tags are staying in place longer.   Trash is everywhere.  Homeless are showing up in areas they don’t normally frequent, and I’m spotting more sleeping in places that NEVER saw any ‘urban outdoorsmen’ at all.

After years of declining numbers, violent crime is increasing again.

Businesses continue to fail.   I’m seeing vacant storefront and restaurant property everywhere, and Houston is somewhat insulated from the economic problems in the rest of the country.  It’s got to be worse elsewhere.

Preps will help cushion us through this.  Stuff, skills, relationships.  Those and determination and persistence will get us through.

Keep stacking.

nick

[I’m thinking “This is the End”, or “People are Strange”, I don’t want to contemplate how “Crystal Ship” might fit.]

Mon. Jan. 18, 2020 – I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, so ‘scuse me if it goes astray..

Cold clear, and some sunny.

Yesterday it was the same in Houston, as in my (possible) new undisclosed location, well, maybe a couple of degrees cooler.  Felt nice there with Chamber of Commerce ™ weather.

I was literally asleep in my chair at my desk, writing this post in my head.  (I don’t know what Prince was doing when he wrote the lyric.)

It all made a ton of sense.  Then I woke up.  Somehow I feel like torturing the idea to fit this week.   Troops in DC.   Troops in state Capitols (does capitol get a capital?)  Someone with Mad Skilz ™ in graphic arts re-spinning a commie work of propaganda from just a few weeks ago to make the most obvious trap since giant talking fish came out of hyperspace over Endor….  when will it end?

Not with the Inauguration of the “‘scrapper’ from Scranton”, or whatever post industrial filth hole he occasionally flies over.

Not with the crowning of the first (kinda) black woman President.

Not even with her death in the ensuing revolt.

I don’t think you CAN pull back at this point.  I think the only way through is through.  And that is going to take a while.

We’re in for a long slog.  Stack accordingly.

 

nick

Kids are home because a adulterous philanderer got himself shot over something.  His cause, noble as it might have been was hijacked and diverted and subverted until we have the fun house mirror version of freedom his people enjoy today.  Think twice, and then a third time before attempting any discussion of the day in comments.  There’s no way that will end well when the thought police find what you wrote.  Especially if you’re honest, and quote statistics.

Sun. Jan. 17, 2021 – working the plan

Cold and clear today, same as yesterday.

34F when I went to bed, supposed to be LOW of 36F according to the weather liars.

Did my stuff yesterday, got most of it done.  The big disappointment was the sump pump battery backup.  No battery.  Still, I’ve got batteries and the rest is ok.

Today the family is driving 3 hours north to look at some property on a lake.  I really like the looks of the property, wooded, two lots totaling 11 acres (one on the lake, one behind that lot) right up close to a national forest.  The house is really odd, and the lake has some restrictions that my wife doesn’t love.  The question is, bug out location or vacation lake house?  Which is primary?  We’ll see.  Events elsewhere may push my wife more toward BOL.

I don’t know what’s happening in DC but it’s got the whole country nervous as hell.  At least the half that pays attention.  LOTS of people are paying a whole lot more attention now.  Several people on my rounds today were watching carefully and there is a lot of head shaking once you engage with them.

And that’s just one reason why KNOWING where you can go if you have to go is essential.  Currently, I don’t plan to leave, and that’s mostly because I don’t have anywhere to go.  It’s also because no matter what happens, Texas is probably a good place to be.  I’m thinking Chicago, Baltimore, Philly, DC, all the usual suspects are NOT going to be good places to be.  If you live in a sh!thole city, you might want to consider a plan that is just “that Bayfront motel at the intersection of x and y” in a small town 3 hours away, with a storage unit and some minimal sustainment supplies.  That would be a huge step in the right direction.  It might not hurt to have that storage unit in a company name, prepaid for a while, either.

In fact, maybe working out a list of what I’d stash in the smallest available storage unit would be a good idea.  You can fit a lot in 4 or 8 black tubs.

Get to thinkin’.   Get to stackin’.

nick