Tues. Sept. 21, 2021 – some observations…

Hot and humid. One last hurrah for summer? Global warmening come to kill us all? You be the judge! In any case, it was hot and humid yesterday too, hovering around 100F in the afternoon (and in the sun.) It was still 83F at midnight, but there was a nice breeze and the giant fusion fire in the sky was roasting someone else, so it was quite pleasant waiting for the puppy to do his business before bed.

I spent the day mostly doing cleaning around the house and organizing ebay items. I did ship one book, and picked up d2 for our special time. That was cut short by last minute shopping for birthday gifts. This is the opposite of prepping btw, but I was super slack getting ready for the birthday. My wife came home and we went out for dinner with the kids. Had a nice meal and came home. It was almost like we weren’t in a pandemic at all, or about to kick off WWIII or CWII…

While shopping, we actually went to the mall. I tried. I went to a freestanding jeweler, but they stopped carrying what d2 wanted, and I couldn’t find the sunglasses my wife asked for. The jeweler (Jared) was buzzing people in individually and had removed display areas. They looked like they had a lot fewer items on display and at least one fewer area. The “kid cove” where they used to have a tv and couch was being used for storing cardboard boxes.

We hit the Macy’s at one end of the mall, and there were more staff than shoppers. I did find the sunglasses though, so that was a plus.

We drove around to the other side of the mall to find a Pandora store, and look at a gift shop d2 finds amusing. The mall was pretty empty. Some stores had a few people in them. The Pandora store was limiting the number of people in at one time. We only went in there, and a kitschy gift shop. Stock at the gift shop was THIN. One or two ‘faces’ for each item. LOTS of space between displays. One item per hook and still lots of space. Prices are nuts. $16 for a novelty wine bottle stopper? I don’t think so. Two employees working.

The Pandora store had 3 or 4 saleswomen and a manager working, and everyone was occupied when we walked up. (Pandora has nice inexpensive jewelry and especially charms for their charm bracelets. It’s an easy default gift to get another charm.) The store was looking SHABBY. There were boxes stacked in one corner. It’s designed with much the same aesthetic as a an apple store, so the wear and tear was a bit shocking. Lots of smudges and hand print dirt in wear areas.

The other stores we walked past had a lot of empty space in them and they weren’t overflowing with stock. Either they let stock run down, or they aren’t getting refreshed. Macy’s was stocking displays while we were there, but even they looked a bit sparse and spread out.

The restaurant, Pappadeaux’s Seafood, was pretty busy for a Monday night. There were empty tables but people were in groups of 4 and up, some with 8-12 people. It was maybe 2/3 occupied tables. LOTS of staff working. Food was great, but there were no off menu specials at all, and they were steering diners to one side order (green beans). They didn’t bring their signature bread until my wife thought to ask. There were only 4 lobsters in the tank, but three sold while we were there. Prices seemed high to me, even by my road warrior/per diem standards. It’s a nice comfortable, kinda dress up place, but $78 for a steak entree is nuts. NOT a white tablecloth place. Portions are large, you get a lot for your money, but dang. Two apps, 3 adult dinners and one child, 2 fake beers, two margs, and tax and tip had us over $230. For comparison, Jack in the Box for us 4, combo meals with add on shakes, was $78 iirc, so maybe $200+ for a nice date night dinner out isn’t so much out of line after all.

Frankly I don’t see how people can afford to eat fast food at all, and certainly not as a staple. And unless someone else (like your company) is paying, IDK how your “ordinary Joe” can afford a nice dinner out. We had a $75 gift card and it was still expensive.

Not the way I’d have chosen to spend the day and evening, but it wasn’t my birthday.

Things don’t look good out there. There is “stuff” but not as much or as much variety. Prices seem high, and headed higher. I’d say ‘do your holiday shopping NOW, just in case.’

And stack all the things (that you can get.)

nick

Mon. Sept. 20, 2021 – working the list today

I’m hoping for cooler and less humid, but I’m not holding my breath. It got very hot and wet yesterday and put a damper (ha!) on my whole day.

It was a slow day anyway, with me paying the price for my exertions on Saturday, the girls all coming home in the middle of the day, and normal end of week domestic bliss chores.

I do have some extra stuff to do today, as there should be some nice stuff for my wife’s birthday. I’ll probably do a nice dinner, do extra cleaning, and try to get more stuff out of the house. I have some stuff that might work as a gift, but I’ve been slack… and that ain’t good. For instance, I haven’t done anything with the kids to get them sorted with birthday presents for mom. Bad husband. In fact the depths of my screw up are just now becoming evident.

The world is coming apart at the seams but locally life goes on. And it should. We need to hold tight to the history and traditions that define us and give structure to our lives.

So today on top of everything else, I’ll be scrambling to come up with a nice surprise for my wife. Perhaps that’s how I’ll spend my time with second daughter this afternoon…

Stacks of stuff, do your magic…

nick

[keep stacking. presents, you need some and you need them early!]

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Paging DadCooks, we’re talking about subs and you haven’t commented, that’s got us worried.

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Sun. Sept. 19, 2021 – girls coming home today, I better get crackin’

Hot and humid although less so than the peak of summer. We did get a sprinkle or two of rain during the day yesterday, but it didn’t really cool things off, instead it just made the day more humid.

I got a couple of things on my list accomplished. I slept in. And I got some organizing and stacking done at my secondary. Spent a few hours there moving stuff around and even throwing a bit of stuff out. Mostly just shifted the piles though to make room for auction stuff. I did get pics for the first three lots in my industrial auction. I need to get another 5 or six pallets set up then I can get that all in motion.

It is taking so long, but forward progress is being made.

I really need to stay home today and get the house ready for ‘the Return’…

Wife’s birthday is this week too, so I need to get that sorted.

Made one ebay sale yesterday, a book that I bought for $5 and sold for $32 and shipping. Baby steps. Rebuilding my ebay sales will apparently take a while but frequent listing and changing my product mix is having some early good results. I’m going to continue with this and see if it helps longer term.

Soon it will be fall garden planting time. I have to think about that too.

So much to do, so little motivation.

Needs must when the devil drives the cart…

Keep stacking.

nick

Sat. Sept. 18, 2021 – work, work, work, and then work

Cool and sunny, tending toward hot, with some small chance of rain – because Houston. Friday was overcast in the morning, and sunny in the late afternoon and evening, with moderate late summer temps. No rain that I saw, but lots of threatening clouds.

Drove around, did my pickups, then got home in time to see my girls off to camp for the weekend. That leaves me free to work at my secondary without regard for anyone else. Dog is fine at home in the kitchen, with access to the back yard. He’s big enough now I don’t worry about a bird swooping in and carrying him off. That was an actual concern when he was new.

So my plan (ha!) is to sleep in a bit, then pack a lunch and head out. Simple, direct, and we’ll see if it happens that way.

In the mean time, do an inventory, even if just mentally, but actually lay eyes on your stuff. See if you can find it, count it, assess its condition.

And then where you have gaps, stack some more.

nick

Fri. Sept. 17, 2021 – another week gone in a flash…

Slightly cooler, still humid, maybe rain. Had overcast most of yesterday and some threatening clouds, but never did rain where I was. It’s lot easier to do auction pickup with the pickup truck but then I need to be fairly confident that it won’t rain.

Pickups are the order of the day, at least the order of the afternoon…

Yesterday’s pickup went well. Got stuff for my non-prepping hobby, including something to flip. In the late afternoon, I finally got together with the craigslist flake and did a deal. Sold my $5 auction purchase for $250. I wish I had more of them… I do have more high value items to sell, I just need to get busy with listing them.

I am starting to see a difference in my house, my office, and my secondary location. It’s just slow going.

And I want to go faster, because the decline is accelerating. The latest is fedgov limiting the drugs that 7 southern states will get to treat covid. We’re using up too much, what with our not vaxxing, and not cowering, so they need to save some for the others, who might need it later, because we’ve been BAD and don’t DESERVE the EXPENSIVE treatment. So, people in Florida and Texas can just suffer and die. If there’s anyone thinking that “well they should hold some back for the other people who might need them later” contrast this action with NY Governor sending State Troopers to other parts of the state to seize ventilators for NYC’s use in the early lockdown days.

The uniparty intends to bring us to heel. I don’t think that is going to work out like they think.

USE the time that’s left. Always be improving your position. And stack stuff. Lots of stuff.

nick

Thur. Sept. 16, 2021 – no rest for the wicked

Cooler, damp, maybe rain, maybe sun. Freaking Houston weather. Yesterday was cooler but also humid with part sun. It’d definitely the end of summer transition. Not quite Fall, but getting close. Mid 70s at night suddenly, when the past month was solid 80s at night.

Since my craigslist buyer flaked out on my yesterday, and my back was still hurting, I did small things here at home. More cleaning in my office. More ebay stuff, including a couple of easy listings. I’m working on doing at least one listing a day, even if it’s just a book so I can get the attention of the algorithm and start actually selling again.

And one big thing, I finally got the inversion table assembled. That first time, when my guts all moved inside was very odd. Then I could feel stuff in my back moving. I’ll need to find a place to put it, probably outside, and I’ll try to get on it a couple of times a day for a bit to see if it helps.

Today I need to finish up a couple of the small things I started around the house, then get out and pickup some stuff. Later in the day, I’m supposed to meet the craigslist guy too. All in all, I’ll be out and about most of the day.

This weekend all the girls are at GS camp so I’ll be working at my secondary location. It would be nice if my back felt strong by then and if I didn’t mess it up. I’ve got a plan, now I just need to execute.

Meanwhile more and more people are noticing that there are still shortages and disruptions in the supply chain. My wife confirmed that she’s seeing it in construction and building projects, but people are currently trying substitutions and work-arounds. When she didn’t mention was what will they do when those run out too.

If you will need it, you should be trying to get it now. You should be thinking about substitutions and alternates. And maybe you should be looking in unlikely places. Some of those places might be a bit on the less legit side of things pretty soon. You guys will remember me suggesting getting some experience in the secondary market… it’s still early, go to a flea market/farmers market/estate sale this weekend. Take cash and keep your eyes open for stuff you might need.

When you find it, stack it high.

nick

Wed. Sept. 15, 2021 – well that was a big nothing burger, thankfully

Cooler and humid, forecast calls for rain. Yesterday was cooler but pretty wet, with high humidity and occasional misty drizzle.

I got the yard raked up and all the small debris in a pile. We didn’t have any real ill effects, and most of the people we know were the same. We do have school friends that were without power, and two schools in the district will stay home today because they are still dark too, but we were fine.

After the cleanup, I did stuff in the house. Too dreary and humid outside. I put up two of the new child safety gates I got at auction. We have one room in the house that still has carpet, the sunken formal living room. We left the carpet for the kids when they were small and we use the room as a “play” room and library. The dog decided he likes pooping on carpet. So the child gates went back up until we can break what became a habit very quickly. I also gave up and got a “potty pad” of fake grass. We put it in a spot he’s picked to defile, and the plan is to move it outdoors gradually. I don’t think it’s gonna work, and I didn’t want to do anything that encourages or allows ‘going’ in the house, but I got overruled. I just buy the stuff.

I was also able to list some ebay stuff, and fix an electronic gadget that’s been on my list for a while. It was sitting on the freezer, and I need to clear off the freezer, and I thought I knew what the problem was, so I decided that today was the day. The main problem turned out to be corrosion on the power input jack, but I was able to reflow some sketchy looking solder joints, and clean up some moisture damage on the board. In any case I got it working and now I have a Logitech Squeezebox Boom to sell or more likely, use to listen to internet radio and streaming. It was the kind of project I like. It sat on my list for a long time, it got me something I wanted, and it moved from where it was just piled up, toward someplace useful. Three birds killed with one stone. Of course, it was a low priority thing that jumped the list but sometimes I just need to do that.

I also had one of the weird coincidences that seem to define my life happen. I picked up a big LG monitor for $2 because “it won’t stay on”. It would light up with the “nothing connected, going to sleep” message, but as soon as you connected a source to it, it shut off. Google said the wall wart psu was aging, and ailing, and replacing it should solve the issue. The connector is strange, so I didn’t have one in my bins. 19v, and has a center pin in the plug. The weird part is that Monday I stopped in Goodwill, looked in the box of power supplies, and FOUND ONE. $2 and it worked. Monitor now displays source material just fine. Wife will use it in her work from home station to make sure it keeps working, and then I may move it somewhere, put it with a system for sale, or just sell it. Weird that I got exactly the thing I needed, but that is how my life works.

I also looked at the UPSs and couldn’t find any reason why one PC would stay on while the other shut off. Both are in the ‘battery’ side of the box. And in the bedroom, everything is in the battery side as well, so I think it just wasn’t turned on. I did some cable cleanup and pulled my other old TiVO out of the bedroom. Put a new keyboard on the KODI box and got it back online. The youtube ‘add on’ is still fubar’d and I didn’t mess with it. I’ll just keep using the TiVO bolt for now. I’ve got an apple tv, and two roku boxes I could use, or one of several of the Kodi based streamers from china. I just need to mess with it and I don’t think it’s that important yet.

So I got some stuff done, but all stuff from down the list, and not critical stuff. My back felt better, so I really didn’t want to do a lot of physical activity. Today I’ll have to do better. Auction stuff, ebay stuff, and prep stuff. Joy.

I better get to it, ‘cuz those things aren’t gonna stack themselves…

nick

Tues. Sept. 14, 2021 – Welcome Czar Nicholas…

Probably hurricane conditions today, although who knows? Nicholas became an official hurricane last night. We’ll see where it came ashore and what it did this morning.

Yesterday was overcast with misty drizzle interspersed with downpour…

I got wet on my ‘last run’ to the grocery store. Being the good prepper I try to be, I didn’t really need to go to the store and we’d have been fine but it was time for my normal grocery run. The bonus was getting a bunch of prime steak on serious discount, and even grabbed some pork chops on sale. It’s been a while since I had a good meat score, so I was due. And it never hurts to top up the fridge.

As of midnight, we still didn’t have any real weather at the house. I watched some youtube footage of it coming ashore in Surfside TX, and it was blowing pretty good, with some storm surge. Definitely 2-3ft flooding in Surfside.

This guy in his house is better than network coverage by a factor of 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC2Xh_dvAo4 Ryan Hall, Y’all. His Ida coverage was great. He must have an iron butt and huge bladder because he’s in the chair for a long time. His setup is stunning. Interesting to see the future of ‘citizen journalism’. One guy, education and skills, a lucky break, and good follow through, joined to a crowd funding model. Ain’t technology grand? And some people are ready to burn it all down.

Opportunities are everywhere.

Keep your eyes and mind open, your powder dry, your head on a swivel, and your stacks high 😉

nick

Mon. Sept. 13, 2021 – bad weather inbound

We’ll start the day normally, hot and humid, chance of rain. We’ll see where it goes from there. Yesterday was sunny and a bit cooler than summer, but still plenty hot in the sun. But then, in the late afternoon, the sun went away and it was uniformly overcast. It cleared briefly for a very pink and orange sunset which was very nice.

I got the yard trimmed and mowed. Weeded the raised beds in the back yard. Moved some stuff around. Filled 4 big water jugs (that I had cleaned after the freeze but never refilled.) Other than that, I took it easy. My back issue was borderline bad all day. I was right at the point where it could get a whole lot worse very quickly, so I didn’t want to strain too much.

WRT to water jugs, one was a Coleman 5 gallon, two were 7 gallon aqua-tainers, and one was a 7 gallon Reliance jug in a more NATO style. One of the ‘tainers was new to me, just picked up last week, the other had been out in the sun. Well, I stacked the new one on the old just to see, and the old split open on the bottom corners, which had been exposed to the sun… I’ve noticed before that the ‘tainers will get brittle from the UV. Keep them in the cool and dark and you will keep them longer… The coleman and the other Reliance jug are much heavier plastic, and a different type. I’m sure they could deteriorate too, but they seem sturdier.

I have replacement caps and vent covers that I bought some time ago for the aqua-tainers. The spigots break and let air and junk into the jug. Fortunately the caps usually don’t, and the thread for the spigot is a standard US NPT pipe thread. I’ve used a hose bib in place of the plastic spigot before, but this time, I just used plastic pipe plugs and removed the spigots that had broken.

To prep the water, I rinse the containers out with straight bleach, empty that out, and then fill with tap water. There is plenty of bleach left to treat the water. I had some treated that way that were still drinkable after 7 years. Bigger containers will need more bleach added. When I use the water, I put it through a Britta filter pitcher just for taste. You can also remove any chlorine taste or smell by aerating the water (pour it back and forth between pitchers a couple of times).

I’ve got lots of water stored, but the 5 and 7 gallon jugs are very convenient for daily use when you don’t have city water. You can easily bring them into the kitchen, or your ‘camp kitchen’ and dispense water as needed. It was past time to get them filled and back into service.

I’m sure there are other aspects of my preps that need a similar review and refresh. One more thing to add to the list… we’ve got time, until we don’t. Time to get cracking on inventory and double checking that everything is still in good order.

Stacking is the easy part. Don’t neglect the other aspects of maintenance and rotation like I’ve been doing.

nick

Sun. Sept. 12, 2021 – big storm coming, better get ready

Nice day in the forecast for today. Cooler and sunny, not crazy hot. Sat. was similar, although it did get hot in the afternoon.

Went to my meeting, had a good time. Went shopping. Came home.

Plan for today is sleep in, then either do some stuff around the house, or sort stuff in storage and get it ready to take to the auction.

There is a big storm coming. Both literally and figuratively as it turns out. The Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, and even parts further east are about to get up to 20 inches of rain if the forecasts are right. That’s several days of downpour and flooding with lots of damage.

So I’ll be topping up the day to day and getting ready to not have my pickup truck for moving stuff that can get wet.

In the figurative sense, we’ve been talking about the coming troubles for a while. I don’t see any way to avoid it at this point, and these things tend to kick off with very little warning. Use what time you have well. Hey, maybe it will be months or years. Good. Our stacks will be higher.

I quoted author Larry Correia yesterday, and I think one part of his advice bears repeating. Make yourself useful to your community. I’ve been slowly coming around to the importance of this. RBT thought he could position himself as resident wizard, but I thought that trying to do this AFTER the Fall was pretty difficult. (We had one discussion about this wrt ham radio.) He did get out into the community more at the new house than he ever mentioned at the old.

Other people in the blogosphere have been hammering on ‘tribe’ and community for a while, and on the folly of being a ‘lone wolf’. In our isolated and fragmented and mobile lives, it’s a difficult thing to do- becoming part of a group, part of a community IRL… we’ve found online substitutes but too often neglect the local, local, local aspects.

Hence part of my push for meatspace activities, real world training opportunities, group activities, and civic participation. We don’t have lodge brothers anymore. We don’t have high school friends nearby, or even poker buddies. Use what opportunities arise. Get out there and meet some people. Leverage what you have.

And stack it high and deep.

nick