Sun. May 28, 2023 – work happened, but more is in order…

68F and a bit chilly early, but warming quickly once the sun does it’s thing.  Yesterday got pretty warm, well into the 90s in the sunlight.  High 80s in the shade.  Very gentle breeze.

Perfect weather for a burn pile.   It rained recently so there wasn’t much risk of fire spreading, and little to no wind meant I could finally burn some of the root balls we dug up to get the septic in place.    I also had a lot of small branches after I cut down 2  small dead ornamental trees.  The freeze killed them  and they weren’t coming back.   The third small tree went on the HOA lot burn pile for later.   It had to come out to provide access to the patio.

Readers who have been following along can infer that my replacement chainsaw parts came in and worked.   The chinese bar and chain fit, and cut very well.  I also finished up with the string trimmer, and blew the debris clear with an attachment for the trimmer’s power unit.   I’ve got a pole saw attachment too, but I didn’t need to use it yet.  I really like swapping attachments for the unit.   Don’t know if the Craftsman branded engine will hold up, but it’s running great so far, and very handy.   I’ve got a blower, pole saw, string trimmer (two actually) and mini rototiller.

The potatoes I planted are growing, but the berry bushes don’t seem to be.    The rest of the garden looked like a lawn with all the nut grass.   Since it’s so late, I might just cover the whole plot with black plastic sheet, and try to kill the nutgrass for next season.   Haven’t decided yet.  I did cut it to the soil with the string trimmer.  So far the deer seem to have left the potatoes alone.   They didn’t even eat the loose potatoes I threw in the yard.   Maybe I’ll plant a whole lotta potatoes next time.   I dug up some of the wild onions from the lot next door.  I will see what I can do with them today.

And I’ll be doing more stuff from the list throughout the day.   I feel like I got a lot done, gotta take the meds and keep pushing.   It may not be the big stuff, but it all still needs doing.

So I’ll keep stacking up chores.   And knocking them down, if only a bit at a time.

Stack it up!


Sat. May 27, 2023 – a beautiful day

Cool but clear, 68F when I went to bed, and I’m expecting the same when I wake this am.  Damp, of course.   It was 82F in Houston last night, but only 72F on the water.   Sunny and hot during the day.  I think today will likely be the same.

Yesterday was weird.   I was feeling stressed and disconnected all morning.  Make several errors that I don’t usually make.  Took forever to get out of town, and then there were half a dozen accidents, one serious, on the way to the BOL.  Oh, and a grass fire on the freeway right of way too.   Heavy traffic in the usual places.

But I finally got here, and it was beautiful.   So I cut the grass.   Broke the mower.   I’ll fix it.   There is a bushing on the steering column that keeps the gears in alignment that was so worn the gear stripped a little bit.    It wasn’t a problem until it was…   No way to lube it, so I’m thinking it normally outlasts the mower.  Not in this case.   If I can find the part, I can easily replace it.  The damaged gear on the column is a bit harder.   I can shim it (remove the end play) and use a different part of the gear to contact the rack, if the bushing will hold it in alignment.

If I can’t find the part, it will be easy enough to make a replacement.   I’ll clean up the gear as best I can, and run with that.  It’s always something.   Worst case, I buy a new mower.  This one came with the house (we did buy it, but at a pretty good discount.  I would like to get some more use from it if possible.)

We did have a fire and roast s’mores.   Conditions were variable low clouds, so no observing.   Maybe tonight.   Shortwave had a lot of fading and noise.   Still nice to sit by the fire and listen to rock and roll oldies.

X1 is with us for the weekend and seems to be coming out of her shell a bit.  She wasn’t shy but there was a reserve.  She seems more natural this weekend.  Hope it’s helping.  Kids and wife were all in the water and out on the kayaks, so that was nice.    I can’t imagine we’ll get too many more weekends that aren’t sticky hot before summer starts in earnest.

My plan for the day is projects.  Always projects.   And maybe a little fishing.

Stacking up skills.   Do something this week you wouldn’t normally do.  Especially if it’s fixing something, cooking something, or learning something.


Lot of people here for the long weekend.  I hope to meet some more of the neighbors.   Meatspace, and meet-space.




Fri. May 26th, 2023 – headed to the BOL… to spend the long weekend, not because the rad sensor alarmed…

By on May 26th, 2023 in culture, decline and fall, lakehouse, rats

Clear and damp, with a little coolness, rapidly heating up.   It was only 72F when I put the kids on the bus yesterday, but it got warmer throughout the day.   I’m glad I didn’t have to get in the attic at my client’s house, but using the ladder in the yard was a bit sweaty.   I think today will be even warmer, but maybe some of the humidity will blow out.

There are a lot of mosquitos this year, and they are even biting me.   They normally don’t, and if they do, it doesn’t leave a mark.  Wonder what it’s gonna be like at the lake?

Which is where I’m headed later.   Have to get loaded up and make a pickup on my way out of town.   The auction had the wrong times listed, and I thought I would be able to make it.   I guess it’s good I didn’t drive up last night…  although I would have liked to start the day at the BOL, not driving.

Did get some stuff done yesterday.  Got the NVR to display image from the existing cams.  Well, mostly.   I may even be able to re-use a couple  to extend coverage with the new system.  Can’t order the cams until next week because B&H closed for a long holiday.  Memorial Day weekend must coincide with a Jewish holiday this year.   Maybe every year, but I never noticed…

In any case, I’ll be back out at the site to swap out cams in a week or two.  In the mean time, at least the NVR is recording.

I’ll be taking a load of stuff up with me.  Mostly not food, but I’ll add a couple of buckets if I can.   I saw a pair of rats on the patio yesterday.  They’ve eaten all the stuff they can get into, except the stuff that exploded, so they aren’t wrecking more, but I’ll refill the poison baits anyway.   Cleaning up that whole area has been pushing down the list for a week or more, but that was when I though it was a possum in the mess.   Possums I can live with, rats, no.   So it’s back to the saga of the rats for me.  Good thing I bought those buckets of bait blocks.

Stack some rodent and pest control.  They’ll be increasing as city services decrease, and you’ll be on your own.   Remember when there was nothing in the stores?  That will happen again.

Stack all the things!


Thur. May 25, 2023 – ..until morale improves. Then the REAL fun begins.

Cool start to the day but should be sunny and hot later.   Yesterday turned out ok for us, no rain, no bright sun for most of the day.   It was a bit sunny in the later afternoon.  Hoping for similar today, but with a bit more sun.

Did my two pickups on the south side of town.   Found a neighborhood I didn’t expect, with a very ‘out in the country’ feel, right in between the ghetto and the ‘hood.   Big lots, old homes, real country boys… guy had a bunch of great older reference books on “rebuild society” topics.  Lots of tools, and clearly enjoyed his hobbies.   The other pickup was sort of “general merch” and is always good for some household item.

The pickup nearest to me was a heavy steel door for the BOL, a bookcase for D2, and some other misc. stuff for some other projects.   Pickup truck is about 1/3 loaded, waiting for the rest before heading up this weekend.

And I’ll load up later, as we haven’t decided whether to head up tonight or tomorrow.

Before that, I’ll  be spending some more time trying to get at least the expensive PTZ camera to work with the new NVR.   Even at my hourly rate, it’s worth poking at it for a while.   I can do some at home, but will really need to head out to the site to find out if I can make it work.

It would be nice to do some more cleanup and organizing this morning, but work slipped to today, so it is what it is.

I’ll be taking some more stuff to stack at the BOL.    If the SHTF, “they” will definitely come looking for “it” for whatever value of “it” you like.   If people are hungry, they’ll look for food.  If jones-ing, they’ll be looking for drugs or booze.   If it’s biggov, they’ll be looking for control, and we know what they’ll be coming for.   Split your stacks up.   Hide your tangibles.   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.   Fallback positions are a good thing.  So is ‘hiding in plain sight.’   Harden your heart, and your house.  Be prepared to degrade gracefully.

And stack, what you can and while you can.


Wed. May 24, 2023 – Bah. Humbug. Beatings will continue…

Cool and damp.   A tiny respite from the heat of summer.   It was actually a tiny bit of cool out in the country at my client’s house yesterday.   Still warm in the sun, and boiling in the attic, but under the overcast or in the shade there was a hint of coolness.   Today should be similar with a bit more sun.

I didn’t get finished at my client’s.   What should have been a slam dunk turned into a dumpster fire when the new NVR turns out to be riddled with bugs and issues.   Brand new firmware too.   Tech support was no help.   I got an RMA number.   Lots of issues, including me making a mistake setting the master password.  Because you are doing it blind, with a remote control and an onscreen keyboard, and they don’t show it to you or make you type it twice, I got it messed up.   It’s not what I wrote down or intended.  Only the first bit of bad software and gui design.

Long story short, I stayed with the same manufacturer because I didn’t want to replace cameras.   But the new NVR doesn’t open and display the cameras.   It works with the two oldest, but none of the others.   That’s despite identifying them, assigning IP addresses, and that they are all supposed to be standards compliant.  A standard this company championed btw…   And it is supposed to be ‘pro level’ gear, only sold through distributors for install by integrators and other pros, but there is no manual override or even a way to see what the automagic is trying to do.   I’m p!ssed, and disappointed in the company.   I should be done and invoicing, instead of trying to find a new solution and continuing this project into next week.

Now I have to decide.  Do I just get new cams that are on the tested and approved list?  Do I go with another manufacturer’s NVR and cams, or do I look at the ubiquiti cams and storage since we’ve moved almost all the networking to ubiquiti?    Gah,  I could have done all that BEFORE if I knew I would have to do it, and I could have prepped my client.  Now it’s last minute,and extra cost.   Yeah, I’m grumpy.   Standards.  You’d think they might in fact be standard.

Today I’ll be doing some more clean up and organizing.   Also some pickups.  I got a bookcase for D2, who seems to have ‘rescued’ every discarded library book at the school.  I got a high security exterior door that should work at the BOL on the garage or one of the outbuildings, and if not now, later when I build my shop.  And I need to start staging stuff for the trip to the BOL this weekend.

Other than that, I also need to address the cams/nvr issue for my client (including applying the unlock code that MIGHT come today and for which I had to submit a photo ID and request- there’s no ‘reset to factory defaults’ if you don’t know the master password), and get some shipping out the door.

Meanwhile, haven’t heard from some people in a while, so here’s a ping.   DadCooks, Miles_Teg, Jenny– welfare check!

Stack it up folks, things are going pear shaped.



Tues. May 23, 2023 – 052323 – sorta cool… out of the office today

Slightly cooler but sure to get hot later.  Mainly because I’m going to need to work in the attic.   National forecast has us in the clear so that sun will heat everything up.  It stayed cool in the shade yesterday but it was moist and hot in the sunlight, even with a light overcast.

I did one pickup, mostly home goods, but included 2 kindle paperwhites.   D1 cracked her screen a while ago.  I made her pay half for the replacement kindle.   I think I spent $30 each so it wasn’t a hardship, but bad decisions shouldn’t be rewarded.  Got a UV flashlight too.   Should come in handy.  It was $3, so I expect it to be less than pro level.

Went by the bins since I was in that part of town, didn’t find much of interest.   Some days it’s like that.   Nice pair of like new Vans,  if they fit D2 and she likes them, that will have made the stop worth while.  Spent some time at my storage unit going through stuff and sorting for the eventual auction. That’s where the late afternoon sun was beating down on me, even through the overcast.   Came home soaked in sweat.

Dinner was boxed Beef Stroganoff, one of the cheesy hamburger helper style meals.   Beef was in the freezer for over a year, in a vac bag.   Box meal was on the shelf for a year past its best by.   Milk was UHT shelf stable opened last week.   All was good.  No leftovers.(and I use 1 1/3 pounds of meat, instead of just a pound.)   Eat what you store, store what you eat.


Did some searching through surveillance video.   Fish is there at dusk on Saturday but never seen again.   That night a big tabby cat does come sniffing around, but walks off.   The rain started soon after that, and went on for 12 hours, so I don’t have great video, and I can’t see any time when the pond was disturbed at all.   Can’t figure out what got Mr Fish, but he’s gone daddy gone and has been for a week.   That’s kinda the worst part, that we didn’t notice for a few days and didn’t investigate for a few more (we feed him daily.)  I just figured he was hiding in the deep end.  So much for my situational awareness.


Today I’m headed to my client’s house to do the rest of the install.   The NVR came in, and I can get the rest of what I need on my way.   That’ll be later in the morning though.   I should still be able to waste time on the internet with my friends.  You know, get the day started right.

And then I should be able to  invoice and stack up the result.  ‘Cuz sometimes the best stacks are greenbacks.


Mon. May 22, 2023 – last week of school… what will we do?

Cool and damp, supposed to clear up though.   Temps in the mid 80s?  Yesterday was warm and overcast, which kept it from getting too hot.  I didn’t even break a sweat mowing the yard.  Today should be warmer, and sunnier.

I did a few things yesterday but mostly got ready for D1’s birthday stuff.   Met the “not a” boyfriend.   His parents came to the door when dropping him off, and picking him up.   Nice kid, kinda shy.  The friend group went out and did stuff together, ate, and went home.   D1 and X1 came back home and we had cake.  At least at Casa De Nick, the cake is not a lie.

Today I’ve got auction stuff to do, some pickups might happen.  Tomorrow I will probably head to my client’s house to finish up.  The NVR came in over the weekend, a full 5 days early, so I can get it installed and invoiced this week.  Client is coming back from  a trip overseas so I may give them a couple of days to settle back in to daily life.

This is the last full day of ‘learning’ for the year.   I don’t think there will be much ‘learning’ going on.  T, W, Th they have testing and half days.  Friday off… and we’re probably headed to the BOL for the long weekend.   Our rec association will be having their summer kickoff and neighborhood open day for the weekend, but we won’t be there.   We’re pretty disengaged from the association this year so far.  Got our own stuff going on.

I hope we have a quiet summer, but I expect the violence to get worse, and to get organized again.  We’ll see, and I want to be wrong, but if it’s a hot one, we’re going to  see a bunch.  Make your plans now with safety in mind.   Think a bit longer term and consider what changes you will make if it does get worse.  Figure out triggers for those changes, and make a plan.

Stack what you need to execute your plan so that you aren’t fighting with 10K others who have the same idea.  Get prepped.


(and globally, we’re sending fighter jets to Ukraine.  What could possibly go wrong?)

Sun. May 21, 2023 – two one hump camels humping.

Slightly cooler, maybe some rain, maybe.   Yesterday was nice.  Hot, sunny, but nice compared to Hell or Cincinnati.  Didn’t do any work in the attic though, I’m not a mad dog, or Englishman.

Did do some stuff around the house.   Not as much as I’d hoped.   Had some interruptions that knocked me off track and limited what I was willing to start.   Did get the coffee machine fixed, so that will leave the kitchen and go to the ebay pile.  Now to do the same with the other, bigger one.

D1 has a birthday sometime in this last week or next, so we’re going to do some birthday activities today, while her friends are available.   With the school year ending this week, and the start of summer activities, there won’t be much time to get all of them in one place.  There is a bunch of stuff for her sitting around until her birthday party and getting that cleared up will help with the stuff in the house too.

I forgot to mention my trip to the grocery store on Friday.   Lots of gaps on the shelves.  One thing they were out of is the eye drops I use.   I’ve got more in the stacks but like to replace what I use when I use it.  I don’t have to try to find a new supply right away if I have them on the shelf.   That’s why we prep.   I also didn’t see as many discount coupons, and the stuff I bought wasn’t on sale.   I saved only about 2.5% vs my normal 10-12% by using store coupons and closeout discounts.   If this turns into a trend, we’re in even bigger trouble.

This past week I spent a lot on eating out, and prepared meals.  Normally I try to cook most nights but between school stuff and general malaise, I wasn’t able or wasn’t willing to cook dinner.   The difference in cost is getting to be quite large.   I’ve started pulling back by preference but if this keeps up, we’ll NEED to pull back.   Since we are in good shape, I can’t imagine what people less well off or well prepared are faced with.   IDK if they are continuing to spend out of habit, and eating up savings or going into debt, or if they are faced with pulling way back, and suddenly (like the lady I mentioned previously that had to choose a hamburger helper meal for the first time).   For most people I think there comes a point where it suddenly and undeniably comes to their attention, and they HAVE to make big changes, or go broke.   What are you guys seeing?  Are you cutting spending?  Is it out of prudence or need?

It’s late to start stacking, because costs have gone up and choices are down.   With that, I’m tempted to start eating down my stacks to save money, but for what and when?   I still think it is a good idea to be building up reserves and the time to be using them is yet to come.   So keep stacking, when and what you can, and let me know when  you think the time is right to start using what you are setting aside.




oh yeah, the title.  Second to last time I was up at the BOL, I really didn’t expect to see camels mating.   But I did. And yeah, it really is as awkward as you think it must be.


Sat. May 20, 2023 – finally a day without obligations… so I get to do my own

Cooler but warming later.  Some chance of rain.   Maybe clear later.   Yesterday was nice and hot, sunny too.   D1 had a good time at the beach.

I was looking for a safety monitor to watch out for me in the attic at my client’s place.   It was REALLY hot in the attic.   Fortunately I did all the hard and sweaty crawling around last time.  All I had to do was enter, and connect cabling.  Still, last time I measured the attic temps in summer, I got 142F iirc.   I might take a thermometer back with me on Monday or Tues. just to see.   In any case it was dangerously hot.

I didn’t get any one thing done over there either.   Got the camera rebooted.   Tried adding the new cam, but firmware and OS on the NVR were too old.   I’m replacing it all next week anyway so I didn’t update anything.   Did some maintenance on the ubiquiti Cloud Key appliance that works as a manager and dashboard for the system.   Didn’t update any firmware in the system either, as I didn’t have time to recover if anything broke.  Did get new hardware added.

Got the NanoStation 5AC loco added, and configured as an access point.  I confirmed there is signal at the gate opener and keypad.   If I have to, I can add the other one, a switch at the gate, and config it all as a wire replacement.   More gear, more time, more effort, so I’m hoping that I’ve done enough with wifi coverage.  I couldn’t quite finish, as I needed to locate a PoE injector in the attic, and I didn’t have what I needed with me to plug everything in.  I’ll bring that back next week and finish that.

And I got the control gear installed, the piece I had to wait most of a year to find on ebay as normal channels are dry.   It’s configured but not complete as the controls programmer hasn’t done his part yet.  He wants me there when he connects and sets it up.  I’ll need to test it in any case.

So a lot got done, but nothing got done.

Today I should be doing more cleaning, and taking stuff out of the house and to storage.  It’s piling up while waiting for an auctioneer, but it needs to be out of the foyer and living room.  I’ve been doing other stuff, and making the piles higher as I organized.   If it isn’t raining, today is the day that organizing will bear fruit as the stuff goes away.

Oh, all the normal weekly domestic bliss needs to happen too.   Joy.

It’s a great life, if you don’t falter.

Stack something, even if it’s a small stack.


Fri. May 19, 2023 – It’s a cruel, crazy, beautiful world… {it’s your world so live in it}

Cool, maybe raining.   Hope not, because it’s D1’s school beach day…   I hope it’s like yesterday, which got hot and sunny, before finally cooling off with some big fat rain drops after dark.  I guess we’ll see.

Did my errands yesterday, interrupted and bracketed by school events.   6th grade honors in the morning, 8th grade in the evening.  Oh, and an eye exam for D2 in the afternoon.  Some days, the more I have to do, the more I get done, some days it’s the opposite.

I did a bit of social study during the school stuff.   What did the teachers value for their teacher’s choice awards?  (quiet, tries hard, uses all the resources available, kind, helpful)   Why were girls featured at about a 3:1 or more ratio in all the pix and video?  (they might actually outnumber the boys)  Why if so?  (no sports might mean boys self select to not attend this school)  30% of 8th graders were taking dance classes.  Only one was male.  Salud and valedictorians were all girls.  3rd year for one of the girls.   Couple kids had three years of straight As, 95% or better As at that.  Pretty much everyone in the school would have been on the honor roll in a regular district school, so they made the honor roll harder, and made another level above that too.   Interesting stuff.

Saw a couple of parents I haven’t seen in a while, since we didn’t do swim team with them last year.  Our pool’s team was a great crossroads for several neighborhood groups.  In theory, we’re doing swim team this year, but D2 isn’t going to enough practices, so I don’t think it will happen.  I miss seeing some of the other dads at practices and meets.  It would be nice to see them again.

Today I’m trying to head to my client’s place.  At least do some work.   No kid stuff with afternoon appointments on the calendar.  I usually spend the afternoon there, and into the evening when my client comes home and we meet.  He’s out of town though, so I should be able to ‘down tools’ and head home at a decent time.  We’ll see.  Hope to get some stuff done.

And maybe stack some greenbacks.   They are as much a prep as anything, and I’ve been using stacks to buy some needful things lately.  Need to replenish what got used.

Stack some resources.  They always come in handy.