Thur. April 9, 2020 – hopefully a nice day

 

Warm and damp.

Yesterday was hot and steamy. Started out reasonably enough but soon was hot. And steamy. Did I mention steamy? And hot?

Morning was still overcast and rain was forecast so I didn’t do much outside until after lunch. Then it was yard work, garden, and trees.

If the trees weren’t going to shade the garden, I’d have left them, but I need the sun on the raised beds. And with hurricane season only a short time away, I went ahead and trimmed near the utility lines, since I had the saw and ladder out.

I’m debating whether to do the tree trimming on the oak in the front yard or not. I usually trim back the branches over the house, and every couple of years I get out the rope saw and take down some dead wood high up in the tree. There are other things that are a priority but if I’m in the zone and have the tools out anyway….

I need to get back to my driveway/garage storage and organize party. I need to get whatever seeds I hope to plant this year in the ground. I usually plant seedlings from Lowes or HD, but I’m not going shopping ATM. I’ve got seeds. I’m a bit surprised at some of the stories I’m seeing of seeds being sold out, both in the stores and online. I guess maybe I’m not the only one hoping to get a garden in this year. Whatever the motivation, I’m glad that others are planting. The learning curve is steep.

Chickens are sold out too. Hmm.

Too many people are too invested in particular outcomes for me to believe 99% of the reporting on wuflu right now. I’m just going to stay the course, watch for primary sources of indirect and secondary indicators, and act as if my life depended on it.

The wuflu won’t be the end of everything, nor will the economic impacts, nor will the cultural impacts. As a nation we’ve been through worse versions of all those things. WE may not survive, and WE may not return to a world we expect, but PEOPLE will. And they will muddle through or prosper or not. I intend to make it through. What’s on the other side I can’t predict, as I think this is one of those times when everything changes. I thought that last year, and haven’t changed my mind. War, pestilence, and plague. They were overdue.

I don’t know how long it will take but think about the changes in one lifetime, from 1900 to 1965. Who would have predicted the destruction of the British Empire, the rise of America, the Cold War, and Communism? Or look at 1965 to 2020. Who would have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, the changes wrought by PCs and the internet? The massive financialization of everything? Or the destruction of western culture?

Things change, this is just the pebble that started the boulder rolling down hill. Something would have. It was time.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

 

Wed. April 8, 2020 – little of this, little of that

Cool to start, but warming, and still wet.

National forecast shows us on the edge of a system. Usually that means we don’t get it. We’ll see.

Had about 0.16 in of rain yesterday according to my weather station. It must have been in the morning, or when I was doing other things. LOTS of water in the buckets and stuff in the driveway, but that was from the last couple of days.

I put some wire mesh over my onions to keep the squirrels off. If it works tomorrow, I’ll put some over all the onions.

My potatoes are poking through the dirt in all three of my bags. Hooray! I’ll be adding soil when the shoots get a couple inches bigger. I hope this bag approach to a potato tower works. At dinner my daughter asked, “But don’t we already have a whole lot of potatoes?” “Yep, 120 pounds (wife’s eyebrows go up!) but I’ve got a longer planning horizon than most people…” Silence as that sank in. I don’t know what the fall will bring, but I know I won’t have potatoes if I don’t plant them now…

Grape vine continues to leaf and grow new canes. Blueberry plants (hard to call the scrawny things ‘bushes’) mostly have developing berries or still flowers. Meyer Lemon, lime, and orange all have developing fruit. Nothing from the window box root veggies yet though. I need to see what else I can get in the ground. The herb mix I seeded hasn’t produced anything either yet. Potted tomatoes are getting ripe. I may get two whole (small) tomatoes this year. New pepper plants and old are producing. Collards and cabbages are still alive, if not going wild. Alive is good. My remaining apple tree is leafing out. I didn’t get to replace the dead one, so without cross pollination, I guess I won’t get fruit. If nothing else, the tree will get a bit more established.

I did a bit more cleaning and organizing. Not anywhere near as much as needed. I did replace some caps and spouts on several aquatainers. I had bought replacement parts some time ago but never put them on. I need to get my water sorted and rotated, but that is frankly low priority. I did it yesterday just to get them moved and make sure I didn’t misplace the parts again.

Amazon says my can organizers shipped yesterday. I’ve been holding off any more food moving until the organizers get here, so I only have to do it a couple of times (one would be ideal, but also unlikely.)

Dinner was Taco Tuesday, frozen ground beef, envelope of mix, and fixin’s from the fridge.

I think I’m going to try some bread baking today or tomorrow. I want to try pita bread, and the polar opposite, soft dinner rolls… If I can get the dinner rolls to work, I’ll have a homemade replacement for the King’s Hawaiian rolls we eat with our pulled pork. Considering the amount of canned and frozen pork I’ve got, rolls would be a Good Thing ™.

The burns on my fingers did NOT blister today. They hurt a bit when pressed or heated, but I may have dodged a bullet. They are still red and shiny and I have to hold my coffee cup differently than normal, but I’ll take it as a win if they don’t swell up and peel.

WRT wuflu. Most of what I see says “undercounting” not “lump in everything possible” at least in the US. Look at the secondary and indirect effects for an indication where the numbers aren’t trustworthy. Hospitals are going through PPEs at an extraordinary rate. NYC has so many dead they’re stacking up, and SECURITY GUARDS have been pressed into service moving the bodies. We’re starting to see cases take off in areas where there were only a few, confirming the exponential nature, and then the math is inexorable. Don’t lose focus. We’re only a few weeks into this and we are looking at MONTHS ahead. Meanwhile, they’re making progress. An antibody test is being trialed. The ‘plasma infusion’ treatment seems promising. The HCQ and Z pak is getting widespread testing. People around the world are working on treatment, vaccine, and testing.

Stay in, stay safe, start your garden!

nick

Tues. April 7, 2020 – hope I get more done today

Cool and damp.[76F, 99%RH, concrete wet]

Yesterday was overcast all day with some rain, especially later. Not a good day for outdoor work.

Not a great day for me to do work inside to be honest. Just not feeling up to snuff. Run down is a good description. Tired. Not quite sick, but still not healthy. So I piddled around in the office and wasted time on the internet with my friends.

I did have a chance to help my 5th grader with her math homework. There are some basics we need to work on. She COUNTED rather than ADDED ’12’ during a problem. Jeez, I thought we were past that. 8yo discovered that she can read the Harry Potter books through her school online portal. She’s on her way through the fourth book today.

I almost really screwed up in the kitchen. I needed hot water for the hash browns, so I nuked a coffee cup. Whatever the cup is made of, it gets hot in the microwave. The handle was scorching hot. Due to some prior issues, it takes a while before my brain realizes that I’m holding something hot. Man, I thought I was going to have some bad damage to two of the fingers on my right hand. I got them cooled off quickly and kept ice on them for a while, much longer than normal. They hurt really bad. After a couple of hours with a cold pack, they didn’t hurt so much and they haven’t blistered. I’ll see how they look later today. I still expect them to blister at some point, given the heat, pain, and redness. I’ve got lots of burn stuff in my med kit, but it’s all for open burns, not blisters. There’s really not much you can do for blisters.

That contributed to my not getting much done during the day too.

I did do some small electronics repair and sorted out some more stuff for ebay listing. Wife has been donating and selling some kid stuff we don’t need anymore through the FB moms group. Porch pickup, electronic money transfer, and we don’t have to even say “hi”. I’ve got a craigslist guy wants to buy a tool from me, but I’m debating if it’s worth $50 to meet him at my storage unit. I suppose there is a way to do the deal with minimal exposure. I’ll wait and see if he flakes.

I’m starting to see articles about reinfection again, and articles that suggest 6 ft isn’t enough distance. Those would both be bad things.

Another article said 3 of 4 hospitals in the US surveyed are treating Covid patients already although numbers are still small. One thing we’ve seen consistently, once the numbers start rising, they tend to shoot up. Again, not a good thing.

And it looks like the CDC has an antibody test ready to deploy. Widespread use of that would be good news as we’ll get a better idea of where we are wrt the whole population exposure to wuflu. I’m getting a bad feeling that maybe we’re all just looking for reasons it’s not as bad as it could be and clutching at straws thinking that we’ve already had it. It’s a comforting idea. I’d like a chance to know for certain. I don’t expect to get a test anytime soon though.

So I’ll stay in, and try to stay safe…

nick

Mon. April 6, 2020 – back to school, JK….

Warmer and dry? Maybe. [75F, 84%RH, and no actual rain yet]

It stayed cool all day yesterday but the rain stopped. It was even pretty nice, if a bit chilly and damp in the evening.

I did mostly indoor cleaning and organizing. I’m moving at a turtle’s pace though. Doesn’t look like a hoarder’s house, but it does look a bit like the wand shop in Harry Potter. I do tend to use ‘pile’ as an organizing structure. Doesn’t help that my wife will occasionally just round up everything she thinks is mine and pile that in my office. Some of the piles haven’t moved in a while.

I’m trying to get some space for my non-prepping hobby, and move some radio stuff around. I really want to get up with some digital modes and I don’t have the room to keep all the bits and pieces in one place. Baby steps.

I also continued to get the shelving and storage area in the garage cleaned up and gone through. Found a couple of boxes of ammo I didn’t know I had. Happy day!

Dinner was Costco special pork ribs from my last run, one rack for us, with the other two racks seasoned, vac bagged, and frozen. My wife ordered Oyster Sauce from somewhere online. I’d run out. It sucked to enter the zombie apocalypse with a freezer full of pork and none of my go to sauce… Anyway, delicious ribs. Really good baked beans- HEB branded can, cornbread (from mix) with added bacon crumbles and baked in a cast iron skillet (just cuz), canned corn (2016), and baked potatoes with all the fixin’s. Admittedly, the first can of corn was rusty from rat pee, and didn’t “suck” when pierced. That went straight into the trash. Clean can had a very reassuring “fushht” sound as the vacuum released. I’ve definitely found that if the packaging is intact, even with my horrible storage conditions, even stored food that is 6 or more years passed ‘best by’ tastes fine. I’m blending in stored food with our normal pantry and freezer food to help ease into this isolation. I also try to have a really good meal with familiar food every few days.

The kids have been great so far. Less poking at each other this week as they had some school work and a lot of “separated” time. Wife and I have been less stressed too. This coming week the school sent out more work to do, and some added resources. Short week anyway due to the Easter holidays, or as the school put it “a holiday you might be celebrating”. FFS, it’s Easter break, whether you are Christian or not. I’m finding I have a lot less tolerance for the ‘tolerance’ as this confinement goes on. If others are simmering too, the whole world could explode soon.

And hey, checks are coming, but conspicuously NOT HERE. Jails have been emptied, and burglaries are up 20% in Houston, while the cops are out sick. Who could have known? You are on your own. Act accordingly.

Stay home, stay safe.

nick

Sun. April 5, 2020 – time is on my mind, yes it is

Cool and wet again.

Yesterday was sub-60s in the morning and night, with slightly warmer temps during the day. Rain throughout the day. Buckets have about 2 inches in them but we got less than that by the gauge.

Spent the day cleaning and organizing indoors, mostly in my office. Didn’t get much of it done to be honest. Did get some stuff up into the attic, and checked the attic roof for structural damage. We had that huge explosion in the neighborhood a few weeks back and some of our friends are discovering that they have damage they didn’t know about. Mainly roof structure that cracked and broke. They are closer to the blast site, and iirc blast force is inverse square law, so if they saw 1/2 the force , we saw 1/4, for any given force. In any case, I didn’t see any broken sheathing, or rafters.

Wife and kids watched the first Harry Potter movie. I watched some of the beginning. Everyone looks so young. Of course they were young then and so were we.

Time is passing very strangely here. It feels like forever since we isolated, but the last week flew by. And counting the days to check if my wife could have an exposure, fewer days have gone by than I would have guessed. So micro time is flashing by but macro time is dragging. Huh.

Dinner was canned chili, with sweet onions, shredded cheese and Fritos. Not quite Frito pie, but not bad. Can was best by 2014 and was delicious. Well, as delicious as canned chili can be.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

Sat. April 4, 2020 – day 983 of my captivity…

Cool and raining, if the forecast can be believed. [58F and occasional drizzle]

Yesterday was partly sunny, mostly overcast all day. Finally about 7pm some small spattering of rain came. Later, it rained a bit heavier, and some thunder and lightning happened while I was reading to the girls. That tapered off fairly quickly though.

Yesterday’s chores involved continuing to put away and organize the food I brought home from the secondary location (stored mainly in the big black tubs), and food I bought before the shutdown, and food from my older stores here in the garage. I’ve got a LOT of kirkland canned corn. More canned chicken than I thought too. Lots of beans in cans. Less flour than I thought, but then I don’t use it for much. It’s there for bread machine bread, and possibly homemade pasta, and tortillas if I run out of mix. More spam than I remembered buying. At least it’s a mix of flavors. Pure SPAM is pretty salty.

Most of it will fit on three sections of industrial metal shelving (2ft x 3ft) I added under our patio roof, just outside the back door. That is about the coolest and darkest spot, with the garage being a bit cooler at night but hotter during the day. Unless I install a window AC unit in the garage, I think the patio will do fine for a while. Some food will remain in the garage, and either some of the bulk in buckets, or the non-perishable items will go on the shelves I used to use for food. I’ve also got 2 “towers” of the shelving set up in the driveway with paper products and the newest food. I will probably move some of that around too, but I want the oldest stuff in front for now.

I covered each of the towers with new heavy black plastic sheet. I wrapped the three sides and the top with one piece, then added another piece as the ‘door’ side, and wrapped it over the top as well. Then the whole thing (the two ‘towers’ are back to back) gets covered in a new tarp, which is silver to keep some of the heat off the contents. I’m hoping that it is water tight, and relatively cool. The tower full of paper goods shadows the other tower with the food and cleaning supplies.

For the canned goods on the patio shelves, I’m using a product I initially didn’t like. It’s the Can Tracker can organizer. Some time ago I picked a section up at goodwill and just couldn’t find a place for it. I ended up putting it back in our ‘donate’ pile. Then wuflu hit and I pulled it out of the pile. I put it on the patio shelf, filled it up, and liked it. Bought another section, and liked the result, so I just bought two more sections. It was terrible for storage. It’s bulky and will be partly empty most of the time. You can fit a LOT more cans in your pantry if you stack them on flats, or in bins. What it is excellent for is USE. It puts your cans at your finger tips in an easy to use and easy to see format. Now that I’m transitioning from STORING preps, to EATING preps, it is very handy. Seems tough, and was easy to assemble. For cans you will be using, I’m giving it a tentative recommendation.

I must admit, I’ve very nervous about having it all in one place. I’m hoping it never gets to the point where ‘inspectors’ are going door to door to ‘requisition’ ‘excess’ goods and materials. I never thought the whole country would be on house arrest either though. Cuomo is going to be doing that with ventilators and medical supplies, stripping the state and countryside to keep NYFC going for an extra week. He clearly doesn’t care what that will do to the communities he leaves bare. I wonder how that’s going to play out for him long term. Still a lot of guns in NY outside of the hive and we’re still planning to have elections. For now anyway. Something to watch for- I’m sure there will be talk before action, and that will leave a small window to act if needed.

Stuff to do today, mostly more of the same. So I better get busy.

nick

( My favorite thing! Played in the yard! My favorite thing! Got to play ball! My favorite thing!)

Fri. April 3, 2020 – another week gone

Cool and rain, that’s the forecast anyway.

Yesterday was cooler early and late, but did get past 80F at some point. Intermittent rain kept me from doing big work in the driveway. I didn’t want to untarp everything if there was a chance it would get soaked. We never did get much rain though. Today’s forecast is for rain. I guess we’ll see if our part of Houston gets any.

We’re pretty well settled into the new reality. Kids are getting used to remote school and working on their own. I’m working through my list. The urge to go out is lessening. Heck, I cut my own hair. That’s a pretty big change.

No matter what happens going forward from here, we’re well enough into this that things will be different. Flip the switch in your head. We’re not going to return to the way things were. I’ve been saying for a while that it felt like one of those periods in world history when everything changes. Remember? War, famine, or plague. I believe we thought it would be war. Still could be. It’s definitely a plague to get us started on the way.

Something was coming for a while, and it just got here. Now we have to get through it. It’s what we’ve been getting ready to do. Now is the time to do it.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

Thur. April 2, 2020 – time is flying by

Cool and beautiful again, hopefully.

Yesterday was about as nice a day as we ever get. Low 70s, light breeze, sunny and blue sky. Just a great day. I spent some time on the phone with a friend, and sat outside the whole time.

I also got some more food moved from the pile under the tarp, to the shelves on the back patio. The clips I ordered came in, and after spraying the bag, and leaving them in the sun for an hour, I built another section of shelf. I was able to move a whole pallet in the driveway after moving the last of the bins of food from it. I’ve got several black bins left to go through, and there is sure to be more spoilage in them. Then I can get the new shelves, and the old shelves organized. We really are settling in for the long haul.

More of the same on the list for today.

Dinner was taco night, with costco canned chicken, chicken taco mix, and all the fixings. No rice or beans yet. Wife and kids prefer to eat the tacos and not the sides. I’m trying to ease into the pandemic diet adding things slowly. Being mostly low carb lifestyle, all the pasta rice and beans will be a big change. Frankly, so is eating canned veg, with the exception of Costco canned corn. I’ve tried adding some over the last couple of years, but the corn is the only one that stuck. Turns out I’ve got an awful lot of corn and peas.

Kids are settling into the new routine. It really helps that we’ve read “The Girl Who Owned A City”, and the Little House on the Prairie books. It gives the girls a frame of reference that is outside of their dad just talking about prepping. The kids in Little House are grindingly poor and don’t even know it. My kids are stunned by how little they have. The protagonist in Girl Who Owned a City is smart and resourceful and saves the day for everyone. She just gets things done and is a good role model. I’d like to think Swiss Family Robinson is in the mix too, but neither has specifically referred to it. I like the idea of disaster as adventure and the way they just keep improving their situation. Hopefully, that attitude is percolating in their little brains.

Well, stuff to do, including maybe a haircut for me. We’ll see how brave I get…

Stay in, stay safe,

nick

Wed. April 1, 2020 – and that ain’t no joke

Cool and beautiful, if it doesn’t rain.

Yesterday was very nice outside, and I spent far too much of the day inside.

I did get up on the roof to swap out one camera for a new one. The new one looks great. The old camera was state of the art when new, homeland security grade, and very expensive. The new one is very capable, pro-sumer quality, and cheap. The low light and IR capabilities are fantastic, and it’s 8 Mpx, so digital zoom looks awesome. As a bonus, it’s a dome and is a bit less visible and intrusive. Certainly more modern and streamlined than the enclosure on an arm it replaced.

Some other minor gardening, and cleanup, and one ebay sold item and that rounds out my day. NOT productive by any means.

Oh, I did use my new battery charger to charge up an old yellow top battery I have in a carrier with a medium sized inverter. The battery took a charge and ended up on Float charge. I forget the name but it’s one of the expensive ones, ultima? with the grey body and yellow top. Some have a red top. I wish I’d found a forklift battery or some reconditioned marine batteries before all this hit, but I’d only been looking for a short time. I would like to work on the solar array project, but I don’t really have batteries. Or for that matter a charge controller. Add it to the list.

I also desperately want to go to the range and put a box or two through a couple of toys. I really need to function test one, and I’ve never fired the other. One local range is open but I don’t want to risk the exposure.

It is a risk too. Every case in the ER in a week will have been contracted this week, most likely through community spread. Don’t go out and play in it.

Dinner was pork chops, a cheesy pasta side dish, and fresh asparagus. Dessert was the triple layer cake my 8yo made for her grandpa’s birthday. We ate it, he admired it on Facetime. It was bright red cake, dark chocolate frosting, and M&Ms inside and out. She did it all on her own from the various boxes, with very little oversight. Very visually striking 🙂

Kids had school video conferences today. They had fun seeing their teachers and friends. It was mainly a ‘work out the bugs and give this a try’ session. Seemed to go well after the slow start. The school uses Zoom. Borepatch noted on his site that WebEx is offering their video meeting product free for the duration. If you have a group you get together with, but have stopped for the wuflu, you might want to check out a group conference. Funny what happens when there is competition.

Lots of stuff needs doin’ today. I better get to it.

n

Tues. Mar. 31, 2020 – some stuff got done, but progress is slow

Cooler and possibility of rain.

Yesterday was overcast and partly sunny late, but didn’t rain. So humid that the concrete was wet though.

I did some work on the pile in the driveway, and cleaned out a couple of my “window box” planters on the fence. If they dry out today, I’ll get some new dirt in them and some veg planted later.

I did get the second potato tower planted, and my onion starters in the ground. I had to remove some chives and some grass that had invaded the bed.

I had a small tree with two trunks die on one half, so I got out the saw and trimmed that back. Looks like woodpeckers made holes, then ants got in. They started attacking the remaining trunk too, so I shaved away the loose bark and sprayed the wound with nursery sealer. Hopefully that will save what’s left. It’s a nice ornamental tree in front of the house and I don’t want to lose it.

While I had the saw out, I did some pruning and cut up some medium sized branches that were waiting for me to get to them. There are a bunch of crepe myrtles and japanese cherry trees in the back yard that constantly need cutting back. They are under the utility lines and grow fast. I try to do all that sort of thing at the same time, so even if it wasn’t top of my list, I needed to do the dead tree in the front, which means spending a bit of time in back too. It’s always something.

In other news.

If you haven’t looked at the numbers for the wuflu in a couple of days, please take a look. This thing is growing and spreading. We MAY be slowing the growth, but that only extends the time it will take to get to saturation, it doesn’t prevent it. NYFC went from one case to 100 to 67K with 1300 deaths so far. That’s like 1 in 100 diagnosed, and more deaths to come. People are not being smart about this. They lined up to see the hospital ship FFS. They are loading bodies into freezer trucks. In NYC. In the USA.

Aesop has had cases in his ER and more are coming. Several people here have mentioned one or two degree of separation cases. Meanwhile, TPTB are working their way through the CDC’s Pandemic Checklist. They haven’t gotten to the part where they bring staff families inside the perimeter and fort up, but they are headed down the list toward that. https://www.ttgnet.com/journal/2018/02/16/fri-feb-16-2018-pandemic-flu-preparedness/ Read that to see where this could be heading.

While I don’t think this is a panic engineered to allow the Deep State and tyranny to take over the US, it’s undeniable that certain people are using it to advance their long standing agendas, and the Constitution be damned. I encourage you all to push back against that without pushing any other agenda. Just point out the places where they are overstepping. And just in case, look to your arms. Figure out where you stand and what, if anything, you are not willing to tolerate.

No matter how this plays out politically, it’s already changing your local security situation. Jails are being emptied, and cops have stopped trying to control crime. They want to live through this as much as anyone, and I can understand that, even as I curse it. You may be much more responsible for your own safety and security than you are used to being. Get your mindset ready. Get your tools ready.

Whether a nothing burger or a society killer, this thing is here and the world around us has changed. I don’t know if we can get back to where we were, or even farther towards where we wish we were, but I know that right now, right here, it’s different. Get your head in the game and get used to the new rules.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick