Thur. July 18, 2019 – the cookie crumbles

78F and 97%RH. It rained on me in various parts of town all afternoon yesterday. It was like a black cloud followed me around and wanted my auction items to be wet. My wife said she wasn’t aware of any rain. Must have been little cells and I just happened to drive through a bunch of them. Stuff in the back of the truck didn’t get too wet, as long as you keep moving the airflow keeps most of it out of the bed.

Couple of interesting things in this story — https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-16/ex-fox-friends-co-host-flees-us-amid-ponzi-scheme-allegations
First, note that a guy who hosts on Fox is married to a woman who is a former news anchor with MSNBC. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. Then look at what the arrangement in question tried to do- profit by flipping and renting houses. Then the last line of the article – “As to why Clayton, Natali, and Whalen thought they could become stupid rich in flipping homes and renting them out for investors during a hiking cycle by the Federal Reserve and the eventual turning point in the economy that started in the summer of 2018 — is beyond us. All schemes tend to come undone at the end part of a business cycle. ” –Umm, they thought they could shear a few sheep before the bubble popped, or they thought they were too smart to get caught short when the bubble popped, or they didn’t believe it was a bubble. Bubbles always pop. I love how the author just casually mentions the end though, like everyone knows that’s what happened. Easy enough in hind sight.

And then there is this– https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-16/despite-best-first-half-decade-hedge-funds-fees-continue-fall-0 Hedge funds are supposed to be the smartest guys, Wall Street players. If you were a conspiracy theorist, it might look suspicious that the market is so high, yet all the smart guys are doing so poorly…

“Years of underperforming the market as a result of the Fed’s rigged stock environment where fundamentals no longer matter has led many investors to seek out less expensive alternatives, especially since central banks no longer allow even a modest drop in the market. But hedge funds reported their best first half in a decade this year as managers capitalized on the surge in stocks after their plunge late last year.

Even still, the 5.7% gain across the hedge fund industry paled in comparison to the S&P 500, which returned almost 19% over the same course of time. This came after hedge funds delivered their worst performance since 2011 last year.

And another big fund is calling it quits — https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-17/woodfords-once-iconic-fund-begins-forced-liquidations-vows-no-big-discounts

“Woodford has left thousands of investors without access to their savings after suspending its flagship $4.63 billion equity income fund about a month and a half ago after overwhelming redemption requests.”

— I wonder why those ‘sophisticated investors’ want their money back? They need it to cover something else? They need it for current expenses? They’ve lost faith in the fund?

I’m convinced more than ever that it’s a casino. Rule number one is “if you look around and can’t see the patsy, the patsy is YOU.” If you stayed in, take your gains and get out for a while. If you ‘let it ride’ you are going to leave the table busted.*

In politics, maybe now some chickens will come home to roost–

“Is Somalian-born far-left ‘squad’ member Ilhan Omar ‘married to her brother’? Trump makes extraordinary suggestion about one of his Democrat tormentors

President Donald Trump suggested Rep. Ilhan Omar was ‘married to her brother’
Reignited an explosive rumor that first emerged during Omar’s 2016 campaign
He made the outlandish claim to the press before heading to a rally in NC
Omar has failed to fully disprove the claims of bigamy and fraternal marriage
She has called the rumors ‘baseless, absurd’ and amounting to Islamophobia”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7258833/Trump-claims-theres-lot-talk-Ilhan-Omar-married-brother.html

She got an “islamic divorce”. Alt-media has followed this story since it began. MSM is late to the party.

And that should be enough to kick off some discussion….

nick

*(nothing I write should EVER be considered investment advice, and is for entertainment purposes only, past performance is no guarantee of future performance (and that goes for past bad advice too-even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.) )

Posted in Random Stuff | 20 Comments

Wed. July 16, 2019 – putting it off doesn’t make it easier

79F and 90%RH this morning. It did cool off a bit after the sun went down yesterday. Not much, but noticeable.

I’m beat. I’ve been moving heavy stuff and staying up late. I went back to bed this morning again. Didn’t help much. I’ve got more of the same on deck for today too.

Ugh. I’m sitting here and just zoned out.

In the news, I had a surge of hope when I read this headline -“Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Dies At 99” -but he’s already been retired and replaced. Dang.

Zoned out again. Jeez I’m tired.

I should make some breakfast and coffee.

n

Posted in Random Stuff | 35 Comments

Tues. July 16, 2019 – interesting…

80F and 98%RH this morning. Stayed a tiny bit cooler yesterday with overcast, but was still hot and humid.

Anyone else notice how much of our economy is people living off the ‘skim’?

From Greg yesterday-

“The record companies in the US have definitely stopped trying and are content to pocket streaming royalties from the last five decades of material in their vaults.”

It’s not just the record companies. Youtube’s whole model is getting paid for other peoples’ work. The entertainment industry in general does this, with the creative talent, the ‘artist’, often getting little or nothing for their efforts.

Amazon skims a little off of every third party transaction. Ebay and Paypal too. Google and facebook get paid for something quite different from the ‘service’ they provide to their users, interjecting themselves into the process of buying and selling, skimming a tiny bit from every potential transaction.

Doordash, grocery shopping services, delivery in general, all make their money off of someone else’s transaction. There are fewer and fewer primary creators, making things for people to buy.

The internet may have disintermediated some commerce, but it introduced a whole new crop of companies that interjected themselves BACK into the ‘value stream’. The end result is the ‘maker’ gets less, and all the new intermediaries all get a little bit more out of each transaction.

The financial industry is all about skim. All the algos are skimming from each sale, frontrunning and driving the cost up for the end customer. Interest and other financialization tricks are skim. Gambling in the stock markets is skimming money out of the pool….

.gov does it directly with taxes and regulation. Regulators are the first of the skimmers, adding cost, producing nothing. And of course the ‘taker’ class lives entirely off the skim from ‘makers’ and the earnings of the ‘skimmers’.

Huge chunks of our economy have been financialized, or become dependent on .gov.

Take a second or two and consider what happens to an economy built on skim when it contracts… What happens when there is no room in the price of a good for 4 extra intermediaries? What happens when people decide they really don’t need someone else to pick up or even make their dinner?

That’s when the downward spiral starts in earnest.

nick

Posted in Random Stuff | 64 Comments

Mon. July 15, 2019 – half way through the year

Hot and humid, close to 81F. We never did get much rain from Barry, but I think the mid-South/ Mississippi basin is going to get some in the coming days. Flash flood warnings for that area are in effect.

With prepping, it’s easy to get focused on a specific event. Many times it’s what Bruce Schneier calls a ‘movie plot’ event, ie one that makes for good drama, but isn’t likely in real life. The canonical one is the zombie apocalypse. Most of us know that’s unlikely in the extreme, but it’s a funny idea, takes some of the stress out of thinking about the end of the world as we know it, and if you’re prepped for that, you’re prepped for most of the more likely events.

That is how most prepping works anyway. Prep for something real bad, and you are also prepared for the less bad. This is true (for the most part) even if you focus very narrowly on one specific threat.

The most likely threats in your area should be your first
consideration. Then threats that you can cover by extending your preps a bit. It’s also a good idea to cover threats that are rare but the consequences are extreme, especially those that are cheap or easy to prep for. An example might be CME. If you are storing extra radios or electronics anyway, it’s only a little bit more effort (called marginal effort by economists) to put them in a metal enclosure, or Faraday cage. That covers you for the CME, or an EMP caused by an enemy, and protects your electronics from dust and vermin. There really isn’t a downside to taking the extra step.

Look for ways to leverage your existing preps and extend them a bit to cover additional threats. For that matter, think of prepping as a way to extend you existing lifestyle… if you camp, you extend to more gear and more skills. If you garden, or can, or sew- take it a step further. You’ve already used the resources to get you this far, it’s easy to go just a bit more…

Keep stacking,

nick

Posted in prepping 101, Random Stuff | 44 Comments

Sun. July 14, 2019 – got some things done, still more to do

I’m sure it’s hot and humid, but I’m cool and comfy in my bed. I LIKE air conditioning. If the collapse happens, I’ll miss AC an awful lot.

Got through yesterday and got a couple of things done. Monthly non-prepping hobby meeting. Grass cutting. Garden weed and water. We had the hamster funeral in the late afternoon, just before the rain, and the kids made concrete ‘stepping stones’ with decorations for headstones.

I tried to get the petcock installed on the rain water barrel I bought at auction some weeks ago, but despite a box full of plumbing fittings, I couldn’t come up with the right combination of hardware. I KNOW I have other hose bibs somewhere, but I couldn’t find them yesterday. I know I must have the right adapter somewhere, but I keep the plumbing supplies in the garage attic, and I just couldn’t spend much time in that heat looking. I’ll try again today if I have time.

Both girls are going to Girl Scout sleepover camp for the week. Part of the day will be devoted to driving them there, and getting ourselves back. Maybe we’ll go out for dinner…

Meanwhile, weird stuff going on. NYC blackout, guy shot outside detention facility, crazy people running around…

I’m putting this up in the queue and heading to bed, see you all later.

n

Posted in Random Stuff | 47 Comments

Sat. July 13, 2019 – Friday the 13th comes on a Saturday this month

79F and 85%RH this morning. Forecasts are for part cloud and rain later. We haven’t gotten any rain from the Gulf storm yet. The wind pattern has changed completely and is blowing from north to south because of the storm, but nothing wet so far. Radar shows it all still parked over New Orleans. Talk about ‘sit and spin’…

Today is the monthly meeting for my non-prepping hobby. I’ll be heading out to that soon. It’s nice to get out and share something with a group, and it’s nice to have something unrelated to how I spend much of my free time.

Speaking of preps–

The garden continues. Zukes and cukes are still not dead, but aren’t really thriving either. Vines are developing, and growing a bit, but other folks are getting veg off theirs already.

Tomatoes have packed it in. The roma plant must not be getting watered and is a shriveled stick. I didn’t look at the garden for a few days and that was a few days too many for the tomatoes. The other two plants are still green and growing but no fruit.

Citrus continues as before. The Meyer will have a bumper crop, the orange may have one surviving fruit, no lime, grapefruit, or orange on the other plant.

Apples are developing on the one tree. Two of them. Which is better than most of my trees in the second year. Peach tree is looking better and leafy, but no fruit.

Grape vines got their leaves back after the caterpillar attack, but what grapes there were are long gone.

Blueberries are done. Final yield was maybe a cup and half but youngest daughter loved going out there and picking them every other day. I never saw the plants at the big box store, so didn’t get to replace the dead plant. Bird netting helped a lot. I’ll be picking up more when I see it. It’s not expensive and will help you get your crop for your family, instead of the critters.

Been a while since I talked about ‘stuff’. This week I got machetes for the vehicle kits, a couple more coleman lanterns, a big pot for the propane ring, another 40 gallons of water storage, wheels for my other new storage tank,

It’s time to rebuild some of my first aid kits, especially the two big ones for the house. Tape and adhesive ages out, even if the other stuff can be stretched in time. I’ve been going through battery powered stuff too and changing batteries.

Lots of stuff at the secondary location is aged out too. I’ll be shifting some stores from the house to there, and rotating stuff back here. Some stuff I’ll simply be replacing like the rice and flour. I forgot that I had a dozen square water storage containers over there. I really should refill those.

I need to rotate and expand the gasoline storage too. Hurricane season is here and I haven’t expanded to my seasonal storage comfort zone. The trucks are all full at the moment, and the highway signs are reminding people that there is a big storm in the Gulf and they should fill up on gas. Good advice at any time.

So, what have you done to prep lately? Some folks are doing a nice job of expanding their preparedness, but I always like hearing from everyone….

nick

Posted in Random Stuff | 49 Comments

Fri. July 12, 2019 – community involvement, you need it

82F and 88%RH and I believe it. Last night was like a wet blanket when I let the dog out. The radar clearly shows rotating storm in the gulf. Last night it was round, today it looks a bit squashed, but still clear rotation. New Orleans looks like it is still getting the brunt of the storm, although I haven’t gone looking for pictures or reports.

Community. Sometimes used in the sense of ‘a group of people that share similar interests and concerns’ (which is us by the way) and sometimes used in the sense of ‘the area we live in, and the people around us, who share some common needs or concerns based on our colocation’, the word and ideas are increasingly showing up in discussions about surviving what’s coming.

For years I lived here but didn’t engage at ALL with the community. Then we had kids in school. As the kids went out into the world, so my awareness and involvement expanded. Meatspace. Another idea, related, but a bit more brutal when distinguishing between our communities of interest, our voluntary communities, and the real world around us. (Meatspace baby, being the admonition to get out and engage that world around you, with the added idea that it will be very important soon (from WRSA)).

I took the admonition to heart and started engaging. I went to the PTA meetings, the school festivals (and volunteered for them and with the kids in the classrooms.) I went to the community meetings for our Capital Improvement Plan to learn what TPTB had in mind for our area physically. I went to the community meetings about crime, and the Positive Interaction Program with HPD where they shared some of the threats in our neighborhood and what they were doing about them. I talked with our City Councilwoman, listened to the Mayor, the city engineers, our local cops. I took the classes offered by our local police, first the Constable’s Office, and now the Houston PD. I learned to listen to the scanner to get more information (more accurately ‘data’) about what police ops were going on around me. And last night, I had a continuing education class with HPD specifically because of my previous classes (they are learning about you during those classes too.)

Since engaging with the community, I’ve learned a LOT more about the true state of my surroundings. I’ve learned about how our local politicians will be spending money in our area, about how much they care about US vs others. I’ve learned about some heinous crimes against children not two miles from home from our Councilwoman. I’ve learned from the scanner about major drug dealing in the surrounding area, about a known drug house in our neighborhood, and about the sort of people living in and around our neighborhood, specifically down to apartment complexes.

I’ve learned a bit about how the people policing our area think, what techniques and equipment they can use, what works for them and what doesn’t, and about their politics and loyalties. I’ve got personal contact info from some, and carry several business cards that might give someone going through my wallet on the roadside pause. I’ve got official ID, identifying me as a CERT member (an actual thing in our EMgmt structure) which puts me into an official chain of command. I’ve got ID from two of our main police forces, and while it clearly says I’m a civilian, it also says I’m a friendly, and supportive, and have been investigated/vetted/cleared. That opened up more opportunities to learn and participate in things not available to the general public.

Last night I learned a lot more about one of the scourges that plague mankind since, well, forever- slavery. It’s alive and well, still generating misery and money, and it’s happening in normal looking houses less than 3 miles from my home. I can almost guarantee it’s happening within 10 miles of where YOU live, whether it’s a worker in an ethnic restaurant, a massage parlor, or a truck stop, or a no tell motel near the freeway, or that apartment complex down the street. It’s being done by the same cast of characters as the illicit drug trade, and is expanding along with the illegal alien invasion. The organized cartels can move people or things, as long as they get paid (and can sample the goods) they don’t care what or who they move.

These are the people who you are stuck with when the sh!t gets real- the people already around you. And in the mean time, these are the people who will determine if you get new streets, increased policing, beautification projects, or any of the other benefits of civilization. They determine how the kids get educated. The other side, these are the people who will be looking at your stuff, deciding what to take- and that includes your wife and kids. These are the people who occupy the same space as us but whose worlds rarely intersect ours. Most of the time, that intersection won’t be to your benefit.

Get to know what is really going on around you. NOTICE things. Who are the homeless in your area? Where do they hang out? Any changes in that population? What areas around you are notorious with law enforcement? What are active nuisances? Who is just hanging out on a corner, minding his own business (the most dangerous thing in america- SOCMOB – almost always where they were just before getting shot and going to the ER.) Where are the murders? The prostitutes? Fights and drunkenness? Areas of lawlessness aren’t going to get BETTER as things around us get worse.

Meatspace baby. It’s where you LIVE and it needs more attention than you are probably giving it.

nick

Posted in Random Stuff | 35 Comments

Thur. July 11, 2019 – dentist appt this morning, yay! Said no one ever…

Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not 105F which is where my weather station is stuck this morning. Forecast calls for rain throughout the day, and temps as high as 99F. I guess we’ll see. It looks like the start of a normal day outside at the moment, not a T-storm. We never did get rain here despite the rumbles.

The whole family has appointments to get their fangs cleaned this morning, as Bob would say. Time is flying by.

Mom’s estate sale should be today. I hope it empties the house.

And later tonight I will be attending a continuing ed class with HPD on Human Trafficking. That should be heartbreaking and enraging by turns.

In between, kids back to the rock climbing gym, me back to cleanup and chores, and the world continues it’s swirl…

n

Posted in Random Stuff | 37 Comments

Wed. July 10, 2019 – tired.

79F and 96%RH this morning. It got hot yesterday but not as hot as some recent days. Wore my cool vest and set up my portable air conditioner and got some work done for a couple of hours.

As a result, I’ve got another pickup load for the auction, and more coming.

I’ve got the beginning of an idea rolling around in my empty gourd of a head. Not sure if it is going to lead anywhere, but it ties together “smart” thermostats, Boeings Max disaster, high efficiency clothes washers, and a couple of other things. What they all have in common is trying to use software and cleverness to solve a problem better addressed with the application of ‘stuff’.

With thermostats, you are better off spending a couple hundred bucks on air sealing and insulation to increase the performance of your home than getting clever with your HVAC. With the Max, it looks like Boeing tried to solve a physical issue (instability in flight) with cleverness, and with HE clothes washing, we all know you get a better result with old style washers that simply used more water, more agitation, more soap, etc. Once again, trying to replace stuff with cleverness.

Even in cars you find the same thing, only applied to the stuff instead of just a direct software approach (although the direct approach is present too). The steel has been made stronger, rather than using more. More strength comes from SHAPE than material, which is cleverness embodied physically.

None of it is necessarily bad in and of itself, but it adds cost, complexity, and most unforgivably, trades TIME for stuff. And as living creatures with a finite amount of time on the planet, stealing TIME while conserving stuff seems a pretty bad bargain to me.

Anyway, as I said, the ideas aren’t fully formed, but that’s where my head is at this morning.

nick

Posted in Random Stuff | 62 Comments

Tues. July 9, 2019 – still hot, still busy

78F and 96%RH at almost 7am. Yesterday stayed hot all day and was wet blanket hot when I went to bed. Today should be more of the same.

I’m dealing with heat better than last year, in the sense that I am not getting overheated as quickly and the symptoms aren’t as severe. But I’m still not recovered completely from my prior heat injury. Our most likely disaster here is hurricane, and they happen in the summer, so prepping for the heat has as much concern for me as prepping for cold during a winter storm does for people in the north. I haven’t been doing as good a job as I should of USING my preps (fans, portacool, portable airconditioner) as I should. They’re preps, and should be “saved” for when they’re needed. Right? Wrong!

Dinner last night was Butter Chicken and rice from storage. Canned chicken, and one pan rice and sauce mix. Tasted great to me. Best by of 2016. Every bit was gone at the end of dinner.

Daughter wanted to try ramen noodles after seeing them in the store. I ate so many cheap ones in college that I can’t stand the smell of them, so I was reluctant. Well, she loves them. I guess I’ll stock some of the college student/asian/poor people’s staple. I know other preppers do, but I never saw the point. Their nutritional value is so low, and they are bulky. I shouldn’t be surprised, the kid likes pasta in all forms, and salty broth? Yum. . . . . I guess…. Point is, try new things, and maybe something is a classic for a reason.

Well I better get started on my day, I’ve got plenty to do, no matter what the heat is like.

n

Posted in Random Stuff | 75 Comments