Wednesday, -1 January 2015

09:50 – I’ll spend some time today closing out the business year. 2014 turned out to be a decent year, better than 2013, although not as much better as I’d hoped early in the year. 2015 should be better still, if the crick don’t rise.

Work on the prepping book continues. I’m not where I’d hoped to be as of now, although there’s nothing unusual about that. I know that I’ll never be completely happy with the book, and at some point I’ll just have to declare it finished and publish it. Nothing new there. My editor at O’Reilly/MAKE has had to drag every book I’ve ever written from me as I kicked and screamed and begged for just a little more time to work on it. The only difference with this one is that I’ll have to make that call myself.

Tuesday, -2 January 2015

09:55 – Work continues on the prepping book. At the moment, I’m writing about so-called strategic relocation. I’m considering titling the chapter Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire.

Too many preppers have romantic notions about upping sticks and relocating to a remote cabin in the mountains of Idaho or wherever. Those who actually do so are likely to find that reality bites. Other than those who have a successful Internet business or can telecommute, few people will be able to earn a living in their new remote locations. And that’ll actually be the least of their problems.

Then there’s the separation issue. For most men, that’s not an issue. Men will move across the state, country, or world without thinking much about it. We are the center of our own universes. Women, on the other hand, are all about relationships, family, and friends. Guys figure we’ll just form new relationships, if we need any. Women want to keep the relationships they already have.

About the only reason I can think of to make a major move is water supply. If I lived in densely populated areas of the Southwest or the Mountain States or southern California–areas where the water supply is insufficient for the current population–I’d relocate to somewhere with a nice excess of surface- and ground-water. There’s nothing anyone can do to prepare for long-term drought other than move.

Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with relocating for the right reasons. But most preppers put far too many constraints on destination locations. There are lots of “rules” such as being 20 miles (or whatever) from the nearest Interstate or 4-lane, being no closer than 10 miles to the nearest town with a population greater than 1,000, being no closer than 100 miles downwind of a nuclear power plant, and so on. Ultimately, none of them make much sense, and if you try to follow all of them you’ll find that there’s literally nowhere in the continental US that meets your criteria.

I mean, who cares about Interstates? Even a minor emergency turns them into parking lots. An emergency on the scale that many preppers are worried about would make Interstates completely impassable within a few minutes. Wrecked, broken down, and abandoned vehicles would see to that. Same thing on the big city issue. Most people don’t realize that very few cities of any size have evacuation plans at all. Not because someone dropped the ball, but because it’s literally impossible to evacuate them. There are simply too many people in too small an area. In any large-scale catastrophe, city dwellers would simply die off in droves. They’re not going anywhere. They can’t drive out, and they’re sure not prepared to walk any distance.

Barbara and I live on the far northwestern edge of Winston-Salem, a city of about 250,000. We’re talking about relocating, but when we do it won’t be to a remote mountain cabin in Idaho. It’ll be to small-town North Carolina, somewhere to the northwest of where we are now, probably up toward the Virginia line. Maybe Dobson or Sparta, which are 30 to 60 miles from where we live now. During normal times, that makes it easy to do a Costco run every month or two, just as we do now, or to come into Winston to visit friends or whatever, or for them to visit us. If/when things do get bad, that 30 to 60 miles of separation from the underclass population of Winston-Salem should be more than sufficient to isolate us from the rioting, looting, and burning and other nasties.

Monday, -3 January 2015

08:03 – I need to build more chemistry kits today. We have five in stock, but four orders for them that came in yesterday and overnight, including one that’s going to France. I have enough subassemblies in stock to make up another dozen or 15, so it’s just a matter of boxing them up. But we do need to get more subassemblies built.

13:11 – One thing about half-hour (actually 20- or 21-minute nowadays) TV series is that you can binge-watch an entire season pretty quickly. Over the weekend, Barbara and I made it through the 24 episodes of series 5 of Modern Family–about 8 hours worth–and nine of the 26 total episodes of Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. DTtBiA23 was a mid-season replacement that followed Modern Family. Apartment 23 was mishandled by ABC, which ran episodes not just out of order but pretty much at random. No surprise that they ended up making only 26 episodes of it. The irony is that DTtBiA23 is a much better series than Modern Family. ABC should have seen that and nurtured it. Instead they treated it like Firefly.

Modern Family has an excellent cast and top-notch writing, but DTtBiA23 is better in both respects. Krysten Ritter is superb in the role of a slutty party girl who’s a borderline psychopath. Dreama Walker is also excellent as the nice girl from Indiana who finds herself in NYC with a great job and apartment all set up, which promptly falls through. James Van Der Beek, who played Dawson on Dawson’s Creek, plays himself as a fictional James Van Der Beek, with frequent allusions to Dawson’s Creek. This series is good enough that it could have run for many years if ABC hadn’t botched it.

Sunday, -4 January 2015

10:16 – Barbara is taking down and putting away Christmas/Saturnalia decorations. I’m doing laundry.

Work on the prepping book continues. I’m still in the stage of writing a sentence or a couple paragraphs on random items as I think of them. Some of the chapters are already pretty well filled-out, but many are empty or nearly so. In other words, it’s just like any other book I’ve ever written.

Saturday, -5 January 2015

09:50 – The countdown begins. Only four days left to ship science kits this year.

I’m still working on the prepping book. At the moment, I’m writing about those rack-based food storage rotation systems. Geez. Almost $500 for a storage rack that holds 112 #10 cans (a bit less than 19 cases) and takes almost twice the space it would take just to stack the boxes. What a deal. We’d need three of these units to store our current inventory, which would then take almost twice the space it does now. And for almost $1,500 versus less than a tenth that that we’ve spent on steel shelving, a short length of 2X4, and some 1×6 boards.

Friday, 26 December 2014

09:12 – Barbara is back at work today, for the shortest workweek of the year. Monday and Friday rolled into one. She’s going to the gym after work, which will confuse Colin. He’s used to her going on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I guess she wants to get in as many visits as possible before the New Year rush of newbie gym members arrives and all the machines have people waiting in line to use them.

Building and shipping science kits continues, as does work on the prepping book.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

08:51 – Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. Io Saturnalia to those of us who are into more traditional holidays instead of these newfangled ones. Barbara is doing Christmas/Saturnalia at our house this year.

No luck on the illegal immigration amnesty thing for Santa last night. Neither he nor any of his reindeer ever showed up. I did grant amnesty to one confused Lithuanian who knocked on our door. But, speaking of reindeer, Colin seems to have sprouted red and green antlers overnight.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

08:33 – Another young black man viciously murdered by a cop, this one in an incident only two miles down the road from Ferguson. Antonio Martin was minding his own business when the cop approached him. Martin did what anyone would do in that situation, pulled out his pistol and pointed it at the cop. For no reason, the cop started shooting, killing Martin. I can certainly understand why so many people are upset by these unprovoked shootings of young black men by cops. Interestingly, none of the news reports I’ve seen report the race of the cop, which I find curious.

14:22 – Okay, I’ve read several other news reports about the shooting late last night. It seems that “protesters” were throwing bricks at the police officers, who showed incredible restraint while under attack with lethal force. It seems to me that the appropriate action for the police would have been to order the crowd to disperse immediately or face lethal force. After allowing 15 seconds for anyone who intended to disperse to run like hell, I’d have had the cops open fire on the crowd with riot shotguns loaded with #00 buckshot, continuing to fire and reload as necessary until everyone in the crowd was down. Cops are no less entitled to self-defense than anyone else, and shooting at a crowd who was throwing bricks is self-defense by any reasonable definition. And one of the many advantages of buckshot is that it’s ballistically untraceable. There’d be no point to investigating, so they could simply have brought in front-end loaders to clean up the street and transfer the bodies to garbage trucks, which could then deposit them at the dump, where they belong. Or am I being insensitive?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

07:46 – I feel the same way about controlling abortions as I do about controlling guns: neither one is any of the government’s business, and the government has no right to place any restrictions whatsoever on either.

Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of many states in the South and Midwest that has tried to ban abortions by placing outrageous restrictions on personnel and facilities that provide abortions. Cynically, they do this in the name of “women’s rights” by insisting that pregnant women be forced to watch ultrasound images of the fetus and listen to a physician describe the state of the fetus. A new North Carolina law, passed over the governor’s veto, insists that women be exposed to this propaganda even if they (literally) cover their eyes and ears to avoid seeing and hearing it. A federal court just struck down this part of the North Carolina law, stating correctly that it was ideologically motivated. That’s good, but it didn’t go nearly far enough.

As I’ve said before, any hospital that receives federal funds, directly or indirectly, should be required to provide abortions on demand, no questions asked and at no charge, to any pregnant woman who wants an abortion, regardless of her age. If she’s old enough to be pregnant, she’s old enough to make that decision without the approval of her husband, her parents, the government, or any other third party. If the hospital does not have a physician on staff who is willing to perform abortions, the hospital should be required to hire or contract with a physician who is willing to do so. No exceptions. Any hospital that does not provide abortions on demand, with no delays, should have all federal funding cut off. Period.

09:08 – Foolish, foolish squirrel. It thought it could turn inside a Border Collie, particularly one on a dead run. It couldn’t. I just had Colin out for a walk when I spotted a squirrel in the street between us and our house. It was about 60 meters away, so I released Colin from the leash and told him to go get it. The squirrel sat there watching the fast-approaching BC, apparently thinking it could dodge Colin at the last instant. Which it tried to do, but Colin turned inside the squirrel and knocked it rolling under a parked car. The squirrel was uninjured and finally emerged from under the car and made a dash for a nearby tree. I’m sure it’ll be telling the wife and kids about its narrow escape from a Fearsome Predator.

Monday, 22 December 2014

07:46 – Winston-Salem had another Brown/Garner Hands-Up/Black-Lives-Matter protest yesterday, this one at the intersection of Hanes Mall Boulevard and Stratford Road, a major shopping area and one of the busiest intersections in the city. The protest apparently lasted about 90 minutes, with a maximum of about 60 protesters present. That’s pretty pathetic for a city of a quarter million population. There were no arrests, but after the protest ended the cops issued citations for impeding traffic to three of the protesters. It seems that both protesters and police in Winston-Salem have more sense than those in many cities.

Barbara has Wednesday and Thursday off for Christmas. Ordinarily, she’d probably take PTO days Friday and most or all of next week, but this year she’s saving her remaining PTO days because she’s going to have knee-replacement surgery early next year. She’ll probably be off for a month or six weeks after the surgery, but policy requires her to take the first five days as either PTO or unpaid before paid medical leave kicks in.