Tuesday, 14 April 2015

08:47 – I’ll mail the taxes today and this hassle will be over for one more year. I just wish I didn’t have to write checks with five numbers before the decimal point.

Barbara said last night that she wanted to look at Sparta, NC first as a potential relocation site rather than visit Dobson, NC. That’s fine with me. Dobson is a bit closer to Winston-Salem than I’d like, and it’s also only a couple miles from I-77. There are also chicken factories near Dobson that produce tens of millions of birds a year. Of course, there are also huge chicken factories in the Sparta area.

After I get the taxes off, I’ll be working on kit stuff. Our inventory on a lot of bottled chemicals is very low, so I need to make up new batches of a couple of dozen of them. I make up the ones that we use in the largest volume in batches of 8 to 12 liters at a time, assuming they’re stable. I make up others that we use in smaller volumes or that are less stable once mixed in batches of 1 or 2 liters at a time. Once mixed, they all need to be filtered and then bottled in kit-size containers.

I’m working on a bunch of different sections in the prepping book. Right now, I’m working on the section on providing minimal electric power in a long-term grid-down situation. Essentially, that means being able to recharge enough AA/AAA NiMH cells to keep stuff like flashlights/lanterns, and radios, as well as ebook readers, tablets, and other small electronic gear running. The easiest and cheapest way to do that is with a small solar installation charging lead-acid storage batteries. All you need to do that is one or more solar panels and a $12 to $30 PWM charge controller, and in a pinch you can get by without the charge controller. In a formal solar installation, you’d use deep-cycle batteries to store the charge, but in an emergency you can use ordinary vehicle batteries, which would be readily available in large numbers. Vehicle batteries are optimized for providing very high current for very short times, which means they don’t last nearly as long if you use them in low-draw/long-time environments, but that’s a minor issue.

15:02 – I just joined Kindle Unlimited for the free 30-day trial. Someone asked, so here’s the deal: when you’re looking at the book’s page you see the Buy icon with the usual drop-down list, which in my case includes three physical Kindles, the Kindle-reader app, and the option to download the file for transfer via USB. If you click on the Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited option, you can still pick the download for transfer via USB option, but it doesn’t actually work.Instead, the usual next screen comes up and asks you to pick the device to transfer the file to, which in my case is set to default to my own Kindle.

So I now have ten books queued up for delivery by Wi-Fi to my Kindle. The problem with that, as I’ve mentioned before, is that my Kindle frequently crashes when I let it access Wi-Fi. Sometimes, the crash is so bad that I end up having to do a hard reset, deleting all of the books from the Kindle. Fortunately, Amazon allows you to manage your KU titles, and one of the options on that page is to transfer the book by USB. So I downloaded all ten of the titles to my hard drive, dropped them into Calibre to strip the DRM, and then transferred them by USB to my Kindle. They all work fine, but seven of the ten aren’t worth reading. I hate to be harsh but my reading time is too limited as it is, and I don’t have time to read books that are mediocre or worse.

Four of those seven are by Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic was an excellent PA novel, particularly for a first-time author. The four in question are all non-fiction prepping books he’s written with a co-author with whom I’m not familiar, but as it turns out they appear to be one actual book. The first in the series is listed as 246 pages, with the second, third, and forth volumes roughly 60 or 70 pages each. Unfortunately, unless I’m missing something, those latter volumes appear to be simple chunks of the full book. The whole work might be of some use to a complete newbie prepper, but there’s very little specific information there. For example, in discussing firearms, Konkoly makes no specific recommendations other than to say that one married couple of his acquaintance intended to wait things out on their boat. Konkoly recommended either a pump-action shotgun or a .308 rifle (unspecified as to brand or action). The wife was concerned about her ability to handle either, so Konkoly fired the .308 with her close at hand. It was too loud for her, so she ended up with the shotgun. I read maybe 20 pages of the full volume and found only more of the same. No specific recommendations anywhere to be found. So those four titles are going back immediately to free up slots for me to download more. (With KU, you’re limited to having 10 titles “checked out” at a time. If you want to get an eleventh title, you have to “return” one of the ten you have out.) I did a quick scan on the remaining six titles, and three of them are garbage. The other three I’ll have to check further to see if I want to devote the time to actually read them. The good news is that there are thousands of cozy mysteries available under KU, including many series that Barbara may be interested in.