Month: March 2016

Thursday, 31 March 2016

10:42 – Barbara, Colin, and I were down in Winston yesterday. She had some errands to run, followed by lunch with one of her friends, after which they went to the Ansel Adams exhibit at Reynolda House.

While they were doing that, I was supposed to be scrubbing down walls, preparing them to be painted. Barbara thought scrubbing and painting would be too much for us, but was willing to at least give it a try. She was right. I got a total of two walls scrubbed down in my office before I called her and said she’d been right. Constantly looking up and bending over was playing Hobb with my vertigo. It is simply beyond my capacity to do this. Barbara was relieved, because she was dreading doing the wall scrubbing and painting. We decided just to pay someone to do it for us, particularly since we have a lot of work remaining to be done up in Sparta, particularly science kit stuff. What was easy for both of us at age 30 isn’t easy at age 60+.

While I was taking a break out on the front porch, Mr. Marshall showed up with his crew to cut our grass. He cuts several of the lawns in the neighborhood, and had done some yard work for us in the past, so Barbara arranged with him to cut our grass in Winston until we sell the house. When I told him what I was doing, he mentioned that he owns 67 rental properties and has good people that do all that kind of stuff for him. He said all of his folks were good at what they did, reliable, and charged reasonable prices. I asked if he’d give us the names and numbers of the people he used for washing down walls and painting, and said he’d be happy to do so, although he didn’t have the information with him. He asked me to call him at home in the evening, which I did last night. We arranged for him to meet us at the house the next time we’re down and get the ball rolling.

When Barbara gets home from the gym and supermarket, we’ll go to work on science kit stuff. We’re running short of a lot of kits and subassemblies, so we’ll be working on those for the next several days.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

09:10 – Kit sales are continuing to ramp up. This morning is the first time in a long time that I have three kits awaiting USPS pickup, including one going to the UK. We’re down to only four chemistry kits in stock. Fortunately, yesterday we got everything done we need to make up another batch of those. We’re also low-stock on our other science kits, so we’ll be working on those for the rest of the week and through the weekend.

I think we reached a milestone yesterday, when Barbara declared that she was pretty much satisfied with the state of the house, including the finished areas upstairs and downstairs, my lab area, and the garage. There’s more to be done, certainly, but I can now focus more of my time on business stuff and writing.

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Monday, 28 March 2016

12:50 – Kit sales are starting to ramp up a bit, so we’re building science-kit subassemblies all this week. Barbara binned and bagged a bunch of chemistry kit small-parts bags this morning. She’s down in the lab area now binning/bagging chemistry kit regulated chemicals bags. Next up will be chemistry kit non-regulated chemicals bags, followed by regulated and non-regulated chemicals bags and small-parts bags for biology and forensics kits. For some of those, we’ll need to fill chemical bottles first, and sometimes make up the chemicals before we have them to fill bottles with.

I also have more of the never-ending administrative tasks to do, most of which are of course government-mandated paperwork. Oh, how I wish that government at all levels would simply disappear.

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Sunday, 27 March 2016

10:50 – Barbara mentioned yesterday that we need to make up another batch of no-knead bread dough. We’ll do that this afternoon and bake the loaves tomorrow morning.

Which got me to thinking about creating a 3-ring binder of printed recipes. Until now, we’ve used either recipe books or Internet sources, but I want to have all of the recipes we use regularly in printed form. The day may come when we can’t get to the recipes on the Internet. And Barbara just mentioned the other day that she’d found a ream of three-hole punched printer paper, so I had no excuse not to start printing out recipes.

While we were still living in Winston, we almost never cooked or baked from scratch. Since we moved to Sparta, we’ve been doing a lot more of that, since Barbara is now retired and no longer has most of her day eaten by working at the law firm.

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

09:27 – I see that David P. Goldman believes that Ted Cruz is our last, best hope. Wishful thinking, boy. I agree that I’d rather see Cruz as president than Trump and certainly than Clinton or Bern the Commie. But I don’t believe it would make much, if any, difference to how things unfold over the coming years. Things might be a bit better under a Cruz presidency, but all it would really mean is that our slide into dystopia would be a bit slower. Nothing can stop it now.

Barbara is going to cut my hair this morning, and then we’ll do more work around the house.

Barbara’s drink of choice has always been sweet iced tea, which she makes up in gallon pitchers. I’d always drunk mostly Coke, but I’ve cut way down on that. I used to go through maybe ten 2-liter bottles a week, and now I’m down to more like one a week. Instead, I’m drinking iced tea, so Barbara is now making at least twice as much as she used to. One of the things she picked up at Costco the other day was two boxes of tea bags, 624 total bags. That’s enough to last the two of us three to four months at our current consumption rate. It also cuts down on our cost for Coke by about $500/year. From Barbara’s point of view, the major advantage is that we won’t be adding to the hundreds of empty 2-liter bottles that I save for LTS food and water.

14:21 – What a relief! I can finally work normally again. I now have Linux Mint running on a new hard drive in my old Core i7-Extreme system, with all of my data migrated over and all the programs I use installed. The sticking point was these damned powerline Ethernet adapters, which I simply couldn’t get to work between the WiFi router and my little corner in the dining room that’s now my office. Just now, I installed the D-Link DWA-140 USB WiFi adapter, which Linux Mint recognized automagically. All I had to do was enter the password for the WiFi AP. Our Internet service is nominally 20 megabits/s down and 2 up. I just ran the HTML5 speed test from, which tells me I’m getting a 21 ms ping with about 11 Mb/s down and 4 Mb/s up. Not bad, given how far I am from the AP.

We finished watching the final season of Justified the other night. Like the other seasons, it’s set mostly in Harlan County, Kentucky, which is only about 160 miles WNW of us in Sparta. As Barbara said, she’d be as careful back in the hollows around here as she’d be if we were living in Harlan. My attitude is that pretty much everyone around here minds their own business, so if we mind our own business we should be fine, but Barbara does have a point.

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Friday, 25 March 2016

09:37 – Barbara, Colin, and I went down to Winston yesterday. We had an appointment with a realtor to look at the house. Barbara had errands to run and was meeting a friend for lunch. She had to leave not long after the realtor arrived, so I showed her around the house and got her recommendations about what to do to get the house ready to go on the market. Otherwise, Colin and I spent our time punching out wall anchors, dozens of them, and spackling the holes.

When Barbara returned mid-afternoon, we packed up more stuff from my lab, and then headed for Costco. I returned the Lenovo desktop system, which had stopped working. I booted it up once and went through the windows registration crap. The next time I tried to boot it, it simply sat there at a blank screen. No hard drive spin-up noises, nothing. So back it went and I got a credit to my credit card.

Meanwhile, I installed a new hard drive in my old main system, a Core i7 Extreme, and got Linux Mint installed without a problem. Well, other than the fact that I have no Internet connectivity because that system has no WiFi adapter and I can’t get the powerline Ethernet to work up here in my corner. I ordered a D-Link DWA-140 USB Wifi adapter the other day, and it showed up yesterday. It’s supposed to run with Linux Mint, so I’ll get that installed and can stop using this Mint notebook as my primary system.

Michael David, the electrician our realtor recommended, showed up at 8:00 this morning to look at our situation and tell me what needed to be done to run our well pump and pressure tank from our Generac generator. He said there were two options, doing it right or doing it cheap (but legal) and less convenient. I asked him to explain the right way first. That involves him installing a cut-over switch in our breaker box that in one position routes the utility power to our house and in the other position cuts the connection to the utility power and makes the connection to the generator. With that option, we can run anything in the house that the generator has enough power to drive, simply by switching regular breakers off or on. There’d be a sealed box on the outside wall with a connector for the cable from the generator. I asked him about how much that’d cost us, and he said about $350. That was a whole lot less than I expected, given that when I’d gotten a quote down in Winston 10 or 15 years ago, the electrician had told us $900 for just installing a Frankenstein DPDT knife switch to isolate the house from utility power. Just for giggles, I asked Michael how much the cheap option would cost and how it’d work. It would involve them installing a cut-off and receptacle at the pressure tank and then running a cable from the generator across the basement, throwing the switch, and connecting the cable. It’d also allow us to run only the well pump and pressure tank. He said that option would cost maybe $200 or $250, so the choice was a no-brainer. I told him to do it the right way and give me a call to set up a time.

Other than that, I haven’t done much prepping this week. I did put in a Walmart order for half a dozen boxes of Alpo Variety Snaps dog treats for Colin, a half dozen boxes of Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake mix, and (to get to the $50 required for free shipping) three one-gallon jugs of pancake syrup. Those arrived very early this morning. Barbara hauled in the boxes while I was downstairs with the electricians. When I got back upstairs, Barbara said we had a leak in the box with the pancake syrup and that she wished I’d stop ordering stuff that can be dented or leak from Walmart’s website. They apparently hire baboons to pack shipments. Except for glass containers, they use no packing material whatsoever, just throwing the cans/jars/bottles randomly into the shipping boxes for UPS to abuse in transit. Fortunately, the three jugs of pancake syrup were in their own box, and the leakage was minor. I’ll rinse off the stickiness in the sink and check to see if any of the bottles are leaking. If so, I’ll repackage the contents in PET gallon bottles.

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Thursday, 24 March 2016

07:14 – We’re working around the house today. There’s a lot remaining to be done in the lab area. We moved our generator from the garage to the lab area yesterday, and picked up some concrete blocks and pressure-treated lumber at Blevins that we’ll use to build a firewood rack. I’m not sure we’ll get to that today, but it needs to be done soon. We got enough components for a rack large enough to hold a face cord. Once we get that one set up and some wood delivered, we’ll probably add another one or two racks. I’d like to have at least a full cord in place before autumn. And I definitely want to get things setup as soon as possible so that we can use our generator to power the well pump and pressure tank.

I wasted a lot of time trying to get our Brother 3070 color laser printer working. The best explanation I have for the problem is that that USB port on the printer seems to be only partially functional. Linux sees the printer and thinks it’s available, but print jobs sent to it simply disappear without printing. The printer also has an Ethernet interface, so I may set it up as a network printer, but for now I’m using our older Brother 5250-DN laser.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

10:35 – Since Barbara was taking Colin to the vet for his damaged claw anyway, she decided to have them do his annual checkup, which was due next month. They did the checkup, gave him boosters of his vaccines, and otherwise did everything that needed to be done. The total bill? $28. At our vet in Winston, it would probably have cost five times that.

Email from Jen. Her husband had lunch with one of the other vets in his practice. She mentioned her concern about the state of the world and the country, and the conversation shifted toward being prepared for emergencies. Jen’s husband was noncommittal, but did say that he and Jen were also very concerned about the state of things. The other vet and her husband are early 30’s and have two young children. They’re also Mormons. She said that her primary worry right now is that they live in-town in a condo, and don’t have space for the supplies they’d like to store.

Jen and her husband have of course socialized with this young family, and they all like each other. Last night, Jen and her husband talked about letting the other vet know that they are serious preppers, and inviting the other family to store supplies at their place, with the idea that if things do get really bad the young family could relocate to their place for the duration. Jen says they see a lot of upsides to such an arrangement, not least that it would add another medically-skilled person and boost their adult count to at least eight people and potentially more with the other family that Jen already has made arrangements with. So they’re going to talk it over with the other family about inviting the young vet’s family to join their group.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

10:09 – A little excitement this morning. Barbara was trimming Colin’s claws and got a bit too deep on one. We didn’t have any styptic powder available, so at the recommendation of the vet, Barbara used some cornstarch. That didn’t stop the bleeding, so Barbara just took Colin over to see the vet. I’d actually thought about taking him to the vet last week, so Colin could meet them and they could meet him. We need to get a relationship set up with them anyway.

The electrician hasn’t returned my call yet. It’s not urgent, but if I don’t hear back from him in the next day or two, I’ll call a different electrician.

As I watch the level of civility between the Democrats and Republicans continue to degrade, I’m afraid we’re reaching the point where the two are no longer opponents, but actual enemies. We’re already seeing political violence, and we’re still in the primary season. How much worse is it likely to get in the run-up to the general election in November? We’re not at the point where Weimar Germany found itself in the late 1920’s, with street battles between gangs of Communist thugs and gangs of Nazi thugs, but with BLM leaders and other prog proxies calling for actions like the wholesale slaughter of cops and white civilians, we’re not all that far away from it, either. The inner cities are tinderboxes, and it wouldn’t take much of a spark to set off an inferno. I’m very happy that Barbara and I are well away from the Triad, with its population of 1,000,000+, many of whom are underclass. And if the November general election is widely perceived to have been stolen by one or the other party, things may get lively.

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