Month: April 2016

Saturday, 30 April 2016

09:32 – Barbara is working out in the yard today. James, who mows our lawn, is coming over to help her load his truck up with some junk from down in the corner of the yard and haul it off to the dump.

I finally got KompoZer installed on my Mint 17.3 system. Debian dropped it from their repositories, which meant that Ubuntu no longer offered it, which meant that Linux Mint no longer offered it. I didn’t want to mess around with building it from source, so it was fortunate that I came across this page. FTA and for my own future reference:

How To Install kompozer

Kompozer was dropped from the repos, since it is no longer maintained in Debian. But, you can still install it on newer releases.

Use packages from 12.04 Precise

These packages are installable on at least the 12.10, 13.04, 14.04 and 15.04 releases.

First, install dependencies:

sudo apt-get install libatk1.0-0 libc6 libcairo2 libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libglib2.0-0 libgtk2.0-0 libidl0 libnspr4 libnss3 libpango1.0-0 libpng12-0 libstdc++6 libx11-6 libxft2 libxinerama1 libxrender1 libxt6 zlib1g

Then, get the two packages, and install them in the correct order.

For 32bit systems:



sudo dpkg -i kompozer-data_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i kompozer_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_i386.deb

for 64bit systems:



sudo dpkg -i kompozer-data_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i kompozer_0.8~b3.dfsg.1-0.1ubuntu2_amd64.deb

You can now find kompozer in the menu.

11:54 – James showed up with a pickup load of cut, split, and dried hardwood firewood, mostly oak. We helped him unload it and stack it in the rack. It turned out to be more than a full face cord of 20″ logs. Call it half of a full cord. He charged $65, which seems cheap to me. If we ever had to heat the house exclusively with wood because the power was down, I’m guessing that the load we got today would last us two to three weeks. We also have about a half cord of old but still burnable wood down in the corner of the yard, which means we could stay warm for a month to six weeks even in the depths of winter up here, or longer if we weren’t trying to keep most of the house warm. We still need to pick up a couple of tarps to cover the woodpiles.

Barbara just announced that we should think about replacing the Trooper with a pickup. I think I’ll start keeping my eye out for a used Ford F150 or F250 diesel 4×4, or the Chevy equivalent. We’ll want an automatic transmission and AC, but that’s about it. I don’t care if it has some mileage on it, and a vehicle that’s ten years old or more would be fine.

I’ve never owned a diesel vehicle, although I almost bought a diesel pickup back in 1979 when I bought my Jeep CJ new. I know that small diesel engines used to have a lot of problems, but I assume those have been pretty much fixed over the last 35+ years.

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Friday, 29 April 2016

09:55 – Barbara and I made our final working trip to Winston yesterday. We did stuff like mopping floors, reinstalling receptacle cover plates, and installing four foo-foo generators. This was the first trip that we didn’t haul back a Trooper load of stuff, because the house is empty and everything is already up here or gone to the dump.

This is the first time in more than a year that the whole house hunting/packing up/moving/unpacking thing hasn’t occupied much of our available time. We’re moved, and that’s the last time we’ll ever have to go through this. Now we can devote our time to making and shipping science kits, and I’ll finally have some uninterrupted time to work on the prepping book.

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

08:08 – We just realized that our move is actually complete. No more trips down to Winston to haul stuff back up here. All our stuff is out of the house in Winston, and the contractors are finishing up the work that needs to be done. It’ll go on the market in the next week or so. Our only remaining connection to Winston is that the corporate bank account is still at a credit union there, but we’ll get that changed over this coming week. It’s been a long, drawn-out process, but it’s finished now. We’ll still go down to Winston periodically for Costco runs and so on, but that’s it.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

08:37 – Barbara was watching an episode of Chicago Fire last night when the crew was called to a site where a house had collapsed from the weight of stuff a hoarder had collected. I expected her to make a snide remark about hoarding, and she didn’t disappoint me. I pointed out that I wasn’t a hoarder. Hoarders are mentally ill, and collect massive amounts of random junk like old newspapers and magazines that are of no possible future use. Preppers collect a careful selection of stuff that’s always useful and may at some point become essential. Granted, someone who saw my collection of several yard waste bags full of empty soda bottles might confuse me with a hoarder, but I’m keeping those for a very specific purpose: storing food and water.

Not, as I’ve said many times, that I’m really expecting a catastrophic event like an EMP attack or a killer pandemic or widespread severe civil unrest. But the chances of such a catastrophic event are high enough that anyone with any sense of history and self-preservation understands that it makes sense to be as prepared as possible to deal with such events.

I’m not obsessed with prepping. I’m not going to go out and convert everything we own to cash and then buy silver and gold, hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, and a 50 year supply of food. Nor, like some serious preppers, am I actually secretly hoping that an apocalypse occurs. I’ve read enough history to know how bad things can get and how badly even well-prepared people will suffer if the SHTF. Like most people, all I want is a comfortable, boring life. I can do without the excitement of a catastrophe. The only difference is that I recognize that there’s a reasonably high probability that we will suffer such a catastrophe, and I want to be as ready as possible to ride it out.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

09:10 – Barbara is off getting her car inspected and checked over. We did kit stuff yesterday and have more on the schedule for today. We also got about 14 liters of canola oil that we purchased at Sam’s Club in July of 2015 repackaged into 2-liter PET bottles. That’s a one person-year supply of oil.

We also got a bunch of 3-liter PET bottles dried and ready for storing bulk staples, primarily flour. I reserve 3-liter bottles and the one-gallon Costco water bottles for staples that are a PITA to get into the narrower mouths of 2-liter bottles. Rice, sugar, small beans, oats, and even cornmeal go into the 2-liter bottles without any problem, but stuff that’s either chunky (like macaroni) or very fine and puffy (like flour) are either too large for the funnel or tend to pack and jam it.

Two of Barbara’s friends from Winston are coming up tomorrow morning to spend the day, so Colin and I will be on our own.

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Monday, 25 April 2016

09:58 – My apologies to Rain Stickland, whose name I misspelled yesterday as Strickland. That’s the way I read it, probably because when I was growing up in New Castle, PA there was a corner store called Strickland’s two blocks from our house. I just did a Google search for it, and turned up nothing whatsoever. It’s long gone, and there’s now a wig place where it used to sit at the corner of Mercer Street and Euclid Avenue, catty-cornered from George Washington Junior High School.

Her PA novel is, as far as I know, the first one I’ve read that was written by a prog. She’s into the whole climate change/animal rights/BLM/Occupy thing, and hopes Bern is elected president. She, like her main character, is obsessed with ferrets, and thinks it cute when they bite her. The author even runs an international ferret-rescue organization. Her main character is a 40-ish woman who is absolutely obsessed with sex, more so that the average teenager. Still, Stickland has obviously done her homework, and tosses in little snippets of useful information that are seldom found in other prepper fiction. For example, early in the book, she mentions storing sulfuric acid and chemistry lab equipment, both for making ether for anesthesia and for isolating insulin (because her character’s best friend is an insulin-dependent diabetic). The dialog is hokey at times, and usually sex-obsessed, but Stickland is a good story-teller who makes few spelling/grammatical errors other than an occasional misused apostrophe. All the more surprising, since Stickland herself never graduated from high school. Her first book is good enough that I’ll read the rest of the series.

Email from Jen. She has five bottles of generic chlorine bleach on the shelf, and wanted to know if I thought that was enough. The short answer is yes and no. Jen has a Sawyer PointZeroTwo microfilter for purifying water, which should be sufficient. She’s keeping the chlorine bleach as a backup method, and she’s run the math. The typical recommendation for water treatment is eight drops per gallon. There are 20 drops per milliliter. Her five gallons total just under 19,000 mL. Call it 380,000 drops, or enough to treat about 47,000 gallons.

But there are several problems with that scenario. First, chlorine bleach solution is unstable. It starts to degrade as soon as it’s bottled. Even in a sealed bottle, after a year it’s significantly weaker than the original 5.25%, and eventually it becomes useless. Second, purifying water with chlorination is an extremely complex issue. The amount of chlorine needed can easily range over a factor of five or more, depending on how contaminated the source water is, not just with microorganisms but with organic matter that the bleach reacts with. It’s not a matter of deciding how much chlorine to add to the source water; what’s important is residual chlorine, how much is left after the water has been sanitized. That should ideally be in the range of 1 to 2 PPM, but there’s no way to determine that short of testing the treated water. Third, chlorine is ineffective or only partially effective against some pathogenic microorganisms. In short, using chlorine bleach is better than nothing, but it’s not a magic bullet. My advice is to over-chlorinate to make sure the chlorine reaches a level sufficient to destroy most pathogens. The problem is that levels above about 4 PPM are increasingly toxic to humans. The answer to that is to chlorinate the hell out of suspect water and then allow it to sit long enough for the excess chlorine to dissipate into the air.

I suggested that Jen buy some high-concentration calcium hypochlorite powder and a pool test kit, ideally Taylor brand. The dry calcium hypochlorite is much, much more shelf-stable than bleach solution, and that six pounds of 73% DryTec pool shock is sufficient to make up about 15 gallons of stock bleach solution as needed. Even if Jen doesn’t use bleach for water treatment, it’ll come in handy for sanitation. The pool test kit will let her test for residual chlorine if she does use it for water treatment.

Incidentally, I’ve seen various comments about it being unsafe to use hypochlorite intended for pool treatment for treating drinking water. That’s completely bogus. Technical grade calcium hypochlorite is typically 60% to 78% calcium hypochlorite, with the remainder being mostly calcium chloride, calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) and similar chemicals that are harmless in small amounts. Remember, that six pounds of pool shock is being diluted in about 150,000 gallons of water, so the amount of non-hypochlorite chemicals added is something like 1 milligram per liter. Call it 1 PPM. There aren’t many chemical species that are harmful at 1 PPM, and none of them are found in pool shock.

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

09:53 – More kit stuff today. At this point, we’re building subassemblies for stock that we can later use to assemble finished kits quickly. Basically, everything that doesn’t have shelf-life considerations gets built now in anticipation of the heavy sales period from late July through mid-October.

Last night, I started reading Rain Strickland’s Tipping Point, another PA novel written by a Canadian woman. And, like Theresa Shaver, Strickland is an actual storyteller who writes competently. This book gets a high percentage of poor reviews on Amazon, mostly from readers who take offense at the strong language and explicit sex, neither of which bother me. I made it through only the first 15% of the book last night, but so far it seems like a good addition to the genre. It’s available under Kindle Unlimited, so I went ahead and downloaded the second book in the series and stuck it in my TBR queue. Book Three is due out in June.

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Saturday, 23 April 2016

10:20 – We finished watching Amanda Foreman’s The Ascent of Woman last night. After it ended, I commented to Barbara that I thought the whole series could be summed up as, “A few women spoke out; almost no one listened to them; they died a horrible death; and nothing much changed.” I do agree with Foreman that one important metric by which a society should be judged is how it treats its women. On that basis, I think English-speaking and western European countries set the standard. Despite what progs claim, women in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe have full equality. These women are better off than women anywhere or anywhen in the history of the world.

Barbara is out preparing for a mulch delivery. She planted bushes in front of the porch on the driveway side. She’s also going to make a bed on the other side of the stairs in which we’ll plant herbs. The guy at the nursery confirmed that our last freeze date up here is typically mid-May, so we’ll keep our baby herb plants in pots on the deck until then. If it’s to be very cold, we can just bring them inside.

When I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, he pulled me down around the side of the house, went into his alert stance, and started stalking the dozen or so gigantic squirrels he’d spotted right along our back fence. I explained to him that those were Black Angus squirrels, and that they’d stomp the shit out of him, given half a chance. He reluctantly abandoned stalking them and came back up into the front yard to do what he’s supposed to do.

When Barbara read my page yesterday, she said, “No more flour.” I hope to convince her that every guy has to have a hobby and mine is collecting bulk staples. It’s a pretty inexpensive hobby, after all.

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Friday, 22 April 2016

10:22 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket. We have more kit stuff to get done today, along with some household stuff. James, who mows our yard, is supposed to deliver a face cord of fire wood soon, so we need to get the wood rack set up. Probably tomorrow, since today we’re to have thunderstorms.

We’ve pretty much run out of new stuff that we want to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming. We actually started re-watching series one of Poirot, which we last watched when it was first broadcast 25 years or so ago.

So we’ve started watching some documentaries. I dislike many recent documentaries because they’re presented through the lens of modern sensibilities. The presenters almost sneer at those poor, benighted folks in olden days, expecting them to think and behave the way a modern prog does. But many older documentaries and a few recent ones don’t skew that way.

We watched the five episodes of Warrior Women, in which Lucy Lawless did an excellent job without much material to work with. One episode was devoted to each of the two obvious candidates, Boudica and Joan of Arc. Of the other three women covered, I’d heard only of the piratess Grace O’Malley.

The obvious problem is that women are unsuited by biology and temperament to be warriors, so there haven’t been many of them. With apologies to Belloc,

Whatever happens, we have got
Testosterone, and they have not.

It’s not that I think women lack intelligence, bravery, honor, patriotism, or any of the other soldierly virtues. It’s simply that testosterone makes men larger, stronger, faster, and more aggressive. Before firearms and other modern weapons, women simply could not compete on the battlefield with men. At one point, Lawless was wearing a suit of armor, and commented that it weighed 40 kilos (88 pounds). At the time, women (and men) were physically smaller, so that suit of armor may well have weighed as much as the woman who might wear it. I had this image of a woman wearing that suit of armor, unable to move because of the weight, and trying to defend herself with a broadsword that was too heavy for her to pick up, let alone swing.

Last night, we watched the first of four episodes of Amanda Foreman’s The Ascent of Woman. I was expecting the typical PC/prog POV, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Foreman is actually even-handed. She starts in Mesopotamia, and points out that in the earliest Sumerian civilization there, women had essentially equal rights, which they lost as the Assyrians and eventually the moslems took power. Foreman interviewed a very brave moslem woman who lives in Syria and criticized moslem treatment of women. This in 2015, at a time when ISIS was already running rampant. I turned to Barbara at that point and asked if she thought that woman was still alive. I’m looking forward to watching the remaining three episodes.

We brought up about 50 or 80 empty 3-liter bottles that we need to get dried out and ready to be filled with bulk staples. I’m saving those for staples that are a PITA to put in 2-liter bottles because of their narrower mouths. Mainly flour, which takes forever to get into the smaller-mouth bottles. I figure we have enough 3-liter bottles for 150 to 200 pounds of flour.

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

09:19 – Barbara is volunteering with Friends of the Library this morning. They have an actual bookstore downtown, which is the only real bookstore in Sparta. She’s going over this morning to spend a couple of hours learning the ropes. I’m sure they’ll be happy to have an actual librarian volunteering.

UPS showed up yesterday with a new wall clock for the den. The old one had started ticking too loudly, so we moved it out to the garage. The new one is one of those “atomic” clocks, which actually means it’s just a standard quartz clock with the ability to sync with the NIST WWV radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado. So now we know the actual time within a small fraction of a second.

I was making rice for dinner last night when I noticed that we were almost out of rosemary. We’ll be growing our own in pots, but until we can harvest it we need to buy some. I checked the Walmart website, which had choices ranging from $2/ounce to over $100/ounce. Even $2/ounce seemed on the high side to me, so I checked Amazon and found this at $1.38/ounce. Also, it’s powdered, which Barbara prefers to the usual leaf form, which looks like pine needles.

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