Wednesday, 31 August 2016

09:43 – Barbara is off to the gym, library, and supermarket. Colin is sitting at the front door barking every few minutes. He’s been barkish for a couple of days. I’m trying to rename him Spartan, both after Amy’s favorite horse on Heartland and because, of course, he lives with us in Sparta.

I get some really interesting email. This morning, there was a message in my inbox with the subject line “ninhydrin question”. I just assumed it was from someone doing a forensic lab course. Nope, it was from a young Dutch artist. She’s interested in using ninhydrin to develop latent fingerprints on cloth for an artwork she intends to create. I sent her a pretty detailed response and wished her the best of luck.

We’re having friends staying with us over the holiday weekend, so Barbara is doing the White Tornado thing today and tomorrow. She’s down in Winston all day Friday running errands, so she needs to get everything done by tomorrow. That includes getting me to move all of my clutter out of the living areas upstairs and the guest bedrooms downstairs. I’ll be fine as long as she doesn’t open any closets.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

09:21 – We did a lot of work on science kits yesterday. More today.

We’re down to four containers of ninhyrdrin crystals for forensic kits, so I ordered more ninhydrin late last week. It’s supposed to arrive today, so I’ll have Barbara labeling and filling ninhydrin containers. Same thing on ascorbic acid (vitamin C) tablets, which are included in all our kits. We’re down to five containers of those in stock, so I just ordered 5,000 more 500 mg tablets. We normally maintain at least 2,000 of these in stock, either refrigerated in their original bottles or repackaged for kits. Yet another example of a science kit inventory item that’s also a useful prepping item. I also need to make up another batch of Kastle-Meyer Reagent, which involves refluxing (simmering) a caustic brew to convert the bright magenta phenolphthalein to colorless phenolphthalin.

Barbara and I are re-watching Heartland. We just started season six the other night. There was a story thread about fostering children and the rules for that in Alberta. I decided to check the rules in North Carolina, not that we’re considering fostering/adopting. About the only requirement in North Carolina is that an adoptive parent must be at least 18 years old and, bizarrely, that a fostering parent must be at least 21. So, they’ll give you a kid if you’re at least 18, but they’ll lend you one only if you’re at least 21. Hmmm.

While I was on the North Carolina fostering/adopting website, I also looked at their gallery. I expected it to be almost exclusively black and Hispanic kids, but there were a fair number of white kids as well. Some of those were no doubt orphaned, but I suspect a lot of them came out of nightmarishly abusive homes. The young kids at least have a chance of being adopted. The ones I really feel sorry for are those in their mid-teens, like this one, who have little chance of finding a new family.

And I’m still wondering what emergency the German and Czech governments are telling citizens to prepare for. I doubt they seriously believe that Putin is about to invade, and the only other thing I can think of is that they’re expecting a widespread muslim uprising.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

10:34 – More kit stuff today. The warm weather is back. Highs are only in the low 80’s F, but the heat chill is up in the low 90’s. Lows are down in the 50’s, which means autumn weather isn’t far away.

Exponential figures are interesting. The other day, someone emailed to ask what I thought the probability was of something really bad happening. I told him I thought the probability was on the very close order of 0.9999 that nothing really bad would happen tomorrow, or any given day. One chance in 10,000 in other words, or a 0.0001 probability per day.

The problem is obvious when you extend that. If the probability is 0.9999 that nothing bad will happen in a day, that means the probability that nothing bad will happen in a year is (0.9999)^365, or just over 0.964. In other words, there’s about a 3.5% chance of something really bad happening in the next year. Extend that out to three years and you have (0.9999)^1095, or about .896. In other words, there’s about a 10.4% chance of something really bad happening in the next three years. Of course, all of that depends on the initial estimate. If the probability is instead 0.99999, one chance in a hundred thousand per day, the exponential figures are much lower. But if it’s instead 0.999, one chance in a thousand, they’re much, much higher.

Based on history, I think it’s ridiculously optimistic to assume 0.99999. Assuming 0.999 may be pessimistic, but not by much. For example, our planet is hit by a Carrington-class CME on average once every 100 years. The last time that happened was in 1859, so we’re well overdue. In 2012, we narrowly avoided being struck by a catastrophic CME. NASA estimated at the time that there was a 12% chance we’d be struck by such a CME before 2022. If their estimate is accurate, that’s a 1.2% chance of a catastrophic CME per year. Then we have an EMP attack, or hackers destroying our electric distribution network. It’s difficult to estimate the probability of that happening, but it must surely be at least as likely as the CME, and would, if anything, be more catastrophic than the CME. Then we have a lethal pandemic, which historically occurs about every 100 years. It’s been just about 100 years since the last one, the Spanish Flu of 1918. With modern air travel, the next pandemic is likely to spread planet-wide in a matter of days, something they didn’t have to deal with in 1918. And those are just the most serious threats. Among them, they make my 0.9999 estimate seem reasonable, or even too optimistic.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

09:14 – We had Jen’s Bean Gloppita recipe for dinner last night. I’m not much of a vegetarian, but it was pretty good. Barbara wasn’t able to find coriander at the supermarket yesterday, so we made it up without it. I tried to convince Barbara that bacon was a reasonable substitute for coriander, but she wanted to try the Gloppita as the original vegetarian recipe. We made up a half of the original recipe, which makes a very large pile of Gloppita. There was enough left that I’m having the left-overs for dinner tonight.

I was thinking about ordering some dry black beans and repackaging them for long-term storage, but I think instead I’ll just buy the canned version. The nice thing about the canned beans is that they’re ready to use right out of the can. Just open the can, drain them, rinse them, and they’re ready to go. Dry beans need pre-processing, which is time- and fuel-intensive. Even if you soak the beans overnight, you’re still supposed to boil them for an hour. In an emergency, that’s a significant amount of fuel. The downside of canned is that a one-pound can of the beans costs $0.60 to $1.50+, depending on brand and vendor, versus maybe $1.50/pound for dry black beans. And most of that can is water weight. I’m guessing that on a dry-weight basis, that can of beans probably costs $4 to $5/pound. On balance, I think I’ll store a few cases of the canned for regular use and maybe 30 pounds of the dry beans in foil-laminate bags that we’ll reserve for SPMF emergencies.

Barbara is cleaning house this morning and then heading over to volunteer at the historical museum this afternoon. We’ll wait and do more kit stuff tomorrow.

Friday, 26 August 2016

09:21 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket, where she’s going to pick up a can of black beans, a jar of cumin, and a jar of coriander, the only items we didn’t have in our pantry for making up Jen’s Bean Gloppita recipe. (My name, not hers). Barbara mentioned the other night that she liked black beans and it would be fine with her to have black beans and rice for dinner one night. We’re going to have it for dinner tonight. We’ll follow Jen’s recipe exactly, other than halving it and cooking the rice in the microwave rather than on the stovetop. If it turns out well, I’ll pick up a couple cases of black beans at Costco or Sam’s, along with larger bottles of cumin and coriander, which we don’t normally use.

Speaking of which, we inventoried our supply of herbs and spices (henceforth “sperbs”) in the kitchen and in our downstairs LTS pantry. I need to get that sorted and consolidated so that I can make up a list of which sperbs we need to get on our next Sam’s visit. We’re in pretty good shape on most of those we use routinely, but there are several we’re short of or don’t have in stock at all.

I’m creating POs and ordering stuff that we’re running short of. Today, I need to get several chemicals on order, including ninhydrin crystals and synthetic blood for the forensic kits. I also need to re-order bottles of several types. And I just noticed that my bottle vendor sells 5-gallon pails with screw-on lids for $10 each. That’s a lot of money for a pail, but the real cost is in the screw-on lids, which typically cost $7 to $10 each just for the lid.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

10:15 – I’ve about decided to give up on Firefox. With every release, it becomes buggier and slower, as well as taking more and more RAM and CPU. I’m already running Opera Mobile on my Fire, and I have the full Opera installed on my Linux desktop system. I often have to resort to it when Firefox just doesn’t work on a particular site. It’s much faster than Firefox 48.0 (48.0!), and it seems a lot less buggy.

The final straw came yesterday when I was trying to print ten postage labels for kits. The USPS Click-N-Ship website was moving slower than the proverbial molasses in January. I got tired of sitting watching a spinner for literally a minute every time I clicked to a new page. I finally bagged it and got Opera setup with my USPS account information. Response time dropped from a minute/page to a fraction of a second.

There’s a guy out in the yard right now marking the underground electric cable. The Internet cable guy marked that yesterday. If we do decide to put a garden plot out on that side of the property, I wanted to make sure to stay far away from buried cables.

Barbara is building more science kits at the moment. Later today, we’ll be labeling and filling bottles for still more.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

09:38 – Lori arrived with our mail at 0840 this morning, which is an hour or more earlier than her usual time. When I commented that she was running early, she said she was running only half her route today, with her sub running the other half for her. She has to get back to her farm today in time to put up hay for her cattle.

The KFC secret blend of 11 herbs and spices has been all over the web for the last few days. Someone actually tried it and reported that indeed it appears to be the genuine recipe. Here it is, for future reference:

KFC secret blend of 11 herbs and spices
Mix the following spices with two cups of white flour:

2/3 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp thyme
1/2 Tbsp basil
1/3 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp dried mustard
4 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp white pepper

Barbara does fried chicken frequently. She coats the chicken with plain flour before frying it. I’m not sure what herbs and spices she adds to the flour, if any. I figured I’d make up a jar of this mix to try the next time she fries chicken.

I don’t even attempt to predict elections any more, but it looks to me like Trump has Clinton and the progs on the run. To say that Clinton is frail, sickly, and brain-damaged is only to state the obvious, but as usual the progs are furious at anyone who states the obvious.

As I said in the comments the other day, we’re Normals, and we can’t allow the progs to define the narrative. We have to keep hammering on the fact that we’re Normals and they’re not. We have to mock and ridicule them at every opportunity, and we have to speak out to let other Normals, who are in the large majority, know that they’re in fact Normal, while the progs, BLMers, muslims, and so on are simply gangsters and terrorist scum. In other words, we need to do everything we can to make sure that other Normals are not embarrassed or ashamed to be Normals and to know that not only are they not alone, but they are part of a very large majority.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

09:16 – At Costco Sunday, we picked up a Costco-size pack of eggs, three dozen of them shrink-wrapped in one package. Barbara wondered why I was buying so many eggs, since we use only maybe a dozen every couple weeks. I told her it was for another of my science experiments.

My mother’s mother was born in 1885. I remember her telling me about how they used to preserve fresh eggs by dipping them in water-glass (sodium silicate) solution and then storing them in the cold cellar. They kept for a couple months or longer. Actually, they probably kept for at least a couple weeks sitting on the shelf even without water-glass treatment, because back then they were using eggs straight from the chicken, which still had the air-proof coating that had been applied by the chicken itself.

Actually, it’s still like that in most of the world outside the US and Canada, where, for no good reason, eggs are power-washed before being sold to consumers. That removes the air-proof natural seal and means they then need to be kept refrigerated. In the rest of the world, including Europe, eggs in supermarkets haven’t been washed and are simply shelved without refrigeration.

But any food-safe oil can be used to coat washed eggs, again air-proofing them and making them a lot more shelf-stable. Back in the day, people who didn’t have water-glass used mineral oil, lard, or whatever oil/fat they had available. I suspect that vegetable oil will also work, although it might well go rancid sitting out exposed to air. No matter, because the rancidity would be only on the outer surface of the shell.

So I’m going to test by coating eggs with vegetable oil. I’ll coat 18 of the eggs, one carton, with oil and store them at room temperature. The other carton, I’ll coat with oil and store in the refrigerator, where I suspect they remain good for several months. After a week, I’ll pull three of the room-temperature eggs, float-test them, crack them and examine the appearance and odor, if any, and cook any that seem okay. The next batch of three gets tested after a two weeks, then three more each at three weeks, one month, and two months, and the final three after three months. Of course, the experiment ends when I encounter the first bad egg, whether it’s at one week or two months.

Monday, 22 August 2016

09:40 – We picked up only two 36-roll packs of toilet paper at Costco yesterday, both because our cart was already getting full and there wasn’t a coupon for it this month. Barbara said all 72 rolls fit under the cabinet in the master bathroom. According to industry figures, Americans use an average of one roll of toilet paper per week. Women use more, for obvious reasons, but on average a year’s supply for two people is 100 rolls. I’m planning for four people, so I’d like to get up to at least 200 rolls. I’ve spoken to preppers who have 500+ rolls stored per person. They obviously REALLY don’t want to run out of toilet paper. No matter how much you decide to store–assuming you’re not at the 500 rolls/person level–it’s a good idea to have personal cloths and bleach or HTH powder stored against the day you eventually run out. It sounds gross, but it’s what most of the world uses, at least those who aren’t using a handful of leaves. In any emergency, the first things to disappear from store shelves are bread, milk, and eggs. After that, toilet paper.

I want to be as prepared as possible by election day. No matter which candidate “wins”, I suspect supporters of the other candidate will cry foul and assume their candidate lost because of election fraud. Who knows? They’ll probably all be right. If Clinton is declared the winner, I don’t really expect Trump supporters to be rioting in the streets, looting, and burning down buildings. If Trump wins, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many Clinton supporters doing all of those things, not to mention shooting cops of all colors and white people in general. BLM supporters are gangsters and terrorists. They’ve already made it clear that they consider cops and white people to be fair game. If their candidate loses, I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see widespread violent civil unrest in the cities.

So my advice to anyone is to hope for the best come election day, but expect the worst and be prepared for it. If you don’t have at least a couple weeks’ worth of water and shelf-stable food stored, now would be a good time to address that lack.