Wednesday, 5 October 2016

09:40 – Barbara is down in Winston today, running errands and having lunch with a friend. As usual when she’s gone, it’s wild women and parties for Colin and me.

Most people really are stupid. I was just reading an article about Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to affect Florida in more than a decade. As usual, everyone panics and heads for the supermarkets and hardware stores to lay in supplies. One stupid woman who was interviewed had gone to her local Publix supermarket, in search of bottled water. She was upset to find that they were sold out of the store brand stuff and had only the more expensive name-brand bottled water left in stock. The article wasn’t clear about her actions, other than that for some reason she lay down on the empty shelf where the cheaper bottled water had been. Presumably, she left without any bottled water because it cost a few cents a bottle more than the house-brand stuff. Jesus wept.

As is usual this time of year, my component inventory system has completely broken down. The problem, as always, is that we’re doing so many things at once, and updating component inventory is often overlooked. For example, we’ll be running short of biology kits and are out of chemical bags for them. So I check inventory and find out that we have only eighteen bottles in stock of the limiting chemical. So we build 18 of the chemical bags and start assembling more biology kits. Meanwhile, we get a bulk order for chemistry kits. We ship those and realize that we’re now short on chemical bags for those kits. So we check our inventory and see that it shows that we should have 27 of the limiting chemical for those kits. But it turns out that another chemical is really the limiting chemical because I hadn’t updated the inventory records after we used 18 bottles of it to make up biology chemical bags. It turns out that instead of having enough to make up 27 chemistry kit chemical bags, we actually have only 11 of that second chemical. So we make up 11 chemistry chemical bags and start building kits. As Barbara is assembling those, I make up the solution for the chemical bottles we’d run out of. So it’s really a matter of us having so many things going on at the same time that stuff slips through the cracks. Multiply that confusion by the scores of different chemicals included in the various kits, with significant overlap between types of kits, and things quickly turn chaotic. Fortunately, things have now settled down to a dull roar, so we’ll have time to rectify the inventory count again by physically counting all of our component inventory SKUs.

With Barbara away for the day, I’m going to spend some time washing and sanitizing bottles that will contain bulk staples. I wish Coke were still sold in 3-liter bottles, because their wider mouths mean they’re immensely better than 2-liter bottles for repackaging LTS bulk foods. Someone mentioned that dollar stores still carry off-brand soft drinks in 3-liter bottles. I may pick up a couple of those to try, because I’d really like to have more 3-liter bottles. I much prefer them to foil-laminate Mylar bags for LTS food storage.

In fact, nearly all of our repackaged LTS food is in PET bottles. We use them for just about everything other than bulk storage of oxygen absorbers, for which we use glass canning jars.


11:32 – Ooh. Almost a prepper fail.

I just started a load of laundry, darks and towels. We use Chlorox II rather than chlorine bleach. When we moved up here, we knew nothing at all about septic tank care, and I decided not to risk killing the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank by using chlorine bleach. Granted, I’d only be using a cup (250 mL) or so a week, but chlorine bleach is an extremely effective bacteria killer. In retrospect, I suppose I should have run the numbers. Assuming a 1,500 gallon septic tank, I’d be adding 1/16 of a gallon of bleach, or one part 5% hypochlorite bleach to 24,000 parts water, assuming the tank is full. Call it maybe 2 ppm. Not enough to kill many bacteria, but probably enough to make them feel unwell.

I have another load of laundry queued up. All of our whites, none of which have been washed with chlorine bleach since last November. Chlorine-free bleach just doesn’t cut it for whites. All of our white underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc. are starting to have a faint yellow cast, which is what happens when you don’t use real bleach on them. So, since I was going to use a mixture of dishwashing liquid and chlorine bleach in the kitchen sinks to wash and sanitize 3-liter bottles, I went off in search of the chlorine bleach. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t on the laundry room shelves. It wasn’t under the kitchen sink, where Barbara used to keep a supply of it for sanitizing work surfaces. It wasn’t under the sinks in any of the bathrooms. It wasn’t downstairs anywhere, including in the unfinished area.

I have enough calcium hypochlorite (pool shock) stored with the prepping supplies to make up about 30 gallons of bleach, but I didn’t want to open it. I was actually considering walking down to the convenience store across the road to buy some, but I thought to look in the cabinet under the laundry room sink. Sure enough, there was an unopened gallon of chlorine bleach nestled behind a bunch of 2-liter bottles filled with water.

The takeaway here is that if you don’t know where something is stored, you don’t have actually have it even if it’s listed in your inventory records.