Wednesday, 30 November 2016

10:26 – I’m closing the month. Barring any orders that come in today, we’ve done about 80% of the revenue that we did last November. I’m not too concerned. Sales by month year-on-year bounce up and down. One month, we may do 60% of the prior year’s revenue. The next month, we may do 150%. Unless we have a monster December, we’ll finish 2017 behind 2016 revenues, but not hugely so.

It’s been warm and wet. It was 57F (~14C) when I took Colin out this morning, and that’ll probably be our high for the day. There’s a cold front moving in and we’ll be returning to seasonal temperatures, with cool days and nighttime lows near or below freezing. Fortunately, we’re getting our rain out of the way while it was still warm. From Monday night through this morning we had about 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) of rain, with maybe another inch forecast for this afternoon and evening before things clear up. This rain was badly needed, not just because the whole area was getting very dry, but to help put out the wildfires that have been ravaging several states in the Appalachians. The closest they’ve gotten to us is 30 miles or so, so the only effects we’ve seen have been smoke and haze. Our house sits in the middle of large cleared fields with not many trees nearby, so we should be safe from wildfires generally.

But it’s still a relief for the whole area to get three inches (7.6 cm) or so of rainfall. That’s most of a month’s worth of rain in a couple of days, and will go a long way toward extinguishing the wildfires to our south and west. Unfortunately, the rains came a bit too late to save many mountain communities, including Gatlinburg, TN, which is just over the NC border. Our thoughts are with the Gatlinburg residents, who had to evacuate on zero notice. Three dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. It must have been a shock for Gatlinburg residents. One moment, everything was normal. The next moment, cops were knocking on their doors, telling them to evacuate immediately. Obviously, people who had a grab-and-go bag packed and ready to go were the fortunate ones. Many people lost everything.

We did make peanut butter fudge yesterday, and it turned out pretty well. Barbara isn’t a big fan of fudge, but she tried it and said it was good. The recipe reminded me of Calvin & Hobbes’ chocolate-coated sugar bombs: combine a stick of butter and half a cup of milk or half-and-half in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and add 2.25 cups (16-7/8 ounces or 480 grams) of brown sugar. Stir and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup (7-1/8 ounces or 203 grams) of peanut butter and one teaspoon of vanilla extract and blend thoroughly. Pour over 3-1/2 cups (14 ounces or 397 grams) of powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth, and pour into an 8×8″ baking dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

I got email yesterday from a guy who’s facing a problem that many preppers encounter and asked for advice. Most preppers’ spouses think they’re at least slightly nuts, but sometimes it goes further than that. Some spouses are so affected by normalcy bias that they are actively hostile toward taking any prepping steps. I’ve been lucky in that Barbara is pretty much on-board with prepping, and gets more so each time she reads a news headline. Things are not normal in this country. Far from it. And they seem to get worse every week.

So what’s a guy like him to do? His wife doesn’t just look at him funny or make snide remarks. She literally pitches a fit, screaming and yelling at him if he buys any long-term food or takes any other steps to prepare for bad times. She’s convinced that there’s nothing to worry about, that all of these terrorist attacks, targeted assassinations of cops, etc. etc. are just aberrations and that things are completely normal with no serious threats on the horizon.

At first, he was buying cases of canned goods and so on at Costco and stacking them on the garage shelves. He had several cases accumulated, and one day arrived home from work to find they’d all disappeared. His wife had loaded them into her vehicle and drove them down to the homeless shelter, where she donated them. She told him in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t have him hoarding food in her house. So he replaced them and hauled them over to a friend’s house who offered to store them in his basement. Now he’s afraid that his wife is going to start checking their credit card statements and freak out if she sees big Costco charges.

He asked if I had any advice, and about the only thing I could suggest is that he tell his wife that he’s going to continue stocking up whether she likes it or not. I think he’s afraid that she’ll divorce him, literally. I told him that many of my readers/commenters were in similar situations, if not quite as extreme and that I’d ask all of you for your advice to him.

I’m thankful every day that Barbara is reasonable about prepping. She thinks I go overboard, particularly in terms of the quantities of food we’re putting up for LTS, but she goes along with it anyway. As I’ve told her, I don’t really expect anything catastrophic to happen but there is a small but significant chance of a real disaster, maybe 3% per year, and that adds up to a scarily high chance of something really bad happening over the next five or ten years.

I don’t know what I’d do if I were in this guy’s shoes.