Saturday, 31 December 2016

09:19 – Happy New Year’s Eve

2016 in Prepping

We closed on our new house in Sparta in December 2015. In the year since, we’ve gotten moved in and gotten things more or less the way we want them. Among the many things we checked off our to-do lists were many prepping-related purchases and activities. Here are some of those:

o We got moved into the house, got our house in Winston cleared out, and sold it. We’ve gone from living in a metro area with a population over 1,000,000 to living in a rural mountain county with a population about 1% of that.

o We installed a wood stove and laid in a supply of firewood sufficient to keep the house livable for at least a couple of months. We intend to double or triple our firewood supply in the near future.

o We’ve expanded our LTS food supply significantly. We’re now at the point that we could feed ourselves, Colin, Frances and Al for more than one year without any outside resupply.

o Rather than eating mostly fresh and frozen foods, we’ve started cooking and baking from scratch for a lot of our meals, using mostly LTS foods. We also greatly expanded our selection of cast-iron cookware.

o Although we haven’t yet started canning, we do have everything we need to can, including a pressure canner, several dozen new canning jars, re-usable Tattler lids, and so on. Early in the New Year, I’d like to get started canning meats, initially probably ground beef and dark-meat chicken.

o We greatly expanded our inventory of medical supplies, notably the most important SHTF antibiotics (doxycycline, SMZ/TMP, metronidazole, levofloxacin, and amoxiclav) from maybe a dozen courses total to more than 150 courses. All of those sit in the freezer, where they’ll remain usable for literally decades.

o We purchased the essentials for a small off-grid solar power setup: four 100W solar panels and a charge controller. I ordered a 2.5KW/5KW modified sine-wave inverter yesterday, which will suffice to drive the well pump. I still need to buy some deep-cycle batteries, although if TSHTF later today I could get a functioning solar power system going using car batteries.

o We installed a 330-gallon propane tank and a gas cooktop. That will suffice to allow us to cook and bake completely off-grid for literally years. There’s enough propane that we could also use it to heat water for bathing and laundry.

o We made a lot of new friends and acquaintances locally, including our immediate neighbors. Most of that is down to Barbara, who volunteers with the Friends of the Library and the local historical society, but I’m doing my bit as well. We’re both doing what we can to become part of the community.

So, what did you do to prep this year?


Friday, 30 December 2016

09:55 – We awoke this morning to a white front yard, 25F (-4C) temperature, and winds gusting to 50 MPH (80 KPH). Colin ran out, tore around the front yard celebrating the snow, did a quick pee, and ran back up to the front door to be let in. In the field our back yard backs up to, there were three or four dozen cows visible at the top of the field, several hundred meters out. They weren’t moving, which leads me to believe they may have frozen solid.

I got most of the year-end orders in yesterday. On one of them, the guy asked if we could receive pallets, because the order would comprise a dozen or so large boxes. I told him we didn’t have a dock or a forklift, but if they could drop the pallet in the driveway and LTL was cheaper to go ahead and go for it. He replied that he’d check both methods, but UPS Ground would probably be cheaper because LTL usually charged $150 extra if they had to deliver with a lift gate.

We got a lot of chemical bottles for science kits filled yesterday, and will get a lot more filled and labeled today. My order of 10,000 caps showed up yesterday, so we’re in good shape on those. I have another order for several thousand bottles and caps of a different size that’s to arrive Tuesday, so we can go ahead and use up what we have remaining without worrying about the inventory level dropping too far.

I’ve pretty much stopped reading news sites of all types. Most of what passes for news is actually just opinion pieces–what will Trump do, will there be riots at the inauguration, etc.–and what little actual news is reported is pretty trivial. I may just start following the US news on the dailymail.co.uk site. It’s a liberal/left/prog site, but at least they report some actual news mixed in with all the features.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

10:02 – More kit stuff today, along with year-end business stuff, including orders. I just dropped an $1,800 PO with one of our suppliers, with more to come.

A blizzard is in the forecast for us starting this afternoon and through the night. Temperatures well below freezing with strong winds and gusts up to 50 MPH (80 KPH). We’re to get at least a dusting of snow, with possibly an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) of accumulation. It’ll be a good day to stay inside and fill more chemical bottles.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

10:34 – Barbara is at the gym this morning and will be volunteering all afternoon at the Friends of the Library bookstore. When I took Colin out this morning, it was 20F (11C) colder than it was yesterday morning.

We got several hundred chemical bottles filled yesterday, with more to do tomorrow. The bottles are already labeled and waiting, but I need to make up half a dozen chemical solutions for them this afternoon. We’re short of 15/415 caps for the 15 mL bottles, but I have a case of 10,000 of those arriving tomorrow.

I also need to do year-end stuff, including orders for things I want to get purchased so they count as current-year expenses.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

09:59 – I took a rare day off yesterday from posting here. I ate too much, and wasn’t feeling very well. Today I’m back to normal.

When I took Colin out this morning, it felt more like early spring than early winter. It was 53.6F (12C) with bright sun and birds chirping. I’m sure we’ll pay for that in the not-too-distant future. We’re doing regular stuff today. Cleaning up the house, filling chemical bottles for science kits, and so on. We also need to wash and dry another batch of 2L soft drink bottles to fill with LTS food that’s still sitting in its original packaging. Not that I’m too worried about shelf life. Even in its original plastic bags, this stuff has a best-by date a couple years out. Once we get it transferred to 2L bottles with oxygen absorbers, it should be good for at least 20 or 30 years.

Speaking of which, I keep seeing articles like this one about droves of people abandoning prepping, presumably as a result of Trump’s election. I don’t doubt that a small percentage of serious preppers have in fact stopped prepping on the foolish (in my opinion) assumption that Trump’s election will make a difference in the long term. But I think most preppers are smart enough to realize that nothing has really changed. The long-term outlook is just as bad under Trump as it would have been under Clinton. Things may–and I emphasize “may”–not go downhill as quickly with Trump as President, but expecting Trump to magically fix everything is wishful thinking. At most, I think some preppers are taking a break after prepping frantically during the run-up to the election. And the prepping on the right is now prepping on the left, and the beards have all grown longer overnight. All along, there have been prog/lefty people prepping, but they made up a small minority of preppers. With Trump’s election, many leftie/progs have started prepping seriously in the expectation of a Trumpocalypse. They’re even going out and buying guns. Many people expected gun sales to fall off a cliff after Trump was elected. In fact, after a momentary pause, they’re soaring again. Black Friday was the biggest day for gun sales in history, and many of those buyers were almost certainly first-time buyers who voted for Clinton. Which is fine with me. Even progs have the right to defend themselves.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

09:19 – I feel better now. It isn’t just me who’s been unable to shoot down Santa Claus. I saw an article in the paper this morning that NORAD has been tracking him for 60 years and has apparently never even been able to get off a shot. That’s not surprising, I guess, since when he’s moving it’s at about 0.999C and he only stops for a few nanoseconds at each home as he robs it of milk and cookies. This guy commits billions of home invasions every year, and apparently there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him.

So, I’ve decided to give up. Oh, I’ll put out poisoned milk and cookies as a gesture, but I’m not expecting much.


Friday, 23 December 2016

09:47 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket. I just issued a PO for 10,000 15/415 bottle caps, which should hold us for a while. I remember the first time I ordered a carton (1,440) of those caps, and thought that was a lot. Then the first time I ordered a case of 10,000, I thought I had all the caps in the world and would never run out.

We repackaged some macaroni yesterday from the original 5-pound bags into clean, dry 2-liter soft drink bottles. We got 14 bags transferred into 24 2-liter bottles. We still need to label the bottles and add an oxygen absorber to each. Then there are the other 14 bags still sitting on the kitchen counter.

Barbara commented that this was more macaroni than we’d eaten in the 33 years we’ve been married. It isn’t, really. It just looks like a lot, sitting there in one place. Once we get this last batch repackaged, we’ll be up to about 475 pounds of pasta packaged for long-term storage. That’s enough to provide the grain portion of our diet for the five of us, including Colin, for about four months. The rice, white flour, and other grains we have stored extends that to about a year’s worth. And the 24 cans of Campbell Chunky Soup that arrived the other day can turn those grain products into 24 more tasty main meals.

The special session of the North Carolina house and senate that was called to repeal HB2 has failed, so it’s still illegal for perverts to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. The progs’ attempts to redefine biology has failed yet again, at least in North Carolina. People here are smart enough to understand that, other than a tiny number of monsters, there are exactly two sexes, male (XY) and female (XX), and two sexual preferences, gay (XX+XX or XY+XY) and straight (XX+XY). XX’s who believe they’re actually XY’s and vice versa are, to use the technical term, delusional, and people here understand that. And we understand that we’re under no obligation to humor their delusions.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

09:54 – I have this nagging sense that there’s something I should be doing this morning. I finally realized that it feels odd not to be going to the dentist this morning, as I’ve done four times in the last week or so.

It turns out that Ray is kind of right about cheap flashlights. I just got burned for the first time with cheap flashlights. I’d ordered a three-pack of these on December 10th. When they arrived, I installed batteries in them and put one on the marble-top table in the foyer for Barbara to use when she takes Colin out after dinner. The first one failed the second time she used it. She pushed the rubber-dome switch on the tail-cap to turn on the light, and the whole switch just pushed into the body of the flashlight. Then, the other night, she tried a second flashlight. This one failed the first time she pushed the switch. Two out of three immediate failures doesn’t bode well, so I started the return process with Amazon.

I also ordered a couple of name-brand flashlights to replace them. First, one $30 two-AA Streamlight, and one $13 three-AAA Anker. We’ll see how those do. Now to pull the new batteries out of the junk flashlights and get them boxed up to return to Amazon. I’m still happy with the $4 single-AA lights I’ve bought several of. Only one of those has failed, and that was my own fault. I was carrying it with a jumble of other stuff, and one of the other items ended up pushing in the lens and destroying the LED circuit board behind it.

My real problem with Amazon is that when you order something that’s sold by a third-party vendor but fulfilled by Amazon, you have no idea what you’ll actually get. There’s a lot of counterfeit product out there, and Amazon seems not to care whether they ship you genuine product or a counterfeit knock-off. Increasingly, I suspect that’s also true for items that Amazon both sells and ships themselves.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

12:51 – Back from the dentist, where it seems I’ve been spending most of my time lately. I had oral surgery Thursday and then follow-up work done yesterday morning and this morning. They’re mostly finished now. I do have another appointment early in the New Year, but that’ll be it. I wanted to get all of this stuff done now, while we still have dental insurance. Meanwhile, I’ve had more milkshakes in the past week than probably in the previous twenty years combined.

Fortunately, I’m no longer lactose-intolerant. I was for two or three years, about maybe 15 years ago. I’d never had that problem until suddenly one day I did. At first, I thought it was an aberration, but it turned out to be reproducible. Even a very small amount of milk, butter on popcorn, etc. and I’d soon be suffering disgusting GI symptoms. Barbara bought me some lactaid pills, which eliminated the problem. And then one day I ran out of pills but went ahead and consumed the milk product anyway, just to see if the problem had magically gone away. It had. No symptoms, and no problem with it ever since. I didn’t realize that lactose intolerance could cure itself, but in my case it apparently did.

Email from Jen. Their ten-day readiness exercise begins Friday afternoon. She said she’d report any significant issues they encounter, but they’ve done enough of these exercises that she’s pretty sure they have all the kinks worked out.