Month: February 2017

Sunday, 19 February 2017

09:32 – It was 45F (7C) again when I took Colin out this morning, but with a stiff breeze and gusts to 30+MPH (48+ KPH). Today I’ll be working on taxes and Barbara will be labeling bottles again. She labeled several hundred yesterday and will do the same today. She labels while she’s sitting watching videos using headphones, so it’s not really work. [Edit: I posted that last sentence in a fit of temporary insanity. Labeling bottles IS work, and Barbara works her ass off in the business. RBT]

One weird thing happened when I installed the Netgear router. Everything I’ve tried works normally on all our connected devices except that Google no longer works on my Fire HD7. It works fine on Barbara’s Fire HDX7, so I’m not sure what’s going on. The difference may be the ad blocker I have installed on my Fire, but Google worked with it before I replaced the router, so it must be related to the new router.

I see that Trump plans to get rid of PBS/NPR/NEA and other government boondoggles that are related to the arts. It’s about time. If there was ever any good reason for subsidizing these services with taxpayer money, it disappeared at least 20 years ago with the introduction of DVDs and the rise of Internet video, MP3 audio, and other content-delivery mechanisms. I’m sure the government news/entertainment services will be hauling out Big Bird again to convince ordinary citizens that they should be allowed to continue feeding at the taxpayer trough. But enough is enough, and too much. If they can’t compete in a free market, they deserve to be relegated to history.

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

09:50 – It was 45F (7C) when I took Colin out this morning, without much wind. Today is devoted to taxes.

I got the Netgear AC1200 R6220 router installed yesterday, which took about 10 minutes start to finish. I left the SSID and password at default. The coverage and speed are at least as good as we had with the D-Link unit. This one adds 5G capability. As it turns out, the only clients in the house that speak 5G are Barbara’s Fire HDX and the Roku. I never was able to get Wi-Fi working with the Roku when we were using the D-Link DIR-615. It just didn’t see it. When I got the R6220 up and running, the Roku immediately offered me the choice of hard-wired and either 2.4G or 5G Wi-Fi. All three options work fine. I wish the Roku would let me choose to use all three simultaneously and pick the best of the three, but it insists I pick one of the three.

We’re currently re-watching One Tree Hill on Netflix streaming, Everwood on DVD, and Endeavor on Amazon Prime streaming. We also added Dr. Quinn, Medicine Girl to our Prime Video queue and watched a couple episodes of it. It’s corny and mediocre, but it has the same small-town, costume-drama feel as Little House on the Prairie, which is incompetently plotted and written, and sugary enough to put a diabetic into sugar shock.

As expected, the progs and neocons (but I repeat myself) are fighting Trump every step of the way. At least he’s getting some of his nominees approved, most recently the head of the EPA. I’m hoping against hope that these new agency heads, particularly Education and EPA to start with, come in and clean house with fire and sword. They could start by firing every employee who’s a GS-10 or higher.

The promise to repeal ObamaCare is now being hedged. In reality, they could fix the problems overnight by letting the free market take care of it. Repeal the individual mandate and employer mandate to start with. Allow health insurance companies to offer whatever policies they wish with whatever exclusions or limitations they wish, and allow them to do so across state lines. Most particularly, again allow insurance companies to exclude pre-existing conditions. The states, if they wish, can create assigned risk pools, just as they do for auto insurance. Repeal EMTALA, and allow emergency rooms to refuse to treat anyone who can’t pay. Repeal Medicaid, and allow states to handle it themselves if they wish. Better yet, allow churches and private charities to establish clinics for the indigent. Station ICE agents in emergency rooms, tasked with gathering up illegals and exporting them back to Mexico or wherever they initially crossed the border illegally. And so on.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

09:32 – It was 35.5F (2C) when I took Colin out this morning, without much wind. Barbara arrived back from Winston about 3:00 yesterday afternoon. Colin and I are both delighted.

On her way out of Winston, she made a small Costco run. It was only $57.16 total, of which more than half was Dentastix treats for Colin. The only other things she picked up were cases of 12 cans each of 14.5-oz. green beans ($7.79), 6-oz. tomato paste ($6.79), and 15-oz. tomato sauce ($7.99). The latter two were “organic”. Both of us would prefer inorganic tomato products, but Costco doesn’t carry them.

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I see that there was a national “Day without Immigrants” protest yesterday. What they obviously hoped to prove was that we’d be SOL without immigrants; what they actually proved was that almost no one noticed.

Early next month, there’s to be a general strike of women. Presumably all the prog women will be marching around wearing pink pussy hats and proclaiming how important they are. I predict the actual result will be that no one notices, because the women who actually ARE important won’t be participating in this bullshit. They mostly voted for Trump anyway. As to the strikers, I hope their employers fire all their asses and replace them with good women.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

08:36 – It was 25F (-4C) when I took Colin out this morning, but a stiff breeze made it feel a lot colder. Barbara is due back from Winston sometime this afternoon. Colin and I never did manage to find any wild women, so we mostly read, played ball, and watched videos. Colin did get a chance to do some small-rodent pouncing in Bonnie’s back field when I took him out this morning.

Here’s the view from our back deck.

Well, actually, it’s the title card from the BBC series Cranford, but it’s the same view except that our cows are Black Angus and there are a lot more of them. Same rolling hills with cattle grazing, same trees, same mountains disappearing into the mist in the background. Have I mentioned that I really like where we live?

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Email from Cassie, who has another canning session scheduled for this weekend. This time, she and her friend are doing it at Cassie’s house, using Cassie’s new Presto 23-quart canner and a second canner that her friend is bringing along. Cassie is supplying the canning jars for this round.

They’re not doing ground beef this time, because it wasn’t on sale yet. But the pork roast and sausage was on sale, so Cassie’s buying a bunch of it. She’s going to use her slow cooker overnight to make pulled pork using this recipe and then can it in her favorite homemade barbecue sauce (for which she didn’t cough up the recipe).

She really, really wants to do bacon, but like me she’s very concerned that the USDA recommends against it because they haven’t done the necessary testing to develop an authoritative, guaranteed-safe procedure for doing so. But, as Cassie says, they do have such a procedure for sausage, and she and her husband both like it, too.

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 I’m still waiting for Trump and his Republican congress to do something about our ridiculous gun control laws. I signed an on-line White House petition the other day that calls for the repeal of the National Firearms Act, which would be a good start. Next, they can repeal GCA68, and we’d all be able to order guns on-line. But the really major thing they need to do is start issuing federal permits that allow concealed and open carry anywhere in the US for any adult citizen. As a first approximation, they should declare that any citizen who has a valid state-issued driver’s license is now authorized to carry open or concealed using only that license as proof of authorization. Those citizens who do not have driver’s licenses should be able to visit any US Post Office, present proof of identity and citizenship, and be issued a carry permit on the spot.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

10:00 – It was 34.8F (1.5C) when I took Colin out this morning, very gray and with a light drizzle that’s to turn to snow later. Barbara is heading down to Winston shortly, where she’ll spend the night with Frances and Al and then drive back up to Sparta tomorrow afternoon. Colin and I are getting ready to have wild women and parties as soon as she leaves.

Barbara sent me a link Saturday to a PA novel that was free for the download through yesterday. I’d never heard of the author or the series, but I downloaded it just to take a look. I finally got around to looking at it last night. Very odd. It’s written in the first-person present, and reads like it was written by a 30-ish stay-at-home military wife with four kids who’s a huge fan of The Walking Dead. It turns out that’s just what it is. Her main characters are thinly-disguised variations of the main cast in TWD, and there are zombies all over the place. Not my cup of tea, but it and the rest of the series get very good reviews if that’s your kind of thing.

Interesting headline in the morning paper: “Evacuation Lifted for 200K Californians: Dam is repaired, but officials say fix may not hold” I believe that if I lived downstream of the tallest dam in the US, with more than a cubic mile of water behind it, I’d think twice about returning home after reading that headline.

I’ve seen remarkably little in the MSM about the disruption that was caused by this evacuation. I did get email from one reader who evacuated. He said things were an unmitigated fustercluck. Roads and bridges bottlenecked or completely blocked by cars that were broken down or out of gas, two-hour lines at gas stations that still had gas, which wasn’t many of them, and a trip to a friend’s home that would ordinarily have taken him 45 minutes that ended up taking eight hours.

There are a lot of takeaways here, but the biggest to my way of thinking is that it’s really, really important to keep your gas tank as full as possible. For some reason, most people let their gas tanks get down to a quarter or less before they refuel, and more than a few wait until they’re running on fumes. That makes no sense to me, given that it takes only a couple of minutes to stop at a gas station and fill up.

My 1993 Isuzu Trooper SUV has a 22.5-gallon gas tank and averages about 16 MPG real-world, for a 360-mile range. When the trip odometer gets up to 50 miles, I start thinking about filling the tank. If it gets to 100 miles, I’ll make a special trip to fill it.

Lori, our USPS carrier, drives a RHD Jeep that looks a lot like the CJ-7 I used to have. I asked her one time how much gasoline she goes through driving her stop-and-go postal route. She goes through about two-thirds of a tank per day, so she stops at the gas station every day after she finishes her route. Her Jeep is also her personal vehicle, so she starts out every morning full.

Barbara starts with a full tank when she’s heading down to Winston. She burns 5+ gallons for the round trip, so if there’s another pipeline break or some other interruption in fuel supplies, she can always get home.

February MTD kit sales revenue is already at 90% of revenue for all of 2/16, 110% of revenue for all of 2/15, and on track to match revenue for 2/14, which was our biggest February ever. Of course, this is a time of year when sales could just drop dead.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

09:39 – It was 33F (0.5C) when I took Colin out this morning, with a light breeze. Barbara is volunteering most of today, and preparing to leave tomorrow morning for Winston. She’ll spend the night with Frances and Al and then drive back up to Sparta Thursday. It’ll be wild women and parties for Colin and me while she’s gone.

Our Wi-Fi router has started acting hinky over the last few days. It locks up and I have to go downstairs to do a power reset. I’m almost certain it’s not a cable problem. Both the Wi-Fi and 100BaseT ports lock up, so the only cable it could be is the one running to the fiber optic TA, which I’ve swapped out more than once.

The problem router is a D-Link DIR-615, which I bought as a spare in May 2015, and swapped out for an older DIR-615 that had started to misbehave several months ago. I also had a DIR-826L router purchased in late 2013 sitting there as a spare. The short story is that neither of the DIR-615’s now works reliably and the DIR-826L is apparently completely dead. It doesn’t even light up when I connect it to power.

D-Link used to be a good brand–one of the Big Three along with LinkSys and NetGear–but given my recent experience I decided to buy something else to replace the D-Links. I ended up ordering a Netgear AC1200, which is to arrive tomorrow.

Just out of curiosity, I opened a #10 can of Nestle Nido dry whole milk powder the other day. It was purchased 1 June 2015 and had a best-by date of 31 March 2016. Since this isn’t non-fat dry milk, I was concerned that the fats in it might cause rancidity. When I opened it, I sniffed it, but I’m not sure how full-fat whole dry milk is supposed to smell. It had a distinct odor, but it didn’t seem to be rancid. I had Barbara sniff it, and she said it didn’t smell like milk, but it didn’t smell rancid either. So I mixed up a quart by adding 120 grams of the powder to a quart of warm tap water. The result just smelled milky to me, but Barbara said it didn’t smell like her fresh 2% milk and she wouldn’t drink it. I tasted it, but I’m not a milk drinker, so I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to taste like. It wasn’t bitter or anything. I used a pint of it last night to make a milkshake, which tasted fine. So the upshot is that I’m not sure whether or not I can consider Nido to be a long-term storage product.

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Monday, 13 February 2017

08:13 – It was 30F (-1C) when I took Colin out this morning, with high winds gusting to 60 MPH (96 KPH). As far as I’m concerned, that put the actual wind chill at -30F (-34C). I’ve started leaving a set of lab goggles on the foyer table for just such days. At that temperature and wind speed, I can’t keep my eyes open unless I’m wearing eye protection.

Email over the weekend from Cassie, a relative newbie prepper. When I last heard from her, a month ago, her self-employed husband had just hurt his hand and had to take time off work. Fortunately, he’s fully recovered now and back at work.

Cassie works as a checker at a small local supermarket, where she’s been buying dry staples in quantity regularly. Some of her co-workers noticed and commented on that, and Cassie has become friends with one of them. Because she lacks freezer space and has nowhere to put a standalone freezer, Cassie was considering getting into home pressure canning. She mentioned that to her new friend, who invited her over one day the weekend before last to show her the ropes on home canning.

The supermarket where they both work had a big sale on chicken, so Cassie bought 40 pounds on sale and hauled it over to her new friend’s house, where they pressure-canned it in pint Ball jars. Forty of them, at one pound per jar. Her friend supplied both the canner and the jars, which Cassie will replace with new jars she ordered from Walmart.

Her friend has been canning since she was a little girl and helped her mother and grandmother can. She has two pressure canners, a Presto she bought soon after she got married, and a big All American that her grandmother gave her when she was no longer physically able to can her own stuff. Cassie asked her if the higher price of the All American canner was worth paying. Her friend said she’d been using both for years and that although there were some things she really liked about the All American canner that the cheaper Presto could do everything the more expensive canner could do.

So Cassie ordered the same Presto 23-quart canner we have, along with a gross of pint Ball jars from Walmart. Forty of those go to her friend, which leaves Cassie with 104 canning jars. Her next project is to can a bunch of ground beef, so she’s just waiting for it to go on sale. Her new canner can process 20 pint jars at a time, so she plans to do two or three runs with ground beef to get 40 to 60 jars processed.

For now, Cassie will use the single-use lids that come with the jars, but she owes her friend the 40 Tattler reusable lids they used for her first canning session. Her friend swears by the Tattler lids, which she’s been using for 10 years, so Cassie plans to order a gross of them as well.

She considered buying half-pint jars for her own use, because a pint jar holds about a pound of meat, which is twice what they need for a single meal. But when she saw that half-pint jars sell for only about a buck less per dozen than pint jars, she decided that she didn’t want to spend nearly twice as much on jars to hold the same amount of meat, so she ordered all pint jars except for two dozen quart jars, which she just wanted to have on hand.

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

10:01 – It was 55.3F (13C) and calm when I took Colin out this morning, with a forecast high today of 66F (19C), with heavy winds gusting to 60 MPH (96 KPH) and thunderstorms moving in this afternoon.

I see there was a massive protest in Raleigh against Trump and HB2, the so-called anti-LGBT law. What a bunch of losers. I’m reminded of that 1971 track from Ten Years After, I’d Love to Change the World.

Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies,
Tell me where is sanity.
Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more.

These people are delusional, and I mean both the protesters and the so-called “transsexuals” on whose behalf they’re marching. Of course, other than the hard-core paid organizers of such events, the marchers are in fact victims. Victims of our so-called public education system, which in reality is nothing but a progressive propaganda system. Most people can’t think, so we can’t blame them for believing what has been drummed into them since they were children. The pity is that we permit them to vote.

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

10:36 – It was 50F (10C) when I took Colin out this morning. The next 24 hours are supposed to be sunny and warm, if a bit windy, but then another cold front moves in. By tomorrow evening, it’s to be a lot colder, with the next five days or so having highs in the low- to mid-40’s and lows in the 20’s.

Colin got a bath this morning. Well, a shower, actually. He’s always terrified that someone is going to hurt him. He was showing his vicious fangy face and snarling when we finally dragged him into the shower stall. As usual, he then settled down, resigning himself to being bathed. Of course, water ended up all over the bathroom floor and both of us as well.

Barbara had a meeting of the historical society yesterday at 4:00 p.m. We decided I’d ride along with her and then we’d head over to The Pines afterward to have dinner. From the time she was a little girl, Barbara had been riding up to Sparta every year with her family to get a Christmas tree. They always ate at The Pines.

When we moved up here, several people told us that The Pines was fine, but Brown’s Restaurant was better. We tried it and liked it, so we made it our go-to restaurant. It was a family-run place, and Mr. and Mrs. Brown were about our age or older. Last autumn, they finally decided to retire and close the restaurant. The Pines moved from its old location into the old Brown’s Restaurant building.

At her meeting, someone mentioned going to Brown’s for dinner. Barbara pointed out that Brown’s had closed, and the person she was talking to told her that they’d reopened in a new location out north of town near our veterinarian’s office. So we headed out there for dinner. Turns out they’d opened the new place a month ago. It’s run by the son of the family and his wife, I’m sure with lots of advice from his parents.

We arrived just early enough to avoid the rush. There’s a big high-school wrestling tournament in town this weekend, which just added to the crush. We’d had to wait less than a minute for a table when we arrived, but by the time our food was served there was a line out the door. The food was good, so I’m sure we’ll be eating there often.


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Friday, 10 February 2017

10:00 – It was 21.2F (-6C) when I took Colin out this morning, but the temperature is gradually rising. No wind at the moment. We’re to top out today at around 45F (7C), and then warm up into the 60’s over the next few days. Barbara just left for the gym and supermarket.

It’s been three months since Trump was elected. I’m happy about some of the stuff he’s doing–notably his appointments, most of which are anything but business-as-usual–but not so happy about some of the things he says he intends to do. But on balance, my opinion hasn’t changed since the election. I’m afraid Trump is too little, too late.

He faces huge opposition, mostly from worthless progs, bureaucrats, public-employee unions, and other entrenched interests, but also from some good libertarians and conservatives. Indicative of this is the opposition to Trump’s appointments. Obama and Bush each made 30+ appointments that required Senate confirmation. Of those 60+ appointments, the Senate approved all but a handful overwhelmingly, by what amounted to a rubber stamp. Trump’s appointees have not been shown the same courtesy. They have so far faced extreme opposition, including from some Republicans, and that seems likely to continue with other appointees who are awaiting Senate approval. Obviously, the progs and lefties intend to do everything possible to make Trump’s administration permanent gridlock. The obviously senile prog/leftie Pelosi says she isn’t willing to work at all with President Bush.

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 Lori just showed up with an Amazon shipment that included a case of 24 small cans of mushrooms and one #10 can each of Augason Farms dried celery and carrots. The latter both have best-by dates in 2041.

Which brings up an interesting point. Like many preppers, I’m loathe to open those nice #10 cans because they’re already packaged for LTS. And in some cases, that’s fine. We have, for example, a couple hundred #10 cans of LTS bulk foods like rice, flour, sugar, potato flakes, macaroni, spaghetti, dry milk, etc. etc. We don’t need to open any of those. Rice is rice, so for day-to-day cooking we just use rice we’ve repackaged from 50-pound Costco bags. The same is true of the other bulk staples in #10 cans.

But some of the stuff we buy in #10 cans is not necessarily fungible. For example, we have #10 cans of Augason dried bell peppers, celery, carrots, cheese powder, etc. etc. Although I hate to open them, we need to learn to use them in day-to-day cooking. An open can is rated for a one-year shelf life versus 20 or 25 years on a sealed can. But opening a can doesn’t necessarily cut the shelf-life down to a year. We’ll simply repackage the contents immediately after opening the can. Put the contents into PET bottles, add an oxygen absorber, and we’re back up to a 20 or 25 year shelf life (and probably more).

And in some cases, we pay no penalty for buying LTS packaged food. I’ve mentioned before the Augason potato shreds, which we started substituting for the frozen Ore-Ida products. On a reconstituted weight basis, the AF dehydrated potatoes are actually less expensive than frozen. The same is true of things like onion flakes, which are actually cheaper to buy in #10 cans than they are in large jars at Costco.

In addition to the obvious benefit of eating regularly from LTS food, we’ve found that there’s another benefit to cooking from scratch with LTS foods. The results taste better. That was reinforced yesterday when we made sloppy joe sauce from scratch. Barbara announced a few days ago that she wasn’t buying any more of the canned Manwich sauce because she wanted to try making it from scratch. It’s cheaper to make it from scratch, we can do it from stuff in our deep pantry, and it tastes better. An all-around win.

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