Monday, 31 July 2017

08:37 – It was 54.6F (12.5C) when I took Colin out at 0630, bright and breezy. It sounds ridiculous for mid-summer, but I was glad I was wearing my hooded sweatshirt.

Barbara is off to the gym this morning. Kit stuff after she gets back. Kit sales have been slow for this time of year. We’ll do only about 50% the revenue this July that we did last July. Ordinarily, sales are slow for the first half of July and pick up significantly in the second half. We haven’t seen that jump in the last couple of weeks, which probably just means that August will be bigger than usual.

I had two USB flash drives fail yesterday. One I’d bought in November 2013 and the other in mid-2014. As I was sitting looking at the dead flash drive, Colin walked over and sniffed it, looked at me, and said, “It’s dead, Jim.” I gave that one to Barbara to destroy. She took a hammer to it on the garage floor and tossed the pieces in the trash. Flash drives are easier to destroy than hard drives. For them, I use a .44.

I need to order a couple more flash drives to replace those. It’s difficult to choose, because now that flash drives have become commodity items there really aren’t any good brands any more. I think I’ll just order a couple of these and use them until they die.

I don’t really follow the Trump news, but I’m surprised every morning when there aren’t headlines announcing that he’s been assassinated and Clinton is stepping in to rescue the country from us Deplorables.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

09:37 – It was 59.0F (15C) when I took Colin out at 0650, bright and breezy. I wore a jacket for the first time since last spring.

We got two bills yesterday from Shaw Brothers, one for all the work they did to repair the first flood, and the second for replacing the water heater. The first was about $500 higher than they’d quoted, which was fine. They’d quoted us on installing a drop ceiling downstairs and replacing the cherry flooring in the master bath. We ended up choosing a more expensive ceiling tile than they’d quoted, and having them install ceramic tile rather than hardwood in the master bath. The water heater replacement cost $700 and change, including the new 50-gallon water heater and labor to install it. What we haven’t gotten yet is the bill for digging up the septic tank and repairing the problem.

We’re still binge-watching the excellent Australian soap opera, A Place to Call Home–which has first-rate writing and a top-notch cast–and the excellent British drama Dalziel and Pascoe, which has the delightful Susannah Corbett, although not enough of her.

The show-runner for the former series, Bevan Lee, started out as a writer, and it shows. He’s also done several other series, which I’m going to see if I can get. Barbara and I just looked at the “what’s new in August” for Netflix and Amazon streaming, and, unless we somehow overlooked something worthwhile, it’s a vast wasteland.

Barbara is finally pretty happy with the state of the house, but is making up a list of other stuff we need to do. We have lots of science kit stuff on the schedule for August, of course, but she also wants to get the LTS food that’s still sitting around in boxes and bags–about 250 pounds of it–repackaged and stowed away down in the LTS food room.

We’re eating now mostly from the garden and LTS foods. Last night, we had ham steak with green beans and bacon and fresh cornbread. We also made up a batch of oatmeal cookies for a snack.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

08:49 – It was 65.4F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0650, bright and sunny. The peak of summer has definitely passed here. Our highs have been and are to be in the 70’s F (low to mid-20’s C), with lows now dropping into the 50’s F (low teens C).

More kit stuff today. We’re getting perilously low on two or three of the kits, so we’ll be building subassemblies and finished kits today and for the rest of this week.

I’ve been exchanging email with Rebecca Ann Parrish, whose articles on The Prepper Journal I’ve recommended. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn she’s a scientist and a technical writer. I encouraged her to self-publish a book with her combined articles and other writings, but that’s not a project she’s ready to take on at the moment.


Email from a long-time reader, with a question I figured I’d throw open for discussion here:

Big fan of your blog – thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences. Makes me think, see if there is applicability in my plans, and research research research…

Anyway, I have been thinking of alternative sources of light for the house during emergencies. Have a small generator and small solar kit, but would like something else and thought of oil lamps. Which I have zero experience with even with growing up in central Florida and several hurricanes. Do you have any recommendations for oil? Or any “don’t do this” or “don’t buy this” experiences you would share? I am thinking of maybe six small lamps, couple of dozen wick replacements, and maybe 20-30 gallons of oil. With two teenagers and a wife that are jumpy in storms, having light has really helped in the past when electricity was out.

Again, really enjoy the blog and thank you for sharing!

We have two oil lamps, purchased probably 25 years ago from LL Bean, and a gallon of lamp oil. I think we also have a package of spare wicks for them. We haven’t used them in a long time, and perhaps never. I don’t remember ever lighting them.

For emergency lighting, we have several small AA Coleman LED lanterns for task lighting, a couple of larger D LED lanterns for area lighting, a bunch of LED flashlights, and two or three LED headlamps. And a bunch of alkaline and Eneloop NiMH cells to keep them going.

My issue with oil lamps, other than the fact that they don’t provide much light, is that it’s a really bad idea to use open flame lamps, particularly in an emergency. It’s certainly cheaper to store lamp oil than batteries, but for both safety and light level I think you’re better off focusing on LED lighting and some means to recharge NiMH cells to keep them going.

That said, I know many preppers who do exactly what you described. Some of them keep multiple 5-gallon jerry cans of lamp oil, and in a pinch you can burn fuel oil, diesel, or any kerosene in those lamps, at the expense of going through wicks a lot faster.

But I’ll be interested in hearing what my readers have to say about this.


09:13 – Oh, yeah, speaking of making up chemicals, for most of them it’s no big deal. It involves only careful weighing and measuring.

But there are some reagents I despise making up, and put off doing as long as possible. Working with concentrated acetic acid or hydrochloric acid, for example, is obnoxious because of the fumes.

But my least favorite is Kastle-Meyer reagent, which is a presumptive test for blood that’s included in our forensic kits. It has no odor. The issue is that it’s a solution of 2% phenolphthalein in 20% w/v potassium or sodium hydroxide solution, which needs to be refluxed (simmered) over metallic zinc for an hour or so to reduce the bright magenta phenolphthalein to colorless phenolphthalin (note “ein” versus “in”).

A 5-liter flask of boiling lye solution is a fearsome thing, so I avoid it as long as possible. A couple of weeks ago, I started to make up the KM reagent. I got as far as dissolving the hydroxide in water and adding the phenolphthalein powder.

Then I got to thinking. If it takes 30 to 60 minutes to reduce the phenolphthalein at boiling, what would happen if I just let it sit at room temperature for several days or more. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I just stoppered the flask and let it sit. Every couple of days, I look to see if it’s any less intense magenta than it had been. When I checked yesterday, the magenta had faded significantly. Now the solution is yellowish with a slight magenta tint.

So I think I’ll let it sit another day or three to see if it will reduce to colorless. If not, I’ll stick it on a hot plate and warm it up for a while. But this appears to be working, and lets me avoid having a large flask of concentrated lye solution boiling away. And that really is no joke. Boiling concentrated lye solution literally dissolves glass. I always worried when I was refluxing a batch that the flask would suddenly shatter, splashing boiling lye all over the place. This room temperature process really is a lot safer.

Friday, 28 July 2017

08:13 – It was 68.9F (20.5C) when I took Colin out at 0700, bright and sunny. Barbara is due back from Winston around lunch time, with the loot from her Costco run. Colin and I did have PB&J sandwiches for dinner last night, although we were unable to find any wild women and parties, as usual.

With Barbara away, Colin and I spent the evening re-watching classic movies that Barbara refuses to watch. First up was The Thing from Another World (1951), starring the delightful Margaret Sheridan, who alas died young. That movie gets my vote as the second-best movie of any genre that was made in the 1950’s. (The best, of course, was Invasion of the Body Snatchers.) Second up was Tarantula, with Leo G. Carroll.

Colin liked the first one better. Giant carnivorous vegetables don’t bother him, even though this one ate dogs, but he doesn’t like giant spiders that stomp on automobiles.

The US21 Road Market, AKA the 100-mile yard sale, starts today and runs through Sunday. Actually, it’s longer than 100 miles. It nominally runs from Harmony, North Carolina to Wytheville, Virginia, which is about 90 miles, but in reality it continues south of Harmony. There’ll be tents, tables, and stalls set up the full length of the road, probably several hundred of them, most in clusters.

Last year, Barbara and I bought a 30-year-old TroyBilt 7HP rototiller, made in the US back when TroyBilt was till a top-notch product. We spent $50 having the B&S engine torn down and rebuilt, and it’s as good as new. This afternoon, we’ll probably head over to the nearest cluster and see what’s on offer. That’s within easy walking distance, in the parking lot across from Grace’s house.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

09:14 – It was 68.1F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0700, bright and sunny. Barbara left at 0830 to head for Winston. She’ll run errands today, stay with Frances and Al tonight, and then head back tomorrow, making a Costco run on the way home. For Colin and me, it’s wild women and parties, as usual. And PB&J sandwiches for dinner, as usual.

From toilet paper to bottle management. Like most American households, we buy a lot of things in disposable PET bottles. Unlike most households, we don’t discard them. (I count throwing them in a recycling bin as discarding.) The only PET bottles I ever discard are those that are hopelessly stained by spaghetti sauce, and I discard almost no glass bottles that come with reusable tops.

Many preppers save 1-, 2-, and 3-liter soft drink bottles. (Not the cheap, thin water bottles; soft drink bottles only.) In fact, many preppers have all their friends and neighbors save soft drink bottles for them.

They’re easy to wash/sanitize. Just dunk them in sudsy water and invert them to drain. You don’t even need to rinse them afterwards. In fact, doing that makes them dry much more slowly than if you just let the sudsy water drain completely. The leftover dish detergent in them totals something in the picograms per bottle. It’s immaterial.

The 1- and 2-liter bottles are useful for bulk LTS storage, hampered only by their narrow mouths, which make it difficult to transfer “fluffy” stuff like white flour to them. (The 3-liter bottles have a wider mouth, and can be filled easily by using the top half of a 2-liter bottle as a funnel.) We use the 1-liter bottles for things we store or use in smaller amounts–repackaged table salt, herbs and spices, baking powder, etc. The 3-liter versions are now much less common because they don’t fit on most refrigerator doors, but we have 50 or so of those that are 20 years old or more. We use and re-use them for flour and other bulk grains. If you find a source for 3-liter bottles, grab as many as you can.

Barbara drinks a lot of Tropicana orange juice, which we buy in the 1.75-liter screw-top bottles (rather than the snap-top pitcher bottles). Frances and Al also buy juice in those bottles, which they save for us. Full to the top, the 1.75-liter bottles hold right at half a gallon, which is a useful amount. In fact, I just filled two of them earlier this week with hulled sesame seeds. Each holds right at 1 kilo, or 2 pounds, 3.3 ounces of the sesame seeds. (Interestingly, the 5-pound bag of sesame seeds I ordered from Walmart had no best-by date anywhere on the packaging.)

Then there are the 1-gallon PET bottles that Costco sells its store-brand water in. Empty, these are excellent LTS food storage containers. They hold roughly 7 pounds of bulk foods like rice, flour, sugar, etc., so you need only 7 or 8 of them to repackage a 50-pound bag of staples. Their mouths are noticeably wider than a 2-liter bottle; a 2-liter bottle funnel is almost-but-not-quite-a-slip-fit, which still makes it a lot less messy to transfer bulk dry foods into them. And, to top it off, the Costco labels are easy to remove and leave no sticky residue.

We’ve been buying Costco bottled water for 10 or 15 years, originally in the 40-packs of 500-mL bottles, then starting a couple of years ago in 1-gallon bottles, once they started carrying them, and most recently in the little 8-ounce (237 mL) pocket-size bottles. Barbara drinks tap water most of the time, but bottled water sometimes. I’m going to encourage her to start refilling the smaller bottles from 1-gallon bottles rather than putting all those little bottles in the landfill. That’ll also give us an ongoing supply of the useful 1-gallon bottles.


Email from Sarah, whom I hadn’t heard from since late April. She and her husband, Peter, are in their late 20’s and were relocating from a big-city apartment to a house on ten acres in a rural area of SW Virginia, three hours or so west of us.

They closed on their new house on May 1st, and have spent the last three months getting settled in to the new house and their new jobs. They still have boxes stacked and awaiting unpacking, but otherwise they’re hitting on all cylinders.

One of the first things they did was drive to the LDS Home Storage Center in Knoxville and haul home 50 cases of #10 cans of bulk LTS food, as well as a bunch of supplemental stuff from Costco. They had so little spare time that they decided to pay the higher price at the LDS HSC rather than spend time they didn’t have repackaging bulk food themselves.

They got a late start on it, but they have a garden in that’s starting to produce. It’s mainly experimental, to see what works and what doesn’t in their new environment. In his copious spare time, Peter is building a chicken coop and rabbit hutch. They have ten acres, about evenly split between fields and a wood lot, so they’ve purchased a small, elderly used tractor to work it. They’ve also bought and installed a wood stove and a supply of firewood, which is sufficient for their basic cooking/baking and heating needs.

They opted not to buy a generator because it’s a temporary and unsustainable solution. Instead, they bought 800W of solar panels and the other components necessary to build a solar electricity setup adequate to provide their basic power needs, although that stuff remains stacked until they have time to get to it.

Sarah has also dipped her toe in the water with pressure-canning. She ordered a canner and other supplies and has started canning vegetables and meats that she buys on-sale locally. She’d never canned anything in her life, but their nearest neighbors are a middle-aged couple and the wife is showing Sarah the ropes.

Overall, they’re both happy with their progress to date, although much remains to be done. They’re delighted with their new home and their new community. Like most people who move from an urban area to a rural one, they’re impressed by how friendly and helpful everyone is.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

08:31 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0630, dim and overcast. Barbara is going to the gym this morning. This afternoon, she needs to get ready for a trip down to Winston. She’ll leave early tomorrow, run errands during the day, stay with Frances and Al tomorrow night, and then head back Friday, making a Costco run on the way home. For Colin and me, it’s wild women and parties, as usual. And PB&J sandwiches for dinner, as usual.

More science kit stuff today. More bottles to be labeled and/or filled. I ordered more bottles yesterday, two cases of the 15 mL plastic and one of the 30 mL amber glass. Those are to arrive tomorrow. While Barbara’s gone I’ll make up another half dozen or so solutions for SKUs we’re running short of.

We finished watching War & Peace (2016) last night. I turned to Barbara and said, “This really is a Russian comedy. At the end, everyone dies.” She said I’d read her mind, because she was just thinking exactly the same thing. So now we’re watching A Place to Call Home, which is much more peaceful, excepting the flashbacks to Nazi Germany during the war.


My case of Angel Soft toilet paper arrived from Walmart yesterday. As it turns out, it’s not much of a deal. One roll of Costco Signature TP weighs 202 grams gross (196.5 g net of the 5.5 g cardboard core). One roll of Angel Soft weighs 112 g gross. I didn’t weigh its cardboard core, but assuming it’s close to the same as the Costco core, that’s 106.5 g net. IOW, the Angel Soft roll weighs about 54% of the Costco roll.

Walmart sells the Angel Soft case of 36 for $15.97, so on that basis the Costco stuff would be a wash cost-wise at ($15.97 / 36 / .54) = $0.82+ per roll. In fact, the Costco stuff costs $0.73+ per roll, shipped. That’s normal price. On-sale it’s less, and still less in the store.

Of course, 9 cents a roll isn’t much difference, even if you’re buying several hundred rolls. What is a big deal is that a “roll” of the Angel Soft weighs about half what a roll of the Costco stuff does, so you’re going to need about twice as many rolls. IOW, if you figure you need 250 rolls of the Costco TP in your LTS, you’d better figure about 463 rolls of the Angel Soft. I just entered the 36 rolls of Angel Soft into our LTS inventory, but I recorded it as only 18 rolls for just that reason.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

09:17 – It was 69.8F (21C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy. Barbara has some work to do in the garden this morning, and is volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore this afternoon. Our dinners the last couple of evenings have been mostly from the garden: potatoes, green beans, and yellow squash casserole. Knowing I like meat, Barbara grilled a couple of pork chops Sunday evening for me to have Sunday and yesterday along with the rabbit food.

We’ve been watching the 2008 BBC version of War & Peace. Lots of cuties, a good dress once in a while, so I’m happy. The plot has something to do with Russia and Napoleon, but I’m not really paying much attention to that part. We also have the Aussie series A Place to Call Home in progress, with the extraordinary Marta Dusseldorp, as well as Dalziel & Pascoe, with the extraordinary Susannah Corbett.

As I remarked to Barbara, I’d be pretty happy watching just historical costume dramas and documentaries, with no contemporary series other than Heartland and one or two others. I think she feels pretty much the same way.

We got a lot of chemical bottles filled yesterday. Today, I’ll be making up still more chemical solutions. While I’m at it, I need to order a few thousand more bottles. We’re down to only a few hundred of the 15 mL bottles left in stock, and we use a lot of them.

Kathy’s comment yesterday about how little the bulk food/calories cost them got me to thinking, so I calculated just how much they did spend on their dry bulk LTS stuff.

~ $100 – 400 pounds of white flour
~ $120 – 400 pounds of white rice
~ $360 – 400 pounds of assorted pasta
~ $140 – 300 pounds of white sugar
~ $100 – 120 pounds of oats
~ $ 50 – 80 pounds of cornmeal
~ $ 80 – 100 pounds of assorted dry beans
~ $ 18 – 48 pounds of iodized salt
~ $ 70 – 18 gallons of vegetable oil and shortening
~ $180 – 24 large jars of herbs and spices

or roughly $1,200 for enough food—literally a ton, at an average of about $0.60/pound—to feed four people for one year on iron rations. That’s about 500 pounds of food and $300 per year per person. The only additional cost, other than their time, was about $150 for LDS foil-laminate Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

Of course, they actually spent about five times that much, but most of that was on canned foods, particularly meats. (If not for the meat as supplemental protein, they’d have needed a lot more beans to provide complete protein, probably 250 pounds rather than 100.)

Monday, 24 July 2017

09:06 – It was 68.0F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0730, cloudy and breezy. We had a strong thunderstorm roll in about midnight, with loud thunder and bright lightning. Colin was terrified and started climbing all over us, begging us to make it stop. We ended up getting about 1.2″ (3 cm) of rain.

We got a lot of chemical bottles filled yesterday. More today. Barbara is off to the gym this morning. While she’s gone I’ll make up more chemicals, a gallon (4 L) each of salicylate standard solution, 1.0 M stabilized sodium thiosulfate solution, 6 M hydrochloric acid solution, etc. etc. With the dozen or so other solutions I’ve made up over the last couple of days, that gives us plenty of bottles to fill.

Email from Kathy overnight, who says Phase I of their prepping is now complete, other than a few items that are still on order and haven’t arrived and the installation of their propane tank and appliances. That happens this week. They’re taking a break from buying/stacking stuff, and intend to start actually using it. The first step was last night, when they made beef Stroganoff all from LTS storage. She said it turned out very good.

Their intention now is to start cooking and baking at least several days a week from LTS, with minimal use of fresh foods until they find recipes they like that they can make from LTS food. Going forward, they’ll periodically replace what they’ve used and continue to expand on what they have until they’ve filled their storage space. She and Mike were both impressed by just how little the bulk food/calories cost them, so they’ll focus their expansion efforts on the cheap LTS bulk stuff so that they’ll have extra on hand to help friends and neighbors if it ever comes to that.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

09:15 – It was 72.5F (22.5C) when I took Colin out at 0645. More heads-down work on science kits today.

I’m very disappointed in the Netflix DVD service, which has become pretty much worthless. We were members for about a decade, ending in 2012. I kept a log of everything, including the date the shipped us a disc, when we received it, when we sent it back, when they received it, and when they shipped the replacement disc. Back then, Netflix operated seven days a week, and the USPS also worked with them every day of the week.

When Netflix got a disc back from us, they’d immediately ship the replacement disc, which would arrive the next day. We’d watch it and return it the following day. They’d receive it late that night or early the following morning, and immediately ship the replacement disc.

They no longer work that way. I signed up for the 2-discs-at-a-time plan at 0928 last Monday morning, the 17th, expecting them to ship the first two discs that afternoon. Instead, they didn’t ship them until 1350 the following day, Tuesday the 18th. We received them Wednesday morning, the 19th, watched them, and returned them Thursday morning the 20th. They emailed to acknowledge receipt at 1242 on Friday the 21st. I expected them to send the next two discs that afternoon, which we’d receive Saturday the 22nd. Nope. Not only didn’t they ship the replacement discs Friday afternoon, they STILL haven’t shipped them. So, assuming they get around to shipping them tomorrow, that means their cycle is about one set per week, or roughly 10 discs/month. At $12/month, that’s $1.20 per disc rental charge.

So I won’t be continuing the service once the free 30-day trial expires. In fact, I may just cancel it immediately. Until 2012, we had the 3-disc plan. It cost $15/month for 3 discs versus $12/month now for 2 discs. Looking at the 1,500 or so discs we rented over a decade, back then it was costing about $0.70/disc, so they’ve basically increased their prices by more than 70%.

I understand that Netflix would be operating at a loss without disc rental revenue. And they have only four million or so people on disc rental plans, a number that’s dropping fast. I don’t expect the service to last more than three or four more years before it loses critical mass. Oh, well. They just lost me.


Email from Kathy. They got a lot done Friday, working straight through. They got all of their bulk rice, oats, beans, and sugar packed in foil-laminate Mylar bags, sealed, labeled, and put on the shelves. More than a half a ton worth in total. They got partway through the flour and other bulk staples.

Mike got the second island shelf unit finished earlier in the week, and got all of the canned goods, herbs/spices, etc. moved onto the shelves, with the latest best-by dates toward the rear and bottom. Kathy was about 95% happy with how he’d done it, but made a few adjustments. She’s in charge of LTS food and cooking, so she needs things where she wants them and where she knows where they are.

Mike got the propane tank on order. It’s supposed to be installed and the lines run next week. They ended up with a 330-gallon tank like the one we have. Mike also ordered a propane space heater from the same company that’s installing the tank and lines. They didn’t carry cooktops. The propane gas cooktop is on order from Lowes, and is supposed to be delivered next week. Coincidentally, they ended up ordering exactly the same model we have other than color.

Mike got the upper and base cabinets and laminate countertop at the local building supply store, which delivered them. He’s installing those himself. Kathy talked with the Prepper Girls about pressure canning. She dithered about ordering a <$100 Presto pressure canner like the one we and several of the Prepper Girls use versus a $350 All-American unit. They talked it over and decided to order the All-American. She also has a bunch of canning jars on order with Walmart, as well as canning accessories.

She almost ordered a gross of wide-mouth reusable Tattler lids, but chickened out at the last moment. She (and several of the Prepper Girls) are concerned about them making good seals. Most reviewers give them glowing reviews, but more than a few report failures to seal, either during the canning process or weeks to months afterward. And some of those are people who have 20 or more years of canning experience.

So Kathy is debating with herself about ordering enough of those to match the number of canning jars she has, with a few spares, versus just ordering half a dozen one-use lids for each jar. The upside of the Tattler lids is that if she can get 10 uses from each, it’ll cost about half what it would to use reusable lids. The downside is that she’s afraid they might not work reliably.

Kathy also has a new Nesco dehydrator. She thought about buying an Excalibur, but decided the Nesco would do the same job at a third the price. So she picked up a Nesco on their shopping trip yesterday. They decided they didn’t need to make the 3-hour round trip run to Sam’s Club so instead they made the 90-minute round trip to the Walmart Super Center where they usually shop a couple times a month.

She decided to try out the dehydrator with some strawberries they picked up on the same trip. So after dinner yesterday she spent some time prepping and slicing the strawberries and loading up the trays to dry them overnight. One thing she hadn’t thought about is that their whole house now smells pleasantly of strawberries. She said she’d glad she didn’t decide to start by drying garlic. If she does stuff that smells bad, she plans to do it outside.

When they got up this morning, the strawberries were dry enough that they crumbled to powder. She made the mistake of letting Mike sample one, which he munched dry. He says they make a great snack. Kathy’s afraid she won’t have any left to store.

 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

10:17 – It was 70F (21C) when I took Colin out at 0630. The days are starting to get shorter. The sun was an orange ball, not fully up over the horizon.

Heads-down work on science kits today. We have thousands of bottles to be labeled and filled, so that’s what we’ll be doing for the next month or more.

We started watching two new-to-us series on Netflix DVD, the Australian series A Place to Call Home, and The Brokenwood Mysteries from New Zealand.

We both really like A Place to Call Home, which stars the formidable Marta Dusseldorp. I don’t know if it’s just the character or the actress’s actual personality, but if she told me to jump, on the way up I’d ask “how high?” Don’t get me wrong. She’s a very attractive young woman, just not one I’d ever cross. The series itself is excellent, and we have all of the discs in our queue.

The Brokenwood Mysteries is a pretty run-of-the-mill police procedural, but Barbara likes it enough that we’ll keep getting the discs. We’ve watched a couple of NZ series before, but we’d both forgotten the extremely odd NZ accent. They pronounce short e’s the way most English speakers pronounce long e’s. For example, one of the characters was referring to a bunch of letters, which both she and the lead pronounced exactly the way we’d pronounce “liters”. It’s distracting at first, but we quickly get used to it.