Day: July 19, 2017

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

08:45 – It was 68F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0700, sunny and clear.

I got a bunch of solutions made up yesterday for science kits. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be labeling and filling bottles–thousands of them–making up chemical bags, small parts bags and other subassemblies, and building finished kits. As usual this time of year, we’ll be hard-pressed finding places to stack the finished goods inventory.

Email overnight from long-time reader Paul Robichaux, with the subject line “You knew it all along I guess”, and a link to this article about the myth of drug expiration dates.

Yeah, I knew it all along, or at least back to the 70’s, when I did activity tests on long-expired antibiotics, many of them dating back 25 years or more, and found that all were at least 75% as potent as they’d been originally and in most cases close to 100%. And these had been stored at room temperature and in some cases without any climate control in barns and so forth. Most of them were agricultural antibiotics, including penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and so on, although some were capsules or tablets intended for human use. Obviously, I could do no safety testing, but there was no reason to believe any of the drugs had degraded at all, let alone become unsafe.

I store our own stocks of antibiotics and other drugs in the freezer, which should quadruple or even octuple their real shelf-lives. In other words, they should be as good literally 100 years from now as they are today.

Red flag to a bull. I spotted this article yesterday, which claims that there are two correct solutions to this math puzzle, but only one in a thousand people will figure out both solutions. I assumed it’d take me about 15 seconds to get both. I was wrong. It took me 22 seconds. The problem was, there are not just two correct answers, but at least three. I say at least, because after getting three correct answers in 22 seconds, I stopped working on it. There are likely more correct answers, depending on how deeply you want to look for patterns.

Interestingly, I came up with the third solution–the one they don’t know about–first, the “difficult” solution second, and their “easy” solution third. (Hint: those solutions are, in that order, 52, 96, and 40.)

More email from Kathy. She works a normal year-round job, but as a teacher Mike gets summers off. After he finishes the second shelf-island, he intended to go to work on repackaging. Kathy asked him not to do that, because (a) she thinks it’ll go better with two people working on it–and she’s right about that, as we know from experience–and (b) she wants the experience of repackaging. She didn’t say so, but my guess is that (c) as would be many wives, she’s afraid he’ll somehow screw it up, or make a big mess, or something.

So they’ve agreed that he’ll instead devote time this week to getting all of the canned/bottled supplies unpacked and arranged on the shelves with the latest best-by dates toward the back, and those shelves labeled with sections for canned meats, soups, sauces, condiments, vegetables, fruits, cooking/baking essentials, herbs/spices, etc. etc. Mike intentionally left a fair amount of space on the island shelving units between the top shelves and the ceiling. He used 6-foot vertical posts, so they have a top shelf on each unit that’s about two feet from the ceiling. That space will be devoted to toilet paper, paper towels, and similar light but bulky items.

As it turns out, Mike isn’t yet finished building stuff in the basement. Kathy is now exchanging email with Jen, Brittany, Cassie, Jessica, Lisa, et alia. To make a long story short, to Mike’s surprise Kathy has decided she’s going to learn to pressure-can. She told him she wanted a heavy-duty built-in table on the wall next to the basement sink, on the other side of the washer-drier. Mike pointed out that she’d never pressure-canned anything in her life, but she pointed out that she now knew lots of women who did, and anyway she’s signed up for a pressure-canning course at the local ag extension office.

Mike pointed out that there’s no range/cooktop in the basement. No problem, Kathy said. She’d use a hot plate or two. That ain’t gonna work, Mike pointed out. You’ll need 220/240VAC to get enough watts/BTU’s to do pressure canning. So we’ll install a second-hand or inexpensive new electric cooktop, Kathy suggested. No room in the breaker panel for another 220/240VAC breaker, says Mike.

Not one to be beaten–something she has in common with Jen and the rest–Kathy then announced that in that case even though it’d cost more she wanted to install a propane cooktop and a large propane tank. That would not only be an excellent solution for pressure-canning, but would give them a completely off-grid solution for cooking and baking. Having been married for quite a few years, Mike knew he was beaten. So he suggested that rather than have him cobble together a working surface that he visit the local building supply store and pick up two or three inexpensive base cabinets, maybe a couple of upper cabinets, a laminate countertop, and a propane-capable gas cook top.

He’ll also call the local propane supplier and order a large propane tank to be installed as soon as possible, with lines run for the cooktop, a space heater, and one terminating near the rear basement door for a tri-fuel generator that they don’t have yet. In consultation with the Prepper Girls, Kathy will take care of ordering a pressure canner and canning supplies, jars, lids, etc. She also asked Mike about buying a dehydrator. As any husband who’s not a complete newbie would in that situation, he replied, “Why not?”

Kathy also mentioned something interesting that she hadn’t told me before. She gets three weeks of vacation, which she normally takes as one week over Christmas and two weeks in the summer, when they normally go on a vacation trip. This year, they decided to skip the vacation trip and devote the significant money that would have cost them to buying LTS food and other prepping supplies. They also cut way back on their monthly cable TV bill and signed up for Netflix streaming to replace the big cable TV package. The upshot is that they’ll be spending more than $100/month less on TV, all of which goes to buying prepping supplies. They have a couple of financially major projects in mind–including a small off-grid solar setup–and need to do a bunch of filling out on various categories including medical supplies, ammunition and perhaps another couple of gubs.

They’re both happy with their new, less expensive entertainment options. They already had Prime streaming, and with Netflix streaming added they are in great shape for stuff to watch. Mike is suffering sports withdrawal, but says he’ll get over it. No word from their kids.

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