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.

97 thoughts on “Thursday, 27 July 2017”

  1. RE: They opted not to buy a generator because it’s a temporary and unsustainable solution

    I disagree with the logic of this but to each their own. My thinking is that temporary power outages (hours / days) are much much more likely than a SHTF years long outage scenario. The need for having killowats, not just hundreds of watts of power, available to keep the household running is much more likely. In my own, storm caused power down situation this year, my generator was able to save 2 freezers and a fridge full of food as well as keep the house habitable for almost a week. It more than paid for itself in that one incident. In addition, my generator is portable so I can take it where power is needed or in a bug-out situation. I plan to build a solar system when we move to our retirement home but my dual-fuel generator is here today and will be moving with me. Now they may have other considerations that make a generator unattractive but the logic given just doesn’t work for me.

  2. My MIL also buys those Costco gallons of water. She has one of those counter top crocks with a stand and spigot that she fills from them. Also a long thin container with a spigot in the fridge(her fridge, while a recent model, is a bottom freezer and does not have in door ice and water). Makes refilling small water bottles very handy.
    I have an under sink water filter with a lever operated dispenser and the fridge with ice and water in door also hooked to it. Also good for refilling bottles.

  3. 65 w/light rain showers and drizzle and overcast. Back from the meeting with the Department of Labor “Disabled Veterans Outreach Representative,” as it turned out. She had a pile of info for me, most of which I already knew or had, but I discovered that she and her husband (a guy; I feel I should make that clear from now on WRT to these things) are both combat vets from the recent clusterfucks. Husband was career Army and now retired and according to her, pretty much in-crisis and only recently getting the help he needs and some improvement. She also has major issues and has only been in the gig for a few months. I invited them both to our little Thursday get-togethers down in Burlap, since she usually works outta downtown Burlap anyway. Good to get more youngsters in there; the rest of us will be dead soon enough.

    Got to do a little walking tour of the new state office building over in the “city” and the surrounding streets; like so much else in Vermont, the new landscaped block is kinda nice and then you look uphill at the back of some Main Street apartments and restaurants and you could be in Brazil or Brazzaville. It was also a trial for the old man here, humping around uphill and downhill and wondering how long before I’ll need a cane, then a wheelchair. Shit. Former high jumper and middle distance runner, football team end and 3rd-string QB.

    Tempus fucking fugit.

    Off shortly to that aforementioned combat vets support group in beeyooteeful Burlap and then back here to continue office and laundry area reconfigs and paperwork stuff.

    I guess I may be able to mow the back yard tomorrow, when we’re predicted to have sun and blue skies through Monday. Wife and MIL will be winding their way up twelve hours to the cottage in northern Noveau Brunswick. And I’ll be back to talking to the cats and dawg and myself, per usual.

  4. ” but the logic given just doesn’t work for me.”

    Nor for me. I only need to run the gennie infrequently, but when you want it, you REALLY want it. A ‘good enough’ solution now is much better than a[n im]perfect solution later. Gennie plus gas plus extension cords equals power right now and as long as you’ve got gas. [and even beyond with a wood gasifier]

    The cost is low, the solution is compact, there is next to zero learning curve, and you can continue your ‘normal’ living arrangement.

    Forex- during Ike, we were without city power for 14 days. Other than not having central AC, we hardly noticed. Get up, fuel the gennie, start up. Coffee in the normal coffee maker, microwave food, or waffles from the electric maker (and coleman stove for cooking eggs and bacon as my small gennie wouldn’t run the electric range.) Cool down the fridge and freezer, not worrying about opening the doors to get out the day’s food. Run the window AC unit (brought out of storage for the duration). During the day, cable tv, internet, and charging of electronics, along with running the clothes washing machine.

    At dark, the gennie gets turned off, lighting switches to battery lanterns, and handheld electronics for entertainment. Bed time.

    My small gennie runs 13 hours on five gallons of fuel, so we were using 3-5 gallons a day (depending on load). I had about 35 gallons stored, and I took a couple of empties with me as I moved around the city. If there was a gas station open and no line, I filled up. Never needed to wait in line, or get stressed about finding gas.

    The local or regional disaster, of limited and temporary nature, is much more likely than TEOTWAWKI and a gennie is a good fit for that.


  5. I agree with Mr. Harold on the utility of having a generator or two ready to go, but also a good idea to work out another alternative means of power at one’s chosen location, if possible. We may be able to do minimal solar here, but that’s about it. A generator will get us through short-term hassles and after that, and the fuel runs out or can’t be delivered anymore, we’ll be back to circa 1900 in northern New England. And in our last decade/s, but people did it before up here and we’ll just have to cowboy up and give it a shot, if things get a lot worse.

  6. “because it’s a temporary and unsustainable solution. ”

    Don’t let ‘greenie’ philosophic choices interfere with your ability to survive. I’m not big on killing people, but will do so to protect my life and my family. If Momma Gaia gets a little extra hydrocarbon waste products in her lungs during a limited emergency, it’s absolutely imperceptible compared to what’s released by a burning building or even one burning tire.

    I GUARAN-DAMN-TEE there will be burning cars and structures in any disaster.

    Besides that, a portable gennie is a force multiplier for any work on the old homestead. Whether it’s running power saws, compressors for nail guns, pumps, or just temporary site lighting, contractors the world over have proved the utility and usefulness of a portable gas generator.


    added- survival is about mindset. I’m not suggesting someone be ready to become a warlord, but you are going to have to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Key to survival seems to be rapidly accepting the new normal, and working within the new reality. From being willing to shoot looters, to crapping in a bucket or using a ‘moon cup’ and eating whatever is available, you life is different during a disaster. During any large disruption it will be even MORE different.

    We prep to keep those differences minor, to minimize the changes we need to make, and to cushion the transition to something very different.

  7. I actually had the same thought about the generator. I don’t think they’ve ruled out buying a generator, but simply decided that the solar installation needed to be there if things got really bad.

    They both have good incomes (he an MD, she an RN), but even so. They’re in their late 20’s, probably still paying off student loans, have just bought a house, and have spent a lot of money on stocking up both gear and supplies. They both seem responsible about money, so my guess is that the generator is just too far down their priority list to be funded immediately.

    And, although the solar stuff is useless until they unbox it and get it set up, 800W of solar panels should produce maybe 3 to 4 kW-hrs per day on average. That’s sufficient to run their well pump and run a freezer for a couple hours a day. They have a starter set of batteries, and intend to add more, as well as more panels. They also intend to buy a spare inverter and other gear as they can. They’re setting up a 240V system, mainly because they have a 240V well pump.

  8. Email from Sarah, whom I hadn’t heard from since late April.

    If Sarah is the wife of the new doctor, I recommend becoming thoroughly familiar with her husband’s paystubs, the compensation system at the group/partnership, and the meaning of every number associated with the checks, plus or minus.

    As the man said, “Trust, but verify.”

  9. They both seem like very smart people, so I wouldn’t expect much to get by them.

  10. “so I wouldn’t expect much to get by them.”

    I wouldn’t expect someone who wasn’t educated in the business side to know what to look for. Especially if there is ‘discretion’ involved on the part of the group practice. Maybe (for example) most of their new docs see patients on the ‘short visit’ schedule, but the group bills for ‘medium office visits’ but only pays the doc for ‘short’ visits. Doc doesn’t know any better as they told him he was doing ‘short’ visits, and he is.

    Maybe there are other assumptions about hours or expenses or mileage, or any of a dozen things, that are built in to the system but not applicable. Maybe there are benefits (like miles reimbursed) that he doesn’t even know to ask about…

    For that matter, my understanding is that your medical coder can make or break you, as what gets paid without a fight, and whether some service is legitimately a higher cost or lower cost billable can be subject to interpretation.

    My BIL is a Dr and running the office and billing (so you actually make money at the business) is FAR different from being a smart doctor and uses different knowledge and training.


  11. Of course it is. I’ll mention it to Sarah, although she’ll probably read this anyway, but as I said not a lot gets by either of them.

  12. To change the subject, I’m making up chemicals today. I just hauled a bunch of finished stuff down to the lab/work area and hauled up more chemicals to make up more solutions.

    While I was down there, I remembered to visit the food room to grab a pack of oxygen absorbers. I’ve always ordered OAs from LDS on-line, and they’ve always been 300 cc packets. I happened to notice that these new ones were labeled “1500 mL”, which struck me as odd. They’re about the same size as the 300 cc ones. Then I noticed that over the 1500 mL line, the label said “air volume”.

    So in fact they are the same, because 1500 mL of air contains about 300 cc of oxygen. But it’s something to be aware of.

  13. And PB&J sandwiches for dinner, as usual.

    Is Sparta the only town in the USA without a Subway ™ ?

  14. “Is Sparta the only town in the USA without a Subway ™ ?”

    We have a Subway, along with a Burger King, a Hardees, and numerous family-owned restaurants. What we don’t have is anyone who delivers, and I’m sure not going to leave the house just to get some food. I hate leaving the house.

    Since we moved up here 19 months ago, I’ve probably driven less than 20 miles total. Barbara takes the Trooper out once a week or so just so that it gets started and driven.

  15. Is Sparta the only town in the USA without a Subway

    No, but Waze shows it as being next to the Food Lion … hawk spit.

  16. Every subway sandwich, no matter how many different toppings, always tastes exactly the same (cardboard with italian dressing). And I don’t like it. Also, I think they are scamming when they cut the top bun smaller so it looks like there is more meat. Corp scam from inception.


  17. We have a Subway, along with a Burger King, a Hardees, and numerous family-owned restaurants. What we don’t have is anyone who delivers, and I’m sure not going to leave the house just to get some food. I hate leaving the house.

    When I was at training at The Big Nerd Ranch in rural GA in 2008, the food got weird for a few days, and, with the alternatives being starvation or a two mile hike to a restaurant literally called “Eats”, a couple of students had meals overnighted in to the training facility.

    Dominos didn’t deliver, but Fedex did!

    Fortunately, with the first Fedex delivery, the Ranch’s staff got the hint about the food.

  18. _Hornet’s Nest: A Post Apocalyptic EMP Survival Fiction Series (The Blackout Series) (Volume 5) _ by Bobby Akart

    Book number five of a six book apocalyptic CME (coronal mass ejection) series. I read the POD (print on demand) trade paperback. I am now reading the sixth book in the series (probably the last book in the series as the author has moved on to a global pandemic series). These are quick read books in a comfortable format with 50 pages addendums on EMP and CME events. And prepping.

    The Rymans are welcomed at Shiloh Ranch by their friends and start helping out in the post apocalyptic world. But the county sheriff and his band of formerly jailed deputies are bound and determined to take over the ranches in the county. The second battle of Shiloh ensues in the town of Savannah, Tennessee.

    The author has a website at:

    My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (130 reviews)

  19. “No, but Waze shows it as being next to the Food Lion … hawk spit.”

    That was my attitude–and Barbara’s too–about Food Lion. Unfortunately, when the Lowes Food supermarket closed in May, she had no choice but to buy groceries at Food Lion, unless she wanted to make a 60- to 90-minute round-trip drive to Elkin, Galax, or Jefferson. She decided to buy nothing fresh other than name-brand breads, meats, etc. as well as name-brand canned and packaged foods.

    She was really looking forward to the new Grant’s supermarket that opened a month or so later. Unfortunately, she’s discovered that Grant’s doesn’t carry a lot of the things she buys regularly, and their prices are noticeably higher than Lowes was and FL is. So now she actually prefers to shop at Food Lion.

    As to meat, I asked Lori last week if she sold quarter beefs. She said she had in the past, but hadn’t lately because it was just too much meat at one time. I told her then that if she ever decided to do it again to let us know and we’d be good for a quarter beef. The place that would slaughter/butcher/package it is about a quarter mile up US21 from us.

    I’m actually not sure how much a quarter beef is pound-wise, but I figure we could freeze at least 150 pounds and pressure-can the rest.

  20. The place that would slaughter/butcher/package it is about a quarter mile up US21 from us.

    My mom grew up in the Sparta suburbs and the ‘old home place’ was a dairy farm on the New River. When my uncle had a cow that stopped producing, he’d fatten her up and we’d get a side of beef. Mom would go to up to the butcher’s place and tell them which cuts she wanted and had the rest ground into hamburger. Thems was the days…

  21. We have a Subway, along with a Burger King, a Hardees, and numerous family-owned restaurants.

    Why is little Sparta so better equipped than Southaven MS? Southaven (Pop 48,982) is a bedroom community of Memphis TN. Southaven has most every kind of chain restaurants but no family-owned and operated places. We would happily support a mom & pop diner or the equivalent.

    In the 40’s there was a chain of quality restaurants in Oklahoma City called “Cattlemen’s”. One of those was located next to my grandfather’s office. In the 50’s, the Cattleman’s HQ decided to close that outlet. Because my Grandfather ate there 2 or 3 times a day, he got together with the couple that ran it, and loaned them the cash to buy the location. They opened it as “Ed & Bessie’s” and it was the BEST greasy spoon style place around. As a kid, I would follow my grandfather in the back door, through the kitchen, and sit at the counter to order a greasy eggs & bacon breakfast or a fantastic chicken fried steak supper. I don’t think we ever used the front door. As a wedding present, my grandfather gave us one free meal a week. They sadly closed down in the early 60’s when Ed passed on but that place has set my standards for mom & pop restaurants.

  22. BTW, the aforementioned author, Bobby Akart, motto is, “never underestimate the depravity of man”. And, he goes on to live it to the fullest extreme in his books with theft, forced labor, forced prostitution, and murder.

  23. We have a Subway, along with a Burger King, a Hardees, and numerous family-owned restaurants.

    I wonder if many of them are Greek-owned places, like seemingly every non-chain restaurant of every kind in Winston. With Sparta being so close, I wouldn’t be surprised if some children, nieces/nephews and cousins might have started looking further afield

  24. I asked Lori last week if she sold quarter beefs

    When we lived on 40 rural acres outside Sparks OK, we leased most of the property to a local guy who ran a few hundred head in our area. All we asked in payment was he keep the fencing in good shape and give us 1/2 a beef yearly. That may sound like a lot but we had 2 teenage boys (and their friends) and it didn’t last as long as you might think. We had the local butcher cut us a few steaks and just grind the rest.

  25. AFAIK, we don’t have any Greek restaurant owners locally. Our favorite was Brown’s Restaurant, which was owned by a local couple that had been in business for decades. They’re part of the small (<2%) population of blacks in this county, and their ancestors have been here for 200 years or more. James Bryan, our neighbor from a quarter mile down the road and the guy who cuts our grass, is also related to them.

    Another local restaurant bought out the Browns and took over their location. Unfortunately, their food isn't as good as the Browns' was. At that point, the elder Browns retired, and one of their sons with his wife opened a new restaurant out north of town. We've eaten there, and the food is good.

  26. She wanted to get the kind that you manually lift but someone here kindly mentioned this website to me. So, thanks !

    That was me. My desk is great and I use the stand feature multiple times each day. Plus, you can order just the mechanics and screw it onto an old door if you want.

  27. Amazon takes another step toward world domination:

    What is going to ruin this is gooberment regulation because people who do not have real money and internet access will not be able to use it. /whineon/That’s not fair. /whineoff/ I wonder who Bozo (Bezos) is going to pay off to get around this little problem?

    Today is National Chili Dog Day, for those of you in a quandary about what to have for dinner tonight.

  28. Bought an echo dot on Prime Day. The best, most logical place would be on the kitchen desk. That’s about six feet from McEnroe, our African grey parrot. He learns fast. Not sure if that will work.
    Alexa – 10 lbs of peanuts – next day.

  29. I think I saw a news headline about an Alexa purchase by a bird, just yesterday

  30. Did anyone see the tweet ‘transcripts’ from a few weeks back…

    Bezos: Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods.
    Alexa: Buying Whole Foods
    Bezos: Wait, that’s not what I mea… oh, nevermind.

  31. I just spent a miserable hour in NTB with an air conditioner on its last legs. There was a kid there wearing a boot on her foot. I asked her grandmother if she broke it. She said one of the Amazon Prime delivery drivers backed over her foot and drove off. She has a cracked metatarsal bone. They called Amazon to file an insurance report and Amazon offered them $10 to settle. They filed a police report and the police are now looking for the driver as that is a hit and run on a minor. Here in Texas, that is a felony. So far, Amazon is refusing to tell them who the driver was.

  32. Ask Alexa. All kidding aside, no that’s not good.
    So far Alexa is only good for playing music and setting alarms and timers.

  33. “Are these the pro-Trump “deplorables” that Cankles was demeaning?”


    Those are her voters.

    WRT Subway restaurants; we had one downtown that either I or both of us would once in a blue moon get subs from; they were OK but not great. The place seems to have closed up recently, leaving only the Subway that’s part of a gas station and convenience store mini-complex up on Router 7 near the Swanton line.

    We haven’t had a whole lotta luck with going out to eat in this AO so fah.

    Did the appointment with the Disabled Veterans Outreach Counselor for
    the State of Vermont downtown. New state office building and they have
    the street chopped up to busted rocks and no sidewalk access on that
    side. So humped an extra 50 years for nothing, limping the whole way in
    pain. Then I found the right entrance and after that she was just
    handing me web sites and papers with info I pretty much already have,
    but whatever. Got to chatting; her and her husband are both Army combat vets from the desert shitholes. Shehas issues herself, she says, and her husband is really fucked up; retired from the Army but now getting psych help finally. He’s been all over; the deserts, Korea, Germany, Colorado, etc., etc. Told her to send him down to us and that she should come, too. We’ll see if they do. So anyway I made a new contact and also passed out her info to the other guys this afternoon.

    One of our long-time young vets from the desert cesspools came in late
    and was all fucked up. Neighbor dispute ongoing and now she’s basically
    harassing him with trespass warnings via certified mail, with copies to
    the FD where he works, the PD, etc., etc. Fucking up his job and home
    life. He was having bad feelings this week and thinking of going away,
    etc., possibly homicidal. He was weepy at one point that after how hard
    he’s worked to get normal again all these years later, it’s now coming
    apart on him. We had a good long talk with him and pointed him to the
    right path and we think he got it; he was joking around later with us.
    We worry about our two other desert shitstorm vets because they’re
    fucked up pretty bad, too. One did intel and recon shit over there and
    he fucking HATES officers and he’s near rock-bottom trying to cope with
    that shit and a wife and three young kids. The other obviously got hit
    in the head with an IED explosion and he and the first guy have TBD
    injuries. Shows up once in a while and is amiable and good-natured but
    deeply sad and fucked up and way overweight.

    We got us some more damaged people from more fucking stupid wars.

    Plenty of work for me as I wrap up life on the planet, I guess.

  34. So far, Amazon is refusing to tell them who the driver was.

    Nice. Some of the delivery drivers dropping things off at our house have been creepy. Granted, Austin (say it with a shudder like Hank Hill), but you’d think that Amazon would want to project a more positive image.

  35. At least they’ve started driving white vans. They used to get out of a broken down old hooptie, shamble furtively up to the door, and dash away. Didn’t look good from a distance, and I’m frankly surprised no one got held at gunpoint.

    It’s the gig economy. Drive your own vehicle to do work for someone else. Hope your insurance covers you if there’s a problem (most won’t.)

    Ya’ll saw the link some days ago about Walmart asking employees to drop off purchases on their way home…


    (I’ll admit, there were times I was headed somewhere for a pickup that I wished for an easy way to do a delivery to offset the gas and time. Doesn’t make sense for me to drive empty to Austin or San Antonio in a pickup truck, if I could take a couple of boxes and make $50.)

  36. New history podcast, for anyone interested (-cough-OFD-cough-):
    Only three episodes out so far, but Patrick Wyman has an energetic speaking style and in the ep I’m listening to he’s tying together a lot of different threads into what became history. eg, the rise of accounting in medieval Italy resulting in it being able to support mercenary armies.

  37. “That’s about six feet from McEnroe, ……..”

    I just saw him on ESPN, talking on the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

  38. As I am sure you know, Wisconsin just got the new Foxconn plant (we will see if it really shows up as promised).
    The funny part is how the other side is trying to spin this as a bad thing. One of them is my representative (not that I voted for her).

    WRT generators: I have a gas powered Honda commercial unit my wife picked up used when we had a need – from an industrial supply house in the early 90’s. It still works fine, but we have underground power and really no power issues for the last 20 years. I have loaned it to friends that lost power for days to weeks and it has been faithful.

    I also have a Kubota tractor with a nice 3 cylinder Yanmar diesel. I have had this for about 5 years. Mostly very easy suburban (but I have enough acres to have a real tractor) home owner use, but I have run it full throttle for 7 or 8 hours a day a few times and been very impressed with the fuel use. It has enough PTO power to run about a 10KW genset. I have checked the PTO gensets out but have not wanted to drop the money they want. But, it really seems to make sense to get a PTO powered one if you already have the tractor. One less engine to maintain and diesel!…
    My problem is that between my EE friends and what I know about mechanical design, I want to build my own for way less than you can buy one. Classic “get to it later” syndrome…

  39. The funny part is how the other side is trying to spin this as a bad thing.

    As the joke goes, Trump needs to come out in support of breathing. The SJWs and other scum will be dead three minutes later.

  40. “As the joke goes, Trump needs to come out in support of breathing. The SJWs and other scum will be dead three minutes later.”

    Incredible but likely true.

  41. “New history podcast, for anyone interested (-cough-OFD-cough-):”

    Thanks! I wouldn’t mind listening to these during longer cah rides; I’ve never done it, so is there a quick and easy way to maybe just burn the files to CDs and listen that way or am I “out to lunch,” “all wet,” a certifiable dumkopf, and/or a cretin, in addition to being a homicidal lunatic?

  42. I’m listening to he’s tying together a lot of different threads into what became history. eg, the rise of accounting in medieval Italy resulting in it being able to support mercenary armies.

    Sounds like James Burke’s Connections.

  43. “Sounds like James Burke’s Connections.”

    Which was great. I have the book/s around here somewhere. Maybe even downloaded the series, but I also have CRS Syndrome.

  44. is there a quick and easy way to maybe just burn the files to CDs

    Several. Search for “how to create an audio CD from MP3” and you’ll get a bunch of solutions, varying by what tools you already have, the OS, etc.

    Sounds like James Burke’s Connections.

    Kinda. The innovations were only a part of the picture. Connections focused on the innovations, bringing in political or ecological considerations as they affected or were affected by the innovations.

  45. ” I want to build my own for way less than you can buy one. Classic “get to it later” syndrome…”

    The simplest thing would be to get a big electric AC motor, single or 3 phase, depending on how tricksy you want to get on the distribution side, and spin it with the PTO. Get the RPMs right and you get (slightly derated) nameplate power out of the motor…

    Look up ‘rotary phase converter’ for details and adapt as needed…..


  46. Thanks! I wouldn’t mind listening to these during longer cah rides; I’ve never done it, so is there a quick and easy way to maybe just burn the files to CDs and listen that way or am I “out to lunch,” “all wet,” a certifiable dumkopf, and/or a cretin, in addition to being a homicidal lunatic?

    I know K3b will convert MP3 to audio CD, but I’ve never done it myself. The process requires a plugin which may or may not be legal for the distro to install.

    My Mint partition is hosed right now, and my “No Windows None Of The Time” laptop is booted into Fedora instead.

  47. “Several. Search for “how to create an audio CD from MP3” and you’ll get a bunch of solutions, varying by what tools you already have, the OS, etc.”

    Roger that, I was just being a lazy bastid. I’m an entitled little snowflake tonight.

    Talked to wife earlier on the phone and she’s coming back tomorrow late afternoon and hanging here for tomorrow night and Saturday, and then driving her mom up to Pigeon Hill, NB on Sunday. Still bummed about her uncle dying and struggling to get through each of these very intense work weeks.

    I’ll be on yard and cleanup details tomorrow as best I can manage and then off to do a quick dump run and pick her up at the airport.

  48. Roger that, I was just being a lazy bastid. I’m an entitled little snowflake tonight.

    Now I have an excuse to fix my Linux Mint. I’ll post what I find here tonight or tomorrow morning.

    Snowflake? Nah. One of my new snowflake co-workers has been sitting on a reverse proxy issue for a *month* and only just asked for help today. Sigh.

  49. “The simplest thing would be to get a big electric AC motor, single or 3 phase, depending on how tricksy you want to get on the distribution side, and spin it with the PTO. Get the RPMs right and you get (slightly derated) nameplate power out of the motor…”

    Yep – I need to get going. Probably do single phase. Need to figure out the best way to make sure it is 60 Hz (beyond just setting the RPM). I learned that some things (Wagner airless paint sprayers for example) get real unhappy when not run at 60 Hz +/- not much.

    I worked for a mechanic in North Dakota years ago. He purchased a 3 phase lathe at an auction and we had to fab a motor / generator to make 3 phase – worked great but we had it running off the grid so no worries about frequency. All the equipment we make where I work is 3 phase so I will talk with some of the EEs and see what they think. Maybe it is better to run a 3 phase motor to generate the power and convert it back to single phase? I don’t have a clue at this point. I don’t want to turn this into a rocket launch either. Plenty of other irons in the fire…

  50. Thanks! I wouldn’t mind listening to these during longer cah rides; I’ve never done it, so is there a quick and easy way to maybe just burn the files to CDs and listen that way or am I “out to lunch,” “all wet,” a certifiable dumkopf, and/or a cretin, in addition to being a homicidal lunatic?

    On Linux Mint 18.2, I installed K3b (apt-get install k3b) and then installed the extra codec package for the application (apt-get install libk3b6-extracodecs).

    In K3b, start an audio CD project, drag/drop files, and convert the MP3 files to *.WAV format. I didn’t go as far as burning to CD since I didn’t have one immediately available, but the *.WAV file worked in VLC.

  51. @billf, maybe add a big VFD to the path. They are pretty cheap if you can find them salvage/surplus. I’ve got 5?6? at the moment and didn’t pay more than $10 each for 30-50HP units. No idea if they run….

    Smaller and more widely useful VFDs have more value in the secondary market, but are still way cheaper than new. I don’t know how wide a range of freq they’ll accept on the input side, but at least 50-70hz would be my guess.

    Anyway, neat project, not sure it’s worth doing, but neat!


    (for that matter, large gensets are available, expecially old ones, and that might be your starting point.)

  52. Thanks Nick – you are inspiring me! It does seem like a neat project. My cylinder count is way too high around here (at least my wife is starting to think so). A homemade PTO genset would be sweet, and keep the cylinder count from increasing.

  53. We have only 12, among both vehicles, the generator, and the rototiller.

  54. I don’t even want to count mine – it is way too high by any normal standard. A product of a big yard and a love of internal combustion engines…
    My diesel cylinder count alone is way up there for someone who has a white collar job (15). Don’t even want to think about the 4 stroke and 2 stroke spark ignition cylinders around here. In my defense, I use all of them pretty regularly.

  55. among both vehicles, the generator, and the rototiller

    No lawnmower, string trimmer?

    Truck: 8
    Boat: 8
    Car: 6
    Lawn Mower: 2
    Lawn Tractor: 2
    String Trimmer: 1
    Tiller: 1

  56. “No lawnmower, string trimmer?”

    Nope. Barbara got rid of all that stuff when we bought this house. She’d always taken care of the yard in Winston, but said there was no way she was going to mow 1.5 acres with a regular power mower.

    Vehicles: 10
    Generator: 1
    Rototiller: 1

  57. I’d like to expand that to 13 cylinders. I’m always keeping an eye on local sales, hoping that someone sells an old steam engine/boiler/generator that we could power with wood. Those used to be pretty common in rural areas, and I suspect there are a lot of them sitting in barns.

  58. 8 for your boat – I am impressed. My boat is the only “green” thing I own. It is an 18 foot Precision with a 3.5 HP 1 cylinder and sails for the main propulsion. I use about 1 gallon a year on that engine.

    I really want a boat with a V8. But I also love to sail, so there is a conflict.

  59. 20 in vehicles,
    2 lawn tractor
    4 portable generators
    4 stationary generator
    2 lawnmower
    2? chainsaw

    no gas powered strimmer, blower, etc

    other small engines have come and gone, including 2 other gennies, a couple edgers, 2 lawn vacs, compressors, etc.

    Thinking about a gas pressure washer, but the electric is much quieter.


  60. Steam power is awesome and will be a big deal if SHTF, but it is also very dangerous. If I messed around with a steam engine I would want it to have steam in the tubes for minimum explosive potential. Not the old fire tube boilers. ASME pressure vessel codes were developed due to the large number of steam boiler explosions. You can get into a bad situation very quickly with an old steam engine.

  61. @rbt

    Pageant of Steam is coming up! Lots of one cylinder engines, lots of steam power. Bang!, chug chug chug, Bang! chug chug chug……..

    Used to be you would use the PTO on your ‘traction engine’ or ‘tractor’ to power all kinds of stuff, and for things that were less power hungry you would use a portable ‘stationary engine.’ Usually a ‘hit and miss’ kind.

    Here’s several birds with one stone!!

    hit and miss engine AND it’s running a modern generator, which looks like just a motor running ‘backwards.”


  62. ” but it is also very dangerous.”

    The code and inspection and operating procedures for steam were ‘written in the blood of the victims.’ Even the hard core steam guys want modern pressure vessels and there are specialists that will make them look like old stuff, but run like new.


  63. Speaking of barn finds, I really want a hit and miss engine. You can run them on pretty much any liquid that will burn. My wife’s family had one that powered an ice cream machine. They saved ice from a pond in the winter for ice cream all summer. I really wish I had that machine…

  64. Yeah, if I bought and installed an old steam generator, I’d bunker it, or at least the boiler.

  65. I have been to the Steam event in Rollag MN a few times: (not sure how to past a link…)
    Really impressive place. They have some really big engines there. Mechanical geek paradise.

  66. I have a 2 cylinder JD that is a hand start. You use the fly wheel to get her going by hand. No batteries. It needs tires (high cost but better now that oil is reasonable so I will do it soon). It is in North Dakota and I started it one morning when we were up there for Christmas. Was very cold – in the minus 30 °F range. Fired right up. I did learn that those up draft carburetors would ice up at that condition when I drove it down the road a few miles. No problem, let it sit a few minutes then fire it back up – would be a problem if it was an airplane…

  67. And of course you get comments like this one:

    HellboundKIU King1 week ago
    I see alot of amazing power of steam powered engines. I bet with a bit more work and careful planning you could have the alternator heat up coils that in turn heat up the boiler (so no flame once it gets running) whilst also self water pumping refilling the boiler . one of these in the ocean could Equal free energy. good work friend good work.

    I’d have thought that we’d be past stupidity like this by now, given the hundreds or thousands of years and millions of man hours spent chasing it, but then I read comments on youtube. This one at least is mostly grammatical english..


    added — this may not be the exact height of the engineer’s craft but it’s gotta be pretty close

    “The Kempton Park Steam Engines (also known as the Kempton Great Engines) are two large triple-expansion steam engines, dating from 1926–1929, at the Kempton Park waterworks, Middlesex, London. The were manufactured by Worthington-Simpson. Each engine is of a similar size to that used in RMS Titanic and rated at about 1008 hp. They each pumped 19 million gallons of water a day, to supply north London with drinking water taken from the River Thames. These are the largest triple expansion engines still running in the world!
    They were the last working survivors when they were finally retired from service in 1980. Here is one of the engineers engaging the barring engine, into the fly wheel in order to line the pistons of the main engine in the correct position for the admission of steam, to start. A truly remarkable sight, showing the years of dedicated restoration work to get the engine running again. Well worth a visit, check their web site for live steaming weekends.”

  68. there was no way she was going to mow 1.5 acres with a regular power mower

    Get a Zero Turn mower. Easy to use, quick to mow. A 54 inch would be able to mow that 1.5 acres in about 1 hour.

    8 for your boat – I am impressed

    340 HP stern drive, fuel injected, Mercury (which is GM based engine).

    I have a 2 cylinder JD that is a hand start

    When I was a youngen’ on the farm we started out with a two cylinder diesel powered irrigation pump. It was had crank. You flipped a lever on each cylinder to release compression, put the crank handle on the camshaft, started cranking until you built up some rotational speed, then reached up with one hand and flipped the compression levers to restore compression. Usually started on the first attempt.

    We also had a D2 dozer with no electrics. You manually started the two cylinder gasoline starting engine using a pull rope. You let that run for about 10 minutes to get some of the diesel fluids warmed up via the shared cooling system. Once you were ready you pulled a lever to engage some gears to connect the two engines then pulled the clutch handle to spin the diesel engine until it started. Once that was done you released the clutch and disengage the geared connection.

    I once had to start that diesel engine when it was about -10f. Took 20 minutes to get the starting engine started using ether spray. Let that run for almost an hour to do some warming of the diesel engine. Even after that it took almost 30 minutes of spinning the diesel to finally get a couple of cylinders to fire. Once that was done let the diesel run at mid RPM to finally get the other two cylinders firing. Total time almost 90 minutes. We needed the dozer for the next four days and never shut the engine off the entire time.

    We also had an old JD popper engine tractor. It did have an electric starter. We did not use that tractor much as we had four other tractors. Two, Ford 600’s we had when we bought the place, the popper and a Ford 9N came with the place. We got rid of the popper and bought/traded for a newer (used) JD that we just used to pull trailers around. It had a better hitch system for pulling trailers and was more maneuverable than the Fords because of the straight hitch bar and the hitch stuck further out behind the tractor.

  69. Nick, I have had discussions with some very smart people that had really bad ideas about free energy. I don’t think you should be able to graduate high school without understanding at least the first 2 laws of thermodynamics.

    Awesome link! I was in Long Beach last month and toured the Queen Mary. Steam power! They had a similar small worm drive engine to get things heated up – like on the video you linked. The ship was built in the same period as the engine in the video. The engine room is very recommended for any gear head to tour if they are in the area.
    She transported many 100’s of thousands of solders during WW2. She was fast enough to out run the torpedoes of the day.

  70. I was always working when I was in long beach and missed the tour.

    And this year I’ll be missing the Pageant of Steam in Canadagua despite being there (probably) next week.

    I’ll be traveling with the family, and the most un-prepared and un-armed I’ll have been in a LONG time. Travel by air, and by car thru Canada with limited luggage will severely limit what I can bring.

    Or I’ll be helping get Dad home from the hospital, and then driving across Canada.

    Being away from home is stressful. Being away from home, with the kids, in a place and situation that isn’t as controlled as WDW, with no access to normal defensive tools, is gonna truly suck. Add in an 8 hour road trip across Canada and I’m not a happy boy.


  71. I’m concerned that in October Barbara, Al, and their friend Marcy are heading up to SteveF’s neck of the woods. They’re all competent people, but none of them takes prepping seriously. If for some reason they ended up stranded in upstate NY, I don’t know what I’d do. It’s too far to go get them.

  72. Thanks! I wouldn’t mind listening to these during longer cah rides; I’ve never done it, so is there a quick and easy way to maybe just burn the files to CDs

    Depending on how old your car is, it may be able to play MP3s off of CDs. All you need to do is burn the CD with the MP3s. My 2008 Highlander can do that. You get a lot more on the CD if they are MP3s.

    You might want to do some experiments to see how to name the files and if it can navigate folders.

  73. Great discussions this morning. I took the day off and have not started yard work yet…

    Ray – I ran an old Cat also. Pull start pony motor like you had. It did not have any hydraulics. It came out of a mine apparently and had a bucket that would dump over the back. All cable operated. It was one of the funnest machines I have ever operated! Took a can of starting fluid and 10 or 15 minutes of pony motor to get the big engine working – in the summer (but at high altitude in the Colorado mountains). It was probably very worn out but could still do a very impressive amount of work.

  74. Re zero turns. I have been mowing my lawn with a used commercial walk behind JD 48″ that developed a problem with the electrical system that I need to fix (PTO disengages after 10 or so minutes). Got tired of troubleshooting it and am getting old and lazy so I purchased a zero turn (have wanted one for years). I happy mowed and proceeded to tear up spots of the lawn with the tires – wife was not happy! After a year, I have learned how to use it. Not easy to learn if your yard is not flat.

  75. ” If for some reason they ended up stranded in upstate NY, I don’t know what I’d do. It’s too far to go get them.”

    Depends on the situation, i.e., they’re just stranded for some mundane reason and can’t get home, or we have major SHTF nationwide. And depends on how far up they come; that AO is about four to five hours southwest of us here. But I’d certainly make the effort, if necessary.

    Otherwise, I recommend having all their ducks lined up for a long trip like that, as I’m sure Mr. Nick is doing for his, and I do not envy him one iota. Yikes. I know you’re not particularly religious, comrade, but I’ll be praying for you and yours anyway. Can’t hurt, amirite?

  76. Thanks, Dave.

    Their autumn trip last year was to Cape May, NJ, and they left a day or two after the Colonial Pipeline went down for the second time in a month. I tried then to convince Barbara to take get-home gear, but she flat-out refused.

    They did at least keep their gas tank as full as possible and topped it off when they arrived, but even at that they’d have been able to get only most of the way home. I’d have had to go get them.

  77. Can’t hurt, helps the one’s doing it at a minimum….

    Yeah, I’m going thru the bags and trying to figure out what I can realistically pack. I’m thinking of at least adding my big trauma bag for the road trip. Without 8 pounds of safety lock box and Shield, I’ve got a bit more room in the suitcase. Normal carryon bag with blowout kit for sure. Maybe add a Mora, probably add a water filter. Hard to scavenge a filter. Absolute minimum added “survival” gear–water filter, mora knife, 2 sticks of fatwood… all the normal stuff is scattered thru my regular bags.

    It would be nice to have the dual band HT and the small SW radio, for fun if nothing else. We’ll see. And I’ll report.


  78. I ran an old Cat also. Pull start pony motor like you had. It did not have any hydraulics

    I had hydraulics for the front blade. Biggest use of the machine was building, and maintaining the low water damn in the creek. We needed at least 6 feet of water over the pump intake (converted from diesel to 30HP electric in 1967) to keep from sucking air. During the winter rains and floods the gravel damn would be completely washed away.

    Used the dozer in the creek downstream from where we needed the damn to push up about 8 feet of rock and gravel to create the damn. Many times water would be over the tracks and up into the operator platform.

    One time I got the machine stuck. High centered on a gravel ledge. Since the tracks were independently operated (clutch/brake system) neither track was able to move. Neighbor had several hundred feet of cable. Bolted one end to one track, other end to a large tree almost 100 yards away. Started the one track and wrapped the cable around the track to move the machine about 15 feet. That was all that was needed as the other track now had traction.

    Also used the machine to clear some brush and small trees. Power was never an issue as the tracks would start slipping before the engine would stall. The one time in the winter we needed the machine we had to move massive amounts of snow to clear paths and areas around the barns. Too wet for wheeled tractors and too much to move.

    Those track clutches and brakes would give you a work out with everything being manual. Now everything is hydraulics with finger tip control run by a computer. Slick stuff but expensive and difficult to repair. Would really like to take the controls of a D11T.

  79. My 2005 ford expedition will play mp3’s on CD. The display gets funky after 60 minutes.

  80. Can’t hurt, helps the one’s doing it at a minimum….

    Yeah, going to Canada really restricts you. I’ve had no problem flying with a Leatherman in the checked bag. I usually carry an ASP baton in the checked bag, but not out of the country. Plus a small tool kit with lock picks. Again, have to be careful not to be hit with the “burglar tools” citation.

    I guess I’ve been traveling enough with MrsAtoz that I don’t get the “away from home” anxiety.

  81. “Thanks, Dave.”

    Just pondering here; what if: we create some kinda phone tree/contact thing via this board for any of us traveling a long ways from home but who might be within a few hours’ drive of somebody else in a genuine emergency? Could work via email, phone numbers or ham radio, I reckon. Or all three.

    I’ve never been in that situation but Mrs. OFD got to spend an extra week in Texas thanks to the 9/11 capers when all flights were grounded. She had to comfort her little group, all of whom were very shaky and nervous and scared, including the guys. But the Texans took good care of them and everyone made it home OK. Also that week, a bunch of flights were diverted to Newfoundland and Labrador and the local Canadians also took care of those people, which will never be forgotten. They don’t forget, either; the folks in Halifax still send a Christmas tree down to Boston every year because Boston/MA sent up food, medicine, doctors and nurses after the monster explosion in the harbor.

    So chit can certainly happen and leave people stranded fah from home.

    Just an idea…

  82. If for some reason they ended up stranded in upstate NY, I don’t know what I’d do.

    Depending on the nature of the problem, you drop me a line. I drive a minivan (not cool, but practical) and have a large house with several spare rooms and foldout couches.

    If you wish, send an email before they leave and I’ll send you phone numbers for the house and my wife’s cellphone.

  83. “If you wish, send an email before they leave and I’ll send you phone numbers for the house and my wife’s cellphone.”

    We just have the one spare bedroom, a couch in the living room, an aerobed thing that we can pump up and is fairly comfortable, and the one bathroom.

    If they get messed up fah north of the Capital District I can come get them or help Mr. SteveF with it.

  84. “If they get messed up fah north of the Capital District I can come get them or help Mr. SteveF with it.”

    Thanks to you both. And you know I’d reciprocate, if it became necessary. Actually, I’d take in anyone I knew and trusted, and somehow make do. I know that flies in the face of common prepper norms, but there it is.

    BTW, as it turns out, they won’t be in upstate NY. They’ll be in the Finger Lakes region, near where I went to grad school.

  85. the Finger Lakes region

    2-4 hours from me, depending largely on which lake. Offer stands.

    Because of the shape of NYS and the overwhelming mass of quasi-humans in Babylon on the Hudson, “upstate New York” covers a lot of territory, not just the Adirondacks in the northernmost bulge.

  86. ummmm, I’ll be right at the top of one of the Finger Lakes. Specifically in Canadagua. Or more likely, my wife and kids will be there while I take a very long layover in Chicongo to help get my dad home and settled. Sunday thru Thursday at least…..


  87. I’d been planning to take my daughter to the Shindig of Steam in August, but some member of the family who isn’t me booked a vacation involving the daughter right about then, even though I’d said several months ago that I wanted that weekend left open. This constant crap gets mighty annoying, I must say, especially the constant, lame non-excuse of “I forgot”.

  88. Probably a 6-8-hour drive for me but again, the offer stands, esp. WRT to assisting with Mr. SteveF should he require any.

    My old-time blog and FaceBerg pal Billy Beck lives near Ithaca; I hope he’s doing OK; haven’t heard from him in a while, since I left FaceBerg. Larry Klinton called him “the most dangerous man in America” a long time ago. He plays a mean guitar, is extremely well-read, flies planes, and had been a lighting/sound engineer for many famous and infamous rock bands over the years.

    And there I go digressing all over the place again.

    As Mr. SteveF says, “upstate NY” covers from Lake Champlain all along the Canadian border to Pennsylvania and Batavia (home of the Triple-A Muckdogs) and the former Burnt-Over District.

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