Month: August 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

08:23 – It was 64.3F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0620, dark and heavily overcast. The remnants of Harvey are to come through today and tomorrow, ending Saturday, dropping two or three inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of rain.

Barbara is off to Winston this morning for a haircut, a small Costco run, and lunch with a friend, returning this afternoon. Tomorrow and over the holiday weekend, we’ll be building more science kits.

Assuming we get no more kit orders today, August 2017 revenues totaled 133% of August 2016 revenues. The better August this year was enough to make up for the slower July, with combined revenues for July/August 2017 matching those for July/August 2016. Now to see what happens in September.

Email from Kathy. She and Mike, along with another like-minded couple that they’ve become friends with, are running a grid-down readiness exercise over the holiday weekend at Kathy’s house.

Well, kind of. They’re actually not going to turn off their main breaker, because they don’t want to run their generator all weekend to keep the refrigerator/freezer cold. So Kathy plans to duct-tape the refrigerator/freezer doors closed and feed everyone from dry and canned LTS food and stored water. They did decide to turn off the breaker to their well pump, so they’ll also be using stored water to do dishes, flush the toilets, and so on.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

09:11 – It was 60.7F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0630, partly cloudy. Barbara is off to the gym this morning, after which we’ll be doing more work on science kits. She’s spending the day down in Winston tomorrow, so I want to get the highest priority stuff done today.

Just to give you an idea of how seasonal our business is, August revenues through today total 33% of our revenues for the entire year to date, and next month’s revenues should be similar to this month’s. Things’ll slow down after that until about Thanksgiving, when we’ll have another heavy sales period that runs through mid-January.

Kim stopped by the house Monday afternoon to ask if we’d mind stopping over at Blue Ridge Electric Co-op and signing a permission document to allow them to come onto our property to do some work on the electric feed to their new house. They’re running the power feed underground and need to tie it to a distribution box that’s just over the property line into our field. We told them we’d be happy to do so, and Barbara stopped by Blue Ridge yesterday morning to sign the permission slip. It turned out she didn’t need to. As I thought, there’s a utility easement, and they don’t need our permission to access their distribution box.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw that a bunch of people were up at the house working on it, so I walked up to let Kim’s husband Ricky know that everything was clear for work to proceed. Grace was up there watching what was going on. I ended up standing there talking to her for the better part of an hour.

She’s originally from the Wilmington, NC area down on the coast, and went to college at UNC Wilmington. Her main concern about living up here is the winter weather. Living on the coast, she hasn’t seen much snow, and has no experience driving in ice and snow. I told her that, as a Northern boy, my advice was to avoid doing so as much as possible and if she had to drive to wait until the plows had run. Oh, and to keep a good stock of emergency food, bottled water, and so on in case we do get snowed in.

She seems like a sensible young woman, so I’m sure she’ll be fine. She really likes living up here in a rural/small-town environment with the laid-back mountain lifestyle. As she said, everyone is so friendly and so normal. And that the cost of living was so low here. I told her that that had been Barbara’s and my reaction as well when we moved up here in 2015.

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

08:21 – It was 57.3F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy. He went wandering off down the road, ignoring my calls as usual. I finally had to walk down to the field behind the convenience store, where he was sniffing around, and tell him he was a B-A-D dog. As soon as he knew I was serious, he immediately trotted back up to the front porch and waited to be let in. Barbara and I both chastised him for ignoring me.

More work on science kits. Obviously, it’s good that people are ordering a lot of them, but it’s still depressing to work our butts off to build a stack of finished goods inventory and then watch that stack dwindle rapidly.

The mess in coastal Texas continues, with more rain expected. They were calling it a 500-year rain, but I see they’re now calling it a 1000-year rain. I’ve heard from all of my regular readers, either in comments here or in email, and all of them are safe. A couple of them have vehicles flooded and/or some water in their homes, but no personal injuries so far.

This whole event is an emergency manager’s nightmare. A population of 6+ million people crammed into a relatively small area, inadequate road capacity to evacuate even a small percentage of them, and nowhere for evacuees to go even if they could evacuate.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: with regards to muslim terrorism, people keep saying to stay away from crowds. That’s good advice, as far as it goes, but the thing is that huge metro areas are in effect permanent crowds. The corollary, then, is “don’t live in a huge metro area, or anywhere near one.”

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Monday, 28 August 2017

09:35 – It was 55.5F (13C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy. Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket, after which it’s back to work on science kits.

I keep seeing articles like this one about the decline in prepping. FTA:

I’ve recently noticed several survival/prepper blogs that have stopped publishing probably because of the lack of interest in prepping after Trump was elected. I think that over the next several months we’ll see many others stop posting new content. I’ve also noticed the same with prepper related YouTube channels.

I’ve talked with a couple of my former advertisers and they have noticed a huge drop in sales over the past few months. And they both told me that survival blogs were not sending any traffic or sales and that it’s not just this site but all survival blogs that they advertised on.

I’ve noticed no such decline. I suspect that Creekmore and others that are trying to make a living from preppers are encountering two problems:

1. After the 837th me-too article on building a bugout bag or choosing a retreat location, how much more can anyone say?

2. Most prepping supplies aren’t purchased via on-line ads or from specialty prepping vendors. They’re purchased from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, and other mainstream vendors. By now, most preppers and would-be preppers have caught on to the fact that they don’t need the overpriced items that prepping websites are pushing. And most preppers who are going to buy big-ticket specialty prepping items have already done so. Those who haven’t but intend to do so will, like nearly all consumers nowadays, price-shop the hell out of it. Rather than buy from boutique prepping vendors/ads, they’ll buy their products from mainstream vendors.

The last time I bought a prepping item from a boutique prepping vendor was … never. And I suspect that most preppers shop the same way. For example, when I exchanged email a week or so ago with my contact at Keystone Meats, I asked her how business was. She said that they were shipping product as fast as they could make it. I suspect the same is true of Augason Farms and other companies that produce products of interest to preppers.

Email from Kathy. She and Mike, following the example of Jen, Brittany, and the other Prepper Girls, have decided to run a readiness exercise over the long Labor Day weekend. They’ve hooked up with another local couple about the same age as they are and who also have two teenagers. This couple shares their interest in prepping and are similarly well-prepared. They decided to do a grid-down simulation over the holiday at Kathy’s and Mike’s place, starting Friday evening and running through Monday evening, just to work out the kinks.

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Sunday, 27 August 2017

09:05 – It was 60.4F (15.8C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy. Barbara is cleaning house this morning, after which we’ll do more science kit stuff. She had a pretty physical day yesterday, working out in the yard, so today we’ll do mostly inside stuff that doesn’t require a lot of physical labor. Labeling bottles and so on.

Our science kit inventory continues to dwindle as fast as we can build them, so for the next several weeks we’ll be covered up building and shipping kits. I have several thousand more bottles due to arrive Tuesday, which is just in time. We’re running out of bottles.

We just looked at the new stuff to be available in September on Netflix and Amazon streaming. There’s nothing we’re interested in, other than the latest season of Call the Midwife on Netflix. Streaming is becoming a vast wasteland of garbage.

Most of the decent stuff, series we might want to watch, is behind paywalls established by crappy little VoD streaming services like Acorn, Britbox, and PBS. We’d actually consider subscribing to one of those if they had comprehensive catalogs of British TV, but all of them play games, pulling stuff off that they should just leave available. Oh, well. There’s always torrents, although the demise of Kick-Ass Torrents has limited the selection greatly even there.

So far, the hurricane seems to be less catastrophic than feared. Only one death and a dozen or so injuries reported so far, which is a lot less than might have been expected from a Cat 4 hurricane making landfall in a heavily populated area. None of my dozen or so regular readers in the area has reported any significant damage to their properties, yet. Of course, there are three or four more days of rain expected, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for them.

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Saturday, 26 August 2017

09:10 – It was 59.1F (15C) when I took Colin out at 0620, partly cloudy. Barbara is working in the garden this morning, after which we’ll do more science kit stuff.

We stopped at the Southern States hardware and farm supply store yesterday to pick up a couple items. Jerry Francis, the former owner of our house works there. We asked him what he could tell us about our well. Not much, as it turns out. The well was there when he and Ethel bought the property and built the house, as was the well pump. He had no idea when the well was drilled or how old the pump is.

He mentioned that it’s a 110V pump, which we already knew from looking at the breaker panel, and that he was pretty sure the water table was pretty high, maybe 50 or 60 feet below the surface. That would account for the 120VAC pump rather than a far more common 240VAC pump. If the water table is in fact that high, we could probably even get away with installing a 36VDC Solar Jack Sun Pump replacement pump.

My thoughts this morning are with my many readers in coastal Texas. I hope you all get through this hurricane with your families and homes unscathed.

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Friday, 25 August 2017

08:36 – It was 57.0F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0625, mostly cloudy. Cooler autumn weather is definitely arriving, here and down in Winston-Salem. The highs down there this week are to be in the upper 70’s. As usual, we’re cooler, with highs forecast to be around 70F (21C).

Barbara grabbed a couple items for our LTS pantry at Costco yesterday: a case of six #10 3-pound cans of Costco coffee and two 13.5-pound bags of baking soda. Both come already packaged for LTS, so they’re already downstairs and stowed away.

Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket this morning, followed by (you guessed it) building more science kits. As of this morning, we’re down to zero of the CK01A chemistry kits in stock. Yesterday, we built 22 of the regulated chemical bags for those kits, limited by two chemicals that we had only 22 bottles each of in stock. Barbara also built 24 more of the small parts bags for the CK01A/B kits. We have enough of all the subassemblies on hand to build five more CK01A kits. We’ll get those built today, just so we have product to ship.

After that, we need to fill chemical bottles to make up more CK01A unregulated chemical bags. Our limiting quantity on those at the moment is zero bottles of one chemical, so we’ll get more of those filled. Then it’s back to labeling and filling bottles, rinse and repeat.

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

07:52 – It was 60.0F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0630, partly cloudy.

Barbara is due back from Winston later this morning, at which point we’ll get back to work on building more science kits. We finished building a batch of two dozen of the CK01B chemistry kits yesterday, so we’re in good shape on those for now. Same with biology and forensic kits. But I have four more of the CK01A chemistry kits awaiting pickup by USPS this morning, and we’re down to only three of those in stock. So the next priority is building another two or three dozen of those.

Email from Kathy overnight. She and Mike read the comments yesterday, and Mike has abandoned his plan to build an ad hoc cold storage room in the basement. He told Kathy that, in his defense, he HAD proposed it as a “cunning plan”.

He came up with the idea after seeing what we’d done here with our old refrigerator, re-purposing it to extend the shelf life of canned meats, sauces, dried eggs/butter/cheese, and so on. After reading what the commenters said yesterday, he agreed with Kathy that it was a dumb idea. Oh, well. That’s why the hive mind here is so useful to them (and to me).

I was just thinking about two contrasting views on allies: “If you’re not with me, you’re against me” and “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I think we’re seeing a significant shift among pro-freedom people, Normals, from the former to the latter viewpoint.

In the past, even groups that seemed to be natural allies–say libertarians of different camps–fought each as viciously as they fought statists, if not more so. The same with conservatives, or any other groups considered right of center by the current definition of that term. Leftists, on the other hand, made Common Cause, so to speak.

What I see now is the right coalescing into a single group, willing to put up with each others’ different beliefs in the interests of presenting a common front against the statists/progressives.

After Charlottesville, for example, I actually found myself having some sympathy for the neo-Nazis/skinheads, something I would never have believed possible. I still deplore nearly all of their beliefs, and they’re still leftists, but at least they were out there fighting the progressive leftists.

And you see that alliance among the frequent commenters on this blog. We have a wide range of people, from devout Christians to radical atheists, and from traditional conservatives to hard-core libertarians. And yet we all seem to get along pretty well. I know I’d be comfortable with any of these people watching my back, and I’d hope they feel the same. We can beat the leftists first, and only then argue like hell about our differences. But, as they say, we’re at the point where we all hang together or we all hang separately.

So I spent some time watching videos made by a young woman whom, not all that long ago, I wouldn’t have spent any time listening to. She goes by the name of Patriot Nurse, and we have a lot of differences. She’s a traditional conservative, I’m a radical libertarian. She’s devoutly religious (Jewish, although it took me a while to realize that because she so often quotes New Testament scripture) and I’m a committed atheist. She’s an anti-vaxxer and I’m a scientist. She’s an ovo-lacto vegetarian (or perhaps a vegan; she reports her food preferences differently in different videos) and I’m an omnivore tending toward carnivore. She’s into some woo-woo medical stuff, while I insist on evidence-based medicine.

But instead of focusing on our differences while I watched her videos, I focused on what we have in common, which is a love of freedom, a commitment to the Constitution, and sympathy for the anti-Federalists and the Confederate States of America. I found that she’s worth watching.

YouTube put this video in my recommended list, so I watched it, followed by half a dozen more before this one came up.

I have never before sensed the intensity of suppressed rage that I did while watching this video. This is not a woman I’d want to have pissed at me. Her rants are more intense than I’ve ever seen. She lives three hours or so down the road from us, and I suspect there are tens of thousands of others like us between Sparta and Knoxville.

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

09:16 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0645, partly cloudy.

Barbara is leaving mid-afternoon to head down to Winston. She’ll have dinner with Frances and Al, stay with them tonight, and then head back tomorrow morning, making a Costco run on her way out of town. It’s WW&P for Colin and me.

Our LTS food inventory is at steady-state now, so we don’t need much. I did ask Barbara to pick me up a case of six #10 cans of coffee, a two-pack of mayonnaise, and another case of Costco bottled water in gallons.

Barbara just headed for the gym. When she returns, she’ll finish packing up the two dozen chemistry kits we assembled yesterday, and then label bottles for stuff we’re running out of. While she’s gone, I’ll make up solutions for those.

Email from Kathy, whom I hadn’t heard from in a month or so. All of the stuff they had on order has arrived, been checked in, and shelved. The propane tank and gas cooktop has been installed. She’s done her first pressure-canning run, canning up ten pounds of sausage that she bought on sale. Now she’s carefully watching the jars, halfway expecting the lids to pop or something.

Mike has proposed a Cunning Plan, which Kathy thinks is just bizzare. He points out that they don’t have a cold cellar, and he’d like to build one in the basement by enclosing a small area, insulating it heavily, and building a refrigerator into the wall, pointed into the enclosed area. Kind of like a 21st-century version of an old ice-house.

She asked my opinion. I told her that I’m not a refrigeration engineer, but it just might work. The refrigerator’s compressor would probably have to run for a couple of days to get the insulated area cooled down and there might be some problems with temperature differentials within the space, but keeping a well-insulated larger volume cool isn’t much different from keeping the interior of the refrigerator cool.

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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

09:27 – It was 66.6F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0635, partly cloudy.

As usual this time of year, we’re covered up building and shipping science kits. I just finished processing five orders that came in overnight, and Barbara is standing here building another two dozen boxes for more chemistry kits.

Someone asked if anyone would post images of their long-term storage. This first one is part of our LTS food in the unfinished area of the basement. It includes stuff like 9 gallons of pancake syrup, 20+ gallons of oils and fats, gallon jugs of molasses, liquid smoke, different types of vinegar, several gallons each of prepared ketchup and mustard (for making barbecue sauce), about 60 28-ounce cans of Keystone meats, 32 12-ounce cans of Spam, and another 50 or so cans of various meats.

Here’s the refrigerator in the unfinished area, with another 100+ cans of meat, a few #10 cans of cheese and butter powder, and the remaining space filled with jars of Alfredo sauce.

The freezer is packed with #10 cans of Augason egg powder, Nido powdered whole milk, and various OTC and agricultural drugs.

The next image is a 5×2-foot steel shelving rack, which contains a lot of repackaged dry bulk foods, as well as sauces, evaporated milk, canned vegetables, and other miscellany. Just as an indication of how much is here, that small area of green bottles in the lower left corner contains 80 pounds of pinto beans, the section of bright yellow bottles on the shelf above it is 60 pounds of cornmeal, and the red-top Coke bottles on the lower two shelves contain 250 pounds of repackaged macaroni. The reason for the scattered placement of the cases of canned vegetables is that I’m using them as “bookends” to prevent the 2- and 3-liter bottles from rolling.

The image below is the closet in our LTS food room, which is under the stairs. There’s some miscellaneous computer equipment stored in there for now, but the bulk of the space is occupied by about 40 cases (240 cans) of assorted #10 cans from the LDS Home Storage Center and Augason Farms, along with some other miscellaneous #10 cans of stuff from Costco and Sam’s Club.

These pictures don’t show all of our LTS food stores, but it gives you some idea.

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