Tues. Mar.27, 2018 – don’t be distracted!

72F with 89%RH this morning. Yuck.

Spring has sprung in Houston. We are DEEP into tree pollen season. It irritates eyes and throats, and I’m finding a lot of people like me who get sleepy and lethargic as symptoms too. Everything is covered in fine yellow dust. Yuck.

Back to the title of the post.

Don’t be distracted. There is a lot going on right now that seems to be designed to distract and engage your spare attention. Don’t let it. Personal relationships. Personal finances. Personal health and fitness. Personal learning and skills. Focus locally on the things you can impact.

If you have spare cycles, go to civic meetings. Meet your neighbors, city council, school board, mayor, local reps. They will help or hinder you more than any of the 574 in DC. Your HOA has more to say about your rainwater barrels, fence, antenna, or security door than DC.

Get a garden in this year. Put some plants in pots. Test a couple of locations in the yard, and a couple of varieties. Fresh really DOES taste great. Doesn’t have to feed your household YET, and doesn’t need a lot of time or effort, (but you might trade money to save those things.)

Walk or bike around the neighborhood. Walking the dog gives an excellent excuse to check out the lay of the land. You will see stuff that you just don’t see by car.

Drive a different route. Don’t be in a rut. If you have a few extra minutes on the grocery run, take a different turn. (Visit a different store!) Even taking a familiar street from the opposite direction will show you things you didn’t notice.

If things get sporty or go downhill, local will be most important. Get a feel for what is ‘normal’ in your surrounding area. TALK TO PEOPLE. How many bums are panhandling? Where do they spend their days? Nights? Are there people just ‘hanging around’? How many day laborers are in the park or by Home Depot? You don’t need to do a census, but it’s easy to not see them entirely. LOOK. Get a feel for normal.

Stop at a garage sale this weekend. Chat. “Hi” “How have sales been? Been busy?” “Just cleaning up or getting ready to move?” People will share surprising amounts of info. You can get a better feel for the local economy talking to people and looking around than by reading national news.

There are big shifts in the world political scene and the world economy. Sure they happen all the time, but usually they happen in one place or another, and one thing at a time. Right now feels a lot like reading a history book about the changes before a major shift or realignment. Everyone is MORE of what they are, old ideas are resurfacing, resentments are building, reactions are more emotional and just generally ‘bigger’ than normal.

Do like the big fish, and position yourself before the start….


Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

30 thoughts on “Tues. Mar.27, 2018 – don’t be distracted!”

  1. 39º and rainy today. Not as warm as yesterday, but better than last week. If I can get a half hour in between raindrops I’ll be happy.

    Last year the spouse decided that she wanted raised beds. Instead of getting topsoil delivered ($150), she got mulch from the municipal dump ($15). The vegetables all tasted terrible – too much wood and leaf matter, not enough sand and clay and lime in the soil. This year my bed gets attention. NO mulch. Just fertilizer & lime. It’s not a competition, but it will give us A/B comparisons so we’ll know better going forward.

    She also had that mulch dumped in MY turnaround, so this spring is showing me the folly. I’ll have to dig it out and have gravel dumped there this year. Fortunately, hour grand gravel circular drive is pretty well set. I won’t need to keep doing that much longer.

    Still need to try the tortillas.

  2. More growing awareness that doctrine has and will continue to kill people who would otherwise survive terror and active shooter attacks:


    “Revealed: Just THREE paramedics were allowed into the Manchester Arena to treat dying bomb victims despite 56 ambulances being scrambled to the scene

    Only three paramedics were allowed inside the arena in immediate aftermath
    As many as 40 victims were too injured to move from the devastated foyer
    But rules prevented paramedics from entering a potentially dangerous scene
    Official report is expected to level criticism at the emergency services’ response”


    “As dozens lay dying and grievously injured, scores of ambulances were held back for at least an hour as rules prevented paramedics from entering a potentially dangerous scene.”


    “An ambulance source said: ‘We’re bracing ourselves for criticism in the report, but we have processes to follow in any major incident and everyone did their best.'”

    “They were overcome with emotion after recalling that they had to wait two hours for help – with paramedics later telling them the tourniquet had prevented Miss Howarth from bleeding to death.” [TQ improvised from a purse strap]

    “He assumed colleagues would soon join him, but instead only two more paramedics – members of two specially-trained hazardous area response teams which were scrambled – were allowed in.

    Only helped by stunned members of the public and trained first responders on duty, they were overwhelmed by the number of casualties desperately needing help.

    ‘In any other situation there would be a massive ambulance response for each individual person,’ Mr Ennis said.

    Phil Dick and his wife Kim were waiting for their daughter Tamla, 17, and granddaughter Sasha, 15, who both survived. The couple, from Bradford, spent over an hour doing what they could to save wounded concert-goers using improvised bandages.

    They fear that some may have died while they were waiting for paramedics to see them.

    Mr Dick, 55, said: ‘It was down to people like us to help the wounded. Event security staff were running round throwing people green plastic first aid kits but it wasn’t really sufficient.’

    Mr Dick said he repeatedly shouted, ‘We need paramedics now!’ to which police officers replied: ‘We’re just making sure there are no more bombs.’

    ‘There was just too much for just three paramedics to deal with,’ he added. ‘The longer it went on the more silent it became.'”


    ” while it [the ambulance service] ‘welcomes’ any recommendations it is ‘confident in our response which followed implementation of our major incident plan, training and experience that we have in place for this type of situation’.” [we’re not to blame, we followed the plan] [the plan SUCKS]

    Since I became aware of existing doctrine, I’ve been advocating for a change. I’ve reasoned that once you have enough dead kids, once the public learns that EMS waits an hour or two while victims DIE, there would be changes made. So let’s make the changes BEFORE we have a pile of dead kids.

    The required change is finally making it’s way into the EMS and EM community. It is called a couple of things, but “Tactical EMS” seems to be fairly common. The idea is to rapidly get EMS into a ‘warm zone’ where the attacker has already left, and start treatment. A further change in EMS response is a move to “scoop and scoot” instead of treatment/stabilization in place. THESE ARE LIFESAVING CHANGES.

    Ask you school board and Principal and PTA what your local doctrine for response is. Will kids die while cops make sure the area is “safe” for them to enter. Keep in mind you KIDS ARE THERE whether it’s “safe” or not. If you are a member of a civic or service organization, get the org to ask. Get the org to sponsor “stop the bleed” materials or training. Ask you church leadership if they are aware of current doctrine for an incident, and get them asking questions of the area first responders. PUSH THIS.

    The last thing I have to say about this is a prepper mantra, but true nonetheless. “YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.” As the survivors vividly describe above, and as the AAR on the Vegas murders established, the best and sometimes ONLY first responders are the people already on scene. At a minimum, visit these sites. Watch the videos.


    Note too that tourniquets are now the RECOMMENDED response to traumatic bleeding in a limb.

  3. “she got mulch from the municipal dump”

    Even the bagged “garden soil” or “raised bed soil” is about a quarter wood chips. Freaking mulch is in everything.

    Based on my experiences, I’d say STAY AWAY from Miracle Gro bagged soils. They have some sort of “moisture control” thing in them that keeps water from penetrating. EVEN WEEDS wouldn’t grow in my beds the year I first did them with the Miracle Gro “soil”.

    I got MUCH better results mixing black steer manure into a locally produced raised bed soil.

    Oh, “rose” bed mix from our local mulch guy didn’t grow veg either. Too much sand and wood chip.


  4. The local garden center sells topsoil by the truckload. It’s just soil harvested from homebuilding, segregated from the clay layer, and sifted to get the gravel out (which I buy separately). The fertilizer I can get from the cattle farmer up the road for a low price if I load it myself. That is what I plan to do. I’m too cheap to buy bagged soil. Bad investment.

    Mulch (from my perspective) is for looks and to keep down weeds. But it needs to be sweetened if you want to use it like soil. I’d rather just use real soil.

    We’ll see. I’m going to learn more this year.

  5. Keep a notebook. I think I’ll remember. I take pix of the planting with the seed packet in the photo. I still can’t remember. When and what planted, when expected? Done on time? (I’m taking about 2x as long as supposed to for maturity) Yield good?

    The costco square foot garden on a card pack did very poorly for me.

    Some heirloom carrots did very well.

    I’m trying different seed packers this year, as well as some leftovers from last year.


  6. The last thing I have to say about this is a prepper mantra, but true nonetheless. “YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.”

    Interesting timing on your post. A buddy of mine and I were talking about how we are rebuilding our truck med bags. I was adding more to mine and he was downsizing his; mostly bandages and tourniquets. Between the two of us we could run a small MASH-type unit for a day with medical gear. Not counting what we have in our GHBs.

    Next step is training; local Red Cross, official/govt type websites, and lots books.

  7. Unfortunately there is no shortcut to good garden soil. It’s best to grow your own with your own compost pile so you know what goes in. If you can find a source of horse and/or chicken manure take advantage of it. Stinky dirty work but necessary. This is the time of year that farmer are cleaning barns and coops, some will appreciate your help and you can get all the manure you can carry.

    Now on to… squirrel!

  8. Our local office of Tx Law Shield (a sort of pre-paid lawyer plan for gun owners, and gun issues) sponsors “gunshot and trauma first aid” courses and has discounts on “blow out kits”. You may have something close to you that is similar.

    The links above have training opportunities.

    CERT training covers disaster medical, triage, basic first aid, NBC and terror, and a lot of other stuff too. At least d/l the manual and read it if you can’t get signed up for a CERT class locally.

    It’s spring. You may have local lifeguard classes near you or thru a local org. That will cover your CPR and AED training certification.

    Red Cross runs classes all the time, but they can cost a bunch by the time you are done.

    I’ve mentioned my local constable’s classes, the CPA, or Civilian Police Academy. Lots of agencies are doing these now. They don’t have first aid, but we did shooting, civilian response to active shooter, and learned a lot of valuable stuff. My ongoing involvement with them had me training with students, and a couple of police agencies’ special teams. That’s fun and enlightening.

    Fire depts have versions of the CPA program. There are COPS (citizens on patrol) and other community involvement programs too with your local police. Once you are known, and friendly, other opportunities open up too.


  9. Off to Sacramento for three days. Getting sick of CA. I remember when San Francisco was sort of OK. If we ever get work there now, I think I’ll bail on the trip. Would have to wear an enviro suit just to get to a hotel.

  10. I still love his songs even if they are creepy.

    I remember that Alice Cooper did “The Muppet Show” in the 70s, early on in the Hensons’ post “Saturday Night Live” UK exile when the Muppets were still fairly uncool.

    Of course Cooper fit right in. Back then, the Muppets had a bit of an edge that they’ve never managed to recover since achieving mainstream success.

  11. @Lynn — How frequently are you asked about running your product line on iPad?

    Never. Mac desktops, occasionally. We’ve got several users using Parallels or Boot Camp. I don’t know of anyone running serious desktop software on an iPad.

  12. When folks talk about running desktop apps on tablets, I dig out an RDP client and let them have at it. If they can stand it, great. If not, we go back to desktop form factors.

    We do have a manufacturing systems client that works “okay” with a touch screen, but we have a keyboard available as well, as there is always data entry involved, and data entry on a touchscreen sucks in a manufacturing environment.

  13. Oh man, we had a power blip at the office and my five year old UPS for the internet equipment fragged itself. When I got the new UPS in place, one of my AT&T DSL modems was fragged with four red lights a-blinkin. I went through the dance with the phone help people and they are sending a technician tomorrow between 4 pm to 8 pm.

    Entropy never stops.

  14. Re:“Hogg Hitler! The little dictator in the making.”

    Had to click thru a Youtube community “warning” and my vid scraper couldn’t find a file to d/l. Sign of the times video, though!

  15. Oh man, we had a power blip at the office and my five year old UPS for the internet equipment fragged itself. When I got the new UPS in place, one of my AT&T DSL modems was fragged with four red lights a-blinkin. I went through the dance with the phone help people and they are sending a technician tomorrow between 4 pm to 8 pm.

    I keep my cable modem and primary router on their own mini UPS. They can run for hours when the power goes down.

    Hopefully, you get the outage resolved in the next few days. This is a strike year at the Death Star, and the silly season usually kicks off Easter Weekend.

  16. _The Survivalist (National Treasure)_ by Arthur Bradley

    Book number ten of an eleven book post apocalyptic viral plague series. I read the well printed and bound POD (print on demand) trade paperback. I will purchase the eleventh book in the series when it is available.

    It has been a year since the superpox killed 98% of the people on the planet. Half of the survivors are infected and sub-intelligent with visible markings. The other half of the survivors are shell-shocked and trying to survive.

    The author is intertwining two stories throughout the entire series. The first story is about U. S. Marshall Raines and his 160 lb Irish Wolfhound. The second story is about his father and his adopted sister. Their stories are different, yet both pairs are trudging through the leftover horribleness of the USA.

    My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (130 reviews)

  17. Well, tonight I was ‘eating my own dogfood,” as the saying goes. Went out to our local Capital Improvement Plan meeting. This meeting is where the Mayor, our City Councilwoman, and various staff from various city departments tell us what they will be doing in our neighborhood in the coming five years. We also have time to ask questions and they have a little ‘public service’ fair, with tables set up for different helpful programs.

    The signal to noise ratio is very good, getting the info from the engineer’s mouth, from the Mayor himself, and from grunts on the ground (when needed.) The staffers all bring support staff to answer questions.

    Learned that Harvey recovery is expensive, extensive, and ongoing. Learned that the city will be focusing on ‘resilience’ and the type of projects that support that. Learned that pretty much no new projects will get added to the plan for a year to make room for the recovery projects. And the stormwater project for our neighborhood is pushed back to next year. Thanked the folks who put so much info on the city GIS system. Thanked the Public Works and Engineering folks for all the flood control efforts. I don’t think they get much thanks at public meetings.

    I continue to like our Mayor. He’s sincere, grounded, honest about problems, and lives only a couple of miles from here. I think he handled the Harvey crisis about as well as anyone could have and better than most.

    Get out into your community. Meet the people, at least to recognize them. Go to the meetings. You will learn something, and it gives you entre’ if you need it later. . . “yes, I spoke with the council woman at the CIP meeting and she suggested calling to discuss my issue….”

    Local. Meatspace.


  18. Lynn, since you mention DSL modems: I have a Netopia DSL modem that I scavenged out of my late brother in law’s house. If it’s of any value to you, even as an emergency back up, I’ll send it to you gratis.

  19. I have not seen posts from Myles in quite a while. If I recall correctly he lives in Adelaide. Perhaps the hiatus is because of this:

    Why Adelaide’s ‘tragic’ rat situation is getting worse.

    Rob Hore, a pest controller mentions, amongst other things, what we suspected:
    – For people who already have a problem and want to take matters into their own hands, Mr Hore advised against using Ratsak — the rodent-killing blocks work too quickly, and rats will communicate to others to avoid it.
    – “So if you have a product out there that kills them too quickly, they’ll actually relay that to other rats running around.

  20. I’m still around. Lurking mostly…

    I’ve been here four years, seen two dead rats in the driveway, none elsewhere. No nibbling by rodents, no scats. Nothing. Inside the house or garage. The house in Canberra had mice on and off for years. First one I saw in the weeks after moving in in 1985 was nibbling on a bar of soap. Yes, they do learn. Trapping with peanut butter became difficult.


  21. Anndddd.. @Nick – you just posted the Wednesday post but commenting appears to be turned off. How am I supposed to give the weather report for the great white north? And other stuff?

    Really, just an FYI so it can be fixed.

  22. Fixed. weird, never had to turn them on before, have turned them off on some older stuff…..


  23. Lynn, since you mention DSL modems: I have a Netopia DSL modem that I scavenged out of my late brother in law’s house. If it’s of any value to you, even as an emergency back up, I’ll send it to you gratis.

    Thanks but no need (or use). AT&T uses special DSL modems for their uverse lines. Turns out the problem is not the modem, it is the phone line.

  24. Learned that Harvey recovery is expensive, extensive, and ongoing.


    “Flood czar Steve Costello argues that despite the project’s enormity, the tunnels might actually be the cheapest way to bring the all the county’s major waterways up to 100-year capacity.”

    Note that most of Houston’s waterways cannot even take a ten year flood now without overflowing.

    I actually think that this will work. I also think that the cost will be in the tens of billions.

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