Mon. April 2, 2018 – some thoughts on preparedness, and life

70F and 97%RH, sure to dry up as the sun warms the day…..

I read this article and was struck by how many of the things match my own ideas (although not put the same way) and by how different it is from most “prepper” articles. I usually just skim his articles as they are long and have a different focus than I do. This one is worth the read, I think, particularly in light of RBT’s experience.

I too liked to read Greer’s Archdruid Report, with the same caveats. I think there is a middle ground that he ignores or misses entirely, but there are lots of things to think about in the article.

Craftsmanship in Preparedness

“…when it comes down to brass tacks, “survival” is an impossible task. The incontrovertible truth is, “no one here gets out alive.” It doesn’t matter how much food you have stored, how many guns you have, or rounds of ammunition, or how many Israeli Battle Dressings you have stockpiled. Stuff doesn’t have nearly the effect on fate that decisions and good decision making do.

My interest isn’t in magically prolonging my personal physical existence. My interest is in passing down the values that have made my life worth living and enjoying, to my children and grandchildren-to-be, so they can pass it down in their turn.

The PROCESS, the planning, the ‘thinking through’, is the important part.


Author: Nick Flandrey

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

29 thoughts on “Mon. April 2, 2018 – some thoughts on preparedness, and life”

  1. 35º and fair in the city that floated more than a few boats. We’re going to get warmer but then cool off again before we can get used to it.

    Easter holiday went well. Family and church services occupied the parts that weren’t occupied by races and fun activities with the children. Good weekend overall.

  2. Ok, off to a slow start this AM??

    Question for the hive mind…


    The eye tracker requires USB 3.0 and the Lenovo t420 doesn’t have it. It does have an expresscard port.

    Questions for the group-

    anyone have this card to donate?

    Anyone have any direct experience with it versus another? like most of these chinese knockoffs?

    Requirements are that it fit flush in the port, that it really support 3.0 under win7,8 and 10, and that it be available to me in one or two days.

    I THINK I recognize StarTech as a legit brand, and the reviews are all better than the china knockoffs…

    any comments??


    btw, got thru another round of updates to the lappy today, and win7 is registered and valid…..

    added, and yes, I feel sick to my stomach that I didn’t discover the 3.0 requirement before this…..

  3. We use StarTech devices here. They’re not my favorite brand, but I buy their adapters often enough to know that they generally work.

    Everybody misses things like that. The way standards change in technology, it’s a wonder anything works at all.

    The only USB 3 adapters I have are “work” equipment (not mine to give) and are for SFF desktops. I’m not that hi-tech at home.

  4. Or this one

    which in general has good reviews, but is backordered.

    which has a good review in a t420, and claims that it doesn’t pull out when removing the usb cable, which is a complaint about the StarTech…


  5. I THINK I recognize StarTech as a legit brand

    Have used their products in the past, specifically a USB 3.0 card. Had no problems with the device at all. I think it would be OK. At one time I had three of the cards but tossed them as I acquired systems that had USB 3.0 built in. The only card I have left is the one in my main system and it is working fine.

    Using that brand you should be OK. Also consider Rosewill which is Newegg’s private brand. I have had good success with their products.

    Lots of models and Newegg stands behind their products.

  6. Using that brand you should be OK. Also consider Rosewill which is Newegg’s private brand. I have had good success with their products.

    I’ve used Rosewill and StarTech without problems.

    Just be sure to read the return policy carefully if you aren’t sure about the part.

  7. anyone have this card to donate?

    Mr. Nick,

    If no one has a card donate, send me email where to send it and I’ll order it on Amazon.

  8. “Why Elon Musk’s bankruptcy joke on Twitter isn’t funny”

    I actually saw a Model 3 “in the wild” this weekend in the parking lot of Home Depot.

    Musk will stretch out the bankruptcy until after the election in hope that the Democrats retake the House.

  9. As when Apple switched to the Power PC chip and then abandoned that chip in favor of Intel. Made a lot of systems unable to upgrade the OS or user software forcing many to purchase new systems and new software.

    Apple decisions are not made with the user’s best interest in mind. Bash Microsoft all you want but you can probably still run Windows XP and WordPerfect 6.0 on newer systems. With Apple going that far back is almost impossible.

    The one thing I have never liked about Apple as far back as I can remember has to do with their file system and a couple of hidden files. I don’t remember the exact file extension but it had a dot (.) in the extension. On any Windows server share or FAT32 formatted external media drive Apple always placed those files. Because of the period in the extension global searching and removal was difficult.

    Even USB drives would have the files added to the drive by simply inserting the USB drive. Even if the USB drive was full IOS would add the files. More than once this would trash the entire USB drive as the OS would write the files regardless of the amount of free space many times trashing the drive directory. How I cursed IOS many times.

    Another other annoying feature was non-sticky selections from menu items in programs. You had to hold the mouse button when selecting sub items in the menu. Clicking the on the menu item, release the mouse, the menu goes away. That was illogical behavior in my opinion as when I clicked on something I wanted it to stay. Perhaps because I was spoiled by my Windows trained fingers.

    I also did not like that special characters could be used in file names when using a Windows Server shared resource. This resulting in many files that had names where you could not delete or do anything with a file unless you used wild cards as the name was not able to be displayed. This was mostly the result of a boss who failed to listen to my recommendations and continued to use special characters in his file names. In my opinion Apple should have blocked that behavior for a Windows Share.

    I did like that the file type was represented in the file header and not a result of the extension. That was dumb move on the part of Microsoft as far as software was concerned. However it did make it easier for a user to know the program if the user could remember the file extension. So it is sort of a toss up on that behavior.

    No vendor has done everything I think was “correct and logical” each having their own quirks. I have to wonder if there was usability testing and if there was, where did the companies find the clods to do the testing.

  10. @MrAtoz, I ordered a card and cable. If they work, I’ll send you an email if you want to send me amazon gift credit for the amount. If it doesn’t work it’ll be easier to return this way.

    So in the mean time (and Jenny clearly said the tracker needed usb3.0, I just assumed a modern lappy would have it) I’ve installed the tracker keyboard app (FOSS) and a free HEAD tracker that uses the built in webcam. Unfortunately I discovered that all of the free and open and even the paid webcam trackers are HEAD trackers. I’ve been playing and it requires a lot of control to use the head tracker. From Liz’s email there is no way OFD has that kind of movement.

    Good thing we have the Tobii tracker to work with.

    The Optikey software works very well and it is possible to do typing and text to speech pretty quickly. Amazing really.

    Next step is getting the eye tracker working (stuff to arrive Wednesday) and see how it works with the software. Still looking at the speak and spell sorts of apps to cut down on everyday typing for interaction. More on that later.

    Gotta pay some bills for a while.


  11. The special characters in OSX burned a friend of mine when he upgraded to OSX. He had been using a period to mark the “important” files in his work folders under OS9. When he went to OSX (based on BSD Unix), all of those “important” files became hidden files. He had YEARS of data in such files. He also had no real backup to work with.

    Being a friend, I got a copy of those directories off on an external drive to work on. I found the right commands to rename those files but had to do it manually because the rename wouldn’t work on a .file recursively (or something like that). It was 10 years ago, and I thought it would be the end of the silliness.

    I guess not.

  12. It was 10 years ago, and I thought it would be the end of the silliness

    When I got a new boss that started out with a Mac and then finally converted to Windows I had the, ahem, honor, of cleaning up all those thousands of files on the Windows share. Not only did I have to eliminate those hidden special characters (appeared as a dot in Windows), I also had to eliminate all those hidden files directory by directory to clean everything up.

    Took me several weeks, not full time, but a couple of hours a day, to eliminate the junk. The old boss just would not accept that using the special characters sort of locked other people of using those files on anything but another Mac.

    What really ticked me off was the writing of those files on USB drives in every directory that was even touched. OS/X would open the directory, not find the files, and create the files. Even if the USB drive was full the files were created. More than once I had a USB drive that was completely full, inserted into a Mac computer, copied a couple of files, put the drive in a Windows computer and the drive was completely corrupt. No directories, no files, just unreadable. All because of the Mac writing those files when there wasn’t space thus corrupting the drive.

    Tell me again about user friendliness.

  13. Ok, didn’t get away from the keyboard, got sucked down the rabbit hole.

    I am beginning to feel like I’ll be getting angry soon.

    There is a whole industry devoted to “helping” people with various issues communicate. The simplest device was a ‘flip book’ filled with pages of symbols and words. A non-verbal person could point to the pictures, even assemble sentences and respond to the world around him. The next step up was an electronic device that spoke the words. I’ve got a box full, branded “chatbox” that a school district got rid of. The next logical step is to do the same thing in software, so that a simple COTS device could be used, and would be even better due to better displays, processors,storage, etc.

    This does not even sound all that challenging, as it is just a series of tiles/buttons arranged in a grid, some linked together in a tree, some just a page of choices. Select a box, word gets moved to the “assembly area”, select another, etc, then hit “speak” to c/p to the speech processor, or c/p to the clipboard to use elsewhere.

    Seems easy enough to make it modular and populate the tiles on the fly from lists.

    This is in fact the sort of app Jenny mentioned setting up for a friend at the beginning of the OFD project.

    Seems like there might even be DOZENS of similar apps. But there aren’t.

    The difficult thing would be setting up the initial word lists, so as to get useful ones near the top, and logical “pagesets” built. Again, not hard, just tedious or requiring a bit of thought. And if done with web tools, could be developed more as time passes, with new lists and pagesets added.

    So why the FUK does a device that does all that cost so much that the maker has a whole department set up to “help” the customer obtain FUNDING for their device? Funding which requires about 7 pieces of documentation, all provided by ‘certified’ people. And the approval process takes TWO MONTHS. And no, there isn’t a list price anywhere.

    One maker sells the ‘non-eye tracking enabled’ version of their chatbox software for $175, but to use it with an eye tracker it costs $500 and doesn’t include the tracker.

    I’m gonna get mad because these pirates have built themselves empires by making the tech as expensive and hard to get as possible.

    The whole ‘special needs’ industry works the same way. Wheel chairs that cost 100 at the thrift store are $1000. A wooden chair to hold your kid upright and stable at a table is $500. A freaking foam WEDGE is hundreds of dollars. I had parents BEGGING me to help them find stuff they needed while they waited for the gears to grind on funding, or to provide what they needed to care for their kids AFTER being denied. I had my wife spread the word that I had a trailer load of mixed special needs stuff, and within a week I had people calling from all over the country desperately hoping for something that I hadn’t listed.

    yeah, I think if I continue looking at this I’ll be getting mad…


  14. @nick
    I experienced a similar surge of anger when I was trying to help my friend. No one was coming out and saying it, but it was clear her battle with ALS was going to be a brief one. The only people sincerely working to ensure she had some degree of quality of life for those brief months were her close friends.

    The industry didn’t give a flying f$$&

    By the time she rose to the top of the list for a speech assistance device, or anything else for that matter, she would be dead and ashes.

    Her friends ensured she had a power wheel chair, bedside commode, text to speech device, and I don’t remember what else.

    We took care of her. Not the industry. 4 years since she died and I’m still angry on her behalf.

    Even hospice care was too late, and they have the best reputation of anyone in the field.

    I despise modern medicine. It makes me furious when I think about my friends end of life. A dog is treated with more dignity and compassion than any human that has the misfortune to be on government funded medical.

    Whatever I can do to help with the OFD project, let me know. My daughter and I are writing OFD regularly in the hopes of not only providing him a break in the monotony, but to show staff that OFD has an active community of supporters.

  15. The industry didn’t give a flying f$$&

    Yes, they do.

    As long as you are willing to pay them lots of money and bow to their demands. They are your best friends. Run out of money and poof they are all gone. Even dealing with government assholes workers is the same scenario.

    From the clueless to the lazy to the just flat out incompetent the government workers only care about getting their paycheck and doing as little as possible to receive the pay check.

  16. My daughter and I are writing OFD regularly in the hopes of not only providing him a break in the monotony, but to show staff that OFD has an active community of supporters.

    There’s a gross/funny “hang in there” card sitting on my desk waiting to be sent out with tomorrow’s mail, albeit with some concerns about the fate of the card:

    1. Is OFD still at the UVM Medical Center?

    2. If not, what is the Center’s policy in re mail to former patients? Does the staff attempt to forward the mail to the patient’s new location, do they return it to sender, or do they round-file it? (My cynical self says the third option is the default.)

    No doubt OFD’s better half has a lot on her plate at the moment, the least of which is keeping a bunch of strangers up to date on OFD’s progress, but it would be reassuring to have just a word or two from her right about now …

  17. @MrAtoz, I ordered a card and cable. If they work, I’ll send you an email if you want to send me amazon gift credit for the amount. If it doesn’t work it’ll be easier to return this way.

    Great, Mr. Nick. Just email me details and I’ll send a gift card.

  18. “…the government workers only care about getting their paycheck and doing as little as possible to receive the pay check”

    I don’t blame you for feeling that way; I do myself sometimes, but I worked with a bunch of much better govt people. ‘Course, we made stuff to break things and kill people. All in the name of defense.

  19. The industry didn’t give a flying f$$&

    In the mid-1990s my great-grandmother died of dementia or Alzheimers or whatever you want to call it.

    My grandmother and I tried everything we could think of to get her help. No medical organization or care group could be bothered as we couldn’t jump through exactly the right hoops that they had set up in order to get help. The Alzheimers Association was particularly unhelpful.

    My grandmother was trained by the state as a volunteer ombudsman to ensure that nursing homes followed the proper standards so one would think she would understand the requirements and know who to contact but apparently not.

    My grandmother died of cancer a few years after her mother died. I’m convinced that the stress of trying to help her mother contributed to her death.

    We only found a bed for my great grandmother at a nursing home by proving we could pay, at least for a few months.

  20. I’ve sent a note to Liz, Dave’s wife, asking for an update, and to pass along our support and best wishes. [RBT would be quite exercised by all those commas!]

    I’ll pass along whatever I get back.


  21. I’m also sending off semi-regular postcards to OFD. I’m not the best letter writer, so the contents are kind of random. Advantage of a postcard – there’s no choice but to keep it short.

    I need to find better postcards after these are gone. It turns out that it’s hard to find pics of Swiss Alps in Switzerland, unless you happen to be in a heavy tourist area. So he’s getting pics of a local (not very attractive) city.

    Like MediumWave said, it would be nice to know whether they are arriving or not. Hope Nick gets some kind of answer…

  22. We only found a bed for my great grandmother at a nursing home by proving we could pay

    Had to get a nursing home for my aunt. The key was to getting in the nursing home was getting her on Medicaid, welfare for the infirm. Was able to get it all done in two weeks. She was in assisted living and was quickly running out of money. Welfare will not pay for assisted living. She had been paying about $3,400.00 a month for 6.5 years and had burned through all her cash.

    I did have to jump through some hoops. She had enough money left for one more month but could only get Medicaid if she has less than $2200 in assets, she had about $4K. I was able to purchase a funeral (cremation) policy and some clothes which brought her below the $2.2K limit, such purchases allowed by the law in TN.

    I then had to play games with her VA, retirement, and SS money. That required a guardianship account as mandated by the state. I had her retirement and social security direct deposits moved to that account. Her VA money dropped from $1.1K a month to $90 a month. State wanted all but $50 of her retirement and SS money and also wanted her $90 VA money. I had to get a letter from the VA stating the state was not entitled to that money. The state knew, was hoping I did not.

    A few months later I got audited by the VA as to my handling of my aunt’s fund. Not my first audit as it happened every year. I was told that my moving her VA money (money that was already in her old account) was against federal law and I could be fined and sent to prison for doing that transfer. However, the transfer was required by the state or my aunt would not get Medicaid. I had no choice to break federal law to get Medicaid.

    I explained all that to the VA person that was doing the audit that the state required the guardianship account and that all her funds had to be in that account. That required a transfer. I had the bank records showing the withdrawal and deposit of the exact amounts. VA person still stated that she could charge me with a federal crime with up to 10 years in prison and a $100K fine for misappropriation of VA money. But she was going to be nice as she understood what I did. I then asked her that since I was required by state law to do the transfer, and that under federal law the transfer was illegal, what other option should I have chosen. She never answered.

    My grandmother was trained by the state as a volunteer ombudsman to ensure that nursing homes followed the proper standards so one would think she would understand the requirements

    Silly you. What I learned about dealing with elderly with dementia, skilled care facilities, not so skilled facilities (nursing homes), dealing with the IRS, Social Security, the VA, audits by the IRS, the VA, Social Security and the state, dealing with paperwork, incompetent and unknowing state workers, VA workers trying to feel important, doctors, nurses, etc. was an eye opener.

    The most important lesson I learned is that the system is stacked against the individual needing assistance. Without someone willing to make the effort, knowing the rules, knowing the agency to contact, willing to put in some frustrating time, it quickly becomes a hopeless system. The conflict in laws making one a criminal by following another law is absurd and requires careful documentation and justification.

    Even after my aunt was in the system the paperwork from Medicare, her private insurance and Medicaid when dealing with payments to the system became so confusing that I eventually just started throwing the papers away. It was impossible to reconcile payments to providers and which agency paid what.

    In on particular case the ambulance company that had to take my aunt to the hospital billed her $1400.00 for a three mile transport. Medicare paid a small amount, her private insurance another small amount, Medicaid then paid some more. A balance of about $400.00 was left. The ambulance company demanded that I pay the balance simply because I had the same address as my aunt. I used my address to have all paperwork sent to me. Thus the ambulance company stated I was responsible.

    I had to remind the ambulance company that I was not responsible for another adult’s bills and that I was simply a paperwork monitor. The ambulance company persisted with sending me bills and demand payment letters. Finally they threatened sending me to collections. I then wrote a very strongly worded letter to the ambulance company stating that any such collection efforts would be illegal and if they did so I would be filing a lawsuit for billing fraud. I stated if the ambulance company did not like what they were paid to deal with Medicaid. I also indicated that I was sending a copy of the letter to state attorney general and the local district attorney charging the ambulance company with billing fraud. At that point the demand letters ceased.

    The ambulance company knew they were wrong and was hoping that I did not know they were wrong. I suspect the tactic had been used on others and were probably successful.

    Without knowing the rules, the regulations, how the system works, people in care facilities and their families will get scammed by these companies.

    It turns out that it’s hard to find pics of Swiss Alps in Switzerland, unless you happen to be in a heavy tourist area

    When I did the operate the steam locomotive in Ely Nevada back in September it was difficult in that small town to find any postcards that depicted the event or even the railroad. So we made our own postcards. Used some pictures I took plus some pictures another person took of me in the locomotive while I was operating that they kindly provided. Did a blended photo collage, printed on photo paper, then glued to heavier card stock. Worked quite well and everyone received their card including the people in Europe.

  23. Life and death was not meant to be so hard.

    Why do the bureaucraps have to make it so?

    Because we let them, except for people like @Ray. Ray gets :two thumbs up:

  24. @JimB – I have to agree with you. I’d like to think that my time with Uncle saw me acting the same way. But there were times I just wanted to make things difficult because then I wouldn’t have to work as hard. Good time for me to get out.

    That said, Pournelle’s Iron Law has yet to find an exception, and government agencies are by nature bureaucracies of the first order. The companies are in it to make money. The bureaucrats are in their to make sure they have a job tomorrow. The good people are overwhelmed by the people working to ensure they have a job tomorrow.

  25. Because we let them, except for people like @Ray. Ray gets :two thumbs up:

    Except when I die it will be two thumbs down, if they process me properly before I am roasted into fundamental elements.

    Actually I am considering a request that they stick one thumb up my ass, load me into the furnace ass end up as a final gesture to the world.

  26. And again, @Ray demonstrates the chutzpah that we all love and makes the internet interesting.

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