Sun. Feb. 16, 2020 – got a few things done, SO MUCH more to do

Cool and slightly drier than most days.

Nice day yesterday, although it did get cloudy and overcast in the afternoon. Wife got some yard work done. I got some yard work done. I did a little ebay and storage reorganizing, and packed an item for shipment. I met with a buyer for a hand delivery on some speakers. Saved me the effort of packing them well. He was on time too, which was nice.

I’ve got ONE thin little stalk of asparagus poking up. The broccoli I planted ran directly to flower. The limes are heavy with flower buds. Peach still hasn’t quite budded. I’m still getting some peppers from the two year old plants but will get some new ones in the ground soon. I cleaned out (well, started) some of my fence “window boxes” and will get some root veg in there ASAP. Turnips, radishes, and beets are all on the calendar this week and next as a good time to plant.

I spent some time cleaning leaves out of the area around the garage and fence, and the driveway. I’ve been working on it for a week or more. It should help get rid of some of the damp, and maybe help with the critters too.

I bought a couple of rat trap poison feeders, and put one in the driveway, and one in the attic. I re-baited another. Something has been eating the bait in the attic, mice probably, and the dead rat on the lawn says that there are still rats here somewhere. Even if they’re not eating my preps, I don’t want them around.

Rats, garbage, and sanitation issues are problems in quarantined china. Pics show people throwing trash and worse out their windows into shared courtyards. If you haven’t already learned from my saga, get some traps and poison so you’ll have it on hand when needed.

The virus is spreading and turning up in new places. The chinese continue to crack down harder- as that’s what oppressive governments do. Gotta stop the trucks from moving, even if it means dumping food on the ground while people go hungry. Gotta keep people from gathering, even if it means wrestling with them hand to hand.

Prepare for the virus to get loose here, and celebrate when it doesn’t. Prepare for the economy to tank due to the loss of China and chinese goods. Maybe we’ll dodge the effects, but I don’t think so.

I know what I’m doing. I hope you guys do too.

nick

35 thoughts on “Sun. Feb. 16, 2020 – got a few things done, SO MUCH more to do”

  1. I spent some time cleaning leaves out of the area around the garage and fence, and the driveway. I’ve been working on it for a week or more. It should help get rid of some of the damp, and maybe help with the critters too.

    I suspect the neighbor’s garbage is not secure behind his fence, which led to the rodent problem with my car.

    With the outside bait traps, how do you keep non-varmints from getting at the poison? God knows, I don’t want to be accused of killing bunnies.

  2. No idea, but I see the bait boxes everywhere, and there are still bunnies and squirrels.

    I’m hoping that the squirrels prefer any of the dozen other potential foods to the bait. This is the first one I’m putting outside.

    n

  3. Wait… bunnies ARE rodents! So are squirrels. Rats with fluffy tails and rats with bushy tails.

  4. I’m hoping that the squirrels prefer any of the dozen other potential foods to the bait. This is the first one I’m putting outside.

    When I take my car in for repair tomorrow *again*, I’m going to ask them for the damaged wiring harness back to use as bait in some kind of trap. Obviously, something finds that plastic to be tasty.

    Toyota and the dealer (Penske company) won’t do anything for me. The best the dealer service manager would offer is to put the total of the repair right at my $500 deductible — great for The Lizard, but not for me.

    The only thing I lack to do the wire replacement on my own is whatever specialized tool is necessary to connect the harness to the DI ports. That tool allows Penske to charge $500 to install a $70 part that runs on top of the engine.

  5. I replenished our bulk rice bin yesterday. $28 for 25 lbs of Thai Jasmine at HMart. Yikes!

    Rice is a global commodity. It will go where the money is available to pay for it.

    No, I don’t buy the bulk bags at Costco. Bob and I used to debate this, but I find the Jasmine from Costco develops bug problems faster than the bulk bags from the Asian groceries, either Elephant or Three Sisters brands. My guess is that Costco is taking older stock from the overseas exporters to get the better price. Of course, the Asian groceries require an in-person trip.

    I’m moderately concerned and will work on upping our food stocks, but, as with the last time I did it in 2016 ahead of the election, the biggest obstacle is the expired, odd things my spouse is prone to picking up, placing in the pantry, and never using. Flax seed anyone?

  6. Hong Kong residents prudently stocking up on necessities are told not to hoard toilet paper, ‘cuz it can mould….

    https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/3050862/coronavirus-do-not-hoard-toilet-paper-rolls-they-can-get

    “Wong warned against stockpiling toilet rolls, as the moisture on tissue surfaces could cause mould to grow easily if stored for a prolonged period. “This can happen especially under the humid climate. Mould is hardly visible to the naked eye but can harm our health.””

    —OH, oF course it can…

    And the jokes just write themselves, when in an article about toilet paper you get–


    -Consumer Council chief says city’s suppliers have guaranteed enough stock for the surge in demand
    No 2 official also gives reassurances that rice reserves are sufficient for the population

    –I’m sure people are working diligently to contain the rumors and limit panic prudent buying. I’m not so sure there will actually be enough TP or rice…

    n

  7. Woke up this morning to a colder than usual house. Heating system has died – probably the fan unit. The fan has a buzzing noise when it is trying to start up.

    Heat pump system, no supplemental electric coil heat. System is 21 years old. Heat pump uses R22, which is no longer available.

    Fan replacement will cost about $800. Might give another year of use. Heat pump has a very small leak; had to recharge in 2018 which cost $400 for the R22. So whole unit is near (or past) end-of-life.

    Neighbor – houses built at same time – replaced his last year for about $12k. But Trane has a 0%/6 year financing right now. Heating guys are not busy now, so maybe a one-week delay before replacement; replacement takes about a day.

    Strongly leaning towards replacement. Will be high-efficiency heat pump system (no natural gas here, only propane). Winter temps here get in the mid-20’s during the coldest part of winter, so a more efficient heat pump that can work in those temps is a plus. And AC is needed during the summer, although summer temps rarely get into the 80’s.

    In the meantime, have a small electric heater going in the den, which has doors. And temps here are ranging 32-50F this week. So will survive.

  8. Buzzing or humming fan motor usually means the starting capacitor has died. It’s an easy and cheap repair. Just find it (usually silver can, about the size of two D cells) google the numbers on the side and replace with like.

    I’ve done it many times. they cost between $35 and $75 and the whole process takes about a half hour.

    Worth a try if you have to wait a week anyway.

    n

  9. Japan might have community contagion…

    At least 59 cases have now been confirmed, including more than a dozen among the hundreds of Japanese nationals and their relatives repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.
    …..
    With the rise in local infections, Kato warned the country was ‘entering a new phase.’

    ‘We are seeing infection cases that we are unable to trace back their transmission routes,’ he said

    ‘We want to ask the public to avoid non-urgent, non-essential gatherings. We want elderly and those with pre-existing conditions to avoid crowded places.”

    n

  10. @nick

    I suspected the starting capacitor. Took off the fan cover panel (main power off, of course), and the capacitor was a bit warm. Got the part number.

    Found the part on the Zon, $10. Will be here tomorrow. Easy enough to replace. Cheap enough to give it a try. Might try to lube the fan bearings also; they are starting to get a bit squeaky.

    The whole system will still need replacing soon, though. But if this fix works, the urgency is reduced. Thanks.

  11. Heat pump system, no supplemental electric coil heat. System is 21 years old. Heat pump uses R22, which is no longer available.

    If R22 is the concern, we just had the main control board on our 25 year-old system replaced, and when discussing replace/repair with the tech, he indicated that a less efficient equivalent to R22 is available to swap out in the affected systems. At least, it is here in Texas. Dunno about WA State where the sphincters are tighter.

    Still, considering that you live in a high humidity area and the system is 21 years old, replacement is worth considering. If we got a dozen years out of a Trane system in FL, we were doing well.

    I won’t touch another Nexia-dependent system, the highest efficiency Trane units which need the ComfortLink II protocols, so my quotes for replacement were $6000 for 1H/1C and $8000 for 2H/2C. $12,000 sounds like XV series — Trane’s 20 SEER units.

    I’ve posted before about my issues with Nexia. I’ve had hard crashes from that thermostat twice, waking up to a cold house and requring turning off/on the breaker to reset the system. Trane dealers can install Honeywell RedLink thermostats to control the XR series or lower with minor loss of efficiency, but the XV absolutely must have the Nexia to run well enough to justify the cost with power bill savings over the life of the unit.

    Nick is right about checking the capacitor first, but my outside fan simply didn’t power on at all when that happened with our older system.

  12. As I’ve shared, I’m just limping along with our system here. I really don’t want to drop the big wad of cash to update. We’re looking at doing the roof this or next month too, and that deductible is quite large.

    If I update the HVAC I want electrostatic air cleaner and UV sterilizer too….

    n

  13. If I update the HVAC I want electrostatic air cleaner and UV sterilizer too….

    That’s big money from the dealers who mark the units up 50% at a minimum. We opted to have the box installed on the intake ($350) with a cardboard whole-system filter, giving us the option of an easy electrostatic/UV upgrade later, but we haven’t felt the need to shell out the cash for the serious filtration. The dust seems decently controlled just by moving the filter from the intake vent to near the blower.

  14. I run the top of the line 3m allergen filters that will fit my system (only 1 inch thick) and change them every month. They are thick and hairy when I change them. LOTS of tree pollen, and a short haired dog, with three long haired females living here equals lots of hair in the filters. I figure if I’m going to go for it, I might as well GO for it.

    Unless that doubles the cost. Then I’ll settle.

    n

  15. Working in the driveway, clearing MORE leaves, opening up my fence window boxes (they need to dry out and get some sunshine before I refill them), and looking under the tarps. I’ve forgotten a bunch of stuff that is out there. Jeez, maybe I really do have a problem…..

    n

  16. Bulked up our supplies a bit more at Costco today. Saw a handful of people wearing face masks, and not of typical stereotype for the wearers.

    We are set to hunker down if we need. Our water situation isn’t good – haven’t found a way to store outside my available budget that can last even one winter. Indoor storage is severely limited due to space.

    Continuing to move “precious stuff” slowly out of the house. We donated a significant amount of junk -ahem- “precious stuff” to thrift stores last couple of years. We’ve just about got our 7 year old daughter trained to voluntarily purge her books and toys to make space for different precious stuff instead of endless accumulation.

    It’s a beautiful warm day. Middle teens. Blue skies and a nice layer of snow. Gorgeous and I didn’t need my gloves with the suns warmth. Hard to comprehend the despair in China in the face of such bucolic days here.

  17. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV ….

    But I don’t understand the need for face masks. All the articles I have read from a variety of sources say that they will not prevent ‘breathing a virus’ unless they are tight-fitting (and most wearers aren’t). Especially if you are not in a ‘virus-laden environment’. Maybe if you are in a close environment of infected people. But not out in the ‘general public’ in areas where there have been no cases.

    Typical advice:

    Wearing surgical masks does not prevent a person from inhaling smaller airborne particles; they are not considered respiratory protection by the CDC. Surgical masks are also loose fitting, and when the wearer inhales, there is potential for particles to leak in or out of the sides.

    Better is to wash hands frequently if you in a ‘virus enviroment’, avoid touching your face/eyes.

    But wearing surgical masks is not going to protect you, AFAIK. Even N95 masks have to be properly fitted and worn.

  18. But I don’t understand the need for face masks. All the articles I have read from a variety of sources say that they will not prevent ‘breathing a virus’ unless they are tight-fitting (and most wearers aren’t). Especially if you are not in a ‘virus-laden environment’. Maybe if you are in a close environment of infected people. But not out in the ‘general public’ in areas where there have been no cases.

    Business opportunity. 3M has probably moved more product in the last week than they do in a year. Heck, many years.

    Plus, you have Chinese people involved. I’ve explained the cultural quirk I call “You Ain’t Got No Ice Cream” in this space before. I wouldn’t be surprised if my in-laws have a stash of masks at this point. Where Americans would sell if the price got high enough, my wife’s family will still have the masks 20 years from now.

    No one from the family has dared call our house about the situation. They played “You Aint’t Got No Ice Cream” with us for four years regarding my unemployment and our inability to afford a house in WA State, and they have no taste for crow dinner. Not that my wife is like that … but they’re scared that I am.

    Think Khan on “King of the Hill”. Trust me, that is not a cruel stereotype. I used to think that, but I learned the truth.

  19. A contrarian viewpoint: While nothing short of a self-contained, overpressure environment with a sterilizing wash-down before removal will stop 100% of viruses, lesser methods reduce the amount of virus contacting you. If 100 virus particles contacting your eyes, mucus membranes, or open wounds have a 10% chance of making you sick, 50 particles will have a lesser chance. Ordinary paper or cloth masks won’t stop the particles but they’ll stop sneeze droplets containing the virus. The same goes for shop glasses or other protective eyewear; even if they don’t stop everything, blocking most of the spray will help a lot.

    Furthermore, a paper mask and simple protective glasses will help keep people from touching their faces. Rick’s advice to wash your hands frequently and to avoid touching your face is good, except that most people have no idea of how often they rub their nose, chew on a fingernail, scratch near their eyes, and so on.

  20. Face masks, N95 at least, will keep you from inhaling the droplets of moisture carrying the virus. It’s pedantic to insist that they won’t protect you because “they don’t stop viruses.” Viruses are tiny. The droplets of moisture they ride on are not. WuFLu rides on droplets (so far.) N95 and P100 masks WILL stop the wuflu riding on droplets. CDC requires medical staff and anyone exposed to PUI (patients under investigation) to wear N95 masks, so they do provide protection. They require eye pro too.

    Surgical masks, the loose fitting flat ones that tie on or loop over the ears are designed to keep the wearer’s droplets from getting on the patient, and work very well when placed on a PATIENT to protect others. There are other surgical masks that do fit closely to the face and are N95 or P100 rated against INHALING particles or airborne droplets. Then there are “respirators” which is a legal thing. In the old days that meant a rubber mask that fit against your skin, and an additional cartridge and pre-filter that did the magic. Some time ago, OSHA required fit tests, and respiratory function tests for everyone who wore a respirator. Makes sense from their pov because the rubber fit very well and the carts would restrict airflow. Most employers didn’t want to pay for a function test for everyone, so went to the 3m, molded fabric type to provide protection, but not require the test. Somehow they became qualified as “respirators” after that. Which again required a lung function test even though the paper filter doesn’t ever really restrict airflow.

    Real N95 respirators usually have 2 straps (yellow, since the 3M ones were yellow) and fit very snugly when sized and worn correctly. Some have an exhaust valve to help keep safety glasses fog free. Paper “nuisance and dust” masks don’t keep anything out except big chunks. They used to only have one (blue) strap.

    Now the rubber ones are called “half face” respirators. There are “full face” respirators too, and externally filtered positive air pressure full face ones too. That’s bunny suit territory. I’ve got a couple crates of those, but no filters or batteries. I’m digging thru the driveway pallets to find them.

    I’ve got N95 masks from my woodworking days, and half face from working with VOC chemicals, and even full face, ‘cuz I picked one up cheap at a yard sale. I’ve even got a Scott SCBA escape pak, but don’t have it filled ATM….

    NO mask or other PPE will protect you if it’s not Donned, Doffed, and worn correctly.

    Whether you wear one in public CURRENTLY depends on whether you think it’s out there in the community already. I mean, it will be at some point and we’ll only find out AFTER people start getting sick…

    If you ARE sick, a simple surgical mask will protect everyone else from your nasty cough or sneeze.

    n

  21. On a different subject: since the house heater doesn’t work, we’ve been staying in the den with a ceramic heater (works well). The den has a door, so comfortable.

    But the house (built in 1999, two story, cathedral ceiling in living/dining area) is getting cold. About 62F currently. Outside temp 45F (at 530pm; sunset time). Big windows in the main room, but bifold blinds are closed. Would have thought that the insulation would have been better at keeping the house a bit warmer.

    Maybe I need to use a thermal camera to see how good the insulation is. But they are $150+-ish.

  22. According to the building science mags I get, air leaks are far more important than the amount of insulation.

    Thermal cams help show that too.

    n

  23. Contrarian again: domiciles which are sealed up so tight that they don’t have air leaks tend to develop mold and have a problem with being “sick” houses. Really tightly sealed houses don’t get enough air in to keep oxygen levels up. There’s probably a sweet spot where you balance thermal efficiency with air exchange, but it wasn’t known how to do that in practice when I looked into it ten years ago.

  24. @steve, oh, I agree, I don’t think a tight house is worth it. To many issues from moisture. Just that air movement is a bigger heat drain than insulation missing.

    n

  25. All the systems in common use require constant power to run HRV (ventilators) and HVAC. See also, Brad Pitt homes, New Orleans, to see what happens to tight homes that aren’t properly operated or maintained.

    n

    my 80yo rent house doesn’t have a patch of mold in it and it sat open to the weather for a couple of years with a hole in the roof. Balloon framing (air movement inside the walls from under the house into the attic, pier and beam construction, solid wood products everywhere (no ply or glued chips). It’s chilly and drafty in winter, but NO MOLD. In Houston. With no AC for 60 of those years.

  26. Currently in Bryan TX, Aggie Land. Drove from SA to Round Rock. I-35 sucks. Traffic was a mess in San Marcos and especially Austin. Did I mention I-35 sucks? Should have taken the toll road that bypasses Austin but saw the exit too late and Bubba No-Brains in his jacked up F-250 decided I should not be allowed to change lanes. Did I mention I-35 sucks through Austin?

    Spent the afternoon with the wife’s nephew and his wife. Then left Round Rock via highway 79 to Bryan. Lot of empty space making the drive seem like it took forever.

    Will stay here until Tuesday morning. Was going to head home on Thursday but will move things up a day. Thus two nights in Bryan instead of three. Will partake of Rudy’s BBQ tomorrow evening, good stuff.

    Got everything done at the MIL’s house. Installed the security light, washed and waxed the car, installed a digital TV antenna, and fixed the sliding glass door. Last time I was in SA BIL came to MIL’s to fix the door dragging. Made it a little better, but still problems. Determined this time that when the door was reinstalled the wheel retraction mechanism was turned the wrong way and allowed the wheels to settle after a few openings and closing. This time the mechanism was turned in the direction of the detents that stops the wheels from settling. Door now works properly.

    Tuesday and Wednesday will be long days. Have no idea where we will stop on Tuesday. Sixteen hours of AIS time. Will drive until we are tired, hopefully about halfway when we stop. Last time I did the full stretch of 16 hours, not doing that again, lesson learned.

  27. I did Houston to Chicago by stopping just past Little Rock AR. It made for about equal days. I also stop at about every other rest area. That helps enormously to break up the drive and keep me awake. Not to mention the “bio” break. It does slow down the overall time, but I get there alive, so there is that.

    Satellite radio helps too, as did books on CD. Listened to CSLewis, Narnia chronicles with my little one. She watched a lot of DVDs on the headrest monitors.

    My last trip to College Station, I was listening to youtube. I have a cable to get the phone into the stereo. Some cars have blutooth. I listen to the same guys I watch at night. I can glance at the phone if there is something I need to see.

    I run a GPS and my phone with google directions. The GPS stays zoomed out so I can see overall progress, while the phone stays at a more detailed level… long ago I had to drive a lot and used my GPS III+ almost as a companion. It would count down to arrival. Anything to help stay alert and awake.

    n

  28. Currently in Bryan TX, Aggie Land. Drove from SA to Round Rock. I-35 sucks. Traffic was a mess in San Marcos and especially Austin. Did I mention I-35 sucks? Should have taken the toll road that bypasses Austin but saw the exit too late and Bubba No-Brains in his jacked up F-250 decided I should not be allowed to change lanes. Did I mention I-35 sucks through Austin?

    The long weekend compounds the problem on I35 through Austin. Plus, I believe there was a marathon event downtown today.

    Easter and Memorial Day Weekends turn I35 into a parking lot anymore. Plan ahead if you’re heading back this way before Summer. Easter tends to be a big outlet shopping trip weekend for upper middle class Mexican families, and Memorial Day is the height of the real estate silly season.

  29. I did Houston to Chicago by stopping just past Little Rock AR. It made for about equal days. I also stop at about every other rest area. That helps enormously to break up the drive and keep me awake. Not to mention the “bio” break. It does slow down the overall time, but I get there alive, so there is that.

    I ran from Orlando to Portland in three days about 10 years ago, stopping outside St. Louis and Laramie, WY for a few hours sleep and a shower in each place. I don’t remember much about the last few hours of that trip, between Pendleton and Portland, which is really scary.

  30. I have disposable N95s, but prefer the *bandito* style with replaceable filters for smoke, working outside, etc., for the seal. I don’t know if you can disinfect them if using for COVID-19 protection. I always carry a *bandito* with new filters traveling and my around town murse.

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