Thur. April 30, 2020 – Month’s gone, and we’re still here

Cool and nice, let’s hope.  [62F and sunny at 9am]

Yesterday finally got nice in the afternoon.  Sun came out and it was very pleasant.  Best part was low humidity and a breeze so things actually dried.

Since it was nice and rain is forecast, I did some outdoor work.  I did some sprinkler work in the front yard, some work on my ‘window box’ planters, and some driveway cleanup.

Slowly but surely there is some progress being made.

I’m a bit surprised by how slowly some of my stuff is progressing.  From casual comments on other blogs, some other people are finding the same thing.  It must be a side effect of the ongoing disaster.  I’m finding it hard to get motivated.

That despite the fact we now have over 61K deaths and over a million ‘confirmed’ cases.  I’m willing to accept the case diagnosis in a clinical setting, so I don’t need tests for every case to be counted. YMMV of course.

With summer getting closer, and weather nice, and the mostly invisible nature of this disaster, it’s hard to stay focused.  Make no mistake though, the knock on effects have started, and they will continue to get worse for some time.  Weeks, months, or forever, I’ve got no idea.  But some things have changed.  For example, what would it take before you felt comfortable in a ballroom full of sweaty strangers?  Or even a movie theater, or a restaurant? 855K active cases in the US that need to resolve before this is over, with more cases added every day.  18K are listed as ‘critical’.

It’s pretty safe to say there will be disruptions in the food supply.  Pretty safe to say that imports from countries that are just now starting to have cases explode up the curve, are going to be affected.   Actual shipping on ships will be affected.   Bankruptcies in industry, retail, and personal are bound to increase.   I’ve been a proponent of income streams for retirement vs saving cash in the bank, but a rent strike will hurt landlords big and small.  I’m not leveraged but people that are, or who depend on that income for current expenses  are going to be in a world of hurt if renters stop paying.  And who the heck can provide a valuation for anything in the current climate?  House, car, job, case of Mountain House, who really can say what it will be worth in a month or 3.

All that uncertainty tells me to keep prepping.  Stack what you can, while the brown truck and amazon are still running.  Focus on stuff you’ll need to get by in the next six months.  Any maintenance or repairs coming up?  Projects you’ve been putting off?  Or things that could improve your safety or livability?  Start thinking about what you’ll need and if you need to get it now to be sure you’ll have it later.

Stay in, stay safe,

n

(dinner was baked chicken legs, from the freezer, at least 4 years old.  Tandoori seasoning, bed of onion, bake in BBQ grill at 500F+ for 25 minutes, rice from the bucket, 2014 BB date, birthday cake for dessert.)

Wed. April 29, 2020 – and the week is half over…

Cooler, wet.

Yesterday was cool and wet, with spotty rain throughout the day.  I mostly stayed indoors.

Did a little bit of work on my client’s issues, mostly ordering replacement stuff and working with the controls programmer to troubleshoot issues that looked like failing hardware.   It turned out to most likely be a software issue.  The touchscreens had a little widget to get the local temp and weather conditions from the internet, but someone somewhere changed something, and the widget broke.  It didn’t fail gracefully and kept causing buffer overflows with error messages or error states (I’m not clear, and not being a programmer, only care a little.)  He eliminated the widget and the error logs stopped filling up.  Hopefully problem solved, but only time will tell.  Word to the wise, external links will break, and that may cause issues that look completely unrelated.

My new hard drive came so I’ll probably put that in today if the weather remains wet.  Hard to believe that 8TB of name brand and extra sturdy HD is only $220.  The new NVR software records everything in .mkv format, which leads to some huge files.  I might have to actually read the users guide to figure out how to get some smaller files, without losing too much quality.  The old software had months of recorded imagery, where the new only has days.  Of course the old would often miss recording very short duration events, like someone walking past the camera.  And I’ve added two 8mpx cams to the streams.  Still, I should be able to get a lot more on the drive than I am.  Doubling capacity to 8 days isn’t really enough.

WRT wuflu, secondary and tertiary effects are starting to manifest.  Low oil prices due to low demand.  Food shortages due to plant closings because of high infection rates in staff.   Crime increases due to prisoners being released, and decreased policing.  History says, it will get worse before it gets better.  Prepare yourself.

Stay in and stay safe.

 

n

 

Tues. April 28th, 2020 – whew, now to do some work

Cooler and wet.  Supposed to be in a thunderstorm area today and tomorrow.   We’ll see.

I got almost all the tree trimming done that I wanted to.  There’s still a lot of small and medium sized dead stuff in the oak, but I shortened and lightened the main branches, especially the ones over the house.  I usually do that before hurricane season, so with the cooler weather, and a pile of debris waiting for heavy trash pickup, it was a good time to do it.   I will say that my pecs are sore from yesterday’s sawing…

Then it was time to cook dinner for the birthday girl.  She wanted  “a 5 course meal” starting with grilled skewered chicken hearts, soup, grilled pork ribs, chocolate dipped strawberries and marshmallows, and finally birthday cake.  So that’s what we did.  Pulled from the freezer, cans, shelves (cake mix), and fresh strawberries. Wife made the cake, I decorated it.  We all ate it!   A good time was had by most, as older sister was a tiny bit frustrated about not getting enough attention.  Boo hoo.  Her birthday is next month.

Amazon says my hard drive will be here in a day or so.  The slippers I ordered on the same ticket will be delayed.   HD = critical and priority, slippers =  no need to ship so soon.   Except that I need to wear shoes, all the time.  If I walk around the house barefoot, I get foot, leg, knee, and back pain.   The Dr Scholls have a thick sole that conforms and supports my foot.  Good thing I ordered early and my current ones have a little life left.  Maybe I should order an extra pair.

Yesterday felt like a continuation of the weekend.  Today feels like work.

And so I better get something done.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

n

Mon. April 27, 2020 – daughter’s birthday, busy day!

Beautiful and warm, sunny and blue sky.  I hope. [very nice, getting into the 80s with clear skies and cool breezes]

Yesterday was very nice.  68F at 9am, 82 with a cool breeze in the shade in the afternoon.

I spent the afternoon outside.  I got the electric chainsaw back out, and took the time to sharpen it.  Made a HUGE difference even though it was my first time sharpening and kinda haphazard…  Cut up the remaining branches, and took another of the multiple trunks off one of the chinese cherries.   That wood is certainly dense.

Then I moved to the oak in the front yard and got out the “High Limb Saw” or chain saw in the middle of a long rope.  I took down about half a dozen limbs that were either dead or too far over the neighbor’s yard.    By the end of the afternoon, I was getting pretty good at throwing the sandbag over the high limbs to get the rope over.  It is a workout.

Cut up the branches with the electric chainsaw (very handy, fairly quiet, not intimidating, recommended.)  Threw the debris on the heavy trash pile.

Today if it’s still nice, I’ll get up on the roof and trim back those branches, and start in on the sprinklers.  We’ve removed bushes and some beds in the front of the house and have a whole zone or two of sprinklers that should be capped off.   They were originally installed poorly, with 12″ pop ups completely above the earth.  In other words, a dozen sprinkler heads like cans of tennis balls, sticking up where we don’t need them.  I keep tripping over them, breaking them off, and catching the hose on them.   I could leave a couple of risers for drip irrigation in the future, I guess.

Number two daughter turns 9 today and she’s bouncing off the walls.  Fortunately, I’d bought a bunch of stuff prior to lockdown, and amazon is still open to deliver stuff that my wife ordered.   Even without a get together with her friends, she should have  a good day.  I thought about sending cupcakes to all her school friends, and having them do a zoom vtc while they ate them and got a goodie bag, but we couldn’t get it organized in time.

The new version of my NVR software eats hard drive like crazy.  By default it records a constant stream from each camera.  That’s a lot of data…  Even setting up ‘record on motion’ for all the 3mpx cams didn’t save enough disk space with the three 8mpx cams streaming constantly.  I LIKE them capturing everything, but I don’t have the space.   So I ordered an 8 TB surveillance drive from amazon.  Only $220, which is astounding to me.  The surveillance drives are built to handle the 24/7 writing and constant use, and they cost a bit more.  Interesting to me to see the different drives being built to different specs for specific uses.  I’d say that was a sign of a mature market.

Oh, and I threw out a couple dozen shelf stable entre’s from Dinty Moore, completes, and a couple from an indian company.  They were  bb 2014 1nd 2015.  While still sealed and under vacuum, the egg dishes had turned uniformly brown, and the meat dishes looked pretty gross.   The indian dishes actually looked the best.  They all smelled ok, and probably wouldn’t kill you, but I’ve got food that isn’t nasty looking.  They were WAY in the back on the shelves in the garage.  High heat is probably to blame for the changes in appearance, oh, and the extra 5 years….

Dinner was late and needed to be quick and easy, so frozen cheeseburgers, cottage cheese, tomato, onion, and a pasta side dish.  Flavored pasta dish was bb 2016 in a foil lined paper pouch.  Tasted just like it should.

Stay in, Stay safe.

 

nick

Sun. April 26, 2020 – another day going by at light speed

Forecast says clear, my gut says- intermittent rain, with cooler temps.

Yesterday we got spotty rain off and on all day.  I didn’t let that stop me from working in the gardens and yard.   Cut up some branches for the woodpile.  Took down a branch to let more light into the back yard, in the late afternoon.  Two of my beds don’t get much direct sun before noon, so I need as late in the day as I can get.

I reseeded where something had dug up my seeds.  And this time, I put metal mesh (hardware cloth) over the top of where the seeds are.  That should keep the squirrels out of it until the plants have a chance to sprout.  I also reseeded the radishes and turnips in the ‘window boxes’ on the fence, and I went ahead and planted a few corn kernels.   I’ll see how they do and if the squirrels eat them.

If the weather’s good today, I’ll try to do some work on the sprinklers, and maybe get the rope saw out and do some pruning on the live oak in the front yard.  Maybe.

I did get some small cleanup done in the driveway, which the wife took as an anniversary gift 🙂  I sold and delivered a pallet jack to my buddy, and put some stuff out for heavy trash.

I feel like I got a bunch done, even with a fairly late start to the day.  I hope today goes as well.

Dinner was live Maine lobsters, flown in as a gift from my  in-laws.  I had to cook it, but it was a nice dinner.  I used the pot from my propane turkey fryer, and I should have used the gas ring too.  It took forever to heat the water on my electric range, and my timing was thrown off by the time it took to get it back to a boil after the lobsters went in.  Tasted good, but they were a tiny bit overcooked.  A bit of steak from the freezer made the ‘turf’ part of our ‘surf n turf’.   Boiled potatoes and steamed asparagus rounded out the meal.  Damn strange slow motion disaster.

I broke my own isolation twice this week, both times for money.  Not JUST money, but money was involved.  I hope it doesn’t bite me in the @ss.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

nick

Sat. April 25, 2020 – Saturday, in the park, I think it was the 4th of July….

Should be a nice day.  [72F sunny and blue sky @10am]

Yesterday was another beautiful day, but it did get HOT.  100F in the sun and in my driveway.  Caught me a bit by surprise as I was moving from shade to sun and there was a nice breeze.  Realized I was panting and went inside to cool down for a while.

I was busy doing yard work and cleaning and organizing.  I mowed the back yard.  I don’t want the lawn guys back there,  too much to see that isn’t there during normal times.  Plus, I don’t want the guys shedding virus and spitting all over the place.   So I mow, and blow, and yesterday I also did some edging.

In the garden, the cabbage seems to be doing well.  The broccoli is still alive, and growing, and the brussel sprouts are alive, but haven’t really changed size.   Last year’s pepper plants are heavy with sweet delicious peppers.  This year’s are growing well too.  The tomato plants still live, but haven’t flowered or set fruit.  Potato plants continue their vigorous growth, although there are fewer plants in each tower bag.  The onion sets seem to have taken hold and are growing.  There is attrition due to something, squirrels mostly.  I think I’ll be lucky to get ten whole onions in the fall.  No sprouts from any of my seeds yet.

The citrus trees all have fruit this year.  Every tree, which has never happened before.  I don’t know how many will make it to harvest, and I’m betting only a few oranges, but maybe I’ll get grapefruit and limes this year!  The peach tree is fully leafed in and the remaining apple tree is struggling to get leafed.  The trees in the store were covered in leaves weeks ago.

The blueberry sticks have all set fruit.   Maybe we’ll double our yield this year and get a full cup?  Kids have fun with them anyway.  The grapevines are growing.  The one is vigorous, the other died back to a foot from the ground.  No fruit from that one this year, maybe no new vines.  Haven’t had any of my grape nemesis caterpillars show so far, but I’m vigilant.

Take any opportunity you get to add to your long term and medium term food supply.  These processing plant shutdowns will likely continue, and we’ll probably see transportation issues or teamster type issues at cross docks and transfer agents.  Someone needs to unload the trucks, and that almost always means a guy on a forklift.  It’s not a hard job but it is demanding.  Essential workers are getting sick, and I expect that will get worse as the restrictions ease.

I’m glad to hear reports that stores have restocked, and that goods are available.  Take advantage of that so that NEXT time, you won’t be caught short.   Even if we’re on the downside of this, and I don’t think we are, TPTB are starting to talk about the second wave.  China has locked down even more people again, something like 11M so far.

The third world is starting to really see their first wave sweeping through.  It’s gonna be a tsunami soon.   FWIW, we have been getting a LOT of food from those third world nations.  That’s where all the ‘out of season’ fruit and veg comes from.  (And the Imperial Valley in Cali which relies on the same sort of labor.)  I expect that will get disrupted soon, and the extent, if the wuflu is unchecked, could mean no laborers to pick the crops, no way to get them here, and we’re back to thinking that citrus at Christmas is a Big Deal ™.  I remember as a kid when getting a case of oranges or grapefruit at Christmas was a nice corporate gift, and my dad was happy to get a single orange as his Christmas gift when he was a kid.

The bottom line is that this thing is still spreading, and growing, and there is no effective treatment.   People are still dying, and we’re discovering that maybe the survivors are not escaping unscathed either.  You don’t want to get it.   In the US, I expect that we’ll see localized outbreaks that grow rapidly, and then recede, and it will be going on for a long time, as the hotspots move around.   We are about to experimentally determine the amount of economic contact vs public health isolation that the country is willing to accept.  Like any other human endeavor, that process is going to be messy, but we’ll also figure it out.

Keep in mind that if there were no more infections starting today, we’ll still have more than 760K cases that will need to resolve, and the totals would  continue to rise for the next month at least.  If even 5% of those cases die, that’s an additional 37K added to the 50K so far.  IF no new cases were added.  New cases will continue to be added for some time though.

So, stay in, stay safe.

nick

 

Oh, and today marks my 15th year as a married man.  Short time compared to some of you, but something I never spent much time thinking about when I was younger.  I married well, and I can only hope she feels the same 🙂

Fri. April 24, 2020 – Friday again. Freaking time is flying by.

Warm, sunny, windy, and wet.

Yesterday was another beautiful day.  Solid blue sky, a bit windy, and started at 79F.

I spent the morning online, 3 hours messing with Ubiquiti UniFi config tool to try to get ONE access point set up, and then went on my service call.  Not much got done, but I will earn some money.

I haven’t said anything or linked to the story out of Canada about the  guy who dressed like a Mountie and killed at least 22 people.  It’s a weird enough story I was waiting for more info to come out.  Don’t want anyone to think there was some ulterior motive to reporting on some mass murders, but not others.  Just didn’t know what to do with this one.

And right on time, Paris is burning again.  Auto du Fuego in the ‘hoods.  It isn’t yellow vests, just the same “disaffected youths” as always.

I better get a bunch of stuff done today.  Time waits for no man.

Dinner yesterday was mac n cheese with ham steak for the kids, leftover hawaiian chicken for my wife, and one lonely pork chop leftover for me.

Second order effects are coming, buy some meat…

Stay in and stay safe.

 

nick

Thur. April 23, 2020 – I’m goin’ in.. er, I mean out….

Possibly T-storms and nastiness. [79F sunny and clear at 9am, but lots of wind]

Yesterday was overcast, opening up into  a nice day.  A bit on the warm side, but still pleasant, in a humid, dripping with sweat way.

I wasn’t as productive as I could have been.  There does seem to be a bit of a malaise to my life at the moment.  I’m just not as motivated or quick as I could be.

I got some small stuff done.  Nothing worth writing home about.  The instacart issue had not been resolved before I went to bed.  If it had gone well it would be astounding.  Order groceries at 11pm have them at your door before breakfast!  If I’d been ready and the order had been fine…

I did lose hours to moving my cams to new NVR software.  So far, it’s been a lot more stable than the old software since it went belly up.  I’ve got some more settings to change and confirm and I need to actually watch some of the video to be sure it’s solid, but it looks good so far.

I had an ebay sale- the last of the PoE injectors that I’ve been selling off for the last couple of years sold.  That makes 4 or 5 that sold since I isolated, vs 0 in the six months prior.  Weird.

Dinner was a premade meal from Costco, Hawaiian chicken served over leftover rice.   One of my favorite short notice meals.

I’ll be headed over to my client’s house later today.  I’ve got to at least get eyes on the problems.  I’ll be PPE’d up and bring a can of spray.

Stay in (as much as possible), stay safe (as much as possible),

 

nick

Wed. April 22, 2020 – never really got the point of ‘hump day’…

Warm?  Sunny?  Humid?  or rain.  No one knows.

Yesterday was another gorgeous day, although it did get a bit hot by the late afternoon.

I finished cleaning up the worst of the leftover rat shite and the shelves will be ready for use today.  I also cleaned up an area under my workbench, which was storing cr@p that doesn’t need to be in the garage, and had been walked on by the rats.  I’ll be able to organize that area now too.  Bulk medical will go there in sealed bins.  And maybe my gub support infrastructure and my non-prepping hobby messy stuff can go there.

I’ve still got some food on the garage shelves that I need to get out, then when everything is mostly in one place, I can see what to put back into that area, and what to leave nearer the kitchen.

I added more dirt to the potato towers.  Surveyed the new plantings, and I’ll have to replant some and cover with wire mesh.  Otherwise, the squirrels find the seeds to be a tasty treat.  It’s been long enough that if the radishes in the window boxes were going to sprout they would have, so I’ll reseed those as well.  I’ll give the beets and turnips a bit more time, since I can’t really replace them with anything at this late date.  I might have to do a bit more tree trimming to get enough sun where it needs to hit, I’ve been watching the beds throughout the day and some aren’t quite getting enough sun.

I spent part of the afternoon changing out a camera that just wouldn’t stay in a high rez stream.  I’ve got more of that style and make, so I got one out and replaced it.   I then took the bad one and decided to take out the IR filter so it would give good pics at night, when I have IR floods on.  I wanted to test on the bad one before doing it to the backyard cam.  Unlike most cams, the IR filter was glued to the CCD chip.  Alcohol didn’t break the bond, nor did acetone, but naptha eventually did.   I threw the cam into place just to see the result.  I am now getting good image in the back yard, which is dark under visible light.  Unfortunately, they’ve tuned the color to compensate for the IR filter, and without it, daylight looks strange.  I don’t think there will be enough adjustment to make it look good.  If not, I’ll find another cam to put there that looks good in the day and night.  Sometimes, trying to go cheap, with existing stuff, just doesn’t make sense.

I hated not seeing the back yard at night.  My monitor is mounted on an arm, and lives just above my PC’s center screen.  If I hear something or glance up, I can see all around the house.  Once you get used to that ability, you REALLY miss it if it’s not there.

Dinner was chicken mole’ from a(n old) can with additional can of costco chicken added, served as enchiladas with cheese.  Refried beans from a can (2018), and a corn salad, and brown rice rounded out the meal.   The enchiladas were really tasty, and a nice change of pace for Taco Tuesday.

I think we’ve got a long road ahead of us, and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.  Spicy time is coming.  Get prepped.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

nick

Tues. April 21, 2020 – holy cow, this is kicking the hornet’s nest

Cool, warm, sunny, humid, and  probably all in the same day.

Yesterday was another gorgeous day, once the sun came out.  I was able to get some stuff in the driveway dried out, between the breeze, sun, and slightly lower humidity.  I’m hoping for more of the same today.

Citrus continues to grow, added about 3 inches of dirt to the potato towers, and I think my other planting is still ok.  Damn tree rats dig in the garden, but I think the mounds I built were undisturbed.

I did some moving and cleaning in the garage, and brought another 3 flats of cans out of the dark and into the light…. and then scrubbed them.   Thoroughly.  Something is eating the poison block in my rat bait, after it sat there for a month unmolested.   I’ll have to put some extra bait out and refresh the block.  I really don’t want any rats at this point.  Too much food out.

Which brings up the conundrum, do I take an opportunity to restock?  Or do we just get a bit more hardcore and start with powdered milk, liquid eggs, and mostly canned for fruit and veg?  For that matter, I’d like to get more meat in the freezer, despite the increase in prices.  And by more meat, I’d like about 30 or 40 pounds.  I’d really like more, but don’t even have the room for that much.  I normally have 6 dozen eggs in the garage fridge, 10 pounds of ham, anything I haven’t broken down and frozen yet, 6 pounds of shredded cheese, a bit of beer and wine, soda, bread  etc.  and most of that is gone.   Looking in the freezer, I’m short chicken and steaks too.

Does it make a difference if I can get it delivered or curbside, and don’t have to go into the store?  Yes, I think it does from an isolation and disease risk point of view.  But it certainly costs more and selection is limited.

Both my wife and I have work obligations outside the house this week.  My main customer has a bunch of issues that need to be resolved in person.  My wife has to make a site visit for a project.  If we’re breaking isolation anyway, shouldn’t we restock too?  Or should we just minimize our exposure, do the job and get home?

It all depends on how you judge the current risk of infection, the long term outlook for the economy, availability of product, inflation, deflation, and other variables too.  Simply staying home and getting hard core on eating preps is the easiest and least risky choice.  UNLESS things are going to be worse in 2-3 months.  Re-stocking buys another couple of months beyond that point.

Decisions.  Risk.  Reward.

Dinner was spaghetti noodles, frozen meatballs, the last of the leftover ribeye roast, and surprise! leftover birthday cake from the bottom of the freezer for dessert.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

nick