Tues. Aug. 11, 2020 – some economic pondering…

Still hot.  And humid.

Got a smatter of rain yesterday but mostly it was sunny and hot.

I did my auction pickups.  Got a pair of small vacuum formers, with about 6″ square working area.  They were school “industrial arts” tools.  I’ve wanted to make or find a small one for a while.   Didn’t have time to test them, I’ll hopefully get to that today.  They add a tiny bit of capability to my home ‘makerspace’.

One of my pickups was at a moving company/warehouse/shipping logistics company.  I spent a few minutes talking to the guy running the place, asking how their business was, how was the rest of the country, etc.   It started when I asked about the next auction.  He said they had no idea when it would be, as they were depending on other warehouse/ cross dock facilities to move stuff to them.  He said they couldn’t predict or guarantee how or how long freight would take to move around the country.

Freight that moves by truck doesn’t actually typically move from your dock, onto a truck, over the road to your customer’s dock, to be unloaded.  That’s called ‘point to point’ service and costs more.  What happens more usually is that a local service picks up your freight, takes it to a warehouse or cross dock facility.  There it’s unloaded, and sits briefly until it can move to a trailer moving in the correct direction.  Then it gets loaded and moves to the next cross dock, or regional hub, where the process repeats.  It’s kind of like packet routing on the internet.  Eventually it gets near where it is supposed to be, and a local carrier will take it that last couple of miles.  Sometimes your pallet or crate moves with only a stop or two, sometimes it bounces around.

The problem comes, and what is causing his company all the uncertainty, is what happens when one of those hubs/crossdocks/warehouses shuts down because of COVID cases.   Then your freight is stuck there until they reopen.  This is happening now and is causing delays.  Completely unpredictable delays, and fairly long ones at that.

I asked him what his impression of the overall economy is, and he said they cut all the deadwood out of his office, and now they are busier than ever.  He sees the same thing happening elsewhere.  Fewer people are doing more work, and it’s more efficient because of keeping the best people and sending the rest home.  He also thinks construction is currently more efficient because they have fewer ordinary people in the way, ie. less traffic means road repairs happen faster, etc.  He’s not seeing economic devastation everywhere.

Just a data point, from someone with a nationwide network.

I am not sure what to make of it.  I’m seeing some amazon items take weeks to get here, but next day on other items.  I know that there are delays in shipping and it makes sense with what he told me.  Not a good thing, if true and widespread, that’s for sure.

My wife says she’s starting to see delays and disruptions with her manufacturers and distributors.  The pace of new projects is slowing, and deliveries for existing are being pushed out in time.  A lot of office build out work is probably now obsoleted – no one will want to be ‘hot desking’ if and when they come back to the office, and likely a whole lot less office space will be needed with a lot of jobs converted to work from home.  That is a bit worrying, when things had been continuing on pretty much as before.

My last observation is that there were newbies picking up at my ISD location.  People are looking at buying and reselling as an alternative to whatever they were doing.  I don’t consider that a good sign.

Take a hard look at your own situation.  Do a bit of ‘what if’ concerning your income.  Look at your expenses, and think about what’s really necessary.  What will help you get through this?  If it won’t help, might be time to cut it out.  I’m going to try to do that, we’ll see how it goes.

As a counter to cutting back on some things, you might consider spending money on stacking some necessities 🙂

nick

Mon. Aug. 10, 2020 – Ah, Monday. A fresh start to the week.

Houston hot.  And Houston humid.

Yesterday stayed overcast most of the day, so it was less miserable out than it could have been.  Still pretty gross.

It was nice to get wet from the power washer.  Which I did.  For a couple of hours.  During which it rained.  But hey, I was already wet, and I decided when I first moved to Houston that if you were going to be doing work outside in Houston, you were going to get rained on.

So I finished off my outdoor work.  Still have to keep up appearances, even during a global pandemic.  Zombies would be easier…

Today I’ve got some pickups to do, mostly household stuff.  That should keep me out and about for a while.

And then if I get time, I’ll either do some work at my secondary location, or in the garage.  No rest for the wicked.

Gotta keep stacking.

n

Sun. Aug. 9, 2020 – rest? rest is for closers….

Hot and more hot with a side of hot.   Humid too.  Joy.

I did get a lot done yesterday, even if it wasn’t stuff from the top of my list.  In fact it was from pretty far down on the list, but it fit perfectly with scorching hot weather…. I spent five hours pressure washing things.

The house front and the entry way both needed pressure washing.  I wanted to do it before spraying for bugs, as I didn’t want to wash away the poison.  And since the wife has moved “killing the gorram bugs” up my list, I got out the pressure washer.   Usually I pay an itinerant worker about $200 to do the whole house.  He hasn’t come by this year though, so the brick was looking green, and the siding was looking dirty, and the gutters and drip edge were black.   Once I’ve got the washer out, running, hoses set, fuel can ready, I can’t help myself… everything looks better after being pressure washed.

The flagstones on the walk are no longer green.   The walk is no longer blackish-green.  The white truck is white.  The fence (driveway gate) looks new again. The driveway is a clean tan, instead of black (well, about 2/3 of it, the last should happen today.)  The siding, brick, and trim on the house all are their original colors.  Everything looks freshly scrubbed.

Today I have to cut the grass to complete my ‘grey man’ strategy of looking like all the other houses on the block.  And finish spraying the driveway.  And maybe wash my Ranger, and my wife’s vehicle.  I noticed a funny thing about the vehicles on my block.  With the exception of my blue ’03 Ranger, all 7 of the vehicles parked on the street were white.  I’ve read that when the economic mood in the country is dour, people buy conservatively colored vehicles.   On my street, for the last few years, almost everyone’s bought pretty conservatively….

BTW, the pressure washer started on the first pull after I put gas in it.  Run your small engines dry and you won’t have a jacked up carb that needs cleaning before you can run your gennie or pump, or lawnmower…. it makes all the difference in the world.

Organize your stuff, maintain it, stack it high.

n

Sat. Aug. 8, 2020 – sleeping in, then work work work

Hot.  Humid.  Houston.

Well over 100F in the shade yesterday.  I was not too interested in working outside or in the garage.

So I went to the chiropractor, dropped in on my gun store buddy, did a pickup, then stopped by my secondary location.  Did some stuff there, then headed home.

My wife made dinner out of the pantry and freezer.  Ice cream for dessert.

Still plugging away at paperwork for taxes.  All the mundane things have been piling up.

Back is still bugging me.  I got some good movement and relief from the chiropractor, and a new stretch to try.  I’m hoping for more improvement over the next few days.  If not, I’m not sure what to do.  I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it.

Today I’ve got the yard to cut, and all the normal stuff I’ve been delaying because of my back pain flare up.  We’ll see how far we get.

The goal is to keep improving our situation.  So, keep stacking!

nick

Fri. Aug. 7, 2020 – am I forgetting something?

Hot and humid.  We’re on the edge of a system, so we might get rain, or not.

Yesterday was plenty hot enough.  It was ok in the shade if you were standing still.  Everywhere else, it was too hot.

I got very little done yesterday.  My back was hurting, so I took it easy.  I did sort through a bunch of ebay stuff that I could divert to one of the local auctions.  Found a bunch of stuff too.

Seems like I must have done more than that, but I’ll be jigged if I can think of what it was.

Sometime this morning I’ll go for another chiropractic visit.  I hope I get some better movement this time.  Apparently both of my siblings and my dad suffered with sciatica.  It’s new to me though.  I feel like some stretching and some adjustment ought to get it fixed for now.  Later today I’ve got an auction pickup.  Some hobby stuff, some household stuff, some ebay stuff.  I need it to not rain in the afternoon so I can use my pickup for the pickup.

I feel like I’m forgetting something about the date, but can’t think what it might be.

Last night the scanner had a multi-agency task force working a drug buy with surveillance in my neighborhood.  It’s worth reminders like that to have the scanner running.   That’s the second time I’ve overheard them working only a mile or two from my house.   I do live in the city, so I shouldn’t be surprised, and I’m not REALLY surprised, but I don’t like the confirmation either.  Bad people are everywhere.  Keep your head on a swivel if you are out and about.

And stock up on whatever you think you might want if the economy collapsed.  Take a look at a couple of recent posts by John Wilder, and Peter Grant  wrt how they see the economy coming apart and what you might want to do about it.  I don’t see any point in duplicating their efforts…

I do see a lot of advantage in getting your financial house in order, and stacking stuff high….

nick

Thur. Aug. 6, 2020 – my what sharp teeth you have…

Hot and humid.  More of the same.

Yesterday was both hot AND humid.  We got both kinds of summer here…

I mostly took it easy.  My back was feeling better and I wanted to keep it that way.  I did go out and do one quick pickup.  That was it for me being productive.  Oh, I did order some stuff for my client.  I’d forgotten to order it last week.

I look around and I’m a bit stunned by the level of organization that the insurgents in Portland are using.  I’m a bit stunned that they’re getting away with it.  I watched a video of Joe Biden stumbling over words, rambling, and making strange statements.  And I’m stunned he’s getting away with it.  I look at BLM, the corporation, not the average joe in the streets, and I’m stunned they’re getting away with it.  I see WNBA players who magically all have matching t-shirts with a political agenda, biting the hand that feeds them AGAIN and I’m stunned they’re getting away with it.  Like Little Red Riding Hood, people can see the teeth, but they just continue on as if granny was still there.  They are climbing into bed with granny and it won’t end well this time.  I don’t think there is a huntsman coming to cut open the wolf and let granny back out…

Today I’m alternating paperwork with small things around the house and garage.  That’s the plan anyway.  My wife needs more tax stuff from me, I’ve got stuff stacked up that should have been addressed a while ago, and I have to invoice my client for materials and work.  It’d be nice to do some ebay or other auction stuff too.

I might have bought some stuff last night that will need to be paid for soon.  I better get some money coming in…

I hope you’ve done something to improve your positioning for the coming spicy times.  If not, why not?  Keep stacking, even if it’s just goodwill and friends.

n

Wed. Aug. 5, 2020 – wouldn’t be prudent

Hot and humid.  Of course.

It hit 111F in my driveway according to my weather station yesterday.  I know it felt damned hot.

Didn’t get much done.  Back hurts and I’m trying not to aggravate it.  I did get some stuff over to my secondary location, and some debris for the dumpster there.  I picked up my 3 cases of TP and misc. assorted other auction items.  (mainly art supplies for the kids)  I went to the chiropractor.  Got a doc I haven’t seen before, but she seemed competent.  Made me feel better, moved some stuff around.   Didn’t hurt me like some of the guys have done.  I’ll go back on Friday for another adjustment.  Lots of people put chiropractors with witch doctors and ambulance chasers, but I’ve always had good results and I’ve been going for decades.  Good and bad in any field I guess.

I haven’t made it in to see my buddy at the toy store in a while.  I’m starting to get anxious.  They have reduced their store hours because their employees have all decided to stay home, and they don’t have any inventory aside from a few consignments.  They do transfers all day long though for online buyers.  They are good people and I miss dropping in just to say hi.

I noticed while I was out that the Goodwill Outlet was “Temporarily Closed”.  No explanation, no reopen date.  I wonder if they’ve had an outbreak.  I hope not.

I saw a bunch of new empty storefronts and new “For Lease” signs.  Some on brand new businesses that never even really had a chance to open.  Even here we’re feeling the downturn coming.

One of my buddies is having some successes with his new prepping lifestyle- he’s got his first eggs from his new chickens, and he’s successfully made cheese from his excess .gov milk… so I guess he’s made government cheese…*

People are adapting and overcoming.  If you sit around waiting for things to go ‘back to normal’ I have a feeling you’ll be left behind.  Nothing irrevocable, but start moving forward.  There are always opportunities.

Everything is easier with resources.  So…….. keep stacking 🙂

 

nick

 

*I loved the taste of the government cheese.   What was it, late 70s?  Giant block of mild cheddar cheese, enough to build a fort with.  Grandma shared with the whole family.  I’d cut 1/2 inch thick slabs off and eat that like candy.  Big slabs on white bread as sandwiches.  Good times.

Tues. Aug. 4, 2020 – ay, que loco!

Hot and humid, chance of rain.

Yesterday did get hot.  106F in the driveway.  Pretty humid too, but mercifully overcast for much of the day.

My back pain is funny.  I can walk ok most of the time.   I can sit ok almost always.  Transitions between the two are like being crippled.  Burning pain, electric shocks, “twang” in my hip.  All kinds of fun for a while, then the transition is complete and I feel ok.   Didn’t get to the chiropractor.  I called to see if there were any special requirements (like  an appointment) but they weren’t answering the phone and never called back.  Their web page was less than helpful.  I will try them again later today.  I need to be headed in the right direction with this.

Since I was feeling ok, I picked up the dog bombs, and the unusable pecans, then cut the grass.  Back yard is in shade most of the afternoon, so it was tolerable.  Lawn guys did the front this week.  They cut, blow, trim, and collect the leaves every other week, I just mow every other week.  Although, since March I’ve kept them out of the driveway and the back yard and I do those myself.  I use the string trimmer every other week in the back.

For some reason, I feel like I need to get the extra water tanks sorted.  I’ve got two back there that are not currently full.  They need to be cleaned and then filled.  Since they’re on carts with wheels, it’s still possible to move them when mostly full.  My plan was to use then for bathing and washing water if it came to that.  Don’t know why I’ve got the feeling to get them in place and filled, or why I was thinking about moving my other two 100L tanks into place in the garage.   I’ve learned though that I shouldn’t ignore that little voice when it pipes up.

Did a couple of little things in the garage.   Dug out an ebay item that someone wanted to buy.  I was pretty sure I knew where it was, and it was there.  Hooray.  Maybe I’ll make $8 on it.  It’s been listed for a year?  Maybe more.    Strange which little items have sold in the last months, all really long term listings.   That’s why I’m sending bins full of stuff to the local auctions.  Stuff is just not moving.  Admittedly, I’ve been slack on new listings, and ebay boosts you if you do new listings.

Dinner was fresh turkey legs baked, with canned green bean and mushroom soup casserole,  mashed potatoes with saute’d onion, garlic, and bacon crumbles, pillsbury crescent rolls,  and mango cobbler for dessert.  The rolls were from a tube and were 9 months past BB.  Except for the outermost layer, they were fine…  the crunchy onion for the casserole topping was a year past BB and was fine (foil pouch).  The mango was from a jar from Costco, past BB, too soft to eat on a plate but great in the cobbler.

I’ve got to do an auction pickup today or tomorrow.  I bought 3 cases of Charmin TP, and a couple of other things.  Paid about double what I would have on sale just a few months ago, but in line with current Costco pricing- when they have it.  Scott commercial TP, the thin shiny stuff, sells for about 50c a roll, so Charmin at $1.50 isn’t that unreasonable, just more than I’d like.  And that is the case for the future too, until serious deflation sets in.  We’ll be paying more than we’d like, for less than we’d like.  I don’t see “waiting for it to come back down” to be a wise choice.  While there is more available now, it’s still sketchy and not cheap.  If it does come back, I’ll have spent more than I’d like but can buy more cheaper later.  If it doesn’t ever really come back for some time, then I’ll be glad to have paid the price to restock now.  (for any value of ‘it’…)

I’ve also been buying multiples where I would normally buy only a couple if they were on sale… like coffee filters, or iced tea mix.  Easier to buy a case when it’s shipping anyway.  Better to have it than not.

New food and other supplies will go back to my secondary location.  I don’t think we’ll have serious movement restrictions any time soon, and we’ll have some warning beforehand, if they are reinstated.

As schools in some parts of the country are starting back, right away they’re seeing cases.  Students in class, student athletes, and staffers too.  In person learning is going to be a clusterflock.  There’ll be a LOT of back and forth, which will be pretty disruptive.  We’ll be sitting that mess out.


If you missed it, there was an announcement that Jerry Pournelle’s wife Roberta passed away.  The old guard is leaving the field…  may they find peace.


Historically, the world doesn’t fight the next big war until the generation that fought the last one has mostly passed on.  Guess what’s coming.  Famine, war, plague and pestilence.  Keep stacking.

nick

 

 

Mon. Aug. 3, 2020 – new month, new week, same stuff on my list

Warmer, wetter, swamp-ier.

Because yesterday wasn’t humid enough, it rained.  And got to over 100F in my yard, even without sun.

But I mostly didn’t do much anyway.  Sometimes I hurt, sometimes I didn’t.  Didn’t want to push it too much in any case.

Cleaned the pool, opened a power supply that let the smoke out to show the daughter what magic smoke smells like, piddled around.

I did get a crossbow pistol in an auction, and I got it together and shot it a few times.  It says it is a 25 pound pull, and it looks like a toy, but it was putting quarrels 4 inches deep into the same target our little bows were putting arrows 2  inches deep.   It is a toy, really, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in front of it.  I’ll probably add a fishing reel and set it up as a line thrower for getting temporary wire antennas up into trees.    It’s really unpleasant to shoot, not fun at all.  The frame is polymer, and the spring is a nasty piece of shaped spring steel.   Lots of sharp edges and it takes two fingers to pull the trigger.  Using it once or twice a year sounds about right.

Dinner was courtesy of oldest daughter.  She wanted to make spaghetti and meatballs.  Do we have any hamburger defrosted?  No, but we do have frozen meatballs…. and lots of pasta.  So she heated everything up and we had dinner from stores.

I’ve done a pretty good job of stocking the larder.  There are things that tripped me up, mainly when my wife wants to cook.  She uses stuff I don’t even think about.  Diced tomatoes for example.  I have diced tomatoes with chilis.  I have tomato paste.  No plain diced, because I don’t use them.  Same with Worcestershire sauce.  I ordered a couple of bottles on my last HEB order because I had none on the shelves and she used the last in the cupboard.  So if your spouse isn’t fully involved in your stacking, find some way to address the things s/he uses and buys, that you don’t even think about, or you’ll be the goat and not the hero when the item is needed.

If you think you’re all set, and just need to add more of what you’ve already got, you’re probably missing something.  So look for gaps, and keep stacking.

nick

 

Sun. Aug. 2, 2020 – day of rest for me

Hot and humid, but maybe less than normal.  We’re on the edge of a weather system, so who knows?

It never got super hot yesterday and stayed overcast so I was able to get stuff done.   I installed a window A/C unit in the garage.  I don’t know if it will be big enough to keep up, or if it will make any difference at all, but I’m going to give it a try.  Even just taking 10 degrees off and keeping it in the 80s will help.

That’s one more thing off the list, and now I can get that corner of the garage put back together.  Ultimately, I’d like to get some of my solar panels installed, and maybe run the A/C off the solar, just ‘cuz.  WAY down the list though.

Today I’m going to really try to take it easy on my back.  Like, laying down taking it easy.  We’ll see how that goes.

I see that the anti-western-civ insurgents in Portland are burning Bibles.  Nice of them to uncloak.

Armor up.  Ammo up.  Gun up.   And stock up so you don’t need to gear up just to go to the store.

 

In other words, keep stacking.

 

nick