Month: October 2020

Sat. Oct. 31, 2020 – Full moon, Halloween, and end of DST for the year. Oh my.

Cool and drier than yesterday.  I hope.

Yesterday was very nice.  Blue sky, sunlight, light breeze.  Weather says clear for two more days.  Hooray.  Last year we got rained out.  This year, we’re going ahead full bore, and so are the neighbors.  It will be interesting to see how many little grifters we get.  In past years it’s been between 100 and 150 approximately.   Mine are going out to hit up the neighbors for the treats and I hope we see a bunch.  I think we can hand out candy without spreading the wuflu.

In most years I like to add a new thing to my yard display.  I build them very quickly and cheaply so they don’t last too many years anyway, so I retire stuff too, or just put it away for a while.  For years I’ve wanted to do a flaming Eye of Sauron.  I found some hemispherical lamp parts to use as the eye, I’ve got projectors, and I found a great animated loop on youtube.  I’ve just never had time to put it all together.  This year I just pointed the projector at the window and Lo! it works pretty well!  I’ll save the white hemisphere screens for some other project.  Other than taping up the projector body, this setup took about 15 minutes.  Win!

The other thing I’m adding this year is a candy machine to dispense the goods.  I got my conveyor belt all wired and running and back together so all I have to do today is add  the lighting and dress it up.  That will probably take longer than I’d like.

I’ve got all the more delicate stuff to put out today too.  A couple of skeletal pirates, some other ghosts and bones, fog machines, colored lights, fun stuff that wouldn’t really survive being wet for several days.  Most of it is stuff I take in at the end of the night too, so it doesn’t disappear.

If everything goes well and I have the time, I might even get to making a third soft sculpture animated witch for my little vignette.  They are basically just a head and two arms made from pantyhose stuffed with fluff, black hats, and a piece of black cloth as a dress.  They are supported by a mic stand up the backside.  One stirs a cauldron, one turns a spit with a stuffed pig on it, and if I add a third, she’ll be tasting the cauldron with a spoon.  There is an arrangement of sticks and flicker bulbs to look like cooking fires.  They look great and took very little time or work.  I use BBQ grill rotisserie motors to power them.

I think it’s worth the effort.  Providing a sense of ‘normal’ for the kids during this prolonged disaster is hard enough without skipping holidays.  They’re not dumb.  They know we’re working under restrictions.  Most of them have to do with school after all.  But they want things to go back to the way they were SO badly.  In an adult that wish should be just that, with the acknowledgement that things won’t ever be the way they were- they never go back.  In a kid, I’m inclined to do whatever I can, at least for a while to smooth out their transition.  Plus, I like candy.  And I like putting on the display.

I’ve been stacking the stuff for my Halloween and Christmas displays as long as I’ve been stacking the food we’re eating.  Don’t forget about things like Birthdays and Holidays in your preps.   That little bit of extra thought goes a long way come the day.


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Fri. Oct. 30, 2020 – Tired. Very tired. But awake and engaged!

Cool and maybe sunny?  Windy and damp to a high degree of certainty.  50F when I went to bed.

Most of yesterday was sunny and windy in the 50s and 60s F.  I half froze cleaning the leaves out of the pool 🙂

I got a bunch of little things done yesterday.  Nothing worth writing home about, or indeed, writing here about.

I was tired and falling asleep in my chair all day. I got to bed late and didn’t sleep well.   I am hoping today will be better.

Still planning to do mostly Halloween prep.   I’ve got a few more things to put out, and the new stuff to pull together.  Child two needs additional work on her CV costume.  And all the normal stuff needs doin’…

So I better get going.


(use this time wisely, and keep stacking)

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Thur. Oct. 29, 2020 – getting so close I can taste the candy

Cold.  Damp.  Winter in Houston.

Tuesday it was high 40s most of the day, with overcast and misty drizzle.  The sun did come out briefly in the late afternoon.

I turned on the heat for the first time last night.  It was still 74F inside at 7pm, but by 11pm it had fallen to 72F.  That’s too cold for everyone here.  My hands get really stiff when it’s cold.  I know it is winter coming because the skin at the end of my thumbs and side of my first finger gets thick and starts to crack.  My dad’s fingers did the same thing.  I’ll probably have cracks for the next couple of months, most of the time.  Sealing them with superglue can help, as can packing them with AB gel overnight.

I had a fairly productive day, although mostly on a personal level.  I got some more stuff moved and organized in the garage.  Dug out some more stuff for ebay and auctions.  Tested a couple of things.  Got the basic shape cut out for my daughter’s COVID costume (she’s going as the virus, wife will be in yellow tyvek, daughter one will have her ‘I’m smart’ glasses, a lab coat, metal clipboard, and stethoscope.  I don’t dress up, but I might throw on some tyvek and my new chainsaw hardhat and face shield…

I got my candy dispenser working.  It’s a 5 foot long by one foot wide conveyor belt.  It started life as some sort of UV curing tunnel, but the UV light was missing.  It sat in my storage for years, waiting for me to use the motor and controller for something… so I’m using it as a conveyor belt.  Whodathunkit?  I need to dress it up a bit so it looks like a fantasy candy maker.  I’ve got a little tiny fog machine, some blinking lights, a plasma ball, and if I have time, I’ll do some sort of moving thing on top.  I’ll sit behind it and feed candy into it, which will then be conveyed to the kids…Fun!  I hope the rain stops before Halloween.

I’ve got a couple of other things I want to add this year too, but that will be dependent on time…

And all the normal life things don’t stop while I’m making Halloween decor…

Like disasters, fortunately not happening to me, but unfortunate for Louisiana and Mississippi.  Cat 2 hurricane, historic number of storms, 3rd in a row for New Orleans, aaannnndddd….. WAY down the page on news sites.    I miss the 3 days of breathless modeling and speculation.  Anyone here who is affected, reach out to us.

What a year when a Cat 2 hurricane barely rates a mention.

Keep stacking.  If this is normal, think about what ‘worse’ looks like.




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Wed. Oct. 28, 2020 – getting closer to Halloween

Cool.  Wet.  Dreary.  Like yesterday.

It never got much warmer than 70F and it started in with a misty drizzle around 4pm.  Generally yucky all day.

I made my pickup on the other side of town.  A couple of preps this time.  There were two deep cycle batteries, very cheap, in unknown condition; a commercial inverter, a couple of gallons of vegetable oil, some PPEs for chainsawing, and some other small items.  I’ll get the batteries on my charger/conditioner today and see how they look.  The inverter needs a good exam too, but it was priced right.

I spent much of the rest of the day fighting to get my security cam software running on linux.  It LOOKED like a straightforward process, but turned out to be a big pain in my backside.  Most of the story is in yesterday’s comments.  Long story short, it’s currently working, and seems much more solid than the windows version.  Unless you have some unusual cameras you just have to use, I’m not recommending iSpy and a roll your own approach at the moment.  I saved about $1000 off the price of a commercial NVR of the same capacity, and I did get to use a mix of cams I already had, but there have been some challenges along the way.  If you don’t want to mess around with it, I can recommend some ‘pro-sumer’ level gear to you.

I find that my biggest use of the cams is to look outside from my desk and see “what’s making that noise out front?”  Most of my clients have expressed the same idea, they use it to look around when they see something.  Breakins and other camera worthy things are thankfully rare.  Checking on the pool, or which diesel truck is idling out front is much more common.  Of course if there is an incident, having the video is a great help.

Today I’m home and working on the same things, plus getting youngest child going on her costume, and working on at least one of my new Halloween displays.  It’s not prepping, or dealing with all the other stuff, but keeping up some normality is important, especially for the kids (and not just mine, but the ones coming to Trick or Treat too.)

These are likely to be the ‘good old times’ if even half the stuff coming down the pike gets here.  On it’s face it sounds extreme- to think that we better make this special or that special, in case we don’t get the chance next time.  But nothing in this world is certain, except that no one gets out alive.  And we BETTER make it special, because whether from civil war, disease, economic collapse, or simple poor health or a traffic accident, we might not get another chance.

Keep stacking.


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Tues. Oct. 27, 2020 – Taco Tuesday! Or maybe not.

Cooler and humid.  We’re supposed to get some Fall weather for a few days.  The national forecast also says ‘rain’ or really thundershowers possible.

Monday was mostly overcast depending on your part of town.  Houston is a collection of micro-climates and even the local forecasts aren’t local enough.

I did my pickups, got some gub stuff and some household stuff.  That ate my afternoon by the time I got the stuff and went by my secondary location to drop some of it off.  I brought home some of what I need for my halloween candy dispensing machine too.

Before I left the house though, I went looking for a drive for my NVR pc.  Grabbing some drives from my box-o-random drives, I plugged them in to see what was what.   Two of the 4 were dead- clicks and whines, no platter spin up.   Two were fine, spun right up, partitioned and formatted no issues.  The dead ones were both Seagate, the good ones both WD Caviar Green.  Tiny sample size and old random drives from who knows where, but it was striking.

Had a police chopper orbiting over the neighborhood again too.  Then he went straight up a major street until it ended, then followed another to a point where he orbited, then back to the barn.  Looks like they were watching someone, who ran.  They followed until he ran out of road, watched for a while, then left.    The flight radar website was very helpful.

That led to some playing around with scanners for a while, but nothing productive.  I never did hear any chatter about the chase.

Closer to home I put the motion sensor for the “Driveway Patrol” on the porch and the receiver at my desk.  Even with the camera covering the front porch, I’ve been surprised to find a package waiting on the porch.  I really want to know if someone is at my door.  So I picked one up at an estate auction, and it works great.    Now I see the flashing light when someone approaches the door and I can glance at the camera and respond or not.

Small steps, baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

And I encourage you to take some steps toward your own goals.  Some of those steps should be stacking the stuff you might need later…



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Mon. Oct. 26, 2020 – another week to fritter away

Cooler and overcast.  Maybe some rain.  Plenty of humidity I’m certain.

Did lots of little things around the house yesterday.  Actually cleaned up some things and put some stuff on shelves.  Doesn’t feel like  much and it wasn’t.

I cut the grass in the backyard.  Mower battery died after about 5 minutes.  Put it on the charger while I used the string trimmer, and even though it wasn’t fully charged it was good for the remainder of the yard.    Put it back on the charger when I finished.  Did some string trimming around the blueberry bushes.  I don’t let the lawn guys do that.  They used to just whack off the bushes too.   Cleaned the filter in the pond.  Water was still clear but flow to the aerator/waterfall was slow.   There was about a 1/4 inch of fine black silt on the top of the filter.  Flows good now…

Many ripe lemons, but the oranges and grapefruits are still a bit green.  I don’t want to wait too long, but I want tree ripened fruit!  I cleaned up the failed planting beds, and I’ll try some other seed packets tomorrow.

Plugged in lights for a couple more fake jack o lanterns in the yard.

And that was about that.  My wife spent the afternoon with her Brownie troop.  They did a couple of craft projects including making “sit upons” and decorating them.  Before heading out, my 9yo discovered the vinyl cutter.  Oh MY.  She’s turning out 3 and 4 color stacked stickers.  She’s using my wife’s Cricut cutter so she’s not drawing the shapes but she’s doing all the rest.  She’s doing a great job of making good looking vinyl too.   I might have to get her dialed in on Inkscape and my big cutter….

Today should be more of the same.  More cleanup, more auction, more wasting time on the internet with my friends…

And somehow, I’ll find time for more stacking.


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Sun. Oct. 25, 2020 – more stuff to do today of a domestic nature

Cool, breezy, and partly sunny, unless I miss my guess.   I can guess too, just like the pros.

Drove around town in the part sun, part overcast and enjoyed not sweating constantly.  It was still pretty humid, and when the sun peeked through it was hot, but the overcast and breeze kept it nice for most of the day.

I did my pickup, and then went to my secondary location.  I needed to get some stuff for my wife to take to Girl Scouts for craft projects.  I also took some stuff from the house to store, and spent some time cleaning and moving stuff.  I need to spend a week there, but won’t have the time.  I have to just chip away at what I can.

Today I have to get stuff put away and organized here.   Between youngest taking over the library/toy room for her classroom, and all the temporary bins and piles of holiday decor, the place looks like a thrift store exploded here.  It must be driving my wife crazy.   The best thing I can do is get the house in order today.    That and get some more stuff out of the house.

Getting some more decor set up is far down the list.  My neighbors are all looking forward to Halloween, both the ones with kids that will be trick-or-treating, and the ones that will be home handing out candy.  It feels a bit like the last chance to be ‘normal’ before it all gets crazy, and the first chance to be ‘normal’ in a while, at the same time.  Yeah that’s crazy too, but then this year has been crazy.

It’s not suddenly going to stop being crazy either.  Remember that UFOs are on the agenda too, which would trump all the other stuff, while at the same time, making it worse.   More realistically, a NATO ally is busy supplying weapons into  a hot war  with a nation allied to Russia, and promises to send troops and get even more involved if anyone interferes.  So at the same time we’re weakened at home with the run up to CWII, internationally we might be in the run up to WWIII…  after all, SOMETHING has to get rid of all that debt that Europe ran up.  And something has to goose the world’s second largest economy, and those other countries didn’t go to all that trouble to set up alternatives to banking and the petrodollar just as an academic exercise… nor was it an accident that got their islamic shock troops/fifth column embedded into Europe.  It’s no coincidence that one of those parties is in bed with the Presidential candidate’s son, or that all this is happening while we are being attacked internally, especially since those attacks are well funded by known enemies of the US and freedom.

In other words, it’s like there’s  an ‘all you can eat buffet’ of ways spicy time can come.  One or more is almost BOUND to come.  So keep stacking.



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Sat. Oct. 24, 2020 – lots to do, as usual, so let’s get started…

Cooler.  The front arrived.  It was 61F last night, and is likely to be cool most of today.   Yesterday’s weather was a mixed bag, with a HUGE wind coming in with the cool front.  One of my weather stations has a full memory, since 2014, and didn’t get a good windspeed today, the other didn’t see any wind above 13mph.   It’s entirely possible that it didn’t as the wind was very gusty and mixed.  Flags were tearing free but I felt no wind at ground level.   My guess is 30-40mph gusts in places.

I did some domestic bliss stuff, laundry, cleanup, restock the kitchen fridge, that sort of thing.   I also move a small bit of stuff around in my office.  Man that needs a bunch more work.  Spent about an hour on the pool.  It was pretty sunny while I was working on the pool, but got very overcast later in the day.  I also spent some time moving and cleaning some stuff in the driveway.  I need to spray the house foundation with bug killer, but I’ve misplaced my jug of poison.  I have that on my list for today again…

Also on the list, getting some stuff out of the house and over to storage.  And moving some stuff around in the garage.  I figured out where to put a cabinet I took down during the initial re-org.  I’ve got to tetris some stuff around to get it into place.  That should also expose some older auction stuff that just got buried and forgotten.

I don’t know if we’ll have a hamfest swapmeet in March, but I’m still gathering stuff as if we will.  It’ll be fewer radios, and more random electronic parts and ‘stuff’.  Switches and relays sold well, so I’ve gotten more of them.  Power supplies and wire always do well too.  In the mean time, it sits in bins in the garage.

Halloween should be a big deal this year, weather permitting.  Last year we got rained out, and there is a LOT of pent up demand for ‘normal’ things.  I’m going to do my part and stay distant while feeding candy to the little beggars.  We’ve got a lot more little beggars in the neighborhood now than when we first moved here, and that’s nice.  People have an incentive to support the area when they have kids here.

We got a note from the elementary school that they had  a teacher test positive and enter self-isolation.  The kids affected have been notified to ‘be mindful’ of their health.  My elementary student has been virtual all this year so it didn’t affect us, but it did come right on schedule with the new crop of ‘in person’ learners.  No indication of which way the infection went.

Still not seeing many Biden/Harris signs or bumper stickers.   I see lots of Trump signs.  They look much more ‘vigorous’ for lack of a better term.  Trump supporters REALLY support him, Biden supporters seem to be kind of reluctant.  Not sure how that translates at the polls, but I can hope.

There are moments when the weight and enormity of what I believe is probably coming  just slams into me.  My number one daughter and I had a very intense discussion about racism, BLM, and rioting last night.  At the end she was looking for reassurance and asked me “would you shoot someone who was coming to burn down our house with a torch?”  “Yes sweetheart.  Right in the head.”  “I love you daddy.”*

So take some prudent steps to secure you and yours if things do indeed go pear shaped.  Decide when and how you’d leave, and where you’d go.  Or what you’d do to stay.  And keep stacking.




*FWIW she initiated the conversation, and definitely brought stuff she’s getting outside our home.  She’s angry and frustrated by the double standard for acceptable behavior depending on what you look like.  She does not approve of rioting or violence toward innocents.

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Fri. Oct. 23, 2020 – home again today

Cooler with a chance of rain.  We got some short but strong downpours yesterday.  Different parts of town had very different weather.

Spent yesterday driving around and doing some errands.  Had some auction stuff, a radio for me, some household stuff, and I needed to get my ebay item out of storage and packed up. Everything was very spread out geographically.  Very poor planning on my part.

I had to buy a special box to ship the big ebay item in.  It will eventually end up in Germany so it took a while to safely pack it.  Still, nice profit on a quick flip.  $275 on $25 investment, not counting taxes and fees on both sides.   I sold another case of disinfectant too.  Maybe my sales are picking up?  That would be nice.  The UPS guy seemed happy to see me twice in the same week.

The stuff I put in my local industrial auction went for about a dollar a lot.  It was a blowout.  I’d have been better off dumping it in the trash.  No idea why prices were so low.  They were generally low for all the items in the auction, not just mine, but mine were exceptionally low.  Yikes.  I hope he will accept my next load of stuff for consignment.

I didn’t watch the debate.  I’ll look at clips today if there was anything surprising.  I’m betting ‘not’.

FWIW, far more Trump Pense signs in my area than Biden.  Lots of signs for the Dems in lower and state offices though.  Clearly the battle is local.  Vote.  Even Bob voted in the last Presidential election, and he was pretty convinced of the futility of it.  Vote.   Especially for Sheriff and Judges.  Local.  When everything blows up, local is what’s left.

And keep stacking.



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Thur. Oct. 22, 2020 – lots of weird looking dates this month

Cooler, maybe some rain.  Certainly humid.

Almost 10F cooler outside than in my  office when I wrote this late last night.   During the day it got into the low 90s in the sun, but it took longer, and it didn’t stay there very long.  I expect the same today, only there is a bigger chance of rain.

Daughter one got on the right bus twice yesterday and got where she was supposed to be first try.  Nice change of pace :-/   She’s still adjusting to being at school all day.  She says “it’s exhausting”.   Daughter two likes virtual better than in person, but is getting bored being chained to the lappy.  The district (passing the buck to the state) has managed to crush the best aspect of remote learning by requiring the kids to stay in sight of the lappy camera for their  required time.  No more finishing your work and taking out a book… no  more working ahead either- by diktat of the district.

I managed to sell a couple of items on ebay, so I’ve got shipping to do today.  One is easy, just a medium flat rate box.   The other is sensitive and going to Germany, so needs a sturdy and large box.  I hope I got the weight right, for the buyer’s sake.  He’s pre-paying for the shipping based on what I had in the listing.  I was offering free shipping so I didn’t worry too much about the weight I listed.  Hmm.  I wonder what happens if it weighs more than I thought? Never came up before.  Nice to have some items selling though.

Spent a bunch of time getting some stuff ready to list.  It ate more time than I thought, so I still don’t have my NVR running on linux.   It’s running under windows, even if I can’t see the live cam view, it is still saving the video files so I’ve got coverage if something happens.  I got really used to just glancing up to see what’s going on outside though.  I can still access the stream from the cameras individually, it just takes another couple of steps.   Carry that task over to today.

Not much movement on the campaign trail, given the explosive nature of the allegations against the Bidens.  There must be some frantic activity behind closed doors.  If the stuff in the emails is true, and no one seems to be saying it’s not, then the only way to avoid jail is to win the Presidency, or hope that being the failed candidate is a shield, like it was for Hillarity.   Or fake a medical issue and then retire to ‘spend more time with family.’

Uncertainty is not good for markets.  The markets and the ‘financialization’ of our economy have gotten us into a lot of trouble and will likely get us into more.  I feel better with food in the freezer and a big pile of stuff to use if the going gets tough.  I think it’s probably a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’, so keep stacking.




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