Thur. Dec. 31, 2020 – New Year’s Eve

Cool and wet again, maybe.

Certainly rained most of yesterday.  The ground is saturated.  I have standing water in my yard.

I got some very small things done, but had a very late start.  Felt good to sleep though, after staying up way too late.

Today I’m supposed to be able to take some stuff to one of my local auctions.    I’ll do that on the way to my rent house, where my tenants have managed to twist the handles off the new shower valves.  I think they are just cranking the everloving heck out of them.  The knobs and the valve stems were new.  If they normally fail in a couple of weeks, I think Home Depot might complain to the vendor about the returns.  Therefore, I think it’s operator error.  If the stems aren’t ruined, I’ll replace the knobs again, and epoxy the freaking things in place.  I know you only need finger tight to shut the valves off, I checked when I installed the new ones.  An uncomfortable conversation with the tenants is in my future.

The year is finally nearly over.  It’s NOT that I expect 2021 to be better, in fact I expect it to be worse in almost every way.   It’s that I would like to see the clean break of the year change.  It’s POSSIBLE that will have a positive effect on at least some people.  A lot of the baggage of the year will be behind us too with the date change.  It’s superstitious, and somewhat silly, but that describes most people too.  FWIW, this will be the first year I’m not anxious about a terror attack on Times Square.  That’s gotta be a blessing.

No matter what happens with the presidential election, I expect politics in 2021 to be INSANE.  Half the people will feel cheated and disenfranchised.  Violence is almost certain to increase.  It’s much easier to destroy than to create, and some things once damaged, can’t be fixed.   Yeah, it’s possible we’ll end up replacing stuff with totally new ideas, execution, or tech, but I’m rating that lower than a meteor strike or aliens revealing themselves.  You need optimism and prosperity for those sorts of changes.  What you get from anger and desperation is a whole lot uglier.  Add that we have historically gotten ourselves out of similar fixes with massive wars, well, the future I’m preparing for isn’t bright.

It is possible to get through it though.  There are still Jews in Germany.  There are Romans in Rome.  There are good ol’ boys in the South.  Norway and Finland survived WWII as did the UK.  Almost everyone BUT the US was impoverished by it and disheartened for a couple of generations though.

In any case, I want to get myself and my loved ones through the trouble I think is coming.  Skills, connections, and stuff should all help with that.  So I’m stacking.  You should too.

nick

Wed. Dec. 30, 2020 – sooooo close….

Cool and wet is the forecast, with rain throughout the day.  If so I’ll work on inside stuff.   There is plenty of it.

Yesterday I did some errands, the biggest of which was getting a large 3d printer out of my friend’s workspace.  It was an inkjet and powder type, and we weren’t going to be able to run it anyway, so when the original purchaser called with his sob story, I agreed to get it back to him.  That generosity led to a bunch of messing around and time wasted.

Eating donuts for lunch took me out for a bit over an hour too.  Then off to pick up some auction stuff, mainly PPEs.   N95s in very battered packaging are showing back up in the auctions, a box at a time, and are selling for reasonable amounts, $1-$2 per mask.  I’m set for a while yet, so I’m buying respirator cartridges if the price is right.  Gloves and eye pro too.   In austere conditions protecting what you’ve got is more important than trying to heal afterward.

Throughout a long career working with my hands, I haven’t been that big on wearing gloves for ordinary work.   That is changed now.  The molded grippy rubber coated stretch fabric gloves give a high degree of dexterity, while still giving cushioning and cut protection.  I wear them for any job where I’m touching metal and can cut or nick myself.  There are so many choices now, that you can find a glove engineered for whatever task you are faced with.  I still have some goatskin leather ‘drivers’ for jobs like swinging an ax or sledge hammer, but for everything else, there’s probably a better choice.    The anti-vibration gloves made a HUGE difference in my comfort while running the pressure washer all day.

Eye pro should be a no-brainer.  I have clear, amber and grey tints with and without ‘reader’ or ‘cheater’ lenses in the bottom, yellow for high contrast, and goggle types for chemical use.  I’ve got mesh shields for chainsawing and clear shields for metal and wood working.  I’ve got lots of spares, and lots of cleaning solution and wipes.  I think I can check gloves and eye pro off my list for a while.

That is one of the main ways I approach prepping.  In addition to ordinary stacking, I’ll focus on a specific area ‘while the getting is good’.  Usually I keep acquiring the items for a bit too long.  It’s been that way with storage batteries and gloves and eye pro for the last couple of months.  The stuff was on my list, and it came available, so I’ve been a buyer.  I prefer that method to trying to fill the list at a particular time.  I save a bunch of money by waiting for it to come to me, but it does take longer.   Of course, being me, I had stuff in all those categories, just not as much.  Enough to meet an initial or short term need, but not ‘bulk’.  Now I’ve got some depth to the shelf.   I will keep looking for batteries and charge controllers, and I wouldn’t say no to cheap solar panels.

Whatever your list looks like, start filling in gaps.  Get something in each category,then start building depth.  Food, water, shelter, defense, health and hygiene, comms, education and reference, entertainment and morale, any other that suits you.  Evaluate what you already have, you might be surprised, then build on that.

Keep stacking.

 

nick

Tues. Dec. 29, 2020 – – – almost there….

Cool and possibly rainy.

Yesterday’s weather was really nice.  Very humid, but still nice.  Riding around with the windows down and the heater on at night nice.

Didn’t get as much done yesterday as I would have liked.  Did harvest 7 snap peas.  I’d forgotten the plant after it was the only survivor in the side garden.   That’s a first for me so I’ll definitely try again with those.  Also ate an orange off the tree.  I let it go a bit too long, but it’s still tasty.  Huge too.  I’ve got two more broccoli heads that are ready too.  Whoohoo.  I better get some more canned veg stacked…

Late in the day I went to my storage units and to my secondary.  I’ve got a huge amount of stuff to go through and get rid of.  Holy cow, 17 years accumulation at the secondary …  and a lot of it needs to go.  I need to get set up to have my own auctions or I’ll never get rid of this stuff in time.  The plan is forming, and small steps are being taken.  Getting rid of two huge shipping crates helped alot.  There’s just so much more to do.

And all the time the wheel turns.

Everything else needs attention too.

I think I need a grocery run. Maybe some more TP, that is always a good thing to have.

Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and keep stacking.

n

 

Mon. Dec. 28, 2020 – counting them down…

Cool, damp, overcast.  That’s my best guess for the day.

Sunday was nice.  A bit on the damp side, but shirtsleeves and sunglasses weather.

So naturally I was at my secondary cutting up shipping crates and throwing out obsolete trade show booth parts.  I got there and my neighbor had a huge commercial style grill set up and was getting meat ready… For the next 4 hours my brain was marinaded in the smell of grilling meat.   Neighbor had some sort of party/family get together that involved a dozen kids, a whole lot of chicken, really loud tejano music, and a tiny bouncy house, with appropriate numbers of adults.   Looked like a parole meeting for the parents honestly.   Not a mask anywhere to be seen, not even worn badly.  It was in a space open to the outside, but it was typical hispanic get together.  They are not, in general, stand offish or ‘reserved’ when in family groups.

On my drive home I saw several other large groups having outdoor parties.

I made a bunch of space but still have a long way to go.  Forklift could fit if I had to move it today.  There is still a lot to be gone through and gotten rid of, and there is a whole bunch of shuffling around that needs to be done, but progress was made.

Progress being made is good.  Groups gathering is bad.  Yes, I’m saying that flat out.  Take the time to read Aesop’s report from the front line.  He’s ground truth/boots on the ground in Cali.  Yes, he can be an alarmist.  Yes, his language is ‘salty’ and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.   But you can either believe he’s making the whole thing up (which doesn’t fit with the previous 6-7 years I’ve been reading him) or he’s telling the truth and it’s grim.  Not seeing it where you are?  Awesome.  Hope that continues to be true.  Remember though back a few months when all the rural and semi-rural areas were saying it was a nothing burger?  Most of those same areas are seeing plenty of cases now.  Sooner or later, it does get to where you are.  I don’t usually put pull quotes in my actual post but here are a couple…

“Nameless SoCal Hospital is full, bottom to top, wall to wall. “

“ER is holding ICU patients, now for multiple days. Entire ER is now set up for COVID isolation, which is running 75-90% of patients seen, 24/7. And those are only the ones too sick to send home. “

“Morgue overflow conex cold storage is now full of corpses. “

“We ran out of body bags day before yesterday, so until we got more, deceased patients had to stay in occupied rooms. Even with getting decedents out, new dead are piling up faster than we’re getting old ones off to coroner or mortuaries. “

“Between staff shortages and actual sick staff, we’re starting the day with 50% staffing in some units, and it’s virtually impossible to get hired guns to come in. Everyone is over this, and all they get by picking up registry work or extra shifts where they work, is more sh*t sandwich, every day, into infinity. And you can’t spend bonuses if you’re dead.

And in L.A. County, everything I just wrote? Worse. Squared.”

“We’re all dreading what happens when we get the Christmas/New Year’s Stupidity Surge, 3-5 weeks from now, but it’s definitely coming.

Things are spiffy where you are? Outstanding. Goody for you. No, really. Hope your luck holds.

Meanwhile, I’m hearing from nurses who blog in other states, e.g. Texas, that they’re getting, now, what we had here in Apr-July, and hospital manglement (not a typo. -A.) there learned nothing from what happened in NYFS, NJ, Atlanta, Nawlins, or CA, and accordingly planned for no such thing.”

Ordinary care is not available at his hospital anymore.  They are one step away from disaster triage and rationing care.

Say whatever about whatever.  Masks, Fauci, overreach, lies, models, whatever.  For SoCal at least, the disaster is HERE.  All the other stuff no longer matters.  Once the hurricane arrives, all the models, storm tracks, colored charts, mean nothing.  All that matters is getting through and then the recovery.  That’s where SoCal (LA and probably Riverside) is right now.  Everyone else is probably going to get there sooner or later.  Knowing what we know from round one, even if it happened only to ‘other people’ and not you, what are you doing to be ready when the storm gets to your area?

I hope everyone here has been using the hiatus to build up their stocks.  There is zero reason to be caught short again.  It’s time to be ready to pull back in, limit your exposure, and get ready to ride out the next wave.  Cali is leading the way- and not in a good way.  There is very little reason to think your zip code will protect you.

Avoid crowds.  And keep stacking.

 

n

Sun. Dec. 27, 2020 – even fewer days left in the year

Cold in the morning, warming throughout the day.  Sunny and clear.  We all hope.  52F and breezy at midnight.

Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag, wrt to getting stuff done.  I had a guy I was supposed to meet to sell a 3d printer, but he stood me up.  Flakes.  Had to reschedule for Tuesday.  So I did some other small stuff around the house.   I took the package I couldn’t ship on the 24th to UPS.  I took a small item I sold on ebay to the USPS and dropped it in the box at the station.  That’s two sales in 3 days.  I hope things are picking up.

I did a little bit more yard work.  Poked around in the garage a bit, trying to fix a couple of minor things.  Put one of the new batteries on the smart charger to top it up.

After dinner played “Pit” with the kids.  The new hearing protectors came in handy for that…

Took two bins of pool stuff to storage.  Still need to take the pool itself out of the house, but won’t have anywhere to put it until I get rid of more stuff.

That is the plan for today.   Head over to the secondary location and get rid of stuff.   More cutting and trashing is in order.   I have to make room for my forklift before January.  And get stuff out of the house to keep my promise to my wife.  So I will be AFK for most of the afternoon.


In the course of my travels, I drove past our local mall.  Not particularly busy.  No lines of cars waiting to turn into the parking lot.  Not much going on at the strip/cluster development around our ‘big’ HEB, or the Lowes/BestBuy/costco development across the street.    Traffic was light too.  I don’t think there was much ‘day after Christmas’ shopping going on.  That doesn’t bode well for the economy.

The explosion in Nashville is very strange.  Disgruntled employee?  Proof of concept?  Opening shot?  We may never know, but we did learn that some of the infrastructure is a lot more vulnerable than one might expect.  You can work that info from at least two different perspectives…..  Several people have taken first pass looks at the event with what’s currently known.   If you can’t find them on your own, I’ll post some links later in the comments.

And you need to think about second and third order effects.   You might want some ham radio.  You might want a sat phone.  You might want to join with some local hams and get a mesh network up in your area.  You might want a cell that uses a different carrier’s network than your primary phone.  (I carried sprint and att when I was traveling for work both before and after 9-11, and my Skytel satellite pager.  On 9-11 in NYMetro area only Skytel worked.  I don’t have that level of redundancy anymore.  Might need to order the sim for my satphone.   We’ll see if this happens again.)   You might want something like goTenna to keep your family cells working as more than flashlights.

Alternate  comms and a disaster comms contact list should already be part of your plan.  Time to check through the plan again.

Been a while since the muzzies attacked something too…

And winter is happening in the north and northeast.

Lots of reasons to keep stacking.

nick

 

Sat. Dec. 26, 2020 – Boxing Day. And counting down to the New Year.

Cool and damp-ish.  Supposed to be clear though.

Yesterday was cold to  start but got up into the 70s by mid-afternoon.  It was 44F at midnight.

Spent Christmas with the family.  Lots of good gifts were exchanged.  I got an ESR tester, and an LCR tester.  Those will bring my electronics troubleshooting  ability up a notch.  The LCR tester will measure values for coils and chokes which are common in radio projects.  That should be helpful if I ever get the time to work on stuff.

I got a set of Surefire Ear Defenders.  I usually use 3M foam ear plugs, but these are reusable, and cut loud and percussive sounds more than quiet sounds.  They were effective and comfortable for all the blowing I did yesterday.   They seem to do what they promise.  I’ll have to try them at the range, if I get to the range again.

In the list of things I’ve gotten in the last year or that lasted through it that are really cool/useful/actually work  –  the inductive desk charger for my phone is a joy to use.  Plugging in a phone nightly isn’t hard.  It does wear out your port, but it’s not HARD, so spending $18 or more on a charger dock seems unnecessary.   However, it works and it’s super convenient.  I won’t buy another phone without it built in.

I really like my Toro battery powered lawn mower.   I wish it walked just a bit faster, but it works, it’s quiet, and it doesn’t use up my stored gas.  The battery will self discharge so pull it if you go weeks between uses.

I’ve got more than a dozen kindles, but I use the backlit paperwhite most often.  The reading experience is great.  If you only get one, that’s the one to get for reading books.

My EDC flashlight is a Pelican 1920 two AAA battery light.  I love how it feels in the hand, the brightness is great, battery life is good with eneloops.   The endcap switch rubber cover can tear.   Still recommended.

I love my Dewalt 20v liON leaf blower.  It’s small, hand held, has 3 speeds and a VSR trigger.  I use it most days to clear the porch, blow leaves out of the garage, or to blow hair, dust, and debris out of the house.  5AH battery is a must.

Having 4 and 5AH LiON dewalt batteries and the 18v tool battery adapter lets me finally use my battery angle grinder, sawzall, and circular saw as I wanted to from the beginning.   If you own dewalt 18v NiMH tools that you like, get some 20v LiON batteries/charger and the adapter.  New life for old tools.  Ditto if you have Milwaukee or other good NiMH tools.  Look for the adapter and appropriate LiON batteries.

I have a grease storage tank/bin on the kitchen counter.  I’ve linked to it on amazon before.  I love cooking with bacon grease, and love that I’m saving it for reuse.  Very convenient.

The last for now is maybe a bit odd.  I have a little mini swing top trash can on my bathroom counter.  They sell them for use on coffee bars or in bathrooms.   I use breathe*rite strips at night.  The strips have a bandaid type shiny paper outer cover, but they also have two little paper strips to cover the adhesive.  The paper strips go everywhere when you toss them toward a trashcan.  The used breatherite strip is still sticky and will end up stuck to everything, so I peal open the outer cover, leave it on the counter, and peal the two paper strips.  The paper strips go into the little trash can.  In the morning, I stick the used strip to the outer paper envelop, then throw that into the little can.  That little can made a big difference in my bathroom so even though it’s an odd little thing, I’m recommending it.  Those are the only things I put into it.

I figure I need to do an actual prepping post sometime soon.  Maybe it will just be a link roundup, or maybe I’ll manage to write something new.  Either way, if there’s anything anyone wants to hear more about, let me know in a comment.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking the stuff you use all the time.  Can’t go wrong with that.

nick

Fri. Dec. 25, 2020 – Christmas Day

Cold.  Low 40s to start.  Clear and sunny in the forecast, so it should warm up later.  No snow this year.

Whether you celebrate this day as the Feast of Our Savior’s Birth, or as a secular version with Santa Claus and all the mythology that has built up around that, or as a pagan whose symbology and practice got subsumed into Christian beliefs, or if you’ve just finished celebrating Hanukkah, I greet you and hope you share the blessings of the season.

We’ll be busy giving gifts, preparing our shared meal, and renewing familial bonds (albeit by facetime).  I hope this season is a bit of a respite from the concerns of the rest of this dumpster fire of a year.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

——————————————————–

Spent yesterday messing around.  Sold something on ebay that I had to go get out of storage, then pack better for shipping, then run to the UPS store-  which was closed early for the holiday.  So was the storefront shipping store.  I spent about 2 hours messing around and still didn’t get the danged thing shipped.  It’ll go out Monday.

After that it was a scramble to finish wrapping presents, deciding which ones went to which child, and which get shifted to spring birthdays.  Got it all done, and the opening of the gifts commenced!

Oh to be nine years old again.  What a special day for her.    She’s been VIBRATING with anticipation and her waiting paid off.   SO MUCH squealing.

The 11yo has been playing it cool, practicing her ‘teen’ vibe.  Last night was clear she missed it, so today she’ll hopefully get the joy of the season.

Speaking of which, I know that for some of you out there there is no joy in the season.  If that’s the case, please talk to someone, get out into the woods, or go for a drive somewhere or do whatever helps you get through.  But GET THROUGH.  Be here for whatever comes next.  Who knows, could be aliens after all and how cool would that be to finally know for sure?

Whatever comes, we’ll deal with it.  There are still people in Rome and have been since before our system of dates started those 2020 years ago.   Stacks of needful things will help…

 

Wishing you all the joy and blessings of the season, Merry Christmas!

nick

Thur. Dec. 24, 2020 – Christmas Eve

Hopefully not raining, and kinda warm.

Rained late yesterday.  It was so humid before that that it might as well have been raining.  Really gross feeling to be working out in 80F and 99%RH.  Clammy.  After the rain it was 53F at midnight.  Chilly willy.

But I did get the lights up, so I’m much happier than I was.  It’s a bit later than I’d have liked but the house and yard look festive.  There are  a lot more houses decorated this year in the neighborhood than last.  IDK if that’s a reflection of people being home and having the time, not going away on vacation, or just more younger and traditional families moving in.   There is nothing like having kids to rekindle those desires for the traditions you grew up with.

I’ve got presents to wrap today, and hopefully stuff to drop off at the auction house.  Didn’t happen yesterday, but I really want the bins out of the living room for Christmas.    I need to decide which presents get wrapped for Christmas, and which get saved for birthdays in 4 months.  Kids are gonna do alright in the present department no matter what.

The older one is a bit blase’ about the whole thing this year.  The little one is practically vibrating with anticipation.   It’s a lot of fun to watch it through their eyes normally.   They miss their friends and the family get togethers, and the Holiday travel.  I’m happy enough staying home, but I ache for them.

Funny how all the speculation about cv19 being a bioweapon has faded.   It would give a nice target to the white hot pent up rage, if it was allowed to blossom… but I guess that would be bad too.  Maybe some people will wake up dead after a tasty soup, or a kiss on the cheek sometime soon.   Russia isn’t exactly unscathed by the chinavirus after all.  Christmas wishes used to be so simple.

Time for me to get going on my list for the day.  I had an ebay sale so I need to hit the storage unit and get the item, and get it shipped out.  That’s in addition to everything else.  Still, glad for the sale, maybe things are picking up.

Keep stacking.

n

 

 

Wed. Dec. 23, 2020 – anyone notice that 2020 sucked?

Cool and possibility of rain.  I really hope no rain.  Too much to do that didn’t get done yesterday.

Spent the day yesterday doing pickups.  All over the greater metro area…  and everywhere there was vacant commercial and retail space.  They are still building what looks like fulfillment warehouses out on I 10, maybe cross dock facilities, but there is so much vacant, I wouldn’t want to be building on spec.

Chatting with the people at the auctions, they are pretty aware of the gun and ammo shortage.  There is a lot of support for Trump in the small and independent business community…  and several of the auctioneers have signs posted saying that guns are welcome, and they support concealed carry.  They also don’t seem to think 2021 is going to be instantly better.  Given that that mirrors a lot of what people here have been saying, I’d say it was a widespread and mainstream idea.

2020 almost had one last kick in the teeth for me.  My sibling had a near miss.  They were in an Uber and got T boned last night by some guys street racing in Chicago.    All I can say is seatbelts save lives.  Three broken ribs, severe whiplash, ongoing headache, and a visit to the ICU, but now at home recovering.   F me.  That was too close.

Not that I expect 2021 to be better, but let’s get out of 2020 without any more tragedy.

All the stacks in the world won’t replace people.  Take some time out, and make the phone call.  You won’t regret it.

n

(keep stacking, that’s important too)

Tues. Dec. 22, 2020 – nope, nothing cool about the number today..

Or is there?

Anyway, nice and dry, sunny and pleasant.  That’s my hope anyway.  It was nice yesterday, all day.

So I spent the morning indoors and the afternoon mostly driving around.

Did my pickups, sorta.  My wife and daughter decided to get some bonding time in after the braces went on.  I subsequently got a very late start on my tasks.  No drop off, no check pickup, and only a few of my other pickups.  I’ve got some very short windows for pickups today, and they are far apart.

It’s also the last rain free day forecast before Christmas, and I’ve still got stuff to put up outside.  I’m falling behind.  Way behind.

Work gets sloppy when I get rushed, and some stuff just doesn’t get done at all.  But I can’t really see where that will apply to my list of jobs right now.

Time to suck it up I guess.

And time to get busy.  No time to wax poetical on my failings or how the world is letting me down.

Go do some work to improve your position for what is coming down the pike.  Sell some stuff.  Buy some stuff. STACK some stuff.

 

nick