Thur. Feb. 18, 2021 – losing track of the days…

Cold again, supposed to get a hard freeze tonight.   Yesterday felt colder than it was.   With the sub-freezing temps, it was very dry, but with the advent of the melting and the rain, humidity was HIGH and the damp cold felt REALLY damn cold.   (srsly, some of you are laughing but it hurt it was so cold.)  35F at 930pm down from 38F and higher during the day.

As I figured I would, I got the chance to help out a couple of neighbors.  (We are a neighborhood.   I live on a cul de sac, and about half of us are ‘chat in the street, talk about the kids’ friendly, especially after the storms and hurricanes, etc.  The other half we just never see except to wave as they drive by.  And that is a bit of an issue but not one to solve in a day.)

I helped the family across the street get their 1950s era gennie running.   It ran in the summer but wouldn’t start now.   There were a couple of minor things, the metal piece you touch to the spark plug to shut it off was too close to the plug and was grounding it out and there was water in the fuel and carb.   Drained a half cup through the carb and float bowl, reset the idle speed, and it fired on the 5th or 6th pull.   Ran pretty well too.   Put my meter on it, 57hz and 115v – so, well within range to be expected.   Small engine repair is a real world usable skill and being able to get and keep your gear running could save your life.   Youtube probably has someone fixing exactly your problem, but to learn small engine trouble shooting and repair in general, and be entertained by a guy who loves what he does, spend some time watching Mustie1.

Did a welfare check on the elderly couple down the block and found out  they didn’t have heat, or a way to cook food because of the power outage, so I brought them a gallon of already hot water, a single burner coleman stove, and a Mr Heater Little Buddy .  Unfortunately it looks like that single burner Coleman is out of production.   That is a real shame because it stores easily and uses the same bottle as the Mr Heaters and Coleman lanterns.    My wife loves it for Girl Scout camping.   I’ve picked up a couple at yard sales or estate sales and there are two on ebay for crazy money.   If you were going to standardize on 1 pound propane bottles, I’d recommend a small stove that uses the bottle, one of the Mr Heater Buddys, and maybe a lantern (and only because you won’t be caught with dead batteries).

The lantern is iffy, because the Streamlight lantern is so good, I can’t really recommend anything else as a serious area light.   Anything you’re going to be moving around with you and setting in different places will always be safer if it’s not fire.   I have a dozen of the cheap little battery powered LED lanterns from Costco, the kids use them at camp and around the house as toys.   They actually work pretty well, and like cheap flashlights, buy a bunch and scatter them everywhere for convenience.  But for disasters, when you need light, I love my Streamlight Siege.  Mine normally lives on the floor beside my bed within easy reach.  My wife loves her smaller Siege too.

Later in the day I got a call from my buddy about borrowing a space heater.    I loaned him the one from the garage.   It would have been pretty hard to say no to a friend with kids just to heat the garage (not that I would have.)  It does bring up a point.   Having multiples of items isn’t just a good idea for redundancy, what with two being one and one being none.  Unless zombies are eating people on your front lawn, you are probably going to want to help people in your circle/tribe/etc if you can.  Unless it’s truly TEOTWAWKI, people WILL remember your help or lack thereof, and it would be an extraordinary individual that wouldn’t look for payback later.   Just sayin’.  Help where you can.  Build your community.   Later you can help them build their own resilience.

Plan for today is more of the same, with some additional experimentation if possible.   We’ll see if I get to it.  And I just realized I was going to do a “why the 5 gallon bucket is the preppers multitool” post, but got completely sidetracked by my life…   Jeez, it’s like I’m on instagraam jumping around shouting “look at me!!!” in a bikini.   Now try to get that image out of your head.  You are stocked up on eye bleach right?   😉

Keep stacking.   And ask yourself the question I never asked about storms in winter, “What if the disaster comes when I’m NOT expecting it to?”

nick

Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

103 thoughts on “Thur. Feb. 18, 2021 – losing track of the days…”

  1. Just found your page by way of Commander Zero. Just what I have been looking for in a local blog by an LMI. Energy Corridor area here. Sounds funny at the moment, doesn’t it?

  2. Woke at 6AM and checked the forecast. Highs in the 20s (f) today so its not too bad I thought. Then I thought, this is Oklahoma, since when is 20f not to bad? A week of below zero temperatures will skew your mind. We should be back to normal, the mid 50s, next week they say. Can’t come fast enough. Then we get to complain about 100 degree plus heat this summer. Should have stayed in New Zealand, best climate I ever lived in but the socialized medicine chased me out. Sigh..

  3. BTW, the forecast power demand in the morning is 66,000 MW. The plan only has 61,000 MW of generation in it. Looks like somebody is going to get the short end of the stick in the morning. Again.

    Last night on the local Faux News, ERCOT’s spokesdroid gave an interview in which she stated that *everyone* would see rolling blackouts this morning, the implication being that they finally have the bugs worked out of the system which would distribute the outages fairly, for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

    The most disturbing news tidbit to slip was a denial that ERCOT sold power out of state earlier in the week and they were actually working to *buy* power. I thought that the Texas grid was isolated.

    ERCOT is going to be the scapegoat on this one, regardless of who is really at fault.

    One thing I learned in my interview is that ERCOT is *not* a government entity, and the usual private sector incentives aren’t there for the tech people to give the extra effort to deliver the minor IT miracles required on a regular basis to make critical infrastructure work … like my last job!

    IIRC, the 401(k) didn’t even match.

    Of course, on my last job, if the new Fedex truck designed to skirt Federal regulations on truck drivers got classified as a big van instead of a truck, losing a few bucks on the toll, no one died even though the customer acted like the possibility existed.

  4. We too live in a cul-de-sac. Neighbor on one side is a mansion occupied by an elderly couple and their maid. Nice enough but not at all social. On the other side we have a vacant house. The owner, a man about my age, comes out to check on it or cut the grass every couple of weeks. It belonged to his parents and he has kept it empty since his mother finally passed a decade ago. Last summer he invited me inside, its like a shrine, his mothers desk is kept just the way she left it with scrapbooks half finished. Creepy. He’s had several offers but refuses to even consider selling. Hell, I like to buy it as a rental.
    Further up the street we have the upper middle class of Wewoka, the people who want to live on the golf course. The fire chief, the guy that owns the towing business, etc. Lots of kids in the area, that’s one reason we like it.

  5. read in DOCX files is not compatible with Windows 10

    Try using a program such as 7zip. DOCX files are just compressed DOC files.

    It’s late, and I am beat, but I don’t understand this.

    Three prong plug, can only be plugged in one way, client insisted device was plugged in, so I had them reverse the plug, device worked, thus was not plugged in at the start.

  6. Ray!! Are you suggesting that a user did something dumb and then quietly fixed it and didn’t admit to having done something dumb????


  7. Works great until you run out of generators as NO ONE has the responsibility to make sure that there are enough generators built to meet all demand, not just the 98% demand. That last 2% is very expensive to make power on as that $100 million gas turbine plant that never gets built because the power is too expensive.

    Isn’t the Governor ultimately responsible for what goes on in the state?

  8. @Steve: Indeed I am buttermilk breathe (Hat tip to Johnny Carson).

    Isn’t the Governor ultimately responsible for what goes on in the state?

    Not if they can lie their way out and blame someone else. Governor’s never admit errors instead finding some other reason of plausible deniability. Extends all the way to federal level including congress critters and senators.


  9. Just found your page by way of Commander Zero. Just what I have been looking for in a local blog by an LMI. Energy Corridor area here. Sounds funny at the moment, doesn’t it

    @SFW; LMI??


  10. Try using a program such as 7zip. DOCX files are just compressed DOC files.

    True. Just a collection of XML files and whatnot zipped and stored as DOCX/XLSX. You can actually rename the file to have a ZIP extension and browse the files in it that way. I’ve done that to go into Excel workbooks and remove password protection when nobody remembered the password anymore.


  11. Not if they can lie their way out and blame someone else. Governor’s never admit errors instead finding some other reason of plausible deniability. Extends all the way to federal level including congress critters and senators.

    Ultimately his constituents can hold him responsible via the ballot box, right?… oh yeah, never mind…


  12. Not if they can lie their way out and blame someone else. Governor’s never admit errors instead finding some other reason of plausible deniability.

    Will be interesting to see how this works out up in NYS for Gov. Cuomo and his Covid nursing homes cover up.

  13. Ray!! Are you suggesting that a user did something dumb and then quietly fixed it and didn’t admit to having done something dumb????

    We probably all have some stupid user stories. Like in the 80s when a user called me asking where to put the update CD we had shipped her. I described where to find the CD drive on her tower PC and she said “You must have sent me the wrong computer, all I have there is the cup holder”. Her whole office were using the CD tray with the hole in the center as cup holders.
    Or when I had started as electronic messaging manager for MCI/WorldCom in London, the director of IT called me angrily demanding to know what I had done to his computer. His email wasn’t working and neither was his browser. I offered to send a tech right up but he demanded I come in person. After enduring a tirade about how incompetent I was, I examined his PC. The network cable was hanging loose, unconnected. I think the cleaners must have knocked it loose. He was back on line in seconds but never any apology for his insults.

  14. Nick,
    Streamlight Siege or Super Siege?

    Agreed about Mustie1. He is great and you can learn a lot from his YouTube Channel.

    Darryl

  15. Centerpoint has been doing rolling blackouts. We got power yesterday for about 11 hours, then off for 4.25, and on for the last 11. Hmmm. ERCOT is showing 3 GW reserves right now and demand over capacity later today. (EDIT: Just checked, – Centerpoint is down to 38k customers without power, I expect that is all equipment problems.)

    Centerpoint had said a few days ago that they couldn’t do rolling blackouts – all the power they had was being sent to critical infrastructure – hospitals, LEOs, water plants, etc. I guess they now have enough to rotate.

    One of the two reactors at the South Texas Nuclear Plant was offline and was back on last night at 9 PM. From what ERCOT has said, that reactor is about 1.2 GW of power, a respectable percentage of the total grid inputs. The failure seems to have been sensor faults on the cooling water inputs to the generators attached to the reactor, not the reactor systems themselves.

  16. “read in DOCX files is not compatible with Windows 10”

    Try using a program such as 7zip. DOCX files are just compressed DOC files.

    I have an old version of Office, possibly 2003, on my primary desktop, but I also maintain a fairly current copy of LibreOffice which can read newer formats like DOCX.

    LibreOffice is still hopeless writing DOC files properly at times. I mainly use Microsoft Office to make sure my uploaded resume DOC is clean.


  17. Her whole office were using the CD tray with the hole in the center as cup holders.

    Wait, what? They really were doing that? I thought that was just a joke going back thirty years.

    The failure seems to have been sensor faults on the cooling water inputs to the generators attached to the reactor, not the reactor systems themselves.

    Feedback/sensor/test/decision problems are a constant issue in engineering and in engineered systems, from your modern car refusing to run because an exhaust sensor failed to a software build system refusing to build a project because a unit test incorrectly failed.

  18. 28ºF in SA and snowing. We might get all the snow back that melted yesterday.

    Power, water and ‘net still up. Boil water advisory means I’m using filters for drinking water, but it’s nice to take a hot shower.

    Waiting for our turn on the rolling black out schedule.

  19. Currently 81 F. in Cancun…just sayin…

    74f in Puebla Mexico, lows in the 40s. My brother who lives in Little Rock AR, summers in Puebla because of the moderate climate there. Looks like the climate is moderate all year round. He’s spent 5 summers in Mexico and still can’t speak a word of Spanish/Mexican. They have big European (mostly German) and Asian communities there so huge variety. And all the American shopping and restaurant chains too so he feels right at home. His only issue is negotiating some of the roads between the US border and Mexico city that are popular with modern bandits.


  20. His only issue is negotiating some of the roads between the US border and Mexico city that are popular with modern bandits.

    Well, that and not being able to drink the tapwater. 🙂

  21. 28ºF in SA and snowing. We might get all the snow back that melted yesterday.

    No new snow in our part of Williamson County overnight.

    Waiting for our turn on the rolling black out schedule.

    How many outages have you seen this week? How close do you live to Fiesta and La Cantera?

  22. Well, that and not being able to drink the tapwater.

    Large parts of Texas have boil water notices right now.

    One of the vlogs I watch had a travelog from yesterday showing water problems well east of Beaumont into Louisiana.


  23. How many outages have you seen this week? How close do you live to Fiesta and La Cantera?

    I live just north of the airport, so not too close. One outage that was scheduled. My daughter thinks we are spared because of several first responder buildings in our neighborhood.

  24. @sfw, and any other new readers….

    Welcome, please feel free to just read along or contribute to the conversation. Take a minute to read the About link at the top of the page, and then click on my name on that page to see why this place may seem different from other blogs…

    We’ve got a HUGE range of people who hang out here, with interests that tend to be on the computer/tech/nerd side of the spectrum but I am continually surprised when someone chimes in with help or knowledge on a subject I can’t remember ever having discussed before. GREAT people here.

    A bunch of those people are in the Houston area, and several more in the San Antonio and Austin areas so TX is in the house. It’s by no means a regional place though as several people join in from far far away (Geoff, Eugene, to name just two) given that I live here, and that the Gulf Coast provides plenty of preparedness related goodness, I suppose it could seem to be regional. I do tend to emphasize my own troubles even when there are others having their own disasters.

    I count on hearing from community members in the affected areas to share ground truths in those cases, and to remind me that there are in fact disasters in other places. It helps with the navel gazing…..

    n

    again, Welcome!

    1

  25. MrAtoz says:
    My daughter thinks we are spared because of several first responder buildings in our neighborhood.

    My house here on the western outskirts of San Antonio is a block away from a fire station, and it’s in an older neighborhood with an older power substation. I suspect that they can’t turn off the power to this (fairly small) neighborhood without killing the fire station’s power as well.

    And since I have a well, the “boil water” advisory doesn’t apply to me.

  26. Well, it’s 35f at the moment here in Casa de Nick, and the power stayed up all night. Woke to a warm and quiet house.

    The neighbors were texting and posting that we could expect water this morning, and we did in fact get some. My wife and I enlisted the kids to look and listen for leaks, and then we turned the water to the house back on.

    So far, no leaks, no issues. Lots of sediment and rust, and a boil notice, but we’re still drinking stored water anyway. Low pressure continues but we do have flow.

    Filled the tub back up just in case.

    I’ll be heading over to the rent house later to get them turned back on. Fingers crossed about the condition.

    ——————————————————-

    @alan, LMI= Like Minded Individual a handy recognition code when looking for LMIs IRL (In Real Life).

    I did a post or comment some time ago about how to spotted preppers in the wild and I listed some “tells”….

    -clip knife in front pocket on the strong hand side (bonus for clip knife in a back pocket too)
    -paracord bracelet or watchband
    -sturdy shoes or boots
    -tactical pants
    -“cover garment” or untucked shirt over carry pistol
    -flashlight in pocket

    None of those in isolation are definitive, but as you add more and more of them you can be pretty sure that person is somewhere on the ‘preparedness spectrum’.

    Some recognition phrases —

    -LMI – noted above
    -fiat currency
    -PMs – precious metals, not private messages
    -‘metals’ (see PMs above)
    -junk silver (pre-1965 coins)
    -freeze drieds (food like Mountain House)
    -the three B’s (beans, bullets, bandaids)
    -three boxes (soapbox, ballot box, cartridge/ammo box)

    Mentioning any of those things might get a response, or not, and then maybe lead to more discussion……

    Having a good wristwatch, particularly a multifunction sports or dive watch used to be a pretty good ‘tell’ too, but now there is a lot of crossover with sporty types and people who have rediscovered the benefit of seeing the time without touching their phone with their grubby hands…

    n


  27. Greg Nortonsays:
    “read in DOCX files is not compatible with Windows 10”

    You have Word 2003? Microsoft has a compatibility patch that allows you to read or write the newer DOCX or XLSX formats.

  28. I have been very please with every Mr Heater product I’ve tried, but I do have a couple of notes for later, based on buying about half a pallet of store returns, which did have a couple of issues.

    ATM I’m getting ready to head to the rent house. I’m taking plumbing supplies with me….

    n

  29. You have Word 2003? Microsoft has a compatibility patch that allows you to read or write the newer DOCX or XLSX formats.

    AFAIK, Microsoft killed the legacy support for Office 2003 within the last few years, removing the various patches from WSUS. The installation on my primary desktop may have that compatibility patch going back to my time on the Death Star, but I’m used to LibreOffice’s quirks at this point.

    I only use Word to check the DOC file written out of LibreOffice after I make changes. Even Microsoft can’t reverse engineer the format sufficiently to produce a clean library to read/write the files according to their own spec. I’ve heard from people who have seen the source under NDA that the legacy C code is a big pile of spaghetti with “goto” statements and lots of globals among other sins.


  30. Microsoft has a compatibility patch that allows you to read or write the newer DOCX or XLSX formats.

    Yes, they do. I think that is software to which Mr. Lynn was referring. I am not certain what the issue would be as I have installed the compatibility pack on several computers running W10. But that was several versions ago of W10 and I would not put it beyond MS to change something in W10 that invalidated that software.

    MS despises people that run old versions of their software. I realize that MS does not, and should not, support software that is 18 years old. To do so would be foolish. In fact Office 2010 will shortly be on the non-supported list.

    I am running Office 2016 and have no desire to upgrade to the latest office. I don’t want to pay $10.00 a month to use their software. I do pay for Adobe as prior versions not associated with Adobe Cloud will not work with the RAW files from my newest camera. It is possible to get stand alone versions of Office but it is pricey. For my needs it would be markedly overkill. In face for my needs Office 2003 is overkill as Office 97 provided everything I needed.

    Also never run the 64 bit version of Office. Most add-ins will not work. Only reason to do so would be a massive document. Something like a new congressional bill which accomplishes very little.

  31. Hmm, renters are checking to see if they even have water in the neighborhood yet… I may not be heading out just yet.

    n

  32. @darryl,

    “Streamlight Siege or Super Siege?”

    I’ve got the bigger Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact, Cordless, 7.25″ Alkaline Hand Lantern – Coyote – 540 Lumens

    wife has the compact Streamlight 44941 Siege 200 Lumen Ultra-Compact Work Lantern (Coyote Green, 3xAA Battery)

    they are FAR sturdier than the cheaper ones. They are bright and efficient too.

    n

  33. Large parts of Texas have boil water notices right now.

    Those are typically from an “overabundance of caution.” So, basically, anytime any of the water infrastructure is physically compromised (pipe bursts or whatever) they’ll have boil water notices during the issue and for a couple of days after it’s resolved (probably because soil and other foreign matter worked its way into the water mains). I usually completely forget about the boil water notice and proceed as usual. So far, no cholera or amoebic dysentery. 🙂

    Heck, my great aunt’s water in small town western Pennsylvania stunk like sulphur and ran brown for the first 90 seconds the tap was on. She drank it for 85 years. In the end, it was the bacon and butter that got her. Not the water. (I can remember visiting them once and we arrived at lunch time. Based on what was on the table you’d think they were having Thanksgiving dinner. My God did they eat.)

    Also never run the 64 bit version of Office. Most add-ins will not work

    IIRC, and unless something has changed, even Microsoft recommends you do NOT run the 64-bit version of Office (well, at least through Office 2013 – it may have changed with Office 2019/Office 365).

  34. Also never run the 64 bit version of Office. Most add-ins will not work. Only reason to do so would be a massive document. Something like a new congressional bill which accomplishes very little.

    3000 page documents that no one actually reads are best left to LaTeX to produce.

    That was one of a handful of truly useful bits of knowledge which I got out of grad school.

    My guess is Congress uses a modified version of LaTeX or Framemaker going back to a government contract for the system going back to the 90s. The big upside is that it is really easy to sneak things into bills with that kind of process.


  35. In the end, it was the bacon and butter that got her.

    Noooooooo! This is a lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2

  36. The big upside is that it is really easy to sneak things into bills with that kind of process.

    That so bothers the engineer in me. Congress should have revision control on every single word in the bills!


  37. I’ve got the bigger Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact, Cordless, 7.25″ Alkaline Hand Lantern – Coyote – 540 Lumens

    wife has the compact Streamlight 44941 Siege 200 Lumen Ultra-Compact Work Lantern (Coyote Green, 3xAA Battery)

    I prefer the compact version because it uses AA batteries vs. D cells. Always have plenty of AAs on hand and cycled through for many other uses around the house (similarly for AAA) so plenty of backups if needed for the lanterns. Nothing else in the house uses D batteries (or C – well except for my collection of Hess Trucks) so less likely to have extra fresh Ds or Cs on hand.


  38. IIRC, and unless something has changed, even Microsoft recommends you do NOT run the 64-bit version of Office

    Your memory is correct. I installed it, once. Will never make that mistake again. Why MS produced such a version is beyond my limited knowledge. Perhaps they needed the additional address space for really large documents and modifying 32 bit office to handle such large documents would have been difficult. Or some customer, as in huge customer, paying a lot of bucks, demanded something in the 64 bit realm.

  39. I feel for my friends suffering thru this cold and infrastructure failures. Yikes.

    We’re in the high twenties today, and drop into the teens over the next few days. Warming up again for the weekend. I should take advantage of the warmer temps and do some rabbit maintenance chores. Their water barrel is due to be refilled. That system requires daily checks at each cage to ensure water is flowing as it should. That small task is effortless compared to replacing bottles or crocks twice daily. I’m satisfied with the setup and glad I looked for a less effortless way.

    Daughter has requested we eat the rooster as her birthday dinner next month. She overheard me saying he was going in the freezer pre-move. He’s nailed her a couple times. They currently have an uneasy truce as she nailed him back the last time he got her. Brave kid.

    We moved a table, twin mattress, and bed frame to the new house. I packed the first three boxes yesterday. We have officially transitioned from renovating to moving.

    1
  40. Your memory is correct. I installed it, once. Will never make that mistake again. Why MS produced such a version is beyond my limited knowledge. Perhaps they needed the additional address space for really large documents and modifying 32 bit office to handle such large documents would have been difficult. Or some customer, as in huge customer, paying a lot of bucks, demanded something in the 64 bit realm.

    I remember Chevron got revved up about 64 bits about 15 years go, back before Vista hit and a 64 bit version of XP floated around for big corporate customers.

    Chevron couldn’t get a 64 bit VPN client out of Cisco for Unity spec IPsec servers so they approached the Death Star for a client back when I was still serving the Empire.

  41. Had to run out and fill a couple of ATMs that ran empty. I am always surprised how bad weather seems to increase traffic at the bars and strip clubs. Once out of the neighborhood, roads are mostly clear and dry. Gives me confidence for our run to dialysis in the morning. Parking lots are still snow/ice covered and dangerous but the sunshine is making slush that will freeze hard tonight. But all should be gone by Monday.

    I have decided not to endure another power outage. My choice is between installing a transfer switch for my existing Champion 7.5 KW generator or buying a new whole house unit including everything. The web estimates make it look like the cost differential would be only about $3k to buy new and I am learning that way as an investment. Being retired my disposable income has dropped but since we can’t travel, we have some extra. Opinions and experiences are welcome. I run my current generator off propane but am thinking of hooki g any new unit to the natural gas line. Or would it be better to get a 250 gallon propane tank? So far in the year we have lived here in Tornado Alley we have had a total of 12 or 14 hours outage with 5 hrs being the longest single event. As the wife is on full time oxygen concentrator, there is a risk of outages longer than about 6 hrs (the battery life of her portable unit).

  42. @jenny

    “We have officially transitioned from renovating to moving. ”

    –hooray!

    y’all must have a little bit of laughter mixed with the sympathy for us having a full on deadly disaster just because of some low temps…. and I can’t really disagree. The whole system is an interlocking puzzle of cascading failures.

    I just pulled most of my plumbing fittings down from the attic and have become the hardware store of last resort for my neighbors and their relations… I just wish I had more pipe. The stores are apparently EMPTY of plumbing related stuff.

    So far no one has asked for a hose bib (spigot) but I’ve got dozens. Brass and plastic valves too. I ALWAYS buy brass at yard sales or estate sales if they’re giving it away. Turns out I’ve got a couple dozen hose bibs, in all different styles and sizes.

    n

  43. @nick
    Thanks. Not too much laughter, though I’ve got friends posting mocking memes. I signed up for six months of frigid when I moved to Alaska. What you folks are enduring isn’t usual and I’m impressed by how well many people are managing. Pretty awful the infrastructure failures how3ver, regrettably, not unpredictable given the current ways of doing business.

  44. More update on the MIL move. The papers for the house sale were signed Thursday last week. Money was supposed to wire transferred to the MIL’s bank account. Come Monday there was no money wired. Repeated calls to the buyer and the title company were proving fruitless. One entity was saying one thing, one was saying another. Neither taking responsibility and blaming the other.

    So the wife and I got into anger mode. We wrote both entities an email so we would have a record. We informed both parties that unless the matter was settled by Friday, money in the account, both of us would be flying to San Antonio to meet with the district attorney. At which point we would be filing a formal criminal complaint against both entities. The person buying the house has a real estate license and we would bring those charges to the state licensing board. The title agent is a lawyer and we would be filing a formal complaint with the Texas Bar Association.

    Repeated calls and emails went unanswered until we informed them of the impending legal action by the wife and I.

    Lo and behold today the title company has the money and it will be wired this afternoon. Apparently just having charges filed really compromises their standing. Having to answer, formally, to criminal charges from a district attorney gets placed on their records and is available to the public.

    There was some chatter about the weather being an issue. Our response was there was no weather issues last Thursday when the transactions should have been completed. Someone dropped the ball and we were not going to let it stand. Or one of them thought they were going to pull a clever scam on an older person. I have half a mind to now ask for interest on the money that was held longer than it should have been held.


  45. little bit of laughter mixed with the sympathy for us having a full on deadly disaster just because of some low temps

    Same happens here where there is a big snow storm. People from the north laughing at the lack of snow plows. People here complaining about the lack of snow plows.

    Personally I don’t want the state or county paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for snowplows that may get used once every 10-15 years. Lot of money tied up in equipment that needs to be maintained. Around here a major snow event is usually over within two to three days as the temperature climbs.

    A location prepares for what is common, not the highly unlikely. Too expensive to cover all the possible bases.

    I don’t think Texas could have really prepared for the magnitude of the cold and the demand on the electrical system. I doubt this area could prepare for the magnitude of the cold that Texas has experienced. This location has a lot of hydro, some wind (useless), lot of natural gas, lot of coal, and lot of nuclear power available. TVA, in spite of some bone headed bungled (ash pond collapse), does a fairly good job of keeping the lights glowing.

  46. @Harold: my wife also on oxy concentrator (the big blue machine), plus a portable for ‘field trips’. We actually have two blue machines; both work – and there is another in UT for visits there.

    I have a 6k-7k Champion portable generator, with the bypass switch that I installed without problems. Only have to use it 2 maybe 3 times a winter here in Olympic Peninsula WA. As mentioned before, I changed all the ‘can’ lights to LEDs (primary lighting in the house).

    A power outage usually is no longer than a few hours, sometimes 8-10. Living in a residential area means that our outages get higher priority on the ‘fix list’.

    But when they occur, there are FLASHLIGHTS in every room, LED headlamps (WalMart camping section, $1 each, good enough light), plus the wall-mounted emergency flashlight (goes on automatically on an outage). The oxy blue box screeches when there is a power failure, and it’s just outside the MBR door, so that is an alert you can’t ignore.

    Power failure task list: grab the portable oxy for the wife (although personally I feel she can get along without it if sitting, but that’s another topic). Head out to the garage, release the door opener lock and roll up the door. Wheel the generator out in the driveway (about 6 feet). Hook up the power cord to the transfer switch.

    Generator: 3 steps (and I always forget one): choke, gas on, key on. Pull start (twice, maybe three times). Choke off, wait a minute for stabilize, then flip the switches on the bypass panel.

    That will power on the blue oxy box, freezer, refrigerator, den lights/outlets (so we can watch DirecTv), another circuit powers the cable modem/wireless routers. Local internet is fiber about 1 mile away, and they have battery backups there, so the interwebs work.

    Total time to get power from the generator, about 5 minutes. Have a portable heater that works in the den if needed, since generator doesn’t run the heat pump/furnace. Den has door that we can close to keep the heat in. Microwave is on a generator-powered circuit, so can use that if needed. Total power draw is about 2.6KW. Have 10 gal spare (and Stabil-treated) gas (in plastic containers) plus the generator tank. Rotate the gas into vehicles yearly. One propane BBQ with a spare tank if needed.

    So, my recommendation for generators: in my case (not very many power outages, and not-long term): the portable with the transfer switch works fine. Don’t have the need for a big whole-house generator. Plus, no natural gas lines here, so would have to be propane, which would require a larger propane tank.

    Installing a power bypass switch for your portable generator quite easy, as detailed here previously. And, lots of FLASHLIGHTS. I’m confident in my preps.

  47. Re: MS Office

    I purchased Office 2019 Pro (standalone version, not that cloud-based stuff) for under $60 via an online store. Full featured, valid license, download version, one license/computer.

    Works just fine. I see several places online that have valid copies for around $60. With reviews that say it works; so not a scam.

    Had Office 2010 prior to that, but needed a ‘fresh’ copy due to new laptop. The cost was reasonable, and not being the ‘365’ version was a plus.

  48. More update on the MIL move. The papers for the house sale were signed Thursday last week. Money was supposed to wire transferred to the MIL’s bank account. Come Monday there was no money wired. Repeated calls to the buyer and the title company were proving fruitless. One entity was saying one thing, one was saying another. Neither taking responsibility and blaming the other.

    The weather didn’t turn bad in Central Texas until Sunday night, but a lot of people checked out of work after Thursday afternoon, ahead of the four day weekend if you count Lunar (Chinese) New Year on Friday. No one imagined that they wouldn’t be back at work on Tuesday morning.

  49. Still home. Had a nice lunch. Potato soup from a can, and a ‘heat and eat’ gyro sandwich kit from Costco, out of the freezer.

    One thing people may not be planning for is how much time everything takes. For most people, a local disaster means a lot of moving and doing – unless your just huddled in your bedroom, which is NOT for those who prep…

    I prefer meals that are quick and easy. We haven’t even grilled this week and we normally grill several times a week. Minding the grill in the cold and dark was unappealing.

    Normal activities take time and there are a lot of little tasks to do, from checking on generators, to cleaning up, to moving stuff from storage to usage.

    At least for me, there is very little down time and that is actually a good thing.

    n


  50. I don’t think Texas could have really prepared for the magnitude of the cold and the demand on the electrical system.

    At least couldn’t they have been prepared in the sense of knowing what to expect (e.g. iced turbine blades, snow covered solar panels, etc.), communicate that clearly to all parties, and have ‘tested’ (tabletop at a minimum) whatever mitigation might be possible and put those into effect? All I hear today on the news is finger-pointing from the Governor on down to local officials.
    I learned long ago supporting production IT systems that users and my senior management were a lot less annoyed when there was concise, timely communications with regular updates, even if to say there is not yet an update.

  51. ugg. Somewhere in all the up and down last night, the linux mint box got scrambled up. I just rebooted and I think the disk light is on. I’m hoping that it’s running the equivilent of fdisk or chkdisk but I just have a dell splash screen on the monitor. OH that just went away… looks like it may boot to a GUI this time.

    nope, command line login and my user/pass doesn’t work bugger

    n

  52. The full line is

    Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia dell-nvr tty1
    dell-nvr login:

    tried my user/pass, tried root with variations, got nothing left….

    n


  53. I don’t think Texas could have really prepared for the magnitude of the cold and the demand on the electrical system.

    There’ve been several-day cold snaps before, even including snow. Cold snaps in the future should have been predictable, and could have been by anyone who hadn’t bought wholly into global warming and ever-increasing temperatures.

    The Texas electrical grid has less spare capacity in terms of generation and transmission than in the past. Anyone who’s so much as walked past a first-year engineering classroom would know that this makes for a more fragile system.

    High-level managerial decisions were made with an eye to the quarter’s bottom line rather than to 100% service or as close to that as could be practicably reached. Reduced on-site fuel stores have been mentioned from time to time even in non-industry magazines, and Lynn has described the perverse incentives put in place by the coordinating board.

    In short, it’s possible that the Texas electrical system could not have fully prepared for a “100 year” event, but they could have done a lot better they did.


  54. It sucked to be an Allosaurus, one day on top, the next day being buried in ice and snow.

    …. or anywhere in the midwest US these past few days …

    1
  55. Microsoft has a compatibility patch that allows you to read or write the newer DOCX or XLSX formats.

    Yes, they do. I think that is software to which Mr. Lynn was referring. I am not certain what the issue would be as I have installed the compatibility pack on several computers running W10. But that was several versions ago of W10 and I would not put it beyond MS to change something in W10 that invalidated that software.

    Windows 10 Pro x64 comes up now and says that the Office 2003, 2002, XP Compatibility Pack is no longer compatible with it.


  56. Windows 10 Pro x64 comes up now and says that the Office 2003, 2002, XP Compatibility Pack is no longer compatible with it.

    Have you tried using compatibility mode when installing? If that works then the issues is the compatible pack. If it still fails it is W10 puking on the install. Not much can be done in the latter case.

  57. I don’t think Texas could have really prepared for the magnitude of the cold and the demand on the electrical system. I doubt this area could prepare for the magnitude of the cold that Texas has experienced. This location has a lot of hydro, some wind (useless), lot of natural gas, lot of coal, and lot of nuclear power available. TVA, in spite of some bone headed bungled (ash pond collapse), does a fairly good job of keeping the lights glowing.

    Sure we could have prepared for this extreme weather event. We did so back in the 1980s when I worked for TXU. All it takes is a weeks worth of liquid fuels stored onsite. We actually like to store two weeks worth of liquid fuels but the Texas PUC spanked us about about that and our management decided not to sue them that time (we had a 70% or 80% win record with the Texas PUC in court as none of their engineers were licensed or experienced).

    As I said before, Texas is built for 98% of weather events. Covering that last 2% is going to be incredibly expensive with liquid fuel storage (and most of new gas turbines are natural gas only). And, every single wind turbine and solar panel must have a gas turbine backup. Every single one of the so-called renewable power options.

    There is another option. Texas could go to hydrogen. Hydrogen has never been tried before with any large scale system that I know of due to the high maintenance of the water to hydrogen and oxygen splitter. There has even been extensive papers written about it. Dr. Michaelides has done the math and we can store hydrogen all over the place generated with unused wind turbine power.
    https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/memagazineselect/article/141/03/38/366568/Making-Texas-GreenIt-is-Technically-Possible-to

    The problem is the cost. “Our modeling shows that storing enough hydrogen to buffer a wind- and solar-dominated electrical system in Texas is possible and not even technically challenging. We did not calculate the cost of adding the green generating and storage capacity because prices drop precipitously when such systems are widely used as household items—as the history of the dramatic price reductions of refrigerators, microwaves, and personal computers has shown. We also did not consider any political resistance that might be raised by owners of coal and gas power assets.”

    I estimate the cost of converting Texas to hydrogen would be in the trillions, maybe $10 trillion, maybe $20 trillion. Multiply that by 10 to get the cost of converting the entire USA to hydrogen.

  58. Filed my taxes on February 12, the first day available. Refund is already waiting at my bank to post. Five days, same as in prior years. E-filing is the absolute best way to file taxes.

  59. Some profs at TAMU had an OpEd in the Houston Chronicle. They advocated for fixing the grid and plants to be more resilient, for more solar and wind, and batteries.

    OK. Right now the car companies can get Li Ion batteries for $100 kWh, supposedly. Texas had shortfalls of 20 GW (minimum) for 48 hours. That’s 960 GWh.

    So, that’s 960,000,000 kWh times $100. That’s $96 billion in batteries, minimum. The Texas electricity market (biggest in the US) is $24 billion/year. So, that’s a minimum of 4 years of electrical spending. People bitched like crazy in the costal areas when CenterPoint added a $5.25 month surcharge for recovery of hurricane costs and for hardening of the system as they fixed it.

  60. My heat pump decided to run today. The outside unit. It seems that 25F is as low as it will go and then it’s old time electric heat. I forget exactly, it’s been a few years since I installed the system. I do remember the default for switching to “back up” is 45F if you have gas.

    I think I left that setting alone.

    I’ve tinkered with settings on the pellet stove. I turned the pellet feed setting down one notch. From what I can see through the smoky glass, I have a nice fire across the grate. Next setting to tinker with is air flow. But it’s working pretty darn good right now. Maybe on Saturday….. Too low a pellet feed, yah, go figure. Too much air and the fire is blown out. I’m not pushing it when it’s 18F.

    One thing I read somewhere was along the line of “Texas has plenty of electricity during a heat wave, why not now?”. Ok, beyond the windmills icing up, folks with heatpumps are on their resistive heat.

  61. After saying I don’t have much down time, I did have a few minutes so I decided to do some testing.

    I got out my turkey fryer rig, and boiled up 5 gallons of rainwater. Nice and clear. Took about 15 minutes to bring it to pinpoints and vapor, which was hot enough for me to do laundry.

    I decided to try out ‘hobo’ laundry. I put 3 long sleeve T shirts, three pairs of underwear, and three pairs of socks in a 5 gallon bucket along with 2 fist sized rocks, a splash of detergent, and 2 1/2 gallons of hot water.

    I put the lid on and agitated it for 20 minutes, mainly by balancing it on edge and shaking it back and forth. Not particularly vigorously, but making movements that were as big as I could while the weight was still mostly balanced. I changed the bucket’s orientation every couple of minutes, and I even laid it on its side and rocked it back and forth that way for a while. About half way thru I opened the bucket, and mixed all the clothes around, then replaced the lid and agitated some more. For the last few minutes I was a bit more vigorous.

    Opened it up, wrung out the clothes, dipped them one at a time into a bucket of rainwater for rinsing, and wrung them again. Then rinse again, and wring again, and put aside. I did that with all the clothes-wringing them as dry as possible at each step. The soap water was pretty grey afterward but still had suds, and I’d have done another set of clothes in it if needed. It was still plenty hot. The rinse water was not clear anymore but didn’t have soap bubbles in it, so that seemed to work well, just dipping the clothes then wringing them outside the bucket so as not to put the soap rinse back into the rinse bucket.

    Grid down I’d air dry them or put them in front of a fire, but I threw them in our gas dryer. I’d call the experiment successful. If I needed to do it long term, I’d rig some sort of cradle or rolling thing to make agitating the bucket easier, and I’d use my mop bucket wringer. I didn’t have a chance to go to my secondary and get the wringer that I bought just for this purpose.

    Detergent was Kirkland Free and clear. Socks were thick wool blend, underwear were cotton, and the shirts were all ‘miracle’ fabrics, like Clima-cool, from various manufacturers. Nice mix of fabrics to try, I thought, and I need the shirts to wear any way. The amount was a good fit, filling half the bucket. The hobo who mentioned this way of doing laundry would probably have let vehicle motion shake the bucket around… but it wasn’t difficult or strenuous.

    n

  62. The full line is

    Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia dell-nvr tty1
    dell-nvr login:

    tried my user/pass, tried root with variations, got nothing left….

    Your user/pass doesn’t work? Is the / partition full again?

  63. Is the / partition full again?

    -jeez, yes it probably is. I had to restart the server and forgot to look in var/log to delete the cups logfiles. Once deleted they stay gone until the next startup. Didnt’ get a chance to try your advice about killing them permanently.

    Lately I’ve either been getting low disk space messages with plenty of file system left, or it fills up the data drive and never peeps…

    n

  64. -jeez, yes it probably is. I had to restart the server and forgot to look in var/log to delete the cups logfiles. Once deleted they stay gone until the next startup. Didnt’ get a chance to try your advice about killing them permanently.

    Boot from the install USB/DVD, mount the partition, and clean out var/log.

    Are you using the Cinnamon or MATE version of 19.3? I’ll throw an install on my revamped kid gaming PC. My primary desktop went to 20.1.

    I don’t even remember the CUPS problem or the advice. The new job has been non-stop learning since mid-November.

    They still don’t yell or condescend. Imagine. The losses at the previous place are up to $100 million on $460 million in revenue for the first 3/4 of the fiscal year that ends on April 1.

    Probably lots of yelling at that place right now.

  65. @commander Zero– I had a few minutes while my laundry was cooking 🙂 so I took a look at my kero heater. It’s a Corona 23DK and by appearance, a bit older rather than newer. Turns out, the battery box is for an electric glow starter so I just used a match (rather than fix the battery box right now). There was much less kero in it than I thought, really just a thin layer in the bottom. Still, the wick caught from a match, lit, burned for about a minute, and died out. That tells me that all I need is kero and I’m good to go. When the kero goes on sale in the spring, I’ll pick up a can or two, since I can’t find the can I thought I had.

    One more layer of fallback, one more option to stay warm depending on what fuel is available.

    n

  66. “Are you using the Cinnamon or MATE version of 19.3? ”

    -um, it’s green and black, default install. No idea which….

    n

  67. “I don’t even remember the CUPS problem or the advice. ”

    -Cups writes a couple terabytes of log file sometimes…. that fills up my ‘c’ drive with the filesystem on it and then things get weird. You listed some things I might try, that I didn’t have time to do then, and never got back to.

    n


  68. Opened it up, wrung out the clothes, dipped them one at a time into a bucket of rainwater for rinsing, and wrung them again. Then rinse again, and wring again, and put aside

    Sort of like my grandmother’s wringer washer. It was a Maytag machine.

    Big tub, filled with hot water. Add some detergent, start the agitator. Then position the wringer over the rinse sink full of rinse water. Run the clothes through the wringer into the rinse water. Then move the wringer over the partition in the two tub sink. Run the clothes from the one sink full of water into the second sink full of water. Position the wringer arm over the second rinse sink and wring the clothes into a basket. Take the basket outdoors and hang the clothes up to dry.

    My grandmother refused a regular washer. My mother found out why. My grandfather worked on a road grader, open cab, so lots of dirt. Add in grease and grime from the machine and his clothes were really dirty. My mother offered to wash his clothes one time in her washing machine. After three tries should could not get the clothes fully clean.

    The old wringer washer did a better job of cleaning. Probably saved on water. She could also control the wash time to fit the need of the garments. My grandmother did not pump out the tub until she had done four or five loads of laundry. Same with the rinse sinks. When she was done she would drain the rinse sinks and pump the water from the wash tub into the rinse sinks. The water from the washer was a deep brown when she was done for the day.

    That washer was probably 20 years old when I first remember the machine. She used that machine for another 30 years. Machine was still going strong. Weighed a couple hundred pounds, well built, and built to last. And last it did.

    The wringer was dangerous and many a child had their hands pinched in those rollers. Would probably not be allowed today. Or the safety protocols, sensors, shutoffs, etc. would probably make using the machine a nightmare.

  69. ERCOT ( ERCAUGHT ) is doing the rattlesnake right now. Two humps, one at 8 am and one at 6 pm. People getting home turning on the heat and the oven and/or the stove.
    http://www.ercot.com/

    Note: ERCOT has NOT dropped the EEA 3 status yet. That means the possibility of shedding load in the morning is still there. Going to be 15 F in north Texas and 25 F in south Texas. Momma going to turn her heat on for that.

  70. “Publishing House Baen Books Attacked by Cancel Culture”
    https://monsterhunternation.com/2021/02/16/publishing-house-baen-books-attacked-by-cancel-culture/

    “Baen Books is a sci-fi/fantasy publishing house that has been around since the early 1980s. They’ve published thousands of titles from hundreds of authors. Baen is notable in our current time period because it is one of the only traditional publishers who does not bend the knee to the woke mob. Our publisher, Toni Weisskopf, truly believes in free speech. Baen’s Bar is one of the oldest forums on the internet. It’s a place for authors and fans to hang out and talk. Today Toni is shutting down the Bar in order to stave off a Parler style cancel culture attack against Baen’s service providers.”

  71. The most disturbing news tidbit to slip was a denial that ERCOT sold power out of state earlier in the week and they were actually working to *buy* power. I thought that the Texas grid was isolated.

    ERCOT is going to be the scapegoat on this one, regardless of who is really at fault.

    One thing I learned in my interview is that ERCOT is *not* a government entity, and the usual private sector incentives aren’t there for the tech people to give the extra effort to deliver the minor IT miracles required on a regular basis to make critical infrastructure work … like my last job!

    AEP who owns three small utilities in Texas has DC interties with Oklahoma and maybe Arkansas. When they connected them up back in the 1980s, we cut all ties to them which was not easy and sued them in court. SCOTUS decided that since the intergrid connections were DC, they did not bring Texas under FERC regulations.
    https://www.aeptexas.com/info/facts/

    ERCOT is a 501(c)(4) entity, a charity ???, whatever the crap that is. The Chairman lives in Michigan and the Vice Chairman lives in Germany. You cannot make this stuff up.
    https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/ercot-board-vice-chair-texas-cold-power-outage-15953854.php

    1
  72. Any AS400/DB2 (IBM i 7.3) geeks please explain this to me….

    I have a table (or a file if you prefer), TABLE1, and it has a column BDATE in which every row/record has a NULL value.

    SELECT * FROM TABLE1 WHERE BDATE IS NULL returns nothing.

    SELECT * FROM TABLE1 WHERE BDATE = ‘1900-01-01’ returns all rows.

    In what fantasy world is January 1, 1900, the same thing as NULL?

    Fucking IBM.

    2
  73. Not a CNN fan, but I though this caption probably sums up what the average Texan is thinking right about now.

    Americans should be able to expect a few things from their politicians, one of which being keep the lights on and the water running

    We had a mayor here years ago that lost their job because they couldn’t get the trash picked up (botched contracts and whatnot). There’s some very basic services that seem super basic, but screw them up and people want you to hang.

  74. ERCOT is a 501(c)(4) entity, a charity ???, whatever the crap that is. The Chairman lives in Michigan and the Vice Chairman lives in Germany. You cannot make this stuff up.

    ERCOT took two months to turn me down after the site visit and subsequent follow up at the icehouse in Taylor.

    I think Oncor really calls the shots at that place. Warren Buffett always wins.

  75. We had a mayor here years ago that lost their job because they couldn’t get the trash picked up (botched contracts and whatnot). There’s some very basic services that seem super basic, but screw them up and people want you to hang.

    Most people want to go home and 1) sit in a cool house in the summer and watch tv or 2) sit in a warm house in the winter and watch tv.

    Yup, we got screwed. No warm houses for 48 to 72 hours. No tv for 48 to 72 hours. Members of the ERCOT board have taken their names off the website but too late, they have all been doxed.

  76. digest time:

    @Alan

    The best thing that could come out of the energy debacle in Texas is a state requirement requiring accurate cost accounting for every energy source and every operational constraint placed on utilities by public regulation.

    “This lost any chance of happening when you included the word “accurate.” The two sides (red & blue) will never agree to a common definition of ‘accurate.’”

    Start with standard accounting rules and uniform standards that apply to all sources and all constraints. Add some simple Monte Carlo simulation. The result will be that the public will know that the claims that “renewable” energy is cheap are horse hockey, and the result of adding them in at premium cost are lowered reliability aka more likely to have your power out.

    There is no excuse for nuclear, natural gas, or fuel oil generation to be going off-line due to equipment getting too cold. Also no excuse for those plants to be short on fuel.

    “So on who’s desk does the buck stop?
    The head of ERCOT? Then fire him/her/them (included all options there)?
    The Governor? Impeach him/vote him out of office? “

    Sounds like a lot of the problem is Ercot—can them all.
    As far as the governor is concerned, It is simply not possible for an elected executive to review everything that has gone on before. The weasels on the boards and commissions have been tunneling into the woodwork for years and getting paid to flog their own pet projects when they are pledged to be good stewards of the public’s trust. Make the governor responsible for the decisions made on his watch, and make the weasels hurt when they deserve to hurt.

    A bazillion dollars a megawatt-hour for power? If they thought that was unlikely when they put it in the plan then they should be comfortable with it sucking money out of their compensation and/or retirement if it happens.

    This from @Lynn in response to the same post:
    “We used to do that energy accounting when I worked at TXU. For some reason the PUC’s calculators always dropped a $100 million from our calculated fuel expenses over the prior 12 months (we spent $2.1 to $2.3 billion per year on fuel from 1986 to 1989). They would throw out items like emergency fuel oil (diesel) for starting the coal units and their supplemental steam boilers for startup steam. Only a few million gallons of diesel per year. We always sued them and we always won to tremendous legal expenses. Of which, the ratepayers paid. That all changed when Texas moved the economic dispatch to ERCOT and 15 minute dutch auctions in 1995 ???.
    http://www.ercot.org/about/wc/rt.html
    Works great until you run out of generators as NO ONE has the responsibility to make sure that there are enough generators built to meet all demand, not just the 98% demand. That last 2% is very expensive to make power on as that $100 million gas turbine plant that never gets built because the power is too expensive.
    Plus with the fact that the PUC members have a green agenda that forces wind turbines with 30% capacity factors to the built and run over reliable gas turbines. At the end of the day, both are built but only to meet the 98% demand, not the 100% demand. And this year, we needed the 100% demand in Texas.”

    That “green agenda” are their own little red wagons and they can pull them up and down the street as private citizens all they want. The minute they take an oath and a position that requires them to serve the public, I have no mercy for them. Loop a rope over those frozen windmills and hoist them up. Then in future make the green weinies 100% dependent on renewables. “Why, yes sir, your power comes back on just as soon as wind turbine 4936-H comes back on line. In fact, the oil heaters on the bearings are still drawing power, so you need to get on that bicycle generator an pedal like heck for 16.5 hours per day. Don’t worry, you get a 15-minute break every 4 hours. Don’t even think about putting your au pair girl on that bike, there’s a sphincter sensor in the seat and we have yours on file.”

    @Lynn
    Two words with respect to demand projections “error bars”.

    @Chad

    Cold doesn’t just hurt, cold kills, and it kills a lot more people than heat. At the end of this, someone will have a number.

    “Unless postmortem testing reveals they were positive for COVID-19. Then they didn’t die from the cold. They died from COVID-19. “

    News tonight reported 30 deaths. In a socialist country with an infallible government, they would hide the weinie exactly as you describe. We ain’t quite there yet.

    @ech
    “The failure seems to have been sensor faults on the cooling water inputs to the generators attached to the reactor, not the reactor systems themselves. “
    I spent some time on a project that used hydrogen at high temperature. Having offices in the same building, we were motivated to be concerned about performance. We used a quaint old engineering principle called “sensor redundancy”. Heinlein readers might recognize “tell me three times”.

    @Chad @MrAtoz

    In the end, it was the bacon and butter that got her.

    “Noooooooo! This is a lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    I’ll bet it was the darn salted butter. City folk.

    @Jenny
    Congrats on the move-in-progress.

    @Nick
    If I was replacing a hose bib in Texas I would be looking for a frostproof version to mail order (doubt the hardware stores in Texas have them)

    @Ray
    100 style points.

    @Lynn
    “I estimate the cost of converting Texas to hydrogen would be in the trillions, maybe $10 trillion, maybe $20 trillion. Multiply that by 10 to get the cost of converting the entire USA to hydrogen. “

    Dr. Pournelle used to estimate cost of solar power satellites at considerably less. Seems to me that the concept is worthy of X Project funding. The greenies would hate it, and it would be fun to see which pointy-heads came out against it, then rebut with the digest of their fulsome praise for wind and solar.

    @ech
    “Some profs at TAMU had an OpEd in the Houston Chronicle. They advocated for fixing the grid and plants to be more resilient, for more solar and wind, and batteries. “

    I’m sure they invoked the Lithium Battery Fairy in a a footnote…

    @Nick @Ray
    re: hobo laundry
    I have a 5-gallon pail that is a concrete mixer. One bag of Quikrete, measure water in the depression in the lid, screw on the lid (o-ring seal). Tip it on it’s side and roll it about six feet. It has indents on the sides that do the mixing. $30 at Home Depot a few years back. Seems it would work for laundry and be easier to agitate.
    I remember my grandmother doing laundry in an old Maytag ringer. Long time ago. Dad and I put a 220v window a/c in their living room. House panel was 60A. Lights, one tv, small refrigerator. Stove was gas.
    My Boy Scout troop had a couple of Maytag lids (the square ones) that we used as griddles. Best darn pancakes.

    @Lynn
    re: Baen
    Ghost and Carrera are more than enough to make libtard heads explode.
    Only way I can think to support them is to go buy a couple e-book bundles. Good value anyway.


  77. Dr. Pournelle used to estimate cost of solar power satellites at considerably less. Seems to me that the concept is worthy of X Project funding. The greenies would hate it, and it would be fun to see which pointy-heads came out against it, then rebut with the digest of their fulsome praise for wind and solar.

    As Dr. Pournelle also noted, solar power satellites, are indistinguishable from space based energy weapons, breaching space weapon treaties.

    Space weapon treaties.

  78. I have decided to leave the water on at the office building tonight. But I am going to turn all four sinks to trickling, therefore getting a good flow through the well house tank and pipes. I am really surprised and glad that 120 gallon steel pressure tank survived the 11 F temperature on Monday night. Having a house, even uninsulated, around it probably helped it a lot. Lots of thermal mass in that 10 ft by 10 ft well house.

  79. Ok I had to chime in when I started reading of Two things:

    1.) People using unsafe propane to cook indoors or having to be outside in the cold using a BBQ .

    There are indoor safe Butane burners used by Catering companies. Iwatani made a quality one that I’ve used for years now when I feel like cooking with gas. They use little fuel and cook fast for all things except one. They use a LOT of fuel to boil a big pot of water. Butane is not good in extreme cold and NOT ALL butane stoves are indoor safe. I keep a CO Monitor next to this burner — above it — and it has never registered. I spent $80 NOT $25 on my unit. Price has gone up. Note it says “indoor”

    Example if link is ok:

    https://www.amazon.com/Iwatani-Corporation-America-35FW-Metallic/dp/B00522F2R2/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=iwatani+butane+stove&qid=1613708930&sprefix=iwatani&sr=8-3&tag=ttgnet-20

    2.) Toilets being flushed with bottled drinking water for goodness sake. There are many Porta Potties that are used in travel trailer and boats or car camping. I can attest to one brand and style. Thetford Brand with a PISTON PUMP. Do not get anything with a bellows pump. For about 5 gallons you can flush 50 times on the model I have.

    Here is an example if ok to post a link. There are several sizes. You put RV digester in the bottom, it comes with a sample.

    https://www.amazon.com/Thetford-White-92814-Porta-Potti/dp/B07CHNB6TS/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=thetford+piston+pump&qid=1613708007&sprefix=thetford+pist&sr=8-8&tag=ttgnet-20

    Final note:
    Yes, you have to have these things in advance.
    Butane is cheaper at the following sources:
    Asian grocers, Sams Clubs, or even online. Less than $2/8oz bottle is a good price.

    I have no affiliation or connections to anything mentioned, merely a desire to help with items that will make lives easier.

    Good Luck to all and MUCH THANKS to NICK for posting his experiences through this stressful time!

  80. @ StoryMan ,

    Welcome, and thanks for the links. Links here are allowed, and encouraged as examples of what you are talking about if it’s something specific and non-obvious, and on topic, since we don’t have images in comments. In fact we rarely use images anywhere, because the founder RBT didn’t either.

    There is a limit of 4 links per comment or you get sent to moderation. Rick or I usually are here to approve the comment IF you comment that you seem to be stuck in moderation in a fresh comment. Depending on the day though, I might be away from my desk. Best to stick to four per…

    There is limited html allowed in comments, the easiest thing to do is highlight the word or phrase and click one of the buttons above the comment box.

    The quote button will indent and change the background, and we mostly use it for quotes from articles originating elsewhere.

    Or click the button to ‘open’ the html tag, type what you want, then click it again to ‘close’ the tag.

    Strikeout and ‘code’ work too, and there is a ‘sarcasm’ tag that we occasionally use humorously, it’s the word ‘sarcasm’ used inside normal html tag delimiters, ie. the greater than and less than symbols with a slash to close. a couple of other tags work as well.

    Contributions to the conversation, especially from direct experience are always welcome.

    nick

  81. So. I had needful plumbing parts for two more of my neighbors, bringing the total to 4. Stores are apparently empty of supplies, and even if you get a plumber to come out, he may not be able to fix your problem unless you can source the part! TWO of my neighbors had that issue.

    AND I fixed my own plumbing issue. Since some of the faucets were very slow trickles, but some were good flow, it occurred to me that the aerators had probably trapped a lot of sediment when the water came back on. We’ve got galvanized pipe and if it sits, the water will be orange with sandy grit in it.

    I took off the aerators and they were indeed clogged with stuff. Much improvement after cleaning. SO MUCH that the bathroom sink filled with water. Hmm, time to use the hair snake on the p trap. OMG. I know that 18″ long sausage of hair and nasty didn’t come from me. The drain cleared very quickly after that… but as I went to taunt my long haired wife, all was not right in the world. Karma, she is a bitch, and she loves my wife more than me….

    I get back to the bathroom to pull the shower head and do the same sort of thing and there is water on the floor. More than splash from the shower head. Less than a burst pipe though so I’m puzzled. Then I realize. The hair sausage was all that was holding the p trap together. Indeed it crumbled in my hand, the brass like paper-if paper was chromed and brittle…

    Out to the garage and the plumbing stuff. Only a little searching and I found a p trap. And only a small amount of swearing and broken loose stuck corroded metal drain fittings later, and I got it replaced. Five plumbing jobs made (relatively) easy by the ‘stack’. I haven’t even been to the rent house yet. I really hope the plumbing there survived so far, and lasts thru tonight. They never got water back today. I better take a bucket of fittings with me when I do go.

    I’ve said it before, and this disaster is proving it out. Having basic and common repair parts on hand is a Good Thing ™.

    n

    1
  82. I’ll second the butane stove for convenience. They come in a little suitcase that holds the stove and one bottle of gas. A lot of asian restaurants around here use them at your table to prepare a dish right in front of you, so there is a lot of people putting them to constant use. They work.

    I left one with my sibling at the vacation house a couple of years ago when I stocked a bin full of stuff. I’m sure it will work perfectly today, or 5 years from now.

    They are inexpensive. They are not the smallest, lightest, or the most efficient in terms of heat per ounce or pound or dollar. But they are EASY and reliable, and available.

    All I can say to Mr Lynn, at least he has enough bottled water stored that it was possible to flush it away…..

    n

    2
  83. @Nick Thanks for the welcome and the tips.

    @Chad

    Any AS400/DB2 (IBM i 7.3) geeks please explain this to me….

    I have a table (or a file if you prefer), TABLE1, and it has a column BDATE in which every row/record has a NULL value.

    SELECT * FROM TABLE1 WHERE BDATE IS NULL returns nothing.

    SELECT * FROM TABLE1 WHERE BDATE = ‘1900-01-01’ returns all rows.

    In what fantasy world is January 1, 1900, the same thing as NULL?

    Not an AS400 geek but either your original assumption is wrong and you have no null values ;o), or your system is set up with a default date of ‘1900-01-01’ for your date field on that table. This is certainly the only way I can see your current results. That’ll be $300 please! Just kidding, of course.

    With that hint I bet you can find how it’s set up in your system.


  84. I’ll bet it was the darn salted butter. City folk.

    The inimitable Paula Deen would be the expert here…

  85. Glad to hear that things are getting a little better and everyone is ok.
    From what I can see the weather is on the improve so hopefully the worst has passed.

    The situation in Texas is getting mild coverage here in Oz. Mainly quotes re Cruz holidaying in Cancun.. Statements from Crenshaw and AOC.. Lots of finger pointing…

    Main story of course is the fight with the Australian Govt and Facebook.. Naturally the supporters of both sides are frothing at the mouth.. Interesting to watch..

    Finally for a sample of Oz journalism, here is todays opening piece on Bill Gates’s crusade on climate change from a leading Australian journalist.
    On the momentous day of January 6, as a huge mob of rabid Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, spurred on by a rogue president set on whipping up mayhem on his way out of Washington, Bill Gates was sitting quietly at home in Seattle, glued to his television. “Weirdly, I was actually pretty free that day,” recalls the co-founder of Microsoft and billionaire philanthropist, leaning forward over a pristine white desk, dressed in his trademark light woollen jumper, button-up shirt and rectangular glasses. “I watched the Trump speech and the events at the Capitol; the next thing I knew it was past midnight because I’d waited for the confirmation of the electoral votes. Fourteen hours of TV-watching was a record for me; a day of mostly lows, although the ending was positive.”

    Rabid tRump supporters?? Really?? Sadly this is the standard of MSN that is being fed to the general public..

    Take care everyone..


  86. I have a table (or a file if you prefer), TABLE1, and it has a column BDATE in which every row/record has a NULL value.

    @Chad; how is BDATE defined in the DB?

  87. 2.) Toilets being flushed with bottled drinking water for goodness sake. There are many Porta Potties that are used in travel trailer and boats or car camping. I can attest to one brand and style. Thetford Brand with a PISTON PUMP. Do not get anything with a bellows pump. For about 5 gallons you can flush 50 times on the model I have.

    I plead guilty. I also plead Necessity.

  88. @MrK, jeez that is some florid prose…

    I thought our reporting was biased and over the top.

    The funny thing for me, by being in the middle of this disaster, and being fully in “get thru it” mode, I’m isolated from my usual wider view of what’s going on around the US and the world. Limited connectivity is part of the problem, time is limited too. Brain cycles for paying attention are also severely limited. Makes you wonder how easy it would be to lose track of the outside world if a zombie apocalypse did happen. It would probably be a while before you could spare the cycles for even trying to engage with the world, and by then it could be too late.

    n


  89. There’ve been several-day cold snaps before

    Can confirm. I was present for an impressive one in Dallas, in 1981 or 1982. Inch-thick ice everywhere, and seriously cold. This isn’t a “100 year” event; it’s more like “every decade or three”. This time seems more catastrophic, because of the power failures, which then cascade into other failures (like burst pipes), but it actually isn’t, and shouldn’t have been.

    Infrastructure failures of this magnitude indicate serious planning failures. I’ll repeat an earlier comment: heads should roll.

    My heat pump decided to run today. The outside unit. It seems that 25F is as low as it will go

    Apparently, heat pumps have progressed. We have one in our new build house, and we are told that it will work down to an outside temperature of -20C (that’s about -5F). It rarely gets that cold here, and we have the wood stove for emergencies. The bigger problem we had in our first Winter in the house was snow piling up around the intake and outflow grates. If there had been another 50cm snow dump, well…we need a better solution for next year. Another project on the list.

    Linux problems

    I run Ubuntu 18.04 on my current system, and would like to move to 20.04. I installed it on an empty partition, to test it. The NVIDIA drivers don’t work. I can get things working with the (very slow) OSS driver, but that’s not a great solution.

    From my surfing, the problem apparently has do with the UEFI secure boot process. Recommendations for fixing it sound dangerous: I don’t really want to accidentally nuke my existing installations.

    Anyone have a clue why the boot process should affect the video driver I can use?


  90. “The failure seems to have been sensor faults on the cooling water inputs to the generators attached to the reactor, not the reactor systems themselves. “
    I spent some time on a project that used hydrogen at high temperature. Having offices in the same building, we were motivated to be concerned about performance. We used a quaint old engineering principle called “sensor redundancy”. Heinlein readers might recognize “tell me three times”.

    Preferable with 2 different types of sensors, although the decision matrix gets interesting. Another thing we would do was to set up sensor such that an open or short resulted in an out of range error. The system couldn’t actually reach those values, so we would know that the sensor, or cable, had failed.

  91. @Nick
    Prepper – I guess you can call me that if being responsible for myself is part of my DNA. I do have a pocket clip knife, but in my defense, I have carried a knife pretty much everyday of my life since the third grade. Yes, old enough that carrying a knife to school everyday was a real thing. Funny, I do not know a single person that has been stabbed.
    Did you mention Commander Zero? That’s definitely a prepper tell.
    I do not have a hidden bunker under my house. I do have a small generator that saw service for about 12 hours on Wed when we got our 24 hours of rolling blackout.
    I don’t blame ERCOT for this. I think the causes of the situation are much more complicated than a single person or entity. Did they make mistakes? Probably, we all do. Did they prevent a catastrophic failure from occurring that might have taken weeks or months from which to recover? This also seems likely to me.
    Nerdy IT stuff – hoping to learn a few things on the way.
    Bigger than H-town. Got that when I did read the about page before I posted. But, it’s the local references that seem most likely to keep me coming back.

  92. @SFW: I nearly always carry a pocket knife, and have since I was a kid. A knife gets used pretty much every day, as well: opening packages, cutting sausage for lunch, whatever. Knives are a basic tool of civilization, and trying to restrict them (as in the UK) is a sign that civilization is failing.

    We’re not classic preppers either, but we have plenty of food in the house. We like smoking and preserving meat, I brew my own beer (so I have a few hundred bottles sitting around), we have a big pantry, my wife likes gardening. I’ve never calculated it out, but I suppose we could easily live several weeks on what we have at any one time, and longer when the garden is producing.

  93. @sfw, thanks for reading the About entry. None of my response was aimed at you, other than the welcome, and I hope it didn’t feel like it. Again, welcome to the community, you’ve already contributed!

    DUDES!!!111!! You guys ARE preppers. You aren’t the cartoon version on the TV shows, or all the way to one end of the spectrum, but you are far more prepared for disaster than about 80% of the population. From inside it just seems like “common sense” or “ordinary prudence” or it’s “just how I was raised”. For that 80% it looks like extremism and crazy talk. There are elements of society that have been attacking the culture for so long that people thinks those modes of living are outdated and dangerous. HOARDER. PRICE GOUGING. EQUITY. Those words attack individuality and preparedness. “Rugged individuality” used to be a defining characteristic of the American psyche and mythos. Our heroes were individuals. Our stories were about people overcoming and prospering. Now those ideas are attacked.

    It worked. The culture has changed. There is a dependency instilled at an early age now. But in their souls, people know better and hopefully will learn from these events. SOME of them will, just like the riots spurred gun ownership, and hurricanes and floods around here prompted people to put a few things aside for trouble, this event (and similar events up north) will cause some people to make changes in their lives.

    n

    n

  94. “And I just realized I was going to do a “why the 5 gallon bucket is the preppers multitool” post”

    Oooohh…I like the sound of that.

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