Sun. Feb. 21, 2021 – 02212021 – I guess I just never noticed the weird date numbers before

Cool but not cold.  Sunny and windy.   I think.

Yesterday got up into the 60s and it was chilly shirtsleeves temps out in the sun.  And I took the day off.  Did some cleaning and putting away, but mostly wasted time on the internet with my friends.   Checked on a couple of friends.  Mostly though, had a down day to recover.

Now the actual recovery will commence.   Stuff needs to be cleaned, restocked, and put away.  Damage from freezing needs to be assessed and accounted for.   Then all the normal spring stuff needs to happen too.    I’ve got a tree coming down on Friday, and I need to clear a path, and set up a spot for the wood we’re keeping.  Eventually a plumber will install our instant hot water heater.  That was supposed to be this week but I wouldn’t pull him away from emergency calls even if I could.  I’ve got stuff to get to auction, and delayed pickups to make.  LOTS of organizing to do too.  And gardening…

Some other notes before I forget…

–those one pound bottles of propane are supposed to be removable and re-install-able, but I have about 1 in 3 leak slowly when removed.  That’s one reason not to store them indoors.  Squirt the top with soapy water and watch for bubbles.  Bubbles = leaking.

–the lithium jumper packs from Costco, with S in the name might not be great for jumping cars but they are excellent as power packs to recharge anything with a 5v USB charger.

–buckets rock.  You should have a bunch of empty food grade 5 gallon buckets and lids in storage.

–black plastic sheeting.  Clear plastic sheeting.  BOTH kinds of plastic sheeting.   You need at least one roll in storage.

–space heaters of various types could save the day, even if you wouldn’t ordinarily use them for anything.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill the bathtub with water” is excellent advice.

–a working whole house generator would have made this whole thing almost a non-issue.  Water would have been my only concern.

–check your water.  check your preps.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill your vehicle gas tanks” is excellent advice.

–get some CO monitors.  Then get a couple more.  You’ll sleep better with them than without them.

–I was too busy or too tired to run any radios.  I left the scanner off.   I didn’t need any info we weren’t getting from the neighborhood through texts or groups on FB.   I did notice the local 440mhz repeater that covers the whole city was offline.   I didn’t even try any HF.  Longer event and I probably would have started firing up radios, but my concerns were local local local, and tribe.

–cell coverage went down and stayed down for more than a day.  Voice coverage and data were spotty before and after.   Texts came through, but could be delayed.

–the Middle Earth version of Risk takes two days.  Like the regular version of Risk.  Two very long and frustrating days.  Like regular Risk.  It did keep the wife and kids out of the way– for two long days.  Puzzles have a LOT less angst and conflict.

–hot chocolate is a comfort food.  And we ran out.  Prepper fail.

–bad stuff can happen any time.   Worse stuff can happen during bad stuff.

–having extras to hand to people means you can help others without involving yourself intimately.    That’s good for them and you too.

–there are knock on effects too, ie. second and third and fourth order effects.  Pipes freeze and break.   EVERYONE needs a plumber.  No plumbers are available so everyone heads to the store to try and DIY.  No plumbing supplies are left in the stores.  Pipes break and flood (why?  Because people don’t know or think to turn off the water and NOT turn it back on without watching).   Flooring, walls and ceilings are ruined.   Houstonians know how to deal with wet stuff, you rip it out.  But that means no dumpsters are available.   No dumpsters means piles of debris in front of the house.  I’m going to buy a dumpster bag and add it to my preps.  When one becomes available…

–stuff and systems fail at the worst possible time, because that’s when they are stressed the most.   People too.

–it’s always something.

 

All good reasons to KEEP STACKING.

nick

Author: Nick Flandrey

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

89 thoughts on “Sun. Feb. 21, 2021 – 02212021 – I guess I just never noticed the weird date numbers before”

  1. –cell coverage went down and stayed down for more than a day. Voice coverage and data were spotty before and after. Texts came through, but could be delayed.

    Not surprising. SMS piggybacks on diagnostic messages. Just remember that means you have zero expectation of privacy.

    I never lost landline service, and the scammer calls continued all week.

    The local MUD expects that everyone lives glued to their cellphones. The “boil water” alerts were only sent via email or SMS until late yesterday when they found their capability to send recorded voice messages. Imagine.

  2. LoTR is a very intense experience for a 9yo, even a precocious one. Possibly ESPECIALLY for a precocious one*. I had to interrupt and inject some calm and humor, and tales about how movie production works to break the intensity. I think my wife it going to regret letting the kids watch it, but they played the LoTR version of Risk for the last two days (my Valentine’s gift to my wife who loves Risk.) Playing that led to wanting to watch the movies.

    Rankin-Bass “The Hobbit” is kid friendly, but Warner probably went overboard with the last edit for DVD, removing a lot of “agony” screams which were ok in context when I was ten but maybe not now.

    The Tolkien estate *hated* Rankin-Bass’ adaptations, but, unlike WETA, under contract to produce nine hours of film from a tiny book, the Americans got straight to the point with “The Hobbit”.

    R-B’s “Return of the King” is an acquired taste, more interesting for who is doing the voice work than an attempt at finishing Bakshi’s “Fellowship” after the director lost interest. Whether or not you think it is ok for kids depends on how you feel about them hearing Paul Frees (god among voice artists) and Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony the Tiger) as orcs singing “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way”.

    Think about that cultural touchstone.

    “Return of the King” airing on TV at the beginning of the decade arguably kicked off the 80s D&D and Tolkien crazes. The broadcast flew under the radar because the Skyway Bridge disaster in Florida happened just a few days earlier, but a lot of people my age saw it.


  3. New offensive content on the Baby Yoda channel.

    Johnny Cash singing in front of a confederate flag? The horror!

    https://nypost.com/2021/02/21/the-muppets-slapped-with-a-content-warning-by-disney/

    The Muppets were at their best in exile. Early cancel culture.

    Exile resulted in a really interesting list of guest stars. Liberace and Alice Cooper within a few weeks of each other?!?

    I watched the first two episodes of season one on Friday and Saturday, with no warning in sight.

  4. I watched the first two episodes of season one on Friday and Saturday, with no warning in sight.

    The Marty Feldman episode has the disclaimer in front.

    At least they spare us the hypocrisy of running “Muppets Tonight” without disclaimer starring the child molester Kevin Clash … for now.

  5. @JimB
    My first cordless tools were a 7.2v Makita drill and a Sears Craftsman hex driver. Had a newly constructed house that needed window treatments put up on three levels. Light duty work, put paid for themselves in a couple windows with the time saved and the reduced wear and tear on the wrists. The latter is primo important now.

    I’ve had DeWalt 18v for ten years. The standard case has room for the drill with battery attached, spare battery, and the impact driver fits where the charger goes. Add a set of nut drivers and drill bits, and that takes care of 90% of the jobs out of the shop.

    And DeWalt has a cordless vacuum.

    Black and Decker (Dewalt’s parent co) had a VPX lithium ion tool system that briefly followed their Versapak system. Drill, flashlight, inverter, hedge trimmer (2 batteries) vacumm (2) and more. I used to take the inverter to auctions to test power. Unfortunately, the batteries had problems and B&D pulled the line after only about two years.

    https://www.amazon.com/Decker-VPX3101-Inverter-Discontinued-Manufacturer/dp/B000UMJJAU?tag=ttgnet-20

  6. When my son was young (he’s now 35), I read him “The Hobbit” as a bedtime story, one chapter a night. He loved it – after we spent a few evenings talking about the difference between “real” and “pretend”. That lesson was invaluable later on.

    Buckets: we have cats, and the best cat litter, “Tidy Cats”, comes in plastic buckets. I’ve been collecting those for a while now. EXTREMELY useful.

  7. @Greg

    Rankin-Bass “The Hobbit”

    Was this animated ? I found it, and the others, while packing DVDs last night.
    -edited to add- Hah! It is. I vaguely recall watching these as a kid. The only thing I recall is the whip number. We chased each other around for weeks, bellowing the song and (attempting to) snap clothesline ‘whips’ at each other.

    @drwilliams
    We have the battery operated DeWalt vacuum which can also operate plugged in. When the battery runs down we can plug into a wall outlet and keep going. We bought it for garage tasks but use it several times a week inside tackling tumble weeds of dog hair. Cardigan Corgis shed a LOT.

  8. ‘Rankin-Bass “The Hobbit”’

    Was this animated ? I found it, and the others, while packing DVDs last night.

    Yes. Run it yourself before showing kids. Rankin-Bass could be out there in the 60s and 70s.

    Three words: “Mad Monster Party”

    The only thing I recall is the whip number.

    That’s “Return of the King”. Paul Frees. He died way too young.

  9. From Yesterday:

    The cable company doesn’t provide some kind of battery backup for the phone line and any necessary support hardware such as the amplifier?

    The cable company doesn’t provide battery backup for their systems at all from what I can tell. If the area loses power, the cable and data service (including phone) go out.

    (In some areas where Uverse is delivered over ATT DSL, it may stay up as it shares lines and distribution with landlines. Fiber Uverse, IDK.)

  10. Always carry a decent sized power bank to recharge phones or tablets. I have muli-headed charging cable on each so I can charge Android phones, Apple, and USB-C devices. Been a lifesaver many times when I am caught away from home unexpectedly.

    Living in Tornado alley, this latest outage has forced me to bump a whole house power system up in priority. My biggest question right now is to choose propane (have to buy/rent a big tank) or natural gas from the house. Last month I would have gone with NG no question, but issues this freeze uncovered with the NG supply makes me wonder.

  11. Thurl Ravenscroft: I saw him at a local event, the Pageant of the Masters, years ago. What a voice!! Tall guy. Seemed personable and easy going. I am not much of a fanbois, so just smiled and waved.

    When I worked in TV, we still had live announcers. I mostly worked evenings, and there was an especially friendly announcer. Great fun talking to him. Think Ted Baxter with a genuine personality.

    Oh, it was said that Ted Knight hated that role, but it was a great experience working with the cast. There is hope.

  12. @Nick: one can buy brass caps with gaskets for 1lb propane tanks from Amazon or elsewhere, cheaply.

    They would keep precious (during an emergency anyway) propane from leaking.

    That said, even so, keeping them in a well ventilated and open-flame-free location would still be best.

  13. Whew, it felt good to sleep. Still just a bit sore and feeling like every muscle and tissue needs a gentle stretch, but that’s the most sleep I’ve had in a while.

    Lifting buckets, moving stuff, shoveling snow, working under cabinets, etc uses muscles outside the normal activity range. I’m not feeble yet, but I’m not 25 years old either.

    The back bathroom is back together. The kitchen is almost back to normal.

    The Girl Scout cookie inventory got a boost yesterday, so the foyer is a cookie warehouse again, and people keep coming to the door to resupply. There are very few cookie booths authorized this year and there is a lot of pent up demand, so cookies are flying out the door.

    Neighbors are bringing back the stuff I loaned them. It’s a beautiful mild day, 71F part sun, occasional breezes.

    I should probably get going on my list.

    n

  14. @ed, thanks, I figured there must be a solution. Most of the appliances don’t use that much gas at a time, and leaving the bottles attached isn’t a great idea. I just ordered a bunch.

    n

  15. Caps, over Schrader valves. When we owned a light aircraft, metal valve caps with gaskets (on tires and struts) were mandatory, and were considered the primary seal. Same for HVAC systems. Propane? Of course.

    Whenever I walk through parking lots, I see many cars without caps of any kind. May be bad practice, but when did you ever see a flat tire because of this? Class? Thought so.

    I do like the inflate-through dust caps. Some of these even hold air pressure. Hard to find.

  16. To ‘flip the switch’ on the value of crypto,

    The amount of crypto I own originally bought 140 USD. A month later it will buy 425 USD. That is a massive discount in the market on USD. Why such a huge drop in the cost of USD in bitcoin?

    One of my gold coins used to buy 1800 USD and on Friday it still would have (theoretically) bought 1800 USD.

    Now, you apparently can’t actually go into a store and BUY gold coins at the moment, and you can’t use them for online transactions, so there may be some additional value/utility in BTC vs gold coins. In my local auctions, gold coins were common until a couple weeks ago, and were bringing a 2x premium over spot… I looked at current auctions that would normally have gold coins, and there is almost nothing. Looks like people aren’t selling gold coins atm.

    Just some things to ponder on a Sunday afternoon.

    n


  17. The cable company doesn’t provide battery backup for their systems at all from what I can tell. If the area loses power, the cable and data service (including phone) go out.

    When we had Verizon FIOS fiber service there was a battery backup for the phone service. Only had phone because at the time their best ‘new customer’ deal was a bundle including phone. When that deal ran out I dropped the phone service. At some point the battery went dead so I disconnected it, recycled it at HD, and googled how to shut off the missing battery alert. Btw, it was on us to replace the battery if we still had the phone service.

  18. Re storing water…
    Most of our stored water is in rinsed/clean 2 liter soda bottles. (IIRC I picked up this approach from RBT.) As soda consumption here has decreased I’m looking at alternatives for stacking (tm @nick) more water. One option is cases of spring water available from Costco in 500 ml bottles. Wondering how these hold up, both in term of water quality/taste and stability of the bottles against possible leakage? Thoughts from the group?


  19. I demand “hyper-masculine” be included as a gender.

    Where’s “Shut up and get the hell away from me, you dumbass” on the list?

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  20. More to this story than we know yet…

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9282311/Cops-respond-shooting-multiple-deaths-n-Louisiana.html

    Some follow-up:

    https://www.radio.com/wwl/news/local/27-year-old-man-identified-as-suspect-who-started-shootout

    and

    https://www.nola.com/news/crime_police/article_3cdc6e50-745d-11eb-a315-1335babe707d.html

    Officials said the deadly incident was sparked by Joshua Jamal Williams, a 27-year-old New Orleans man, whose family said he’d gone to spend family time at the range.

    Sources said Williams had carried a pistol with an extended clip into the range at 6719 Airline Drive when staff told him to unload his weapon. They said he fired a warning round before fatally shooting Fischbach, who was working as the store clerk.

    After news of the shootout spread, Williams’ family was quick to say the New Orleans man wasn’t at fault over the weekend.

    A woman on social media who said she was Williams’ mother posted a message saying that her son didn’t go into the range shooting and that he was fired at by employees.

    “He was MURDERED,” said the woman, who identified herself as Trudy Edwards.

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  21. When I was doing live events, I used to do some voice announce work… it can be nerve-wracking especially if people’s names are involved.

    I like to have some bottled water on hand, just for the convenience of ‘grab and go’ but I don’t buy it regularly or store it. Anything other than the cheapest thinnest bottles should be fine, if you don’t stack them too high and crush the lower levels. I’m drinking a case that is at least 3 years old at my secondary when I get thirsty over there. No changes in flavor (it’s kept in the dark though, and climate controlled.) I had a bottle that was 10 years old not too long ago. Tasted a bit flat and plastic-y but it was a brand that tended that way anyway. No ill effects.

    n


  22. A woman on social media who said she was Williams’ mother posted a message saying that her son didn’t go into the range shooting and that he was fired at by employees

    –every range and store here has a clearly posted policy that you DO NOT carry a gun into the store openly. They will all treat you as a threat. Even at my buddy’s store if there is a reason for me to take out my carry gub, (like to demonstrate the holster), I tell them out loud and step by step what I’m doing, and I turn so I’m not facing them. And this is my buddy who knows me for years. Gun store employees are VERY concerned when people start to draw….

    and they all prefer that you hand them the case for THEM to open, again so you are not drawing a weapon in the store.

    n

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  23. In the early days of internet/cable phone ‘triple plays’ they were required to provide UPS and battery back up, at least in Cali. Their offering had to be as robust as the phone company landline. I guess that changed at some point.

    Comcast used to put it out at the demarc if they could, ATT would put the ups under your desk, next to their modem/switch/wifi/TIA.

    n

  24. The amount of crypto I own originally bought 140 USD. A month later it will buy 425 USD. That is a massive discount in the market on USD. Why such a huge drop in the cost of USD in bitcoin?

    The Real Life Tony Stark (TM) may or may not be getting into bitcoin in a big way. I don’t keep up.

    The distant in-law who is a kind of “angel of death” C-suite exec at various Valley companies over the past 20 years has been yakking up Bitcoin lately in his Twitter rants. Given his track record, I feel safe not being into Bitcoin, but YMMV.

    If the in-laws property taxes get paid on time this year (April 13), maybe I’ll reevaluate.


  25. I read him “The Hobbit” as a bedtime story, one chapter a night.

    My Dad did that for me. He had fun doing different voices. For example, the trolls Bert and Tom and Bill had Cockney accents.

    When we got to Mirkwood I got impatient at the “one chapter a night” pace, finished the book on my own.

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  26. When staff approached him to ask him to unload his weapon, Williams fired off a warning shot and then fatally shot 47-year-old store clerk Noah Fischbach, police sources told NOLA.com.”

    –um, no. Just NO. He fired a shot. Once he did that it was all over. A warning shot, if there is such a thing, is what the legal and rightful DEFENDER does before stopping illegal or unwanted action more permanently. An armed aggressor does not get to fire a “warning shot” to stop the clerk from demanding he unload his pistol.

    n

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  27. I should re-iterated that I only bought the BTC when paypal started offering to sell it and hold it for you… just to see what that was all about. (and a tiny little prep with alternative stores of value, vis the Ukraine, or Cyprus.) you can’t actually use it for anything thru paypal yet.

    n


  28. He had fun doing different voices.

    Ha. I did that, too, with all of the kids. We never thought twice about it, because it was something I could do and they’d grown up listening to the different voices, but whenever I’d take one of my preschool kids to the library to read a selection of new-to-them books, there’d be a cluster of little kids listening within a few minutes. A couple parents or grandparents jokingly grumbled that I’d raised the bar for story time at home.

    got impatient at the “one chapter a night” pace, finished the book on my own

    That’s how I learned that my daughter could actually read (at age 4, I’ll point out) rather than just parrot back stories she’d heard before while pretending to read, as I’ve seen any number of kids do. I’d been reading the Magic Tree House books, one chapter before bed, and one night she got annoyed, turned on the light, and read the next chapter by herself. She asked me what a few words were, so I was confident she wasn’t just going through the motions.

    Nightraker, thanks for the link. I’ll run it past my wife and mother-in-law, then probably get it. I mean, not that it’s anything but a joy to need to check the kitchen every few minutes when Grandma is in there or was recently…

  29. Re: Crypto currency – I was tempted to invest a little 5 years ago when a friend went into it big time. I put my cash into precious metals instead because I’m old fashioned enough to want to hold my wealth. Also I can’t loose it all if my hard drive fails or I forget my passwords. Yes, there are mitigations for both. My friend bought crypto because he thought there wasn’t a way for the government to track it. Turned out he was wrong. I can see the value of a limited commodity like a crypto coin but an EMP or a Carrington Event would wipe out the crypto millionaires. As I noted, I’m old fashioned.

  30. The lesson is that all renewables must have a 1 MW for 1 MW gas turbine backup with at least one week’s onsite storage of fuel at full load. Anything less than that is unacceptable.

    That won’t happen. No one wants to pay for it.

    The big downside of a “tech” economy is the skimping on essential services.

    Then it is time to buy a whole house generator with a good fuel supply.

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  31. Anything other than the cheapest thinnest bottles should be fine, if you don’t stack them too high and crush the lower levels.

    @nick; thanks…and exactly why I intend to pass on the Costco brand water as they have the thinnest plastic. Easy to just add a couple cases every time I place a Costco order.

  32. Got some stuff put away. Ran the honda out of fuel in the carb. Still have fuel in the tank.

    Put away a bunch of extension cords, repaired one heavy duty one. Worth doing for heavy duty cords, probably not for lighter gauge extensions unless you get the replacement ends very cheaply.

    Letting the garden seedlings sit in the overcast for a bit, although I’ll probably bring them in tonight.

    n

  33. For anyone planning some PV solar (yeah, black marks lately,) consider a different controller and a small battery to run essentials. A generator and fuel will only run as long as there is fuel. Both can’t hurt. One is none…

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  34. Letting the garden sit in the overcast for a bit, although I’ll probably bring them in tonight.

    @nick; how did your citrus trees fare in the cold?

  35. @alan, so far, only uncovered the meyer lemon, and it looks bad. All the leaves are discolored. I’m going back out to uncover the orange and grapefruit….

    n

    2
  36. @nick

    All the leaves are discolored.

    Not a citrus farmer, but I suspect that covering them wasn’t enough because the temps got too low. Not sure that any mitigation would have helped in +10F temps.

    Bummer.

  37. Looking at PEX on the web is interesting. Just about the best thing since sliced bread.
    The crimping tool isn’t too expensive. Parts seem reasonable.

    I’ll see what the local hardware store has Tuesday. Skip the Monday rush and the mud under the house can dry another day.

    Only two broken pipes that I have found. Both half inch CPVC. The washing machine isn’t critical. A PITA, just four elbows. The kitchen sink is more important. And it has five elbows. Wacky.

    If the PEX doesn’t pan out, I’ll get the fittings and flex hose that is used to connect the water valve under the sink to the faucet. Why not?

    The snow is almost gone. Sure is muddy.

  38. Also reporting two similar incidents on Boeing 777s, both same engine, one in 2018 (United) and one this past December (JAL). 2018 incident blamed on issue with improper fan blade inspection by PW inspectors.

    Japan just grounded all JAL and Nippon Air 777s, a total of 32 aircraft.

  39. @SteveF

    Harold, why not buy a multi-fuel generator?

    I currently have a dual-fuel 7.5KW portable (gasoline and propane). To convert from propane to natural (NG) would require a special kit be installed. I assume that whole house units would also require a conversion kit. And if going to propane I’d need to get a large propane tank for the side yard. Its not as easy as switching from gasoline to propane, flip a switch, sadly.

  40. Looking at PEX on the web is interesting. Just about the best thing since sliced bread.
    The crimping tool isn’t too expensive. Parts seem reasonable.

    Pex is noisy. We have it on our softener out in the garage.

    When the discharge cycle ran the other night, I freaked out thinking something was wrong with our furnace, located right above the softener in the attic.

    No, the jet engine noise was just the softener cycle. I’ve heard it lots of time before, but last week was nerve wracking listening to all the strange sounds the house made.

    70 in Round Rock today.

  41. All the leaves on the apple, orange, and grapefruit are crunchy.

    I had heat lamps under the sheet plastic balloons and that would have protected all put the very tips. Losing power put paid to that though.

    The branches are all still pliable and waxy, with living tissue if you scrape thru the outer layer. It looks bad, but I’m cautiously hopeful.

    Got two raised beds weeded, tilled, and a new bag of soil added.

    Got all the extension cords wrapped up.

    Wife did some gardening and plant maintenance on her stuff.

    I really hope the trees recover.

    n

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  42. Rats like to chew pex in this area too. My buddy had his house flood twice because the rats ate into his pex in the attic.

    n

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  43. Harold, gotcha. Hadn’t realized you already had a generator.
    https://www.generac.com/all-products/generators/home-backup-generators
    Some years ago I was looking at buying and wiring in a whole-house generator which was set up to take natural gas, propane, or gasoline with the flip of a switch. Note first that that was what the salesman promised but I didn’t look at any operator’s manuals to see if it really was that quick and easy. Note second that the generator would have come configured for the multifuel setup I wanted, so any adapters would have been installed and possibly specially designed for that model.

    Ended up not getting that generator (and propane tank) (and piping and wiring) because the final price was more than I wanted to pay, especially considering that our power is almost perfectly reliable even in storms. The substation feeding our area is less than a mile away as the lines run, and they’re all underground.

    (Other than a blackout which lasted most of a day because that substation caught fire, our longest outage in eleven years was about an hour. Even momentary blips, just long enough to shut off the wifi router and the clock on the microwave, occur only about once a year. When the houses on our street were still being built was a different matter. Power would go off regularly, usually briefly. Whenever we got more than a brief sprinkle of rain, we could expect power and/or internet to go down for an hour or more, likely because someone left a hatch open on one of the transformer boxes. I’m not sorry to see the last of that nonsense.)

  44. Nick, I was to guess from your description, your fruit trees will live but the citrus won’t bear fruit this year. Don’t weight my opinion very heavily, though. We had fruit trees when I was a kid and we have some now, but no citrus (of course! it would die up here!) and I’ve always been more of a critter guy than a plant guy.

  45. Thanks Steve, I’m hopeful. They are well established trees, and the apple trees freeze every year up north, so that should be ok.

    I’ve been poking around the net and I’m having a hard time feeling any outrage at ERCOT or our local .gov wrt this storm and response. Every article wants the outrage, but FFS, individuals had the same warning as ERCOT did, and some of them didn’t do anything… and then paid the price.

    It was a weather disaster. No one moans that the power is out during a hurricane. Well, no one sane anyway. People die from the heat during hurricanes too. Please see also Katrina response…

    And the press can suck my bells with their kid glove handling of Biden. “I don’t want to take resources away from the recovery.” Yes, fine, that is good and prudent. Honestly first sensible thing I’ve ever heard of him saying. Kinda hard to believe actually, but, did ANY other president EVER get to use that as a reason not to be there?

    And Biden can’t declare a disaster in Texas. He can approve the request for a declaration, but that comes from the Governor. See also Kathleen (I need a clean shirt RIGHT F’ing now) Blanco and Katrina. The State has to ASK. Feds can’t impose.

    n

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  46. @Alan
    The Costco/Sams (or wherever else available) Ozarka Spring-water 700 ml sport bottles with flip top caps are of far superior construction to the 500 ml bottles. They cost more but they are designed in such a way that we regularly freeze them and toss in vehicles with or without coolers for last several years . The bottom has a slight well that expands when frozen that prevents bursting or leakage.

    My store in my garage froze during this event in my insulated but unheated garage. No issues noted nor do I expect any with these bigger bottles after years of intentionally freezing them.

    I also have 500 ml bottles and need to examine them more closely but I’ve not had any notable leaks in the garage. The sport caps are reusable on the 500 ml bottles. The plastic is clearly thinner and not up to as rough handling.

    My experience with plastic is under hot conditions it leaches into the water and studies show time and heat doubly so. Best results in cool dark storage. I’ve had some in basement for 3 years and taste normal and no plastic degradation like with Wally water jugs.

    I used to buy cheaper but cried more often. Now durability , safety, and other considerations are primary.
    Hope that helps.

  47. I’ve been poking around the net and I’m having a hard time feeling any outrage at ERCOT or our local .gov wrt this storm and response. Every article wants the outrage, but FFS, individuals had the same warning as ERCOT did, and some of them didn’t do anything… and then paid the price.

    ERCOT is a convenient target. If the rolling blackouts didn’t proceed as planned due to the breakers not working properly, that’s hardware and, thus, Oncor’s responsibility.

    Of course, Buffett always wins. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the BRK-A/B shareholder letter is late.

  48. I don’t put much blame on ERCOT either. Seems like engineering issues that are expensive to fix and not worth it. If you pay to winterize plants now, some of them won’t exist next time it gets that cold.

    Cost/benefit.

    I saw a meme yesterday that blamed it all on free markets and republicans, but I seem to recall large areas of california without power a couple of years ago after their democrat and less-free market couldn’t maintain the system effectively and got caught out by hot weather. That caused huge fires and many deaths.

    You can’t engineer for every circumstance.

    It was cold in my house though.

  49. (Other than a blackout which lasted most of a day because that substation caught fire, our longest outage in eleven years was about an hour. Even momentary blips, just long enough to shut off the wifi router and the clock on the microwave, occur only about once a year.

    In the last 13 years, we have had two electrical outages lasting over two days each. Many outages lasting over an hour, some lasting three or four hours. At least one outage a month lasting over 30 seconds.

    Our new generator to be installed in May, June, or July, will start and be stable and providing power within 30 seconds after the outage starts. This should be interesting.

  50. I don’t put much blame on ERCOT either. Seems like engineering issues that are expensive to fix and not worth it. If you pay to winterize plants now, some of them won’t exist next time it gets that cold.

    Cost/benefit.

    I saw a meme yesterday that blamed it all on free markets and republicans, but I seem to recall large areas of california without power a couple of years ago after their democrat and less-free market couldn’t maintain the system effectively and got caught out by hot weather. That caused huge fires and many deaths.

    You can’t engineer for every circumstance.

    It was cold in my house though.

    You get a choice of two items for electricity: economics or reliability. ERCOT has engineered Texas for economics. I think I prefer reliability. I think that the difference between economics and reliability is 20%. But it could be more. Or somewhat less.

    We have a long hot summer coming now. We could very easily go through this nightmare again in August or September as ERCOT has been lax in adding reliable generation resources to the grid to match the population growth in Texas.

    Solar is not reliable since it dies off at 5pm or 6pm, right as people are getting home from work and turning on the air conditioning and the stove for supper.

    Wind turbines are not reliable since they cannot be scheduled online when needed, they only generate power when the wind blows.

    Batteries, batteries. We need tens of thousands of MWs of batteries to make a difference. Maybe ten years ? Twenty years ? Not planable in my opinion.

    Hydrogen storage ? Sure, whatcha gonna use that hydrogen in to make electricity ? All the gas turbines are burning natural gas for their power already. But, gas turbines can be easily adapted to burn hydrogen instead of natural gas, in fact, natural gas is 40% hydrogen already. Anyway, we do need more gas turbines in Texas. A lot more, at least 40 or 50 more.

  51. The wife and I cleaned out our small office building, 450 ft2, today. We threw away a lot of stuff, having a 6 cubic yard dumpster helps. Unfortunately, some jerk got to it before we did and threw their lawn debris into it so we only had about 2/3rds of the space available. We did take our bikes and a few boxes home. And she put our Christmas plastic boxes into a spare office in the large office building (I see nothing !).

    I did not take my 1980 Harlem Globetrotter pinball machine home for now. I am not sure what I am going to do with it for now. It weighs about 400 lbs and is 5 ft long by 3 ft wide and 5 ft tall. The wife suggested that I try to sell it since I have not put it together for 7 or 8 years.

    In theory I have some guys coming to pull up the wet carpet Monday. But, I still have water dripping from the ceiling. I am hoping that I do have the pipe totally closed off as it will be a while before my plumber comes up for air. He posted on facebook that 4,000 people have contacted him for broken pipes.

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  52. @Alan and anyone interested

    Checked the Ozarka spring water 500 ml bottles in garage. Similar construction to the 700 ml regarding well on bottom for expansion, but plastic not quite as thick. Still pretty sturdy and froze with no apparent issues.

    We have greater personal experience with the larger bottles and find the top easier to drink from without spilling in bed, traveling, for young or ill. Now the caps are so narrow on the 500 ml they are harder to open as well.

    You’ll likely be good with either but I’d just try out various and see what works for your uses.

    I’m a few states north of you Lynn. It got to nearly -20F here. I don’t like to store out there in Summer heat though.

  53. My store in my garage froze during this event in my insulated but unheated garage. No issues noted nor do I expect any with these bigger bottles after years of intentionally freezing them.

    Huh. My garage is detached, uninsulated, and unheated. Other than parking warm vehicles in it. I do live in south Texas outside Rosenberg, Texas (way outside Houston).

    I keep 30 to 35 cases of 500 ml 24 bottle Ozarka water in my garage. None froze during this extreme weather event. Of course, we only spent 48 hours under 32 F with a low of 11 F. I am cheap XXXXX frugal and buy the cheap cases of Ozarka.


  54. lynnsays:

    Then it is time to buy a whole house generator with a good fuel supply.

    Ditto; I have a 22KW Generac on order, and a second 250 gal propane tank.

  55. @Lynn
    “You get a choice of two items for electricity: economics or reliability. ERCOT has engineered Texas for economics. I think I prefer reliability. I think that the difference between economics and reliability is 20%. But it could be more. Or somewhat less.”

    Overall it would seem that multiple “or’s” give a stepwise increase when going from economy to reliability.

    There are certainly some larger “or’s”. Not recognizing that solar and wind are unreliable and choosing not to build backup power is a a big “or” that is dependent entirely on the properties of those sources and not on externalities like low-probability weather. The backup power sources are expensive and as you have pointed out, the last resort from 98% to 100%. What that really says is that wind and solar need close analysis including the cost of not having the backup.

    Winterizing your conventional power generation against low temperatures is an “or”, but as an incremental expense is arguably less expensive. The costs are very well-defined as the practice is routine in more northerly locations. Given the weather of 2021, past climate cycles may give insight into the likely repetition of such weather. If I were planning, I would be looking into it.

    Batteries? There is no lithium battery fairy. The economics are shiite and the materials are sourced OUS.

    Hydrogen? Making hydrogen from water and electricity makes no sense unless it is needed as a transportation fuel due to shortages of oil and/or natural gas.

    Natural gas can be compressed and stored (CNG) or liquified (LNG). Since we ship LNG in purpose-built ships, it would seem that there is an economy there that is worth investigating. Or course, if you had storage and filled it according to forecast this year…

    Not sure where you get “natural gas is 40% hydrogen”. Texas NG is typically 66% methane, 26% N2, with the balance higher alkanes, some impurities, and almost 2% helium.

    Looking at how colder parts of the U.S. and Canada deal with the cold is worthwhile, too. Better insulation reduces energy usage and is almost certainly a better investment than wind and solar.


  56. I did not take my 1980 Harlem Globetrotter pinball machine home for now. I am not sure what I am going to do with it for now. It weighs about 400 lbs and is 5 ft long by 3 ft wide and 5 ft tall. The wife suggested that I try to sell it since I have not put it together for 7 or 8 years.

    @lynn; like this one?
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bally-Harlem-Globetrotters-Pinball-Machine-Restored-with-Clearcoated-Playfield/114574965966?hash=item1aad333cce:g:RWgAAOSwjudf1ujB#vi__app-cvip-panel

  57. If we are on the downslope of civilization, locally and at least at this time, history tells us that we can expect systems to break down, and function poorly before they cease functioning entirely.

    I don’t think the grid will be getting MORE reliable any time soon. I’m betting money that it will get worse over time.

    Electrical outages will increase in frequency and longevity. City water will have outages and issues. Several cities are already seeing this.

    Police, mail, trash collection, graffiti control, road debris pickup, etc will all degrade.

    More and more it will be about who you know and who you blow. Which palms need to be greased.

    It won’t be sudden but one day we’ll suddenly realize we’re there.

    n

  58. I did use another prepping tool that I have never used before. We like to grind Eight O’Clock Columbian coffee beans every day. But our grinder uses 120 volt electricity.

    Five years ago, I bought a manual coffee grinder. I had not tested it to date. We found it, tested it, and it passed with flying colors ! Recommended. Slow and it provided very finely ground coffee.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XPVEKXY/?tag=ttgnet-20

  59. I did not take my 1980 Harlem Globetrotter pinball machine home for now. I am not sure what I am going to do with it for now. It weighs about 400 lbs and is 5 ft long by 3 ft wide and 5 ft tall. The wife suggested that I try to sell it since I have not put it together for 7 or 8 years.

    @lynn; like this one?
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bally-Harlem-Globetrotters-Pinball-Machine-Restored-with-Clearcoated-Playfield/114574965966?hash=item1aad333cce:g:RWgAAOSwjudf1ujB#vi__app-cvip-panel

    Yes, that is it. Mine mostly worked the last time I put it together and played it.

    Wow, $3,100 ! I need to sell mine.

  60. That’s why we prep!

    I buy mine pre-ground to save the step and the trouble. and yeah, the last cup from the bag probably isn’t as good as the first cup, it certainly doesn’t smell as nice at the end of the bag as the beginning, but it’s good enough for me.

    I’m not drinking gourmet coffee anyway, when starbutts bought and gutted petes, and then raised prices, I went looking for other coffee. I figured if I had to try new things, I’d try CHEAPER things too. Community’s Dark Roast is a very nice, very rich dark coffee, which I make very strong and to which I add a LOT of cream and sweetener. The amount of cream blows away any delicate nuance anyway. And it’s about half or less the cost of the primo brands.

    n

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  61. @lynn, I was just talking to a new auction seller in the Heights and she mentioned pinball machines. And went on at length how much her new obsession was costing her. It’s funny because for a while they were cheap. No one wanted to mess with the restoration and upkeep or the size of them. Now they’re pricy again.

    n


  62. I don’t think the grid will be getting MORE reliable any time soon. I’m betting money that it will get worse over time.

    Wait 5 or 10 years or so when everyone gets home from work at 6pm and plugs in their EV to charge.

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  63. Yes, that is it. Mine mostly worked the last time I put it together and played it.

    Wow, $3,100 ! I need to sell mine.

    I’ve heard about this show in Houston but have never been.

    http://www.arcadecenter.com/

    I go to the retro gaming show in Austin every year, and we always hit the big show in Portland when we lived up there.

  64. Hydrogen? Making hydrogen from water and electricity makes no sense unless it is needed as a transportation fuel due to shortages of oil and/or natural gas.

    Natural gas can be compressed and stored (CNG) or liquified (LNG). Since we ship LNG in purpose-built ships, it would seem that there is an economy there that is worth investigating. Or course, if you had storage and filled it according to forecast this year…

    Not sure where you get “natural gas is 40% hydrogen”. Texas NG is typically 66% methane, 26% N2, with the balance higher alkanes, some impurities, and almost 2% helium.

    Duh, how did I forget LNG when I work with it almost every day ? Storage is not difficult and easily built with many suppliers. In fact, our society in the USA is in the middle of transitioning large trucks from diesel to battery or LNG. There are many truck stops now selling LNG on the interstates. I am not sure how the vaporization of the LNG is handled before combustion but I do know that there are gas turbines built for LNG already.

    Wellhead Texas natural gas has 70 to 90% CH4, higher alkanes, 1 to 10% CO2, 1 to 10% H2S, water, and very little nitrogen. High nitrogen natural gas occur mostly in Wyoming and Colorado.

    Pipeline Texas natural gas has 90+% CH4, higher alkanes, up to 1 % CO2, up to 4 ppm H2S, water, up to 4 ppm water, and very little nitrogen. Pipelines regulate these amounts using automated machinery with automatic shutoff valves when they are exceeded.

    BTW, methane, CH4, is 60% carbon and 40% hydrogen (I am not totally sure of these amounts !, on a mass basis it is 75% carbon and 25% hydrogen). When combusting methane, the carbon combusts to CO2 and the hydrogen combusts to H2O.

    The only real problem with CNG is that high pressure vessels are very expensive. 3,000 psia to 7,500 psia is common using carbon fiber tanks.

  65. I did use another prepping tool that I have never used before. We like to grind Eight O’Clock Columbian coffee beans every day. But our grinder uses 120 volt electricity.

    Five years ago, I bought a manual coffee grinder. I had not tested it to date. We found it, tested it, and it passed with flying colors ! Recommended. Slow and it provided very finely ground coffee.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XPVEKXY/?tag=ttgnet-20

    That’s why we prep!

    I buy mine pre-ground to save the step and the trouble. and yeah, the last cup from the bag probably isn’t as good as the first cup, it certainly doesn’t smell as nice at the end of the bag as the beginning, but it’s good enough for me.

    SWMBO likes her coffee freshly ground and STRONG. I buy boxes of six bags of beans from Big River now for both the office and the house. My partner taught her the art of the fresh ground coffee beans three decades ago and she took to it immediately.

  66. Wow, $3,100 ! I need to sell mine.

    Yeah, interest in pinball and original arcade games is pretty active and as such prices have recovered.

    I have one of these and always looking for one or two more but mostly look locally as shipping one sucks cost-wise.
    https://pinside.com/pinball/machine/king-pin-gottlieb

    Wow, there were 14,550 of the Harlem Globetrotters produced. I have worked on mine extensively over the years (replaced motherboard, targets, etc) and it still needs work. Just as bad as a house !
    https://pinside.com/pinball/machine/harlem-globetrotters-on-tour

  67. I don’t think the grid will be getting MORE reliable any time soon. I’m betting money that it will get worse over time.

    That is why I finally bought a generator. The people at ERCOT do not have our best interests at heart and I want to be able to run both of my air conditioners. Or, whatever.

    BTW, we hit 76 F today here. The wife and I were driving around in my truck with the a/c on. It felt surreal.


  68. Rankin-Bass “The Hobbit”

    I apparently missed something memorable – never heard of it before now, although I am definitely an LoTR fan. Or maybe I overlooked it, because I found The Hobbit pretty boring compared to the three LoTR books.

    Always carry a decent sized power bank

    I have one of those…somewhere. Need to dig it out and know where it is.

    Bitcoin

    A rally when Corona first really hit – that I would have understood. The timing of this rally makes little sense. I think it is entirely FOMO (fear of missing out), i.e., people throwing money at the idea, after the idea has already taken off. Which is too late…

    I have a piddly amount of money in another crytocurrency (they’re all rising). At some point, I’ll probably sell it and buy myself a beer.

    The snow is almost gone. Sure is muddy.

    That’s the phase we’re in. Spring is springing, but the last of the snowdrifts and plowed snow are still hanging around. Time to get my lazy self outside and working on the garden projects.

    Looks like the long pole in the tent will be getting the trailer out (to haul gravel and such). It’s our first winter here, and I didn’t think anything of parking it next to the retaining wall of our street. Then I spent the Winter shoving snow off the street, over the edge of the retaining wall…onto and around the trailer. Oops…I’ll park it somewhere else next year.

  69. “Always carry a decent sized power bank”

    — I’ve got one big one for each vehicle, and a couple extra for ‘camping’.

    I also have a couple of smaller ones, roughly deck of cards sized, one of which I used on my Kindle this week. I’ve got a bunch of batteries that are slightly bigger than a lipstick, tucked into various back packs and briefcases. Their self discharge is very slow, so there should be something there when needed even if I forget to recharge them periodically.

    They’re cheap and very handy.

    n


  70. The timing of this rally makes little sense.

    The 1.5 billion that Tesla bought recently would have given it a bit of a push…

  71. Those auto start generators need some kind of gap filler to prevent all the clocks and other stuff around the house from needing to be reset. I see an opportunity, a whole house line interactive UPS that can power reasonable things for a minute.

    I almost installed such a UPS, although it wouldn’t have needed an auto start generator. I was going to buy a high quality surplus UPS and some new 12V lead acid batteries. Since I can easily run wires, I planned a separate circuit for all the items needing protection. However… What to do about the clock in an electric stove, or a microwave oven? Those can draw enough to overwhelm the UPS. In the end, I just abandoned the idea as impractical. I will eventually install a grid-tied/grid-independent PV solar system that will provide the UPS function for the whole house. It will cost more than the popular grid-tied only systems, but will give me the ability to operate during extended grid down events. Since it is almost always sunny here, I could ride through the occasional cloudy days at reduced function without a generator. Now, to figure out how to make it survive Carrington and EMP events.

    It’s fun to dream! 🙂

  72. My grocery store carries some bricks of coffee for their arab customers. They are very similar and expensive… but have long ‘best by’ times.

    Options, I like options.

    n

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