Fri. June 11, 2021 – a third of the way thru June already…

Hot and humid with very little chance of rain. Yesterday was hot, humid, sunny, and generally a nice day, with some overcast in various parts of town. That is one of the features of Houston weather, lots of variation depending on location. Some is consistent enough I call it a micro-climate, although the pros would likely take issue with that. Since the pros can make stuff up without ever paying the consequence for being wrong, I don’t particularly care what they would say in this case.

It’s funny that the same thing can be said about economists and financial pundits. Even investment advisors and financial pros always have a good reason why they didn’t get it right. And yet we LIKE the idea of hidden knowledge and revealed secrets. We keep going back to them for more. It must be part of our genetic and memetic heritage, although I can’t see a benefit to it. At least with everyone but the weathermen, you can simply say “their goals may not be our goals” and that offers possible explanations for why they are wrong so often.

Anyway, keep in mind that if 80% of everything is cr@p, (and I believe that is a pretty good estimate, if possibly low), that includes any predictions about the future, or explanations about the present.

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I spent yesterday running errands and avoiding my MIL. Took eldest child and puppy to see my gun store buddy. A puppy brightens everyone’s day right? The mom and pop stores should be raking in the dough in the current climate, and yet they are mostly in jeopardy of going out of business. Two gun stores in one day, and the differences were pretty dramatic. If you have inventory, you have sales and income. If you don’t, you don’t. Having other income (from a range, gunsmithing, transfers) can help, but it is only part of the equation. Stores without stuff to sell don’t last long. And that might be the biggest irony and disaster to come out of this past year- the destruction of the mom and pop gun store by extreme demand for guns.

Today I’ve got some pickups if I can fit them in, household stuff again. Then I’ve got a site visit at my client’s house. There are a couple of questions that need answers that I just can’t remember even knowing, and that I can answer by going and looking. So I’m going. Sometimes you just have to be there.

The pot roast in the slow cooker was a success. The only side was a loaf of shelf stable sourdough bread, and the veg and gravy from the pot. Every ounce of 3 pounds of meat got eaten, and even most of the veg disappeared. For seasoning, the CrockPot ™ seasoning mix single use pouch is nice and savory without being particularly overwhelming. It’s one of my ‘goto’ meals when I know I won’t be home to make dinner, and I’m not sure when exactly dinner will be.

Stews and one pot meals are great to use up food that might be getting a bit older. In this case it was some potatoes, turnips, and carrots that had been around for just a bit long. On a plate, by themselves, they might not have been really nice (although very nice compared to Little House on the Prairie at the end of a long winter) but in a pot with 6 hours to stew and blend, they were awesome and indistinguishable from fresh.

This is one of the keys to economical cooking and meal planning, and a skill that you might have to learn or re-learn with hard times on the way. Use what you have, in a way that plays to its strengths. If you have more bread than you expected, make french toast, Texas Toast, or bread pudding. If you have extra milk, use it in a dish that calls for a lot of milk. Too many veg? Make a chutney or salsa. The goal is to get the best use possible out of what you have, and avoid wasting any of it. In an economy based on abundance, you can get exactly what you want. In an economy based on scarcity, you take what you can get, and if you are smart, creative, or prepared, you make the best of it. Most people lived this way throughout most of history, we can do it too. Old recipe books can be a big help. Any recipe book sold by Williams Sonoma probably won’t be.

Of course, one of the ways to mitigate scarcity is to have big stacks of stuff, so don’t stop stacking…

nick

(it pays to know what to do with it, and to have practiced too…)

Author: Nick Flandrey

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

81 thoughts on “Fri. June 11, 2021 – a third of the way thru June already…”

  1. So who would be BUYING the gold?????

    And why exactly should the G7 bail out africa, again?

    The answer to both questions is “China”.

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  2. now we have the feds putting people on planes and moving them to states that have declined to participate in any such relocation

    Happened in TN and the governor is not happy. Planes arrived at night and the occupants were quickly loaded into busses parked next to the plane on the tarmac. The FEDS have released no information and have ignored letters from the governor. Another reason to not trust the federal government.

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  3. In Tuscaloosa this morning with my son for his first college visit – University of Alabama. This is the least likely of his school choices, but it will be good to have him see his options. The other two visits later this summer will be Auburn and the University of Alabama Huntsville. Both really good engineering schools. No matter his choice, he has the grades and ACT score for a full merit scholarship, so that helps the pocketbook a little bit. Yeah, I know I’ll still be forking out tons of cash. That’s been stacked already since he was born.

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  4. The pot roast in the slow cooker was a success.
    … Stews and one pot meals are great to use up food that might be getting a bit older. In this case it was some potatoes, turnips, and carrots that had been around for just a bit long. On a plate, by themselves, they might not have been really nice (although very nice compared to Little House on the Prairie at the end of a long winter) but in a pot with 6 hours to stew and blend, they were awesome and indistinguishable from fresh.

    ….. if you are smart, creative, or prepared, you make the best of it. Most people lived this way throughout most of history, we can do it too.

     

    My oldest grandfather said his mother cooked only in one pot, because she never had a stove. She had to cook over an open fire her whole life. He was born and raised in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Today, the slow cooker probably comes closest to that kind of cooking.  The air fryer & Foreman grills may be fads, but surprising how many people love – and use -their slow cooker!

  5. In Tuscaloosa this morning with my son for his first college visit

    If your son continues into engineering make him aware of Tau Beta Pi, The top engineering honor society. He would be eligible to join in his junior year, top 10% of juniors, top 15% of seniors. The organization provides scholarships of $2K each year, a lot of them. About 50% of applicants are awarded. The money is paid directly to the applicant to use however they desire. If your son continues beyond a bachelors degree TBP also offers fellowships of $10K, again straight to the applicant.

    Membership is a one time cost and the local chapter generally adds in a small fee. That gets the member a very good quarterly magazine for life. There are also several programs to help a member advance their career and get that first job. Lot of other members willing to help mentoring and networking with others.

    An outstanding organization for engineers. I know as I worked for the organization for almost 15 years as the IT staff. I did the web applications, database, servers, network, desktops, phones and changed the batteries in the wall clocks.

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  6. How did the pandemic change your prepping? I remember reading some stuff last year when a lot of people were “sheltering in place” and living off of their preps about how they quickly tired of the food options and whatnot.

  7. How did the pandemic change your prepping?

    –man if I was some kind of blogger, that’s the kind of question that leads to an article. 🙂

    That deserves at least a bit more thought than I can do this am.

    How about the rest of y’all??

    n

  8. 84F and 72%RH at 9:43am. Much nicer than I thought so far!

    Puppy is well, and active. He was a bit sleepy after the shots yesterday. Not sleepy today!

    Kids are sleepy from getting up all night to take him out though.

    n


  9. How did the pandemic change your prepping? I remember reading some stuff last year when a lot of people were “sheltering in place” and living off of their preps about how they quickly tired of the food options and whatnot.

    Our pantry and freezer are our preps. We don’t keep any of the usual freeze-dried meals or such. Instead, I just stock heavily with the foods we eat, including my own home-canned goods. I cook from scratch.

    I use a lot of the packaged seasoning mixes that Nick talks about. I think those are the most efficient way to make sure variety of flavor is available, even if your stores only contain rice and beans. After the shut-down, I added cream gravy mixes – McCormick brand. I always make cream gravy from scratch, but there was no milk and we don’t like “ol’ water gravy” as my grandmother used to call “sawmill gravy”.

    There were only a few things we wanted and didn’t have. I got caught without fresh onions: response was to plant a bed of perennial/dividing onions to try to get them going so that I can always just go cut some onion greens at any time.  I grow my own garlic, so always have plenty of that. And we have perennial leeks, but only in the winter time as they die back in summer.

    Eggs: we had plenty of fresh eggs, as my dad and our neighbor both raise hens and keep us well stocked. But hens don’t lay year round, so I added a container of powdered egg whites (masquerading as sports protein powder), just in case.

    Milk & Cream: we were using real cream in our coffee when it started, we switched to a powdered creamer and turned out my husband prefers that, so now I keep 10 or 12 containers on hand. I don’t like powdered milk, but powdered non-dairy creamer can be liquified to make a pretty tasty base for cereal or oatmeal. Canned milk does does not store well past its “best by” date, so it doesn’t pay to keep more on hand than one can use in the course of a year. Like everything, we rotate through that.

    We were in great shape with paper products and most other consumables. I use Brown Bottle Lysol as a laundry disinfectant (not every load but as needed), and it disappeared until just a couple of months ago, so I bought 4 bottles recently.

  10. @Nick

    I have been avoiding any reporting on the recounts, because it doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter inasmuch as nothing will correct the fraud: turn Biden out and put Trump in.

    But it will matter in three important ways:

    First, it will destroy any moral authority the Biden had.

    Second, it will destroy the “nothing to see here, move along” mantra

    Third, it will make imperative the efforts to ensure absolute ballot integrity in the next election

    and maybe, just maybe, it will cause some voters to turn away from the stomach turning corruption that is the modern  Democratic Party.

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  11. Well, Sooprise! FOMO! Miami! Bitcoin!

    I’m guessing the crowd took a day off from storming Dade/Broward/Palm Beach Targets looking for Pokemon cards in order to tend to their graphics card arbitrage side hustle. Learn the lingo, see where the racket is heading.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/miami-bitcoin-gathering-was-a-covid-hot-spot-attendees-say/ar-AAKVjQ3?ocid=uxbndlbing

    I’ll give Miami credt — everyone there hustles something.

  12. @drwilliams, you have more faith in people than I do.

    The same people who put their fingers in their ears and go “la la la la la, I can’t hear you” when you even raise the subject of the possibility of voter fraud will not be convinced and we’ll never get to T back in office. They know there is fraud, they WANT the fraud so they can get the RIGHT outcome. Showing them the fraud might be satisfying, but it won’t change anyone’s mind, see also Chicago for the last 80 or more years.

    Joe doesn’t have any moral authority, not even with the left. He has 53years of shady deals and stupid comments. I haven’t heard a single lefty say “he won so shut up” like with Barrraacckkkk the Messiah.

    Without bloodshed, why would any of the fraudulent voting districts change anything? Is anyone placing orders for new machines? Who would they buy from that isn’t compromised? Where are the successful voter ID laws? 3 years is an eyeblink at the pace of .gov any reform needs 10 years to get thru.

    I’m glad someone is pursuing it. I’m glad they might have a chance of exposing it. I’ll cheer and say “I told you so” when they do. But it won’t make any difference for next time.

    Yeah, despair is a sin. I’m a sinner.

    n

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  13. @Ray Thompson

    second your recommendation of Tau Beta Pi.

    Would suggest that reading up on a little history beforehand would be a good move.

  14. Third, it will make imperative the efforts to ensure absolute ballot integrity in the next election

    The Texas Legislature gave up on reform covering the midterms next year.

    Wanna bet about that special session ever producing anything?

    Maybe the Governor knows his time is up. Another winter storm response fiasco is almost guaranteed if we have a repeat of Valentine’s Day weekend next February.

    Just ahead of the primaries?

    All right. All right. All right!

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  15. From yesterday

    re: National Health Care in Canada

    Not a scientific sample, but from the few people I know from Canada, it seems like a disproportionate number have come to the U.S. to get procedures done in a timely fashion.

    Knee replacement 12-24 months in the future, and in the meantime it’s bone-on bone? Please explain to me how that works? Does it take months to get a water pump for a car, and meanwhile you park it? Put a charcoal bazier in the living room when the furnace goes out? Seems to me that the calculation is: fund at 100-x%, then figure out what the delay needs to be to have x% die off.

    And the commissars wait just as long, comrade?

    As I noted, there is rationing by queueing. If you have socialized medicine, you have pressure to keep costs down to avoid tax increases which are how you pay for health care. Politicians hate having to support a tax increase, and they can’t fund everything via debt. So while primary and emergency care is excellent, items that are viewed as less urgent – like knee or hip replacements – get less resources allocated to them in spite of growing demand. That is one of my scenarios for allowing private care in Canada. For things viewed as “non-urgent” procedures with long waiting lists, allow a private option. That would reduce the queue by at least those that could afford the private option. Same for private MRI or CAT facilities. Problem here will be that the “orthodoxy” will scream that this means we now have “two-tier care” with the rich getting better and that is BAD. As you noted, if you have money you can always find a way to get better by using the power of money to buy the service elsewhere: the US or Mexico, or wherever. The orthodoxy is stupid in my view: Canada would be better to keep the infrastructure and skilled providers (and money) in the country instead of facilitating “medical tourism”. But, it is really tough to fix stupid. As you mentioned, the commissars don’t seem to wait quite as long: it’s all about who you know comrade. Of course, the rich and/or connected always do well in any system – a better measure is how well everyone else does. What happens in the US if you can’t afford health insurance or the out of pocket costs of that hip replacement? That is a life (or death) sentence of bone-on-bone because you are not even in a queue.

    The irony is that the 2 extremes of first world health-care are neighbors on the same continent. All other countries land somewhere in between. We each have our own versions of a mess: in Canada the inability to opt out and get a procedure done privately – wait instead. Of course, I don’t have to spend 5 seconds a year wondering about health insurance or how to pay for it. In the US, a truly byzantine funding model even before Obamacare, and from what everyone here writes, it did not get better. On the other hand, procedures are available “on-demand”, especially if you have paid for insurance that covers it, but outside of that if you can afford it.

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  16. The local HEB had new signs up today indicating “Masks Optional”.

    About 1/3 of the crowd was still walking around inside the store fully masked, and it seemed like those same people kept the masks on walking to their cars.

    The pandemic hysteria definitely appeals to a certain personality type going back to Day One.

    Three cars in the parking lot I walked past had CA plates.

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  17. In Tuscaloosa this morning with my son for his first college visit – University of Alabama

    Send that boy to school NORTH of the Mason-Dixon line. 😜

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  18. The local HEB had new signs up today indicating “Masks Optional”.

    Yay! A contact I have in the HEB leadership training course confirms the above is now corporate policy.

  19. The answer to both questions is “China

    —so once again, we find a world body proposing policy that benefits China and beggars ordinary people. Big surprise….

    N

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  20. ‘The local HEB had new signs up today indicating “Masks Optional”.’

    Yay! A contact I have in the HEB leadership training course confirms the above is now corporate policy.

    I’m actually surprised. A big chunk of the neighborhood sits inside the city limits, and while the store is on unincorporated land, a lot of the customers are into the hysteria.

     

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  21. WRT to socialized medical care in the USA, illegal aliens never get refused at a hospital emergency room.

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  22. For things viewed as “non-urgent” procedures with long waiting lists, allow a private option. That would reduce the queue by at least those that could afford the private option. Same for private MRI or CAT facilities. Problem here will be that the “orthodoxy” will scream that this means we now have “two-tier care” with the rich getting better and that is BAD.

    Seems like the pool for the private option would be on the smaller side hence only the rich will be able to afford it, so not reducing the waiting lists all that much.

  23. Nothing to see here folks, just move along…

    “It’s hard to trust the claim from officials that these apps are only going to do X or Y,” warns Albert Fox Cahn, an attorney at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, pointing to the potential expansion of Excelsior Pass. “We see this clear pattern of them being installed for one purpose and then expanded for another.”

    https://www.vox.com/recode/22526184/digital-drivers-license-apple-ibm-idemia-id-tsa-phones

  24. How did the pandemic change your prepping?
    Never set out to be or thought of myself as a prepper.  But.  Growing up I was influenced by a single mother who came out of the depression; was interested in but did not participate in the 1960s back to the land bit; was a student with a wife, and kids by the end, helped by the GI bill; and then self-employed most of my adult life, never knowing how much or when the money would come in.  I liked good food that I couldn’t afford and/or wasn’t locally available so I learned to fix it myself.  Learned to keep enough on hand to bridge those financial gaps and always have enough for unexpected company. Learned that quality tools and products are better and in the long run less expensive if you can manage to acquire them in the first place, often worth even the cost of buying them on credit.  Learned more about buying the things we use in quantity when on sale and accommodating the storage needs. We had a few Mormon neighbors and learned a little of their approach (from the church not the neighbor’s actual example).

    So how did the pandemic change our prepping?  Not much.  Being on SS and my wife’s small pension and having our needs met on site left only the social distancing and stay at home aspects to deal with, plus the eventual fallout of supply disruption which hasn’t significantly affected us. We did, about a year in, replenish the toilet paper and paper towel supply, and have restocked other items as our storage space, product availability, and prices allowed.  I did add about 200 square feet to the garden area but that was only coincidental as the addition was already planned. One actual change, we will be acquiring a generator and possibly a small solar system – things we have been thinking about anyway; but it was the five and half days without electricity due to the ice storm here that are spurring that rather than the pandemic.

    I started following Jerry during the BYTE days, a while after that was over I found him on the web. A mention from Jerry led me to Robert who I found to be an excellent technical writer.  Even technologically challenged friends of mine could understand his computer books.  When Robert started on the prepping book I paid attention, what he said made sense but I found that most of what applied to us we were already doing.  He added some dimension to the what and why and I started looking at what we had been doing and bumped it up a little as sales allowed, but not much as we have enough for about a year on hand.  I mostly lurk but I benefit from the commentary and contributions here, almost like meat space in a way.

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  25. Learned more about buying the things we use in quantity when on sale and accommodating the storage needs.

    I started paying more attention to sales and frequent loss leaders (coffee) to stock up. In doing so I’ve noticed that new products, like tuna and chicken in little foil pouches, are quite cheap at the get go but gradually creep up. Shoulda/woulda/coulda bought about 100 when they were a buck apiece.

    And you can never have too much Dawn detergent.

  26. And you can never have too much Dawn detergent. 

    In the pump bottle, which the warehouse club stores stopped carrying recently.

  27. I spent yesterday running errands and avoiding my MIL. Took eldest child and puppy to see my gun store buddy. A puppy brightens everyone’s day right? The mom and pop stores should be raking in the dough in the current climate, and yet they are mostly in jeopardy of going out of business. Two gun stores in one day, and the differences were pretty dramatic. If you have inventory, you have sales and income. If you don’t, you don’t. Having other income (from a range, gunsmithing, transfers) can help, but it is only part of the equation. Stores without stuff to sell don’t last long. And that might be the biggest irony and disaster to come out of this past year- the destruction of the mom and pop gun store by extreme demand for guns.

    Why can’t they get any inventory to sell ?

  28. I get my “Dawn” at the Dollar Store / Dollar Tree (one of them carries it, don’t remember which one). Got several bottles on the storage shelf. Plus big can of Comet cleaner there. Scrub sponges (2-pack). Cheap storage containers with lids (used in the garage for parts and pieces of things). Stash of USB cords (I like the retractable ones for the car).

    Get the fabric bandage and antibiotic cream and anti-itch cream there also. A stash of those is also on the storage shelf.

    Some of the off-brand cleaning products at those stores are OK, YMMV.  Have bought cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (slightly larger size than at the stores); no difference that I can tell. Other foodstuffs (cans/bottles) are OK, especially brand-name.

  29. Am sitting at home watching 1980s music videos on the XITE channel trying to get our taxes finished. Ads suck ! I may need to turn off the video and just listen to the radio.

    I remember escaping from the engineering building at TAMU one day and walking across the boulevard to get a burger and some down time. I went into the music store after I grabbed a burger and they had a tv hanging from the ceiling. It was playing a channel called MTV that I had never heard of and I was addicted. I stood there for an hour watching videos. It was awesome.


  30. In the pump bottle, which the warehouse club stores stopped carrying recently.

    Jumbo containers of things are a great value, but not especially user-friendly. Is there any product that isn’t annoying when there’s only 3oz left in the 64oz container? Or, when they’re full and your wife or kids can’t controllably lift them to use them because they’re so heavy. I find myself buying the smaller size despite the larger size being a better value.

  31. I remember escaping from the engineering building at TAMU one day and walking across the boulevard to get a burger and some down time. I went into the music store after I grabbed a burger and they had a tv hanging from the ceiling. It was playing a channel called MTV that I had never heard of and I was addicted. I stood there for an hour watching videos. It was awesome.

    A series of nuclear bombs dropped on the suburbs would have done less long-term damage to my generation than basic cable and MTV. The poster child for Pournelle’s “Cultural weapons of mass destruction”.

    Also, the foundation of the third great Mike Nesmith fortune depending on how you are counting. I lump MTV in with Pacific Arts, “Repo Man”, and “Tapeheads”.


  32. So while primary and emergency care is excellent, items that are viewed as less urgent – like knee or hip replacements – get less resources allocated to them in spite of growing demand. That is one of my scenarios for allowing private care in Canada.

    And that is what we have in Australia.

    For things viewed as “non-urgent” procedures with long waiting lists, allow a private option. That would reduce the queue by at least those that could afford the private option. Same for private MRI or CAT facilities. Problem here will be that the “orthodoxy” will scream that this means we now have “two-tier care” with the rich getting better and that is BAD.

    Seems like the pool for the private option would be on the smaller side hence only the rich will be able to afford it, so not reducing the waiting lists all that much.

    We have a Medicare levy above a certain income level. Private health insurance is encouraged and above a certain income level it is expected. If you do not have it then there is an extra levy. Your choice.

    No system is perfect but ours seems to be pretty good at balancing the requirements and who pays for what and at what cost.


  33. I find myself buying the smaller size despite the larger size being a better value.

    I have done both. The small size for ease of use. The giant size to refill the small bottle. And then buy the small size over and over because “It was empty so I threw it away”. Grr.

    But. This was back when MTV was actually worth watching. Ok, listening to. Along with Super Station Atlanta aka WTBS and WGN (Chicago?).

  34. @Nick

    I have been avoiding any reporting on the recounts, because it doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter inasmuch as nothing will correct the fraud: turn Biden out and put Trump in.

    But it will matter in three important ways:

    First, it will destroy any moral authority the Biden had.

    Second, it will destroy the “nothing to see here, move along” mantra

    Third, it will make imperative the efforts to ensure absolute ballot integrity in the next election

    and maybe, just maybe, it will cause some voters to turn away from the stomach turning corruption that is the modern Democratic Party.

    Wow ! I will be impressed if just one of those items comes true.

    I am also fairly sure that Fulton County in Georgia will just find a new way to cheat when they block the current ways.

    Remember what Stalin said, “It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.”

  35. Basic cable was pretty cool in Austin in the early ’80’s.  Twenty-five or thirty  so channels for about $30/month.  I’m guessing, I didn’t save any bills.  Plus whatever for HBO and Cine Max.  And Showtime and its soft porn variant.

    Over the air was pretty limited.  Channel 7, 24, 36, and 18 for PBS when it seemed to be a repeater for PBS out of San Antonio.  Or something… KLRN/KLRU.  Which wasn’t a bad thing.  FOX didn’t exist.


  36. And you can never have too much Dawn detergent.

    In the pump bottle, which the warehouse club stores stopped carrying recently.

    We buy ‘regular’ detergent (at Target iirc) and water it down so it works in the pump dispenser. Lasts longer that way. Mostly though we try to run the dishwasher when full on the economy cycle with no-heat dry cycle. DW detergent pods from Costco work well – hmmm, was there today and I think we’re low, added to my list.
    Still a good number of shoppers with masks (during senior hour) but definitely more staff without them. Was there just to pick up an Rx but aisles I passed through seemed well stocked. Wonder if/when stores will start doing away with things like senior hour (card checker at the door today was closely checking for non-seniors trying to pass) and free curbside pickup of groceries?


  37. But. This was back when MTV was actually worth watching. Ok, listening to. Along with Super Station Atlanta aka WTBS and WGN (Chicago?).

    There are kids today who won’t believe you if you tell them that MTV once played music videos and not cheesy reality shows.

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  38. I am also fairly sure that Fulton County in Georgia will just find a new way to cheat when they block the current ways.

    It doesn’t really matter what happens in Fulton County when things happen like 300,000 Republican voters deciding to not show up for the runoff election in January.

    What’s really dangerous is that the Dems learned that Libertarians “voting their conscience” can swing elections when the margins are this thin. All it took were 13,000 in November to force the runoff in the Perdue-Ossoff race.

    Maybe Perdue was a clown, but 60,000 Libertarians decided to support Trump and then go for their own candidate down ballot in the Senate race. No Fulton County tricks there.

    I’ll bet the GA Libertarians have some mysterious new benefactors next year. A little money goes a long way in that party from what I’ve observed with friends who are into it.

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  39. “Earth Alone: Earthrise Book 1” by Daniel Arenson
    https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Alone-Earthrise-Book-1/dp/1534640150/?tag=ttgnet-20

    Book number one of a fifteen book military science fiction alien invasion series. I read the well printed and well bound POD (print on demand) trade paperback self published by the author in 2016. I have ordered the second book in the series.

    “They came from deep space. They came to destroy us.
    Fifty years ago, bloodthirsty aliens devastated the Earth. Most of humanity perished. We fell into darkness.
    But now we rise from the ashes. Now we fight back.”

    Thousands of pods drop on the Earth daily, each containing a five meter (fifteen feet) long centipede with claws and a deep hunger for humans. Thousands of people die daily, we are losing the war. Every 18 year year old on Earth is drafted into the HDF, the Human Defense Forces, for ten weeks of brutal basic training on how to shoot and kill the scum, the alien invaders, with their .50 caliber rifles and bayonets.

    The book is a blatant ripoff of “Starship Troopers”, “Ender’s Game”, and “Chtorr: A Matter For Men”. So what ? I loved it anyway.

    The author has a website at:
    https://www.danielarenson.com/

    My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (3,723 reviews)


  40. Basic cable was pretty cool in Austin in the early ’80’s. Twenty-five or thirty so channels for about $30/month. I’m guessing, I didn’t save any bills.

    Several folks here with MIL’s that probably still have them…if you ask nicely.

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  41. Crude oil will be $100/bbl by Labor Day. Maybe.

    A lot of places are targeting Labor Day for everyone to be back in the office full time, my current employer included.

    My wife has noticed traffic getting worse on her commute over the last few weeks, and not just around the new Tonymobile factory.

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  42. Lovely, just lovely. The office administrators PC crashed today and fragged the Windows 7 Pro x64 SSD drive on the way down. It won’t boot again. The crashes have been more and more frequent, I have been blaming the HP Laserjet and Brother scanner device drivers for a while now.

    So next week, we are going to nuke from orbit and install Windows 10 Pro x64. Our Act! 2012 cannot be reinstalled anymore since the licensing server has crashed. And Act! 2021 cannot be installed on Windows 7, it require Windows 8 x64 or 10 x64. Sigh. Next week is going to be a total disaster.

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  43. Lovely, just lovely. The office administrators PC crashed today and fragged the Windows 7 Pro x64 SSD drive on the way down. It won’t boot again. The crashes have been more and more frequent, I have been blaming the HP Laserjet and Brother scanner device drivers for a while now. 

    HP went to a universal driver which is more stable than legacy and covers a lot of their older devices on Windows. I use that with my LaserJet 4000N school surplus beast for printing from Windows 10, but those driver install files took some work to find.

    Never touched Brother printer hardware.

    I noted earlier in the week that I had to put an old graphics card back in my primary desktop PC just to get through tax season. The manufacturers are abandoning Windows 7, and the EOL status combined with Microsoft’s “fix” for the speculative execution bugs means a lot of previously stable device drivers aren’t stable anymore.

    Try finding a new graphics card in a store or online, even a cr*p card for office chores. I wasn’t being smart earlier about the Bitcoin dweebs hustling graphics cards.

    Dr. Pournelle used to bemoan the economy based around opening shipping containers, but now that is work Americans won’t do.

  44. Lynn, my sympathies. It appears the end was not only nearer, but actually arrived.


  45. Several folks here with MIL’s that probably still have them…if you ask nicely.

    Like my Mom, for example. She had paper grocery bags around her chair when we went to pick her up after the car keys were mail to me by my niece, six or seven, full of important junk mail and magazines. She had quite a stack of stuff here. I gave her a box, next to her chair. When it was full the bottom half went into the trash. She wasn’t exactly thrilled. But. My house.

    I confess to saving phone bills. Last bill / first bill when I moved. Just so I can look and go “yeah, that’s when!”.

    I suspect I can toss out old bank statements. Complete with canceled checks. How long should I save that stuff? Ditto tax returns. I have that stuff going back to ’77-ish.

    I’ve never had to look at the stuff but as soon as I toss it into the burn barrel, well.

    And there you go: Why people hoard.

    1
  46. Lynn, my sympathies. It appears the end was not only nearer, but actually arrived.

    I broke a rule, your environment should always be recreatable from scratch. I have known for a year that this day was coming, shoot I got several emails from the panicked Act! people that their license server had crashed and was down forever.

    And the wife, aka office administrator, went to work today with no walking assistance for that bad knee. It hurt so bad on Monday that she scooted on the floor rather than walk. It is radically better today, that is the fastest healing that I have ever seen.


  47. Lovely, just lovely. The office administrators PC crashed today and fragged the Windows 7 Pro x64 SSD drive on the way down. It won’t boot again. The crashes have been more and more frequent, I have been blaming the HP Laserjet and Brother scanner device drivers for a while now.

    When I’ve had similar, it seems to be bad memory or a bad power supply. I’ve not ever noticed something like a printer driver hosing a system.

    My Mighty 486/66 DX/2 whatever, running WfW3.11, puked one day. Fried my very expensive 800 Mb (cost $800) hard drive. I tried another drive with no joy. The MB was shot.

    Oh. And my previous PC was acting weird. Just randomly re-booting. I pulled the added in video card and everything was fine. Yeah, power supply…

    1
  48. @lynn, wrt small stores and inventory, the manufactures can’t keep up with demand and are filling large orders first. His ‘online’ store, which is really just a portal to a wholesale/fulfillment deal, can’t even get stock, and the back end is someone huge. He’s a Glock “stocking dealer” but they’re limiting him to one or two guns a month. If it weren’t for consignments, he pretty much wouldn’t have a gun in the store for sale. Transfers are keeping the lights on for now, but that looks like it’s slowing down too, as the pool of stuff available online dries up.

    Home from my site visit. Hit a couple of thrifts on the way home. Got some books for the kids and one on heat treating and tempering steel for me. I’m actively looking for a replacement carafe for my coffee maker. I’ll find one, it just may take a bit longer.

    There was a graphic card in one of my ‘returns’ auctions last night and it went for crazy money.

    n

  49. WRT to socialized medical care in the USA, illegal aliens never get refused at a hospital emergency room.

    That is federal law since 1986 ???

    You can tell when your neighborhood is dropping when your local hospital converts from emergency care to urgent care. There is a radical difference between those two, urgent care will do a walletectomy first.

  50. And I am in moderation hell again for repeating a Nick comment. Three comments now !

  51. I remember escaping from the engineering building at TAMU one day and walking across the boulevard to get a burger and some down time. I went into the music store after I grabbed a burger and they had a tv hanging from the ceiling. It was playing a channel called MTV that I had never heard of and I was addicted. I stood there for an hour watching videos. It was awesome.

    A series of nuclear bombs dropped on the suburbs would have done less long-term damage to my generation than basic cable and MTV. The poster child for Pournelle’s “Cultural weapons of mass destruction”.

    Also, the foundation of the third great Mike Nesmith fortune depending on how you are counting. I lump MTV in with Pacific Arts, “Repo Man”, and “Tapeheads”.

    Nah, the big crazy for the suburbs and everyone else started with “free love” in the 1960s.

    I read an article on Michael Nesmith the other day. I had no idea that his mother invented Liquid Paper and built a $50 million corporation out of it.
    http://www.women-inventors.com/Bette-Nesmith-Graham.asp

  52. Lovely, just lovely. The office administrators PC crashed today and fragged the Windows 7 Pro x64 SSD drive on the way down. It won’t boot again. The crashes have been more and more frequent, I have been blaming the HP Laserjet and Brother scanner device drivers for a while now.

    When I’ve had similar, it seems to be bad memory or a bad power supply. I’ve not ever noticed something like a printer driver hosing a system.

    My Mighty 486/66 DX/2 whatever, running WfW3.11, puked one day. Fried my very expensive 800 Mb (cost $800) hard drive. I tried another drive with no joy. The MB was shot.

    Oh. And my previous PC was acting weird. Just randomly re-booting. I pulled the added in video card and everything was fine. Yeah, power supply…

    The last time this happened, I changed the entire PC out. All hardware got refreshed. So, not the hardware. We ask a lot of our hardware since we run Act! Premium for Workgroups that includes MS SQL Server for each client. Each client has a full copy of our 1.3 GB contact database in memory for speed, we just hit 30,000 contacts now.

    So she has an HP Color Laserjet and a Brother scanner. And she runs Go To My PC so she can work from home. Big load for a generic PC box.

  53. @lynn, wrt small stores and inventory, the manufactures can’t keep up with demand and are filling large orders first. His ‘online’ store, which is really just a portal to a wholesale/fulfillment deal, can’t even get stock, and the back end is someone huge. He’s a Glock “stocking dealer” but they’re limiting him to one or two guns a month. If it weren’t for consignments, he pretty much wouldn’t have a gun in the store for sale. Transfers are keeping the lights on for now, but that looks like it’s slowing down too, as the pool of stuff available online dries up.

    Bummer. He does sound hosed. I was thinking that he could just pay more for inventory but it sounds like he does not have that option as he will get price shopped.

    I imagine that Carter’s Country, Academy, Bass Pro Shops, and Walmart are able to buy direct from the manufacturers. Even the middle men are probably getting shorted severely.

  54. There are kids today who won’t believe you if you tell them that MTV once played music videos and not cheesy reality shows

    –I went to a summer sleep away programming camp in high school that was held at Bradley University. They put us up in the dorms. The common room had some new thing called MTV running 24/7… and I was hooked. The closest to that was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert on broadcast tv on Friday or Saturday night, and that was only for an hour or two. (I did see the Tubes and Golden Earring on the Rock Concert.)

    I did a bunch of work for MTV back in the day including two spring break years. Other stuff. One of those Spring Breaks led to most of the work I did for the next 10 or 15 years… I miss the music videos, but I found that youtube is where the action is these days. Youtube’s recommendation engine rekindled my love of music.

    n

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  55. @Ray Thompson

    Few details are available, but it is known that the feds have been shipping minor alien invaders around the country, landing planes in the middle of the night.

    Were I the governor of such a state, I would make it CFC (Crystal effing clear) to airport management that they would be out on their keisters if they were not on the phone in seconds after being apprised of such a flight.

    Then I would put together a greeting committee under the auspices of Child Protective Services to go through the paperwork with the finest of finetooth combs.  Upon finding it insufficient under state law, I would have the handlers arrested and booked for child trafficking, with photo release pending the phone call to the White House: I’ve got your hard ball right here.

    Maybe they’d send Harris and her kneepads to apologize.

  56. I imagine that Carter’s Country, Academy, Bass Pro Shops, and Walmart are able to buy direct from the manufacturers.

    –even those counters are a pale shadow of themselves. And no one has ammo.

    n


  57. I suspect I can toss out old bank statements. Complete with canceled checks. How long should I save that stuff? Ditto tax returns. I have that stuff going back to ’77-ish.

    Tax returns – I keep my full tax file (all supporting docs) for six years and a paper and electronic copy of the filed returns forever. If the IRS wants you for tax fraud they can go back as far as they want.

  58. I read an article on Michael Nesmith the other day. I had no idea that his mother invented Liquid Paper and built a $50 million corporation out of it.

    That article has been making the rounds lately, but it has been out in the Interwebz for a while. The legend is that Nesmith still has the concrete mixer his mother used for the later batches before selling the company.

    There are four great Nesmith fortunes: Liquid paper, Monkees/First National Band/songwriting, Pacific Arts – Movies/TV/Home Video, and the proceeds from suing the cr*p out of PBS when they bankrupted Pacific Arts in a spat about royalties from the VHS sets for “The Civil War” — Nesmith essentially also invented PBS Home Video.

    We made a point of seeing Nesmith on his last tour when he came through Austin. Nez still sounded great, but he was moving really slowly.

  59. Lynn, don’t give up on that SSD. I had one awhile back that looked unformatted to Windows. Tried easeus software on a different PC and it found everything on that drive and recovered it. I was pleasently surprised. Highly recommended.

    Recently paid a recovery company $300 plus cost of a recovery drive to pull everything off a blown RAID. Also a bargin.

  60. @chad, wrt radio, use the radio and amateur radio categories here to see all the stuff I’ve written about it so far.

    The most important question is “what do you want to do?”

    If you just want to listen for a while, or if you are licensed and want to talk too, you just need to program your local repeaters, and then leave the radio on for a while to see if anyone is talking on it.

    https://repeaterbook.com/index.php/en-us/

    has free listings. RadioReference.com is the gold standard for frequencies but is a bit confusing to navigate.

    There are several youtubers that do a good job. Dave Casler has over 400 vids on radio subjects. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaBtYooQdmNzq63eID8RaLQ

    There are written and video guides to programming your radio. Lots of people will tell you to buy a cable and D/L Chirp and do it all from the computer. You can do that later. If there are more than 5 repeaters, and TWO with activity in your city it is bigger than Houston….. Watch a vid, or use a guide and put in the repeaters for your area. Put in the NOAA weather channel too, it will be 162,xxx and you can start at 162.000 and manually go up, then store it when you find a strong signal.

    The programming for a repeater is a bit more involved than just finding the signal and storing that frequency in a memory. There is usually a “tone” that you have to put in (a number like 120.3) and a “repeater offset”. Most of the newer radios will default to standard offsets when you save the memory. You don’t need the privacy tone or the offset to listen, but you will need both to talk. that’s where the reference site comes in, it will list those.

    Then, once you can hear activity on the repeater, I’d listen for a while to see if it’s just a small club of guys, what the informal protocols for talking are, etc. If it’s a big repeater it might link to a network of repeaters all over the US and world thru one of the internet protocols. There are a lot of organized ‘nets’ on that sort of repeater, and they will announce their rules before they start the net.

    The winsystem.org is one such network. Saltgrass is another in Texas, and there are other regional networks as well.

    That should help, but if not, keep asking.

    n

  61. Lynn, don’t give up on that SSD. I had one awhile back that looked unformatted to Windows. Tried easeus software on a different PC and it found everything on that drive and recovered it. I was pleasently surprised. Highly recommended.

    Try booting the PC with a GParted ISO written to a thumb drive and see what the main tool has to say about the drive without doing any repartitioning.

    You do have the optimization (trim operation) scheduled weekly on the other drives in the office, right?

  62. Wow. Just finished both seasons of Counterpart on Amazon Prime and it’s the best show I’ve seen in ages. Someone paid for writers who could write and actors who could act instead of CGI. Whoddathunkit?

  63. Lynn, don’t give up on that SSD. I had one awhile back that looked unformatted to Windows. Tried easeus software on a different PC and it found everything on that drive and recovered it. I was pleasently surprised. Highly recommended.

    Recently paid a recovery company $300 plus cost of a recovery drive to pull everything off a blown RAID. Also a bargin.

    I have the drive backed up. We can still boot the PC but it crashes fairly soon, 5 to 30 minutes.

  64. I have the drive backed up. We can still boot the PC but it crashes fairly soon, 5 to 30 minutes.

    If it is Windows 7 you can start without drivers and see what happens with that…
    Event viewer should\may give you an idea also.

  65. I have the drive backed up. We can still boot the PC but it crashes fairly soon, 5 to 30 minutes. 

    Reboot or freeze? Nvidia card of recent vintage?

    Nvidia has done something fairly bad with their drivers recently. My symptom is a complete freeze in about 30 minutes of operation.


  66. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign a bill passed this week by state lawmakers that, beginning January 2023, will impose a tax of up to 17.5 cents per mile on heavy trucks that use Connecticut’s roadways. The tax,, which trucks would be required to pay in addition to federal fuel taxes, is estimated to generate $45 million in revenue in FY23 and $90 million annually thereafter, and would go toward repairing roads and bridges.

    “This small fee on large tractor trailers that are doing 20,000 times the amount of damage as a passenger vehicle is a responsible way to address part of that crisis,” commented state Rep. Roland Lemar, a Democrat.

    –well gee Olie, think there’ll be any unintended consequences from that??

    FWIW, last time I looked at the numbers, 17c/mile would be double to triple what the DRIVER makes after expenses.

    n


  67. “This small fee on large tractor trailers that are doing 20,000 times the amount of damage as a passenger vehicle is a responsible way to address part of that crisis,” commented state Rep. Roland Lemar, a Democrat.

    –well gee Olie, think there’ll be any unintended consequences from that??

    Those who know me, know I am as anti tax as it gets. I grew up in Michigan where there was a lot of freeze and thaw. A few roads had year around bans on trucks over XXXX lbs, something like 7500, but I don’t remember. It was intended to allow local delivery trucks. Those roads were pristine. The roads that allowed large tractor trailers, even though they were better constructed and maintained a lot, were horrible. I believe that 20k factor might be low.

    The big rigs paid some sort of extra tax, but it was probably low because of the trucking lobby’s efforts. It was frequent to see those trucks with signs painted on the cab door that noted how much tax they paid annually, and it was an impressive number. Maybe that CT governor is right, but we all know who ultimately pays.

    Back then, Michigan had no max gross weight limit, just a fairly low per axle limit. It was common to see large trucks full of axles. Large dump trucks were a good example. They would often have eight or ten axles, and IIRC a gross vehicle weight of more than 100k lbs. They never left the state if full.

    Another example were steel haulers. These brought coils of sheet steel from the mills near Gary, Indiana. They were large flat bed trailers that hauled two coils. They also had lots of axles, but a total weight lower because they had to meet Indiana rules.

    The large steel trucks didn’t seem to hurt the new Interstate highways, but they sure tore up the local roads near the destinations. I lived near one, and one road was redone annually after the last thaw. We locals knew to avoid that road.

  68. The Toyota Hilux is limited to 23 mm weapons and below or the warranty is voided. And no rocket pods ! Who knew ?
    https://gunfreezone.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Hilux-evolution.png

    I wonder what my F-150 4×4 Crew Cab with the four inch lift kit is limited to ?

    Toyota seem to be the marquee of choice in the Middle East. I’d be surprised to see any Ford F-Series trucks there for military purposes.

    We are getting close to Skynet time.

  69. “Which Countries Have The World’s Largest Proven Oil Reserves?”
    https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/which-countries-have-worlds-largest-proven-oil-reserves

    There is key word there, Proven. The USA has the worlds largest unproven reserves (SWAG !). But, you have to frack most of them to get them to flow so they are expensive.

    Uh, outside the USA, the word Proven does not mean proven, it means whatever the owner thinks it means. There is prestige and rumor involved in those numbers. In fact, there may not be much difference between the words Proven and Unproven here. In the USA, the word Proven has legal connotations and is carefully defined.

    BTW, the Venezuelan oil has to be heated from 120 F to 160 F to get it flow. They have little donkey boilers all over the oil fields. If you do not carefully maintain them, they go wonky in a hurry. And then the field goes south on you as it cools down. And the oil requires special refining that only a couple of refineries have (almost all here in the USA).

  70. the efforts to ensure absolute ballot integrity in the next election

    This is the only response that matters. Grousing about a stolen election is looking backwards. Trump’s people screwed up: everyone knew there would be fraud. Every election center in questionable areas should have been blanketed by anal-retentive witnesses, backed up by lawyers.

    This must be fixed for the next election. Of course, the Republicans aren’t known as the “stupid party” for nothing. They won’t fix it.

    the “orthodoxy” will scream that this means we now have “two-tier care” with the rich getting better and that is BAD

    Of course, every country already has a two-tier system. The 1% don’t wait for care in any country. What the progs apparently can’t stand is opening this option up to ordinary people. The idea that someone who is gainfully employed and financially responsible might be able to afford better/faster treatment than the gangbanger down the street? How horrible!

    Is private insurance really illegal in Canada? As I recall, it’s fine in the UK, and the rates are quite reasonable. After all, given a public health care system, private insurance is freed from most of the government bureaucracy, and isn’t subsidizing the uninsurable or the deadbeats. And, as you say, it takes some of the pressure off of the public system.

    Still, most people don’t bother, because – as you say for Canada – the NHS works well for primary care and emergencies. Which is 99% of what people need.

    The problem with private insurance, of course, are people with pre-existing, chronic conditions. No insurance will take them on. Which is absolutely correct: proper insurance is, by definition, a hedge against future mishaps.

    The local HEB had new signs up today indicating “Masks Optional”.

    Masks are still required here, but I notice that people are increasingly lackadaisical about them. As more and more people are vaccinated (my second shot is today), there is less and less worry. Which is as it should be: a slow return to normality.

    Somewhat worrisome: European governments are considering how to “plan” for the next pandemic. Cynical interpretation: power hungry politicians looking for excuses to hang on to the emergency powers they have gotten used to having.

    The roads that allowed large tractor trailers, even though they were better constructed and maintained a lot, were horrible.

    The rule is: damage is the fourth power of the weight. So a 40-ton truck does 4000 times the damage of a 5-ton truck. And 160,000 times the damage of a 2-ton car.

    Of course, charging this way would basically mean that only trucking would pay road fees. Which would have interesting consequences, not all of which are foreseeable.

  71. @brad:

    Is private insurance really illegal in Canada? As I recall, it’s fine in the UK, and the rates are quite reasonable.

    Yes, the UK allows private health insurance. Before I turned 60, I had family coverage from BUPA through my work (other insurers are available) but the rate more than doubled at 60, so I dropped it, because NHS cover was good enough. And I doubt my cancer would have been dealt with any better under a private regime.

    the NHS works well for primary care and emergencies. Which is 99% of what people need.

    It does indeed. And all free at point of use (it’s paid for from taxes) although as JEP said, “the demand for a free good is infinite.” Our A&E departments (American ERs) are creaking under the strain of (I believe) indigents and illegal immigrants.

    Primary care is from the General Practitioner network (who are all contractors to the NHS) at no (visible) cost to the patient for the consultation. Scripts for medications cost £8.50 per item when filled by a pharmacist. Does not apply to A&E meds – another reason for the indigent to preferentially use A&E.

    It should be noted that not everyone pays that £8.50 – there are exemptions. Age for one – under 16s and over 60s are exempt, as are the chronically ill.

    G.

     

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