Month: June 2021

Sun. June 20, 2021 – Fathers’ Day

Hot and humid here in Fla. High of 90, low of 70F, sure to be humid.

Flight was ok. Pretty bumpy for about half the trip, but because of hearing issues, PA issues, and a thick spanish accent, I don’t know which route the pilot chose. It must have been the one with the best flight characteristics, but it still knocked us around.

Mask usage was mandatory at the airport and on the flight. Silly to raise and lower a mask between bites of food and sips of drink, all that does is contaminate your mask and your food. I guess no one said this stuff was supposed to make sense or work.

I think we’re headed to the beach today. In any case, it will be short shrift from me on the keys….

y’all talk amongst yourselves.


keep stacking!

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Sat. June 19, 2021 – travel day.

In theory, we’re getting stormed on by the thing in the Gulf. In practice, yesterday was nice and sunny all day, and HOT reaching 109F in the sun by my roof. I guess if there is weather in NOLA, my flight to the Tampa area will either go through it or around it. It makes more sense to go south of it, but then your plane needs to be rated for ‘over water’. What to do, what to do.

Spent yesterday tying up some loose ends around the house and around town.

Today we’re flying, after dropping the dog (and hamster) off with friends, the fish having become an ex-fish just a few weeks ago. This will be my first flight post-wuflu lockdown and frankly I’m not looking forward to it. I no longer like to fly anyway, but the additional nonsense is just that much more to hate.

I told the kids we will be practicing grace and flexibility on the trip, and I’ll have to remind myself.

Still lots to do before I’m ready to leave, so I better get busy.

I’m hoping, as I always do, the world holds together until I’m back home.

So I can get back to stacking.


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Fri. June 18, 2021 – yep, missed it. Dang kids.

Well, never got any rain, or even any real overcast yesterday, and temps stayed high. Funny thing is we have a TS forming in the Gulf, and due to impact the “northern” Gulf today. Heavy rains possible, and all that. No evidence of it when I went to bed. I guess we’ll see. (This time for sure!)

Spent the day at home with the kids and the puppy. Didn’t get any of my auction set up, nor am I likely to complete any of that today. I would like to get my pickup dropped off for repair, since I’ll be gone for a week, this would be an excellent time to have the work done. To be honest, I have no desire to spend a week in Florida. Getting the kids there, and spending time with mom/grandma is a good thing, much to be desired though. So I’m going. Life is what happens while we are waiting for something else. The kids are excited, and my mom is about to pop, so that’s cool. Puppy will stay with friends who used to watch our other dog and various small rodents. He’ll have some other dogs to hang with for the week too.


Long time readers here will remember (if they cared enough to notice) that I have a fascination with infrastructure and why things are the way they are. OFD and a couple other frequent commentors did too, and we had some good recommendations for interesting books*. I’ve been involving the kids in my interest by pointing out stuff around us- the survey markers for underground utilities, the pipeline warning posts, antennas and cameras, sensors for traffic lights, that sort of thing. Or that the street layout in our neighborhood has weird angled streets, because there are pipelines that cross it, and they are ‘in between’ lot lines. In other words, the house lots and streets were laid out to avoid crossing over the pipelines. And then angled buildings got built on the odd shaped lots that sometimes resulted. If you didn’t know about the underground pipelines, you wouldn’t know why the buildings look like they do. I want the kids to understand that this stuff doesn’t and didn’t “just happen”, it almost always came to be the way it is because of other things, and sometimes what we see is the echo of something long gone, or the shape of something hidden.

The QWERTY keyboard layout is one of those. It was designed to slow down typists, because the mechanical hammers in typewriters would get jammed if you typed too fast. We’re still stuck with it, despite that reason going away long ago, even in mechanical typewriters when the selectric ball, or the daisy wheel were invented.

The relationship between film reels, the 33 1/3 RPM and album size chosen for LP records, and the length of pop songs (until recently) is another chain of choices that shapes the world around us, while the original reasons are gone. (The speed and size of LP records were chosen to hold the amount of sound needed to match a movie film reel – which itself was probably sized by other arbitrary factors. Pop songs were the length they were because that’s what fit on a 45 RPM single, which is what jukeboxes used, and you wouldn’t have a hit if people couldn’t play it on the jukebox…)

There are a ton of other things like that just in the music business (like the CD hole being the same size as a 5 pfenig coin, because that’s what the engineer thought looked about the right size, and then DVDs followed the same form factor, and blurays too, with all kinds of tricks played to fit the content onto them…) If you are old enough to remember when CDs came in tall sleeves, do you also remember when people started to complain about how wasteful the ‘excess’ packaging was? Well, the packaging was designed that size to fit in the same bins and fixtures that record stores used to hold vinyl LP albums in. As the stores phased out the vinyl and the bins, the CD packaging shrunk to its current form. DVD packaging fits on the same shelves VHS tapes used to fit on in the stores and the rental places….

These sorts of things happen in the built environment too, with past decisions echoing down through time, shaping the world around us in ways that we no longer recognize. I’ve been occasionally listening to a podcast called 99% Invisible, about just those sorts of things in design and the world around us. There is a book “The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design” that complements the podcast too.

James Burke’s Connections was the first thing that made me aware of these sorts of chains of events, leading to something that is very different from, but completely shaped by what came before. Connections also made it clear that you couldn’t just “drop back” to the lower level of technology, because the systems that supported that lower level wouldn’t be there. The older systems or design constraints were removed when no longer needed, but the influence remained.

I’ve been thinking about how to look at the larger world through the same lens, and also the smaller world of people and relationships. We know some of what shaped our world from history books. WHICH books, and which stories have left their marks on us is important. (I had no idea until relatively recently in my life that Lincoln wasn’t universally regarded as the hero President of the Civil War. Heck, I had only a vague notion that people in the South had reasons other than racism, and being ignorant, for fighting at all…) Some of those constraints and influences become embodied in our cultures, our shared history, our worldview, and our prejudices.

The people we know, our own relationships, the organizations around us, they are all shaped by those constraints and pressures and perfectly good choices (or bad choices) that came before, but that might now be completely arbitrary or even detrimental.

Looking for those things, identifying them, EVALUATING them, and discarding them if needed – that’s what we need to do to make our way in this world, to get through this period of great change. All of the crazy around us is there because of something. All of the things and people around us have been influenced and shaped by those prior events and decisions. We don’t HAVE to let the echos of the past remain unseen and unknown, shaping us without our knowledge or consent, in ways we wouldn’t choose if given a choice. Knowing that there is a ‘why’ is a place to begin. Look for those echos in yourself, your relationships, your institutions, your culture, and your beliefs. Choose consciously to accept or reject their influence. Try something new.

And of course, keep stacking.


–I can’t find the one OFD recommended, but this one is good-
‘A Field Guide to Roadside Technology’ by Ed Sobey
–‘Connections’by James Burke — the book and dvds.
–I’ve watched a couple of this guy’s vids, and this one caught my attention last night.
“Why do hurricane lanterns look like that?” youtube channel — presenter is kinda annoying but his content is top notch.

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Thur. June 17, 2021 – too much left to do, no time

Warm and wet, with possible tropical storm pushing up from the Gulf. Not that I was right about yesterday. It was hot. And it was humid. But it was also clear and sunny for almost the whole day. There were some glowering clouds in the distance late evening, and some lightning, but no rain for me. It was 80F at 1 am.

I spent the day doing some auction stuff, cleaning and organizing, and playing with the puppy. I wanted to get out of the house but couldn’t drop the kids at the pool, which ended up with me stuck at home all day.

I don’t think I can get my stuff ready for the pallet auction before I leave on the trip. I was hoping my wife could work from home today, but she’s got in-person meetings all day. I can’t even do ebay listings because I’d have to stop them in a day anyway to go out of town. It is very frustrating, and I feel like I’m falling behind.

I KNOW I’m falling behind, but I’m not willing to have my family travel without me either. Spending time with my mom is kinda important too. It’s getting closer to just calling a haul off company time…


The world situation is changing quickly too. There should be no doubt in the G7 about where the US is, and is headed, assuming the coup plotters can keep a lid on the dissent. No one really knows when or if that will happen. What is radical islam doing? What are they plotting for us? China, Turkey, Russia, all licking their lips and rubbing their hands together about something…

Some things I’ll be watching for- our allies now know we are F’ed internally. They either know who is really running Joe, and approve, or they are realizing they will be on their own (as we turn inward). If the UK increases their military posture, brings troops and assets home, that might be a pretty good indicator which it is. Germany and France have their own internal issues but they should be positioning themselves for whatever they see coming, and soon. When was the last time we heard about bank stress tests, IMF loans, European central banks, and negative interest rates? Remember the concern over the PIIGS? Think they are in better shape after a year of wuflu lockdowns?

Estonia is probably pretty nervous right now. We moved a bunch of assets into the Baltics, iirc, what are they up to now?

Israel and the middle east is up for grabs at the moment, or will be soon.

I expect a bunch of realignment in the next year. And while I’d normally be a kind of ‘let them deal with their own issues’ if it happens because of our weakness, I am concerned that it won’t end with them.

So if you needed more reasons to stack, there you are. Stack it high. Can’t hurt. Might save your life.


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Wed. June 16, 2021 – already running out of week

Maybe a bit cooler, what with the rain and thunderstorms and all… yesterday was hot and muggy, and bright sun until afternoon. The sky got a bit overcast, and by 5:30 the storm was rolling in. Temps dropped into the low 70s and the wind was whipping around. Parts of town got hammered, but here at the house we only got about a quarter inch by the gauge. Seemed like more.

Spent the day doing paper work. Finished late last night. Now it’s off to the CPA for tax filing. I also caught up on some other stuff I’d let slide, like renewing some memberships, canceling one of our TiVo boxes, messing around with the linux NVR, and filing paper. Threw a bunch out too.

Of course I took a break to play with the puppy, and the kids gave him a bath. He didn’t care for that much… but it sure gave him the zoomies, just like our other little guy.

There are more and more articles about inflation, and high prices, every day now. We’ve talked before about how quickly Venezuela went from “we might have a problem in a while” to “we are having a problem” to “tasty zebra, tasty rat.” Basically two years, and at no point was there a clear break with the past, so that you could say, “holy cow, it’s time to act.” We’ve also talked about why some people think that couldn’t happen with the US. Assertions don’t make reality though. What would you do differently if you KNEW we were in the first upward part of that curve? How much of that can you do without irrevocable changes? Think hard about doing it. In two years, runaway inflation can take it all, all your retirement savings, all the kids’ college money, all your savings, all of it. I don’t have a crystal ball, but no one else does either, and I don’t want to find myself saying “man, I wish I had just covered that bet, at least a little”.

Gold, durable goods, affordable everyday luxury items. Guns, ammo. Staples, especially ones that people don’t normally have in the cabinet, anything you need for yourself. Food. Repair and maintenance items. First aid and drugs. Those are all traditional good performers in an inflationary time.

Stack it high.


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Tues. June 15, 2021 – getting jammed up

Hot and humid. Maybe rain, maybe not. Yesterday we hit 107F in the sun. We didn’t get any rain either despite being well into the T-storm area on the national map. Same forecast and map for today, so we’ll see what the weather liars come up with today.

It was hot yesterday, and sunny. I stayed inside. Got my expenses all split and categorized for my taxes. That sucked up most of my day. I still have mileage to total today, pay my business personal property tax, and then I’ll be done with my bit.

I’ll be poking at my NVR today too. We’re going out of town all of next week and I won’t be here to restart the software after dotnet pukes daily. The cams will record to their onboard microSD but they only have a couple of days recording space. It sucks that I got the linux part running well but the MS part pukes. The initial install had it reversed. That has been my experience with Linux since the beginning though, stuff will work without issue, then will break completely. Something changed when I did the reinstall/ upgrade, and while it fixed the linux issues, it broke the MS side of the software. SOOOOooo don’t want to be messing with this.

I’m also beginning to think I won’t get the pallet auction started before I leave. That would push it back another 10 days. I need to get it moving forward. I’m going to have to drop the kids at the pool and work during the hottest part of the day. Or I miss my chance and everything slips another 2 weeks. Jeez. I feel like I’m trying to swim in peanut butter.

Nothing like getting some momentum going and then shutting everything down for a week.

Puppy is doing well. Transitioning him to a new food, made in Texas, no grain, and real ingredients. He gobbles it up. He gets so excited about food, or toys, that he pounces like a cat, runs around and falls over, like he just forgot to balance. His little tail waving in the air just kills me. It’s great to just play with him for a while.

In fact, I’m going to start the day with some puppy play time.

And then I’m going to clear some room to stack some more, because even if I’m having trouble making forward progress, any little bit is better than none.

Keep stacking, even if it’s just a little bit.


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Mon. June 14, 2021 – a fresh new week!

Hot and humid. Possibility of rain. Yada yada, Houston, mumble… Yeah well it got to 107F in the sun at my house yesterday so that’s pretty stinking hot. And I mean stinking, especially after working outside… Today should be similar, with rain possible in the national forecast. It was still high 80s when I went to bed, so if the front moves in and brings some cooling with the rain, I guess I’ll live with rain.

Spent yesterday doing stuff around the house, and not much of it. Other than cutting the grass in the hottest part of the day, I mostly hid in my office. I did get two of my radios finally connected back up to their antennas and power supply, so that was something off the list. They might still have some cabling clean up in their future, but for now, I can at least listen again.

My auction pickup was vintage camping gear. There was a vintage sleeping bag (Comfy, Seattle Quilt Co) that might be worth some money, and a brand new lantern that I have to take a good look at. Styled like a coleman, but all shiny chrome, some research is in order. With the vintage pair of Filson boots I picked up at Goodwill, all I need is a red flannel shirt and I’m all set to hit the woods, 60s style.

While I was in and out of my office, I ripped another 20 or 30 CDs and 15 or 20 DVDs. Haven’t figured out why the Bluray disks won’t rip, but I haven’t looked too hard given all the other stuff on my list.

I updated my NVR linux install. It hasn’t been stable at all, but it’s the MS dotnet stuff that keeps crashing. At least once a day I get a seg fault or some other error, so I decided to try running update. I de-selected all the “move to the next version of dotnet (5)” stuff because it broke the NVR last time. That left the linux stuff and the fixes to dotnet 3. If it hasn’t crashed by later this morning, there has been an improvement.

In-laws were safely delivered to the airport and JetBlue’s tender mercies, so I have my house to myself again. Didn’t make MIL cry this visit, so that’s a win. Didn’t really talk to her at all about anything though. Didn’t say much to FIL either. My wife and I both love our families but there are reasons we live 2000 miles away. I wish it were different but if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.* I try very hard to not get between them and the grandkids, except when my kids need protecting from their bizarre ideas. Fun to eavesdrop when oldest supports Trump in conversations with them. They dodge and bail on the subject pretty quickly. When a 12yo sees the truth, it’s pretty obvious and only the willfully blind refuse to see.

Today I’m stuck at home with the kids so I’ll be doing office and PC stuff. There is plenty of it to do. And when I get stressed, I’ll play with the puppy.

Keep stacking.


*or living on a spaceship

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Sun, June 13, 2021 – ah rest. Feels so good, I would like to try it.

Hot and humid, small chance of rain. Yesterday was 97F in the sun, and there was lots of sun. Was still 82F at midnight. Today should be more of the same, except for being on the edge of the predicted rain might see us get wet.

Went to my non-prepping hobby and it was great. Good meeting. Nice to be out and see people again. I didn’t end up even starting with the mask on, and no one else did either.

Later in the day we went to dinner at the same restaurant we tried when my mom was out here. This time there wasn’t even a sign on the door. All the staff was still masked, but none of the sitting patrons were. Most of the entering patrons still expected masks, including my family, but took them off and left them off after moving to a table. The place is a bit on the expensive side, date night or expense account not “let’s grab dinner out”, but it wasn’t exactly jumping on a Saturday evening. More patrons than our last visit though. Not as tasty as our last visit either.

Driving to my meeting at 8:30am felt like 6:30 in terms of traffic and people out and about. Things are not “normal” in any way yet.

Nothing stacked today, but I got a lead on a ham radio estate. We’ll see if it pans out, but it’s always fun to think about the hunt, and it was good to meet a new guy with shared interests.

Today I have one auction pickup, and in the late afternoon my inlaws need a ride to the airport. In between, yard work, gardening, cleanup, and the last of the tax prep? Maybe? Please Gnu yes.

And what stacking I can do, I will do, and so should you do!


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Sat. June 12, 2021 – non-prepping hobby day! Meatspace baby

Hot and humid but should be clear. Yesterday the humidity was lower than “dripping” so it was nice in the shade. Plenty of breeze too. Today should be similar. Still, it was over 80F when I went to bed.

Did some errands. Picked up some stuff. Did some work for my only remaining client. Petted his dogs. Played with mine. Had chinese food for dinner courtesy of FIL, and will go out for dinner tonight.

This morning I’m going to my non-prepping hobby meeting. It is nice to be getting together again to celebrate our shared interests. I should also see some of my ham lunch guys there too, and learn the fate of our in person lunch meeting. We might finally get that back up too.

Things around here aren’t ever going back to “normal” but they are getting closer. Lots of masks on people still, and I usually wear one when around crowds indoors, but plenty of people without masks too. And I’ll probably just wear a ‘medical’ mask at my meeting, and will remove it at some point, when we’re not shouting in each other’s faces.

I admit I won’t feel comfortable in a shoulder to shoulder crowd for a while. Of course I’m never really comfortable in that kind of situation anyway.

Still looking for a getaway spot. Still priced out of the market. Looks like my next door neighbor sold his house though. The sketchy renters will hopefully be the last for a while. That makes the house across the street, and the house next door into wild cards if things get sporty. I will just hope for the best, and keep my eyes open.

I got another 6 blueberries today with a whole bunch still on the bushes. Baby steps. If only the peach would start to produce. The apple needs to grow in a couple more years but it is growing well this year. At some point I will have to pull out the dead lemon, orange and grapefruit, but it’s really far down my list at this point. They look like alien sculptures after all the pruning I’ve done over the years.

Tomato plants are still huge tropical jungles of foliage, but they are not producing as much fruit this week as last. It is finally too hot. New grape vine died, and the old died back almost to the rootstock. While it is recovering, it hasn’t been very vigorous this year either. Herbs are going gangbusters, far more than we need or could use. Funny, I just realized I didn’t plant any peppers this year. I think this is the first year I haven’t since I started the garden experiments. Ebb and flow.

Well, I’m off to see some people and share a common interest, in person.

Stack your reference library, and your apocalypse library too. They are not the same thing. Stack all the things!


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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.


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…


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

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