Mon. Nov. 8, 2021 – joy… and pain, sunshine …. and rain

Cool but clear and sunny later. Basically gorgeous weather. And the forecast says the same for a couple more days too. Hooray! That was yesterday, started running the heat in the morning, and ran A/C in the late evening once the house had soaked up the sun. I’m certainly hoping for more of the same.

Yesterday was eaten by ducks. And pain. I was paying the price for my lifting, bending, and toting the day before. The inversion table and the foam roller both got a workout, and both helped, but I couldn’t walk, stand, or sit without pinching pain in my back until late in the afternoon, and after my second go ’round with the table and roller. That coupled with the family coming home meant not much got done. I did put away a few more Halloween decorations, got out the Thanksgiving decoration bin, and cleaned up some stuff in the garage and attic.

I added a couple of small bins to my upright freezer to better organize the meat. I had been just stacking it on shelves and it would cascade out if I bumped it wrong… I don’t know if the plastic bins will hold up in the cold, but they are better than having everything slide around. I need to find a few more that fit.

I ate my first grapefruit off my potted tree for breakfast yesterday. It was a bit on the smaller side, like a navel orange, but was delicious. Only three more on the tree, but that’s more than I got on the big tree in five years. And then the freeze killed it the year it produced a dozen fruits. I really like the idea of fruit and nut trees as a prep, but they are damnably hard to keep alive here in Houston. And I’ve still not seen a single fruit or flower on the peach tree.

Growing your own food is hard. Get started learning about your area and your garden.

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For the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about doing some followup on stuff that worked for me, and that I still like. So here goes.

I really like the container I got to save cooking fat in the kitchen. It is stainless steel, has a flip up lid, a strainer, and the top 1/3 lifts off to reveal the saved fatty goodness in the bottom. Got it on amazon and it works well. Saving cooking fat has a long history and is a great way to save money and cook tasty meals. Use mason jars, airtight canisters, or something airtight and new, but start saving that bacon grease, and using it later.

Ditto for the little flip top trash can I got for the bathroom counter. It looks like a mini version of the old school round topped metal trash cans, with the ‘flap’ in the top. It’s a bit thin and the stainless isn’t really, but it does the job of catching all the little bits of paper from the breathe-rite strips and any other little bits of trash. Those bits would flutter and scatter all over the bathroom when I used to toss them toward the regular can.

The Toto Drake dual flush toilet works really well. Only one time since I put it in did it need a plunge, and that’s down from several times a day. Every Toto toilet I’ve put in has worked very well. This one has a very small amount of water in the bowl, and a lot of dry porcelain. It gets dirty quickly. If having a spotless bowl is important, get one with a bigger water puddle. Other than that, it’s a flushing CHAMP.

The can organizers I installed at the beginning of the lockdown work, but they have slightly distorted over time. They are plastic, and have sagged enough that cans don’t roll through as freely as when it was new. FIFO is important when using your preps, but the racks aren’t as efficient for storage as just stacking flats of cans. You won’t get as many cans in the same volume space, but they are MUCH easier to actually use daily for cooking when you can get to them. I added more despite knowing they aren’t perfect, so that I could have more varieties of cans in the dispenser. If you’re not just piling up cans against future need, get some kind of FIFO can racking.

And while I didn’t use them as much this year as last, both styles of cooling vest worked well for me. Techniche for the evap one, ergodyne for the gel pack.

The Uniden Home Patrol II scanner continues to work well, and I’ve heard a lot of stuff going on in my area on it. Pair it with a good discone antenna from MFJ and listen to it. There is a lot of stuff that is going on around you that never gets reported. Start paying attention to it, and you’ll be better off.

High tech ‘cool’ fabrics for shirts, and shorts, and wool blend socks. What a difference in hot weather comfort. Cotton is NOT for that first layer, or maybe even for the second. About the only good thing about cotton is cost and flame retardant properties. Even for my cold weather clothes, the high tech breathable wicking t shirts in long sleeve are more comfortable than anything else I’ve ever used as a first layer. Clothes have gone technical, and it makes a difference. If the cost is too much, look at Goodwill. A lot of stuff there is never worn. You can try the technical fabrics cheaply, and then spend the money in the store on a brand you like, if you must have new. These are not the stinky poly blend fabrics from decades ago.

Boots and shoes. I rotate through shoes, rarely wearing the same pair two days in a row. It helps the shoes last longer, and your feet will be more comfortable. And for gnu’s sake, get shoes that fit. All the different manufacturers use different ‘lasts’. The last is the shape they build the shoe on, and by trying different brands you can find shoes and boots that fit your weirdo feet. KEEN has a large ‘toe box’ but the soles are a bit slippery when wet. I wore through a couple of pairs and generally liked them. Asic and Columbia made the lightweight ‘sneakers’ I wear on normal days. They are available in wide widths if you need that, or have a high arch. They fit me perfectly in a EEE width. They aren’t “sturdy” but they are lightweight and have held up well. I wore the Columbia pair in Disneyworld and never had an issue. Get some shoes that FIT and don’t be afraid to try sports and active lifestyle brands that are smaller, they have to cater to their buyers, and seem to offer more options.

And for long term, leather boots with vibram soles. Any overmolded soft plastic in place of rubber will turn to goo with time and crumble to a sticky mess. Men should be able to buy all leather dress shoes from a quality maker, and with care they will outlast you. Cole Haan, and most of the J&M lines are not quality. They are better than Stacy Adams, or modern Florsheim, but not by much. Workboots are either disposable or will last a lifetime. There are US makers still, and they have quality reps. Find a solid pair you can maintain and they should last a long time. Chased by zombies while wearing sandals made from old tires or barefoot just isn’t the same as crunching through the detritus of a fallen city in good boots. If you do go for disposable (and I like my under armor technical boots) know that just storing an extra pair won’t help once the plastic ages out. Mil spec and milsurp are designed to be stored and still be usable so having at least one pair is a good prep. Bonus is that they fit me well and are very comfortable.

I’ll stop the list here for today. If you have something that has worked well for you put it in a comment. There are plenty of things I might add below as I think of them, this list was just ‘top of mind’ when I wrote the post. I’m already thinking of the Honda inverter gennies and DeWalt cordless tools….

Improve what you’ve got stacked, add to your stacks, organize your stacks, and KEEP stacking…

nick