Fri. Dec. 31, 2021 – short time. If this were a cop movie, the year would be shot for sure.

Still warm and damp, but the national map has bad storms in our area, and we’ve got some cold on the way. Yesterday was nice enough. The overcast was patchier than I thought. As soon as I got away from home, it cleared up almost entirely. Looked bad in the distance, but north and northwest was clear. Our weather is screwy at the best of times.

I did my pickups. One of the gocart things will need more wheels. The other one looks good though. The loft bed had a damaged box but the parts look good. I’m pretty sure assembling that will be on my agenda for today. My wife and D1 finally got most of the closet system installed in D1’s bedroom, although I think I’ll have to get involved today with some additional parts from the stacks. There’s a lot of cleaning and organizing and throwing out going on this week.

Someone mentioned it is a good time for introspection and reflection. And it is. So I should embrace that, right?

It’s hard to stay focused for such a long time. Criminals on the run get tired and make mistakes and they get caught. Ebola workers get tired and flub their PPE or cleaning routine, and die. EOD techs, well, if they have a bad day then everyone knows it.

So I have to not be that guy. I need a pause that refreshes, and a re-dedication to the cause. There, did I enjoy it? Sure did boss.

Let’s go Brandon, and let’s get back to stackin’. There is a whole new year coming…

n

(and totally trivial, I’ve decided to move my “post” time up by ~10 minutes so Brad can read today’s post first! Or at least I feel like I’m missing him by about 10 minutes.)

Thur. Dec. 30, 2021 – stuff to do, stuff to do.

Possible heavy rain, but maybe not. Most likely not. Hot and humid for certain. Possible cold weather headed this way, but hard to believe at the moment. It was beautiful last night.

Spent the day yesterday messing around, doing little things around the house and in between other things. On “days off” I like to prioritize tasks I wouldn’t do during my “normal workday”. Usually those are small and low priority tasks, but they do make a difference. I have been sorting and cleaning more than usual, with an eye toward adding some furniture for better storage and organization in a couple of places. I might have to buy it new, unless I get really lucky in one of the auctions.

I did get lucky in the auction I was monitoring all day. D2 wants to exchange her bunk bed for a loft bed so she can get more usable space in her room. Yesterday’s auction had 3 lots, NIB wooden loft beds. I did get one for a quarter of new retail and I’ll be picking it up today. I also won a couple of go carts that you attach to “hoverboards”. We’ve got two of the hoverboards and I thought it would be fun to race them in the street, if there was no risk of falling down and breaking a wrist or noggin. They were $5 each, so cheap enough to be fun.

I’ll definitely need to hit the grocery store today too, I’m tired of being out of soda.

In puppy news, I am not happy with the kid’s commitment to taking care of him, nor of her training of him. He is “her” dog. She lets him break the rules, lets him bark incessantly, forgets to feed him, and never picks up after him. Puppy is still ‘excitement piddling’ AND he’s marking furniture in the house. I am not willing to be a hostage in my own home, nor am I willing to live in filth. I’ve watched others, particularly my sibling, have their lives ruled by un-ruly pets. Sounds sh!tty and cold, but I’m not willing. D1 needs to step up, or either I will take over, or Zeus will find a new home. I like him, but I haven’t bonded with him like I did with the previous dog. I’ll miss his antics, but I won’t miss coming home to a house that smells like dog p!ss. I’ll let them try a couple more things, but I need to see some changes. Advice from experience is welcome, but keep in mind, 12 yo girl who so far has only looked for excuses. (and yes, this is ‘all about me’ as the others seem willing to just keep on with the way it’s going.)

So add that to my stress level and bad mood.

My prepping and stacking has been sidelined by domestic issues. Doesn’t mean yours should be… keep stacking up the good stuff.

nick

Wed. Dec. 29, 2021 – ready to see this year in the rear view…

Damp, warm, damp, and wet. And damp.

Went to see Zoo Lights (the zoo dressed up with Christmas lights) last night and got rained on. It was so light that it just felt like heavy humidity.

It was pretty, and nice, and I was surprised by the number of foreigners and people in N95 masks. Because the whole thing is outdoors. Kids bought stuffed animals in the zoo merch store, which is probably one of the main drivers of the event. The ticket revenue doesn’t hurt either, I’m sure. No animals were seen, but there were plenty of ‘organic’ smells. And the lights were nice.

One of my siblings is in town for work, and went with us. I think I’ll just randomly change from him to her, rather than my normal attempts to avoid gender pronouns completely. He’s in town to get a new office for her firm set up here. I only mention it because she’ll be here for a few months, and I’m bound to mention him from time to time. I don’t normally use gendered pronouns to avoid outing any of my family. I’ll eventually burn for something I write here, but there isn’t any need to attract attention to family. My mom lived with my dad for 55 years, and put up with all the stuff he said, so I don’t worry too much about her, plus, she’s retired and doesn’t share my name. Anyway.

Spent the day doing my accounting for my client, answering calls from the controls guy, and getting my invoicing in order. Might be a bit much for venmo… I forgot how many days I’ve been over there. I’ll find out later today, I guess.

Also took a call from my insurance company. They are still looking to avoid paying on the claim from October when I hit the parked car. I thought they would have paid by now. It sure would have been a lot simpler if I’d just given the guy a couple hundred bucks. Might have been cheaper too if they raise my rate as a consequence. Another thing to “wait and see.” The bummer is that I won’t know if the inevitable increase is due to inflation or making the claim.

I need to get to the grocery store. Dang kids have drained every drop of my soda from the fridge and the shelves. I don’t buy it because I like soda, I buy it to carefully dispense caffeine and adjust my blood:caffeine ratio. It’s always something. Hey, maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have meat on sale again. That would be nice, even if I don’t have any freezer space left. If the deal is good, I’ll FIND space.

Because I think food might be in shorter supply sometime soon. And I like to eat.

So I’ll be adding to the food stacks. And the gardening stacks. And the other stacks, all while trying to get rid of the inventory stacks. Quite the juggling act. You guys only have to do half of that- just keep stacking.

nick

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021 – And now, the end of the year is coming like a freight train…

Overcast, warm, damp. Not typical December weather, but ok as long as the rain holds off.

Spent all day yesterday at my computer poking around. I did a few other things, mostly minor cleanup around the house. Not super productive, but there it is.

I’m finding my self in a very weird mood. My empathy and fellow feeling is very low at the moment. Getting kinda nihilistic. Not great. No idea what’s driving it, but it’s not a good feeling. It feels a bit like pulling in and getting ready for a bunch of bad stuff. Not the feeling I want this time of year.

Added- after thinking about it for a while, it’s resignation. I feel resigned to the collapse of our civil society. I feel resigned to losing my retirement to hyperinflation. I feel resigned to the coming conflicts. And resignation and prepping don’t go together. So I feel weird, and something needs to change.

Biddn is even more of a parody than usual. kamel is reverting to form, ie. lies, whining, and avoiding any real actions/decisions/consequences. FauxXi is walking back his vax card for domestic travel and masks forever, but it’s clearly what he wants. Even the Dems and Repugs are schisming.

The breakfast sausages the kids like have been sold out every time I’ve gone to the store for the last several times. I’m down to my last package. How many is too many? Well, 10 wasn’t enough to get through to the next time. I don’t think I have enough… of anything.

Slow progress feels like treading water. Eventually you get tired and sink. I need to get a bunch of stuff out the door pretty soon or I’ll need a life ring.

Or I could win the lottery. And call 1800-got-junk.

Stack some food. Stack some money. Stack some skills. And stack some friends.

nick

Mon. Dec. 27, 2021 – got some billing to do

Last clear and moderate day for a bit, if the forecast is correct. Yesterday was nice, warm and sunny.

Spent the day messing about with computers and looking for answers online. Didn’t find anything that I like. Seems that service providers are building their consumer level stuff to maximize their control and minimize support issues. It makes sense from their point of view, but it imposes artificial limits on people who could make the changes themselves. See some discussion of ATT and Roku and DNS in yesterday’s comments if that bit piqued your interest. It’s getting harder to avoid being involuntarily monetized. Everything you do is of value to someone in the panopticon and there is someone waiting to collect and collate that info, even when it’s incidental to their actual line of business. For that matter, whole new lines of business open up when they start collecting and selling information about you…

Not sure what I’ll do but it looks like I’ll have to mess with my internet setup, and probably install and configure my own router at a minimum. I dislike making changes to my working systems but once I get motivated enough, I’ll bite the bullet and do it. I’m WAY past the point of doing stuff like that just for fun or to learn something. I’ll share so that the effort gets amplified, but unlike JerryP, I don’t do this so you don’t have to.

Speaking of stuff I need to do, I need to bill my client for work and materials to date. I’ll invoice him in email, and he’ll use venmo to pay me electronically. It’ll be instant. I expect that instant peer to peer payments will revolutionize billing and payment, just like email and faxes did for project deliverables. Oh so long ago, you could get a couple of extra days or hours to work by promising to FedEx or messenger some intermediate work product to the client. Email and faxes changed that. The client could say “just email me what you have so far” and review it. Services like venmo are taking all the float out of payments and invoicing. I’m sure that will lead to changes in work and the way work gets financed and paid for, just like email did.

I’ve also got to talk to my other auctioneer about settlement for my two mostly failed auctions. He may not have the cash flow to pay me even the minuscule amount I’m due before the end of the year. I’m actually ok with that if need be. I can put that income in next year with no issues, and he might need it for rent…he’s out of pocket a couple grand on the auction setup. He did me a favor taking my stuff on, and I feel bad about the result. Normally, I’d be first in line with my hand out if I thought there might be payment issues, but the amount is small, and I don’t need it to eat. Better to have a good relationship, than to push hard for a couple of hundred bucks.

Meatspace baby. It’s where we live, and where we’ll die. Good relationships will hopefully make the living better, and put off the dying as long as possible. Stack up some goodwill. I think we’ll need it as much as stacks of stuff.

nick

Sun. Dec. 26, 2021 – the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Cool and clear, damp though. Mid 70s if we’re lucky. Beautiful day for Christmas, with a clear blue sky and shirtsleeves weather. Beautiful Boxing Day too.

The house is a happy mess. Piles of cookies in the kitchen, piles of presents throughout the house, and the stockings scattered around, spilling their chocolate-y goodness on the couch, the chair, and the floor. Maybe we’ll get some cleaning up done. Then again, maybe not.

Taking it easy today, open to whatever comes. Maybe I’ll organize something. Maybe I’ll fix something. Maybe I’ll just watch movies. Whatever, it’ll be all good.

Treat yourselves a bit this week. Take some time amongst the hustle and bustle of year end activities. Who knows what the new year will bring. Time to smell a rose or two.

nick

Sat. Dec. 25, 2021 – Christmas Day

Cool and damp but clear is the forecast for the next few days. Not particularly Christmas-y, but not bad.

Merry Christmas to all here. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I still wish you the joy and peace of the season, and I hope that everyone can spend time with loved ones. Even if you can’t get together physically, make the call.

If you are one who dreads this time of year, you aren’t alone. There are others who can help. Seek them out.

To my Jewish friends, I was chagrined to learn that Hanukkah was earlier this year than I thought, and is already over. No one said anything, so I missed it. My apologies and belated well wishes.

My wife and I were raised in the Catholic traditions, but now we celebrate the non-religious aspects of the major holy days. Sounds odd, but humans have a need for tradition and story, for continuity with the past, and understanding of our place in history, and we find that in our practices. We also make sure the kids understand the religious aspects, and the origins (as much as we understand them.) So we take the time to practice the virtues of the holiday, and build our own traditions and observances.

Today we’ll open a few more presents, spend some time watching a movie (not sure which one, I’ll be voting against Die Hard), and have a great dinner. I hoped to get together with friends but they had family obligations, and our families all decided months ago to forego travel this year. Turns out THAT was the right choice… So it will just be our little family at the table, but it will be our much bigger family and circle of friends in our hearts and thoughts throughout the day.

As always, light a candle or raise a glass to “Absent friends.”

Merry Christmas.

nick

Fri. Dec. 24, 2021 – so close you can taste it…

Cool and clear, fairly nice if it all goes to plan. No chance of snow for Christmas. Don’t laugh, it’s happened before, or missed by only a day or two. Doesn’t stick, but it was here long enough to get pictures last time.

I’m ready for the night’s festivities and tomorrow. My family always opened family gifts on Christmas Eve, at night. My wife’s family opened a gift or two, but did the bulk on Christmas morning. She’s been pushing in that direction for years and I think she’s got the kids convinced it’s the right way… another tradition falls, but a new one rises. Change, I don’t like it much in my life. Which is either funny or completely understandable considering I’ve made a career being able to deal with rapid and dramatic change, and just get the job done. Live entertainment and event management is nothing but change and flexibility. So I think it’s natural I would minimize it wherever I could. Others might differ.

Of course, life is change. We can no more stop change than we can hold back the tide. Doesn’t keep some people from trying. We are living through a period where, I think, everything changes. Big changes. Like from 1916 to 1948 kinds of changes. Flexibility and preps are my strategy for getting through to the other side. I hope ‘shooting the b@stards in the face’ won’t be necessary. I guess we’ll see.

In the mean time, take it day by day, find joy where you can, and count what blessings you do have.

nick

(stack a few things too)

Thur. Dec. 23, 2021 – closer yet, almost ready for ‘fat guy inbound…’

Cool and clear. Beautiful big moon last night and the night before. Mid 70s during the day with a really hot sun beating down.

I hung the last of what I am going to do this year. I had a few oversized plastic ornaments left after hanging a couple dozen on the eves, so I hung them in the tree in front of the house. They look nice during the day. Part of my strategy for decor is that it has to look pretty good during the day, as well as night. I think I achieved it this year.

Today is mostly getting ready for the fat man to visit and for the last of the presents to be wrapped. House needs a cleaning too.

Maybe we’ll watch some Christmas-y movies too. Well, the kids anyway. I’m sure my day will expand to fill the time available.

Meanwhile the world turns…

I’m sure there are bad guys out there that want to attack us when we are most comfortable. We might have our own ‘winter garden’ attack. It’s been a while, so they’re due. If you’re out and about, keep your awareness up. Have fun, these are the good old days, but keep one eye open too.

Take a break from stacking all the things, and live in the moment for a couple of days. You’ll be stacking up good memories to help with the hard times.

RBT would be checking the travel and load on his anti-Santa AA gun. I’ll probably be mixing up some reindeer food to sprinkle on the ground tomorrow night. It’s not legal to bait them, right?

nick

Wed. Dec. 22, 2021 – 12-22-21 – Hah! That’s an interesting number….

Easily amused. That’s me.

Cold and clear today, if the forecast holds. It was cold and clear yesterday, and that’s the best predictor for today.

Holds true for most things, until it doesn’t.

Did my pickup in the morning yesterday, mostly shop supplies, and had a long conversation with my auctioneer. He’s ready for me to drop off a bunch of stuff come January. He’s expanding like crazy, adding storage space and staff. He’s worked his way through a huge bolus of stuff, and now he’s got some time and space again. I’m not messing around this time, I’m taking him as much stuff as I can without holding much back for ebay. As he put it, get caught up.

Then I headed out to my client’s house. Finished most of what I wanted to, but broke the system in the process. I unplugged the controller to dress up some cables, and it didn’t come back up when I put the power back. Long story short, there is a piece of gear that has a bug in the firmware so that it looks ok, until the power cycles. Then it keeps the whole system from working. With my partner checking in from the Virgin Islands where he is on vacation, and his guy who came down to work on the system, it got fixed to the point I can leave it alone until January. The ultimate solution requires the manufacture to update their firmware, so we’re probably weeks away from doing more work on it anyway.

And then I returned home to family movie night. Jungle Cruise with “The Rock”… I like him as an actor. He seems to be having fun with the roles. Movie was enjoyable but fluff, which is what I expected. Kids liked it.

D1 complained about the eggnog I brought home. WHY OH WHY did you get THIS brand???
!!!111! It’s not as good as the last one.!!!121!!1! –Global pandemic. Supply chain issues. We’re lucky there was any at all to get. It wasn’t bad, just lighter and creamier without the strong spice of good eggnog. But yeah, it was one of 4 bottles left. And did I mention I had to order solder on mono 1/8” mini plugs? None to be had in Houston after I bought the last 8 at Altex. I think I did mention that. I miss Radio Shack. There will come a time when if you don’t have it, you can’t get it, for large values of ‘it’.

The universe tried to get me to fall asleep in my office chair again. Who am I to wrestle with the power of the universe? But I did move to my bed as soon as I realized what the tricky b!tch was doing… yea! me!

Figure out what you are short of, and stack some.

n

(kinda silly there at the end, I blame the mysterious power of the universe.)h