Tues. Jan. 4, 2022 – school’s back in session… and kids are SO grumpy

Cold again, clear, sunny, but cold. 36F when I went to bed, and not expected to freeze, but that is ‘see your breath’ weather for sure. I know, some of you are laughing right now. I’VE got the clothes and accessories for it, but a lot of people don’t. Not that I care all that much about them, they can prep too. It gets cold often enough here that a wind proof shell and a couple of layers should be in everyone’s closet.

I spent most of yesterday working at my desk trying to find money in shoeboxes. Not literal cash money, but stuff to send to auction. Found a bunch too. I checked a couple of spot prices on ebay and I don’t think I’ll get as much as I first thought, unless the auction brings better than ebay prices, but you never know.

Today the plan is to head out to my client’s house and clean up some outstanding issues before the programmer comes back down Wednesday or Thursday. It won’t be a super early start for me, as I have to make a pickup on the way, and I’d like to move some stuff to storage before I head out. We’ll see about that.

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Speaking of moving stuff around, one of the things I did in the beginning of the wuflu response was to bring a bunch of long term disaster items home from storage. When it looked like movement restrictions might be put into effect, I brought home a bunch of storage bins and buckets that made up my “ebola” stacks. By that I mean the panic buy (over the course of months, so not really ‘panicky’, just hurried) of bulk and long term storage items that I stacked up in case ebola got loose over here. I suddenly wanted to be able to stay home for 45-90 days without leaving the house for anything so I massively increased the amount of bulk food I had stacked. Of course that was in 2014, so that food was between 5 and 6 years old.

Most of it had just been put into black bins, with the lids on, and literally stacked. They were stored in a ‘cool dark place’, but I didn’t stabilize them or repack them. All of the bulk food was edible. The wheat flour has an ‘old’ flavor, but it’s edible with no ill effects. It would work fine in pasta, tortillas, or sourdough bread. The rice had no noticeable changes. Nothing was heavily infested with bugs. The canned veg were all fine. Canned tomato paste, not so much. UHT milk? Ugg. You might have been ok eating it, it wasn’t bloated, but it turns to something like tapioca pretty soon after it’s expiration date. Canned meat was all fine too (kirkland chicken mostly.)

Compare and contrast with my storage at home, in my garage. I had much higher ‘breakage’ in the heat and humidity. Cans rusted, and were covered with rat urine. Boxed goods that weren’t in a bag inside the box got stale. Some of the ready to eat meals changed consistency. They didn’t swell, so they probably wouldn’t kill you, but I tossed them. Flavoring packets got hard and stuck together, and often had an ‘old’ smell or taste. In general, if it had fats or dairy in it, it didn’t fare as well, although it all outlasted the ‘best by’ date by a large margin.

We’re still eating peanut butter, katsup, Miracle Whip, and hot sauce from the ebola stacks. The ketchup is a darker color but tastes the same. Miracle Whip too, darker but tastes fine. Mustard isn’t as bright yellow. Peanut butter separated from the oil despite me flipping the jars whenever I noticed. That’s easy to fix with a butter knife and some ‘butter churning’ action when you open the jar. Nutella separates too, but into more than just oil and nuts. It will mix right back though.

Peanut oil lasts a long time past ‘best by’ if it’s in the dark. It’s my go to fat.

I did move all the ebola bulk from bins to buckets over the summer. When I put it in buckets, I used “hot hands” chemical hand and foot warmers to act as oxygen absorbers. When they worked, the buckets dented in a little bit. If I had ‘cool and dry’ here at the house, I probably would have left them in the bins and original packaging, but I put a lot of it under my covered patio, up against the house, and I figured I needed to give the buckets the best possible chance of staying good.

Now that I’ve mentally transitioned to living like this as ‘normal’, and prepping for whatever is coming next, it’s time to move a lot of the bulk back to offsite storage. I’ll move the newest stuff there and keep the old ebola stacks close by.

One last observation- with a lot of stuff, I left it in the original packaging even though it went into a bucket. I could fit more if I dumped it in, but having some additional separation makes sense if the bucket is breached or you have a bug problem, then it’s not automatically contaminating the entire bucket contents. Three bags of pasta might still be sealed, while the fourth got eaten before you noticed the problem. I’ve also made a few buckets with different stuff in them, like one bag sugar, two bags flour, some yeast packets, a carton of salt, and a bag of cornmeal. Might be a pint or two of peanut oil in there too. I didn’t worry too much about the ratios. Water and any of that in any proportion would work fine in a real disaster. People are a lot less picky when they’re hungry.

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Anyone else made the transition from “we’re living in a pandemic, I’m using my preps” to “this is what life looks like now, time to get ready for what’s next”?

Anyone really use their stacks? (besides TP and PPEs)

Think about what you’ve got stacked, and stack some more…

nick