Month: August 2022

Sun. Aug. 21, 2022 – finishing up, then home

But first, hot and humid.   Less hot than previously, still plenty humid.

Did a ton of hard work yesterday, taking advantage of the lower temp and overcast sky.  Most of the detail is in last night’s comments.

Today I need to locate the underground utilities and mark them.  I need to locate the trench for the new gas line too.  The elec-chickens are going to trench it for me at time and materials while they are here with the machine.   I also got 70ft of pex ready for them to put in the trench with the service drop.  It’s cheaper than just about any other choice and all I need is a conduit to pull coax or net cable through if that ever becomes available.   I learned on the job that it was a lot cheaper to put a couple of cat 5s in the trench or conduit to future proof an install.   The pex is just a buried path from the pole to the house, just in case….

I also helped the neighbor move a stone countertop into is place.  They are working on it same as us.   He let me run an extension cord from his garage to mine so I can have some backup for the freezers and fridges when the electricians are doing the switchover.  This will save my wife from having to deal with the gennie, unless there is some other issue.  BTW, and inch and a half thick slab of countertop is HEAVY.

Between that, the sledgehammer work, and all the other lifting and carrying, not to mention shoveling, that I did, I might have to take some Tylenol today.  I try to avoid it, so I don’t over do it when I’m already hurting, but pain killers and anesthetic are the wonders of the modern world.  It would be silly to not use them if needed.

After all, grid is still up and civilization hasn’t cratered yet…

But if it does, you’ll be glad you have big stacks!

 

nick

Sat. Aug. 20, 2022 – beavering away…

Hot and humid, of course.   Remains to be seen just how hot and how humid.   I’m hoping for a small break in the weather while I crack rocks in the hot sun.

 

Got up here yesterday, having missed or postponed 3 pickups.  Between the rain and delays getting started, I just ran out of time.   On the plus side, gas was cheaper at $3.19 per gallon, credit price, and just off the freeway in Conroe too.  Of course the Shell station on the frontage road had $4.50 on their sign.   Tha’s just nuts.

Plan for today is remove some concrete walkway for the electricians to get access.  Move some bushes to get them out of the way of the work.  Rig something to water them, so they don’t just die in their new location.  In between, do plumbing.

We’ll see if the plan survives contact with the enemy.   And it just occurred to me that I should have brought up a pop up canopy to provide some shade while working.    Dang.

And while doing all that, take frequent breaks to make sure the dog doesn’t mess up the house.   I hope he feels better today.

I decided not to bring more frozen food up here yet.  I’m worried something would go wrong while the electricians are working, and better to just have what’s already here at risk.  I did bring up a couple of small things, like an oil lamp, but didn’t do much to add to the stacks.

I will probably sleep in a bit too.  Haven’t been sleeping well, and am really short at the moment.

 

So I’m stacking up sleep! For a day or two, while doing all the things, anyway.

 

Stack what you can.

 

nick

Fri. Aug. 19, 2022 – so MUCH stuff to do…

Hot and humid, but definitely less so today after all the rain and the cool front yesterday.   We got a smattering in the early afternoon, like a snow flurry, only wet.  A little later the temperature dropped 20F, the sky darkened and the wind picked up.  Picked up stuff and flung it around!   And that was when the power went out.

Took  a little over 2 hours for power to be restored.  It was pretty dark with the storm clouds.   The FLASHLIGHTS and mini lanterns got used.  The rain crashed down.   One of the nearby monitoring stations got 1″ in 15 minutes.   Of course the rain put an end to me working in the yard.   I did manage to get one gas powered string trimmer running.   It needed new fuel lines, new primer bulb, and a good carb cleaning.   I put the string trimmer attachment on it and attacked the back yard.   It’s been a long time since I ran the trimmer in back, and I had some real bushwacking to do.   Trimmer ran great for a whole tank of gas.  The engine part had a $6 sticker on it.  Fuel rebuild kit was $12, and a can of carb cleaner was $3.  I don’t  remember but I think the string trimmer attachment was probably less than $12.  I don’t count the cost of the string since that’s an expendable.  It took time of course, but still pretty cheap over all.  I’ve got a pole saw attachment for trimming limbs, and a blower  attachment for sweeping leaves, as well as extra string trimmer attachments.   If I can get another one of the power units running, I’ll leave one as a trimmer and one as polesaw.

In hindsight, I should  have been working on the gennie, either the propane conversion for the Honda inverter, or cleaning the carb for the bigger Generac.   But I couldn’t find the conversion kit- it got ‘cleaned up’ and moved.  And I got focused on getting one of the trimmers running so I could cut the grass.    I did find the kit later in the evening so it will be going on the gennie this week.   I’ve decided to ask a neighbor for an extension cord to keep the freezers running while the electrical work is happening.  I’ll send the gennie with my wife next week just in case.   Thought I’d have more time before the next hurricane to get the Generac prepped…  Prepper fail.

Today I’ve got a ton of stuff to get together and load, scattered in a couple of different places.  I think I’ll be driving around most of the day, and then driving to the BOL, with a pickup or three on the way.  Wife and kids have more Girl Scout Mariner stuff this weekend, and I have to get some stuff done at the BOL before the electricians get there.

Subsequently I’ll be away from the keyboard most of the day.  Hope they can keep the world together a few more days…

I need to stack some more, and so do you!

nick

Thur. Aug. 18, 2022 – still stuff to do

Hot and humid, although… it was a bit cooler for part of the day.  Still plenty  stifling later in the afternoon.  Hot humid and still equals Nick soaked to the skin while barely working.

Did some stuff in the morning at home.  Then got moving to do errands.  One auction pickup.  One trip to Lowes for more pex stuff.  Then went by my rent house and replaced the damaged fence pickets.  Of course, the fence is western red cedar, and I bought pressure treated… because I forgot.   The pressure treated is 3/8″ wider than existing.   So I’m not quite done, I need to rip two pickets to width, one to make up the remainder of 5 pickets in a row, and one for a lone picket further down the fence.  Of course my saw is at the BOL.  I’ll take the pickets with me, rip them and return to finish the job.  It’s always something.

 

On the other hand, I have the tools and experience to do the work.  I’m not at the mercy of someone else, and I can do the work to whatever level of fit and finish suits me.  There are a lot of things like that in the life of a homeowner, and landlord especially.  I think there will be a lot more of that as the economy worsens.  People won’t have the cash to pay someone else for the work.  The flip side is possible too, if you have cash or something of value, there might be lots of skilled craftsmen available to do the work for you.   The trick is having something of value.   For most it will likely just be the sweat of their brow.  Moral of the story?  Have a skill someone will pay for.  Or have something skilled people will accept as payment.

Either way, stacks help.

nick

 

 

Wed. Aug. 17, 2022 – aye, que loco

Slightly less hot today, but clearing with less chance of rain.

Kids start a full day of normal classes today.

After the late start yesterday, I got some stuff picked up.  Went by the Habitat reStore looking for stuff for the BOL.   The southside store used to have a great selection of doors, but they were pretty much all gone.  Their tile selection was meager too, and it used to be extensive.  Most of what they had appeared to be from a closed Ace Hardware.   The whole reStore system is dependent on donations, and it looked a bit sparse the last couple of visits.  Could be there is less slack in the system, could be people are being more careful so they don’t have excess to dispose of, or it could be people are buying the store out…

 

The thrift stores are looking a bit sparse too.   And I noticed a couple of closed strip joints, and in my neighborhood, a closed pawn shop.   I think things are probably worse than they look economically.    The closed auto dealerships and especially the little used car lots are another bad sign.   Even one of the big Ford dealers is still spreading cars and trucks out to fill the lot.

 

Today I’ve got fence to fix at the rent house, and a few more plumbing items to find for the BOL.   I’ve got stuff in deep storage that I need for there as well, including the pex compression tools I bought years ago, well in advance of need.  Later I need to get to the bank and have my septic permit application notarized so I can get it to my contractor this weekend.  Septic is the only thing you need a permit and inspection for at my BOL.  While that might make some things easier, remember that the  inspection is to protect you, the building owner.  It’s another set of eyes to make sure your contractor is doing the work to minimum standards.

I did notice that Lowes had 2×4 studs for just under $5, which is down from just under $8 not too long ago.   The reported record number of home buyers walking away from their contracts and the slowdown in home sales might be contributing to that.  Make of it what you will, but rising home prices make people feel good (owners and sellers) while falling prices make them nervous.   Some price lowering in general should help with inflation, but if it is really the beginning of deflation in the non-core sector, then bad times are right around the corner.   I mean, worse times.   Given the recent increase in crime and violence, and in costs,  I’d say we are already in bad times.

There is still food in the store and stuff to buy, and generally if you want to work you can.   That can change, and if it does it will change rapidly.  Preps are a cushion against rapid change, especially when it’s for the worse.

So stack it up.

nick

Tues. Aug. 16, 2022 – and away we go!

Hot, humid, chance of rain… and all that noise.   It was a bit cooler yesterday than it has been, so maybe summer is winding down.  On the other hand, it was still 82F at midnight.

Got the kids off to school, kinda.   Turns out the bus drives by, then picks up some other kids, and returns to pick up mine.  As it was 20 minutes late when it passed the first time,  we didn’t wait.   Kids had a good first day.

I did some auction stuff then went shopping.   Dropped a bunch of money at Lowes on plumbing stuff for the BOL, then hit up Costco.   Dropped a bunch of money there, but got a bunch of meat too.  Freezers are full again, until I move more to the lake.

Today I’ve got auction pickups, home and rent house maintenance, and some other errands to run, but first D1 needs to have her braces checked.   That takes up most of the morning, by the time I’m back home. Oh well. Poor planning to schedule the appointment during the school week, when we could have done it last week, but we are getting near the end of her treatment.  ‘Bout time to get D2 started.


One of the auction items I picked up last week was a solar inverter.   Solar for the BOL is moving up the list.  I just have to figure out how all the pieces work together, and find the time to assemble what I have.   Seems like it should be more straightforward than most people online make it out to be.   Hmm.  Lotta things like that.

 

The other thing I have to do is some auction listings.   I’ve got some high value stuff just sitting here, getting older, without being listed.   Keeping up with listings is probably the hardest part of reselling, but there isn’t any “selling” without listing.   Seems like there is always something more important to do though.

Dinner yesterday was all from stores.   Sesame chicken “simmering sauce” from HEB, costco chicken from cans, and instant rice.   Came together pretty quickly and tasted good.  Every bit got eaten, and my wife said she’d eat it again…  Starting with the packaged food cuts prep time considerably, reduces cook time dramatically, and makes it easier.  All of those are good things in a disaster, or just when you can’t be bothered to cook from complete scratch.   All of the elements of the meal store for a long time too.

Bulk ingredients are great, and are an integral part of any long term plan, but consider some meals that use less time and energy for the times when you are short of both.

Then stack it up!

nick

Mon. Aug. 15, 2022 – stress, truth, addiction, duty, love

Hot and humid.   ‘Natch…  as it has been with little relief.  But that’s Houston in the summer.

An observation.   8 more hours in the day to do things did not mean I got things done.


 

So, what happened, what has been learned?

1700 daily posts, with differing topics and amounts of effort over the course of more than four years.   Over 12000 comments.   When I last bothered to add it up, I figured over 1.5 million words on mostly prepping related stuff, mostly here but also in comment sections across the web.   Add a few more hundred thousand since then.    That’s  a graduate degree, maybe two.  That’s a dozen novels, maybe more.   At 8 hours a day (while doing other things, and spread out across the day) it’s 13000+ hours- well past the mythical 10K hours needed for mastery, and I didn’t start from zero with the skills.   All that is just to say that I’ve been doing this for a while now.  In another year, I’ll have the same number of posts as Bob (in this iteration of the site).

When Bob first asked me to contribute, I was flattered, and a bit nervous, but also, it wasn’t that different from posting long comments.   I liked it as I like sharing, teaching, and I think the material was and is important.   When Bob suddenly got sick, I had the access and the desire to help keep the doors open, so we’d all have a place to wait for him to get better and return.  So I did.  Barbara and Bob were both well aware of what we were doing here.   When Bob passed, and Barbara wanted to keep the site going, I was flattered and a bit awed that she let me continue, asking me to do more than just ‘open the door’ in the morning.

I felt a strong sense of duty as well, but I wasn’t just a caretaker for a memorial site, I felt a strong duty to contribute, to build on the knowledge, to keep the site as a living growing evolving site, so that new people could and would discover all the great stuff here, and the great group of people who hang out here.  The depth and breadth of the knowledge held by this group is astounding.   I felt, and still feel a strong sense of conservator-ship and I regularly re-read old posts and old comments to keep the continuity of tone and focus.

It’s Bob’s site.   He brought most of us here, and the environment he fostered kept most of us here.  I’m flattered that some people have  joined us since I started daily duties, and have chosen to keep coming back and to contribute when they can, or to ask for help when they needed it.  It’s inevitable that as I became more comfortable in the role, and had the ever increasing number of posts, that the daily blogging part of the site, the heart that is Daynotes Journal, should come to reflect me more than Bob.  I hope that the style and tone have continued to reflect what readers and commentors enjoyed coming here for.   I have made a conscious effort along those lines.

It was therefore quite a shock to discover that someone who I thought I understood seemed to  think little of everything I’ve done and tried to do for the last 4 plus years.   Not a certain troll.  I don’t actually care about him at all, only the disruption he causes.   But the stress on the system caused by the troll led to the revelation and it kinda blew my mind.  How could I be so blind?  Was I wrong about other things too?  Why the F was I spending 8 hours or more a day on something that didn’t matter?

So I closed my browser and walked away.

It was a busy couple of days.  School is starting today, new school for one kid, last year of Middle of the other.  Friday was the 4th anniversary of my father’s death.  Saturday was my non-prepping hobby meeting, and the last chance to plan for our yearly swapmeet/tradeshow/annual meeting which takes place in two weeks.  Plus all the normal things and FINALLY making some progress with contractors at the BOL.

It was hard to stay away.  I realized I miss my friends.  I miss sharing ideas and the stuff I’m doing.   I miss the collegiality, the conviviality of the group.  I’m in the habit of thinking “oh, that’s something I can build a post off of”, or “oh, that story will get people talking”, or “holy cr@p that went badly, someone will enjoy hearing about that mess….” but I had no outlet for it.   I also missed hearing about what you all were up to, what was happening in your lives.

I realized that the site is a labor of love, as well as a duty.  I realized that there were LOTS of people who do think what I’m doing and trying to do has value.  Barbara assured me that she is one of them and wants me to continue.  So I will.  The past few days have been longer than I’ve ever been away from the site, even as just a reader, since long before I started posting.   I read through the past days comments and I’m gladdened by what I saw, people communicating and hanging out, sharing, and helping.   Thank you to those of you who reached out privately too.

So, I will continue to feed my addiction by coming here every day and sharing my life with you, and sharing in yours as well.

To make that happen, I have reassurance from Barbara that Bob wouldn’t have tolerated the sort of disruption that we’ve seen lately.  Anyone who claims to love Bob, or the way things were, has no standing to cause disruption as that is the OPPOSITE of what Bob would have wanted.    I have Rick as a partner on the technical side.   And I’ll deputize anyone willing and able to make things happen if that becomes necessary.

What does that mean?  I’ll do whatever is needed to preserve the tone and atmosphere  here as it has been for the last decade.   It means that there might be some ‘rough and tumble’ as we are all (to the best of my knowledge) adults and sometimes adults have exchanges that they later regret.  We’ve had those in the past and I expect we’ll have them again.  I think everyone knows how to disagree without being disagreeable.    It also means that most of us should “assume positive intent” when reacting to each other (as has been the case for almost 190K comments).

That does not apply to trolls.  They have demonstrated negative intent consistently, repeatedly, and willfully.    One will be deleted on sight.  The other has acted in bad faith by my reckoning but has the tiniest sliver of possibility left.  I have technical reasons to think they are not one in the same despite 90% or more congruence.   I’m putting him on notice here.   Do not push this.   If your whole story isn’t a thin tissue of lies then you know how to behave here.   Failure to do so will just prove your bad intent and ill will and we will all delete you on sight too.  And that goes for any new trolls too, we’ll assume bad intent and just delete them.

For reasons that are wider than this site and what Rick can easily do, blocking trolls a priori has challenges.  Therefore, Rick or I, or one of our deputies, will delete offenders and their comments as soon as we see them.  I don’t want to leave even a note in their place, as that is disruptive too, and takes more time and effort than is worth spending on it.  If there isn’t any interaction with them, removing them won’t leave anyone else scratching their heads wondering what they missed (hint)… and it may be that if I’ve deleted the original comment, I might delete the reply, especially if it quotes the original.  Unless it’s particularly clever, then I might leave it.  I’ve said before that I don’t need reasons other than my whim, and several of you have affirmed that.   If you make a reply and I delete it too, please don’t take it personally, I’m just trying to reduce the value of attempting to disrupt us, and the rewards he receives for doing so.   I definitely don’t want you guys competing for the cleverest response to a troll.  Seriously.  Engage as little as possible, and know it might all vanish.

If the trolls come around, our response won’t be seamless, but it will be final.  Have patience as we work on it.

It has been my honor and privilege to continue walking the path that Bob started on, and I expect to continue doing so for some time.

 

nick flandrey

(oh, forget about the drama and get back to stacking!)

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