Month: October 2022

Mon. Oct. 31, 2022 – Happy Halloween!

Cool, and damp, but hopefully we will stay outside the T storm zone for the day and night.

I spent a gorgeous day yesterday working in the yard on my display.   Had chats with several neighbors, and even met some new ones that just moved in one street over.   I love that people will come by and get an emotional boost when they see the display.  I love the opening it gives me to talk with  my neighbors.   I even like the pressure it puts on the neighbors on the street to decorate their own houses.   We’re better as a neighborhood when we are participating in the same events, and a traditional night out for Halloween is a part of our culture I want to preserve and have other kids experience.  And it gives me an opportunity to exercise some of my old work and school skills and do something creative and fun.

Meatspace baby.

Today will be spent putting the finishing touches on the display, adding the more delicate or steal-able elements, and getting a few more gags out of the attic and on display.   I’m leaving some of my old standbys in the boxes this year.  They’ll be all the more fun next year for having had a break.

Other than building community, it’s a break from my normal prepping activities too.   Sometimes, you need a break, or at least a shift in focus.  This is a nice one.

Take a minute to meet a neighbor today.   Even if you aren’t handing out candy, or don’t decorate, try to connect to your community, even if it’s just a wave hello.

And of course, stack something…


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Sun. Oct. 30, 2022 – Halloween Eve, which seems a bit recursive…

Cool again, hopefully not wet.   National forecast has Houston outside any big storms for the next couple of days.  That would be best for me and my Halloween plans…

Since my decorations are mainly made from cardboard and baling wire.  Although I’m a bit short on baling wire this year.  Couldn’t find my stash.  I’m reduced to using string.   Ok, it is EXPENSIVE special black theatrical string, but still…  the cardboard tubes are a bit… squishy.

Didn’t get much done yesterday but auction stuff.  Went grocery shopping at the local HEB.  No lard at all on the shelf.   Some other gaps, but there was finally peanut butter.  No pumpkin pie either.   The closeout shelf had a bunch of LED lightbulbs, and I needed some for one of my ceiling fans.  Very fortuitous.   Saved $44 on my bill between a couple of coupons and the clearance markdowns.

One observation… as I drove up to the store a guy crossed the lot in front of me.  Older guy.  Tactical pants.  Outdoors shirt.   Fanny pack that couldn’t be anything other than a pistol holster.   Dude was like a neon sign.  Don’t be that guy.  If you are rocking a full size 1911 on one hip, wearing  a ‘shoot me first’ photographer’s vest, with a mag or two weighting down the left side pocket*, you are not the grey man.  You are a mobile resupply pod for the bad guys.

Grey man means fitting in.   If that means dirty carhart jacket and jeans, or bright safety yellow t shirt and work boots, or a three piece suit and silk tie, or just a logo’d polo shirt and khaki slacks and a computer bag, look around and figure out what fits with your environment now, and wherever you need to go.  Practice flipping that on its head too, and keep your eyes open for the thing or person that doesn’t fit.   That person could be a threat or an ally, or a distraction, or a victim.  You may want a variety of clothes and jackets, or hats, to better fit in if you have to go someplace where you might otherwise stand out.   You should be able to dress up or down as needed too.   You don’t want to be looking like ‘money’ when everyone around you is broke and hungry.

A long time ago, and a lifetime away, a friend and I had to appear in court.   Young white kids from the suburbs, we dressed up.  Jackets, maybe even a suit.   We were the best dressed people in the courthouse.   Sketchy felons kept asking us for legal advice.   We did NOT fit in.   In retrospect we must have looked like very junior lawyers.   We were able to order drinks in a restaurant later that day without getting carded, so there was that 🙂 but otherwise it was  a fail.

Your clothes are a costume.   Make sure they are appropriate for your role.

Stack some clothes in different styles, and for different needs.  Different sizes too.  Make sure your more vulnerable family members have stuff they can wear to minimize their vulnerability.  No little black dress for foraging amongst the rubble of civilization…

Today should be my big push to get most of my decorations up and the rest ready for Halloween itself.  Some stuff is more delicate or desirable, so it stays safe until the actual night.   I need to get all the lighting sorted out too, and decide if I’m doing any special effects like fog or projection.  Last night to test, before the show!

Hope the weather stays nice.

Stack what you can.  Learn what you can.  Practice your skills.


* this description is of a guy I saw a couple of years ago at Costco.  Not a grey man.


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Fri. Oct. 28, 2022 – finally Friday. or what happened to the week?

Cold and damp again, mid 40s to start.  Overcast continuing today.   Maybe some rain in the forecast.   I hope not, but I know better than to plan.

It got to be a very nice day in Houston.  I enjoyed working outdoors on my ghost pirate ship.   I’m about 75% done.   I’ll be tweaking it right up until sunset on the 31st, but I’ve got the bones mostly in place and I’ll have the structure there by the end of the day today.  It’s shaping up nicely.

I also managed to find a dress for D1, who is having some sort of period dinner at school and requires a dress to match.  It will need a bustle, and some sleeves (or a blouse underneath), but the main part of the outfit is here.  Wish I  was doing as well on the ‘pirate queen’ costume for D2.  Still lacking the coat and hat, critical elements.  She has a backup plan to recycle last year’s costume if we can’t pull it  off.  It’s always good to have backups.  I got a couple of other decor items out and set up, and fixed up if needed.   Clear FlexSeal does indeed work to help seal up an inflatable that isn’t holding air as well as it should.

Back still isn’t right, but I’m working around it.  Gotta keep going.

Late night rain might have put a damper on today’s plan, I guess we’ll see as we go. Rain started around 11pm.  Don’t know when it finished.

I have to stretch to call yesterday and today “prepping” but  Life is more than prepping.   Sometimes you gotta live it.

Stack something.


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Thur. Oct. 27, 2022 – get down with your bad self

Cold again, warming later.   It did get up into the high 80s yesterday, with a nice clear blue sky, so I’m hoping for the same today.

I spent part of yesterday online, then part doing auction pickups.  This time it was mostly just household stuff, Dawn dish soap, Windex, gloves, Clorox cleaner, and a few tools to take to the BOL.  And another Toto Drake toilet bowl.  I can’t say no to Toto toilets for less than $20 even without the tank.  One will come, or I’ll order one on ebay if I need to and then I’ll have a $300-$600 toilet to install.

I made it home in the late afternoon and worked on my Halloween display.  It is shaping up to be cool, which is what I want.  I find it to be a great creative outlet, and a great thing to be known for in our neighborhood.   The best disguise is one that doesn’t even look like a disguise.

I had the opportunity to move a few things on my food shelves.   There have been depredations and spoilage, caused by the possums.  Now I’ll have to spend some time cleaning that stuff up.   Most of it was really aging out anyway.  I’m the king of keeping food past its date, but some stuff really doesn’t last well.   Mac n cheese in the box, for example.  Country Time lemonade powder, or gatoraide powder, powdered cream, powders in general, don’t last forever.  They are usually good for about a year past Best By, and they probably won’t kill you, but they don’t taste good at that point.

Plan for the day is more of the same.   Maybe with some small engine repair mixed in.   Definitely some auction stuff mixed in.   Have to pick the kids up from school which cuts my afternoon short, so we’ll see what gets done.

There will be stacking, even if it’s just goodwill…


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Wed. Oct. 26, 2022 – gah, plans. Just a way for the universe to stomp you…

Cooler and damp, overcast clearing later.   Maybe.   It was partly sunny for most of yesterday but then the temp started to drop.  Wind shifted too.   It was 57F at about 10pm.   Today should be similar.

I spent most of the day not moving much, sitting in my chair.   I did something to my back while making breakfast, and I could barely take  a deep breath.   Normally that would work it’s way out, or I’d find a way to release the pinch, but I didn’t and it didn’t.

I put some groceries away, and poked at a broken TV, but mainly just sat.   In retrospect, I should have just bitten the bullet and had a lie down.

Today will need to have some stuff get accomplished, no matter the weather or my back.   Hopefully I’ll be up for it.

Short shrift, so OPEN THREAD!

Stack something.   And lots of it.


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Tues. Oct. 25, 2022 – maybe more work today, if the rain holds off

Warm and damp.  Hopefully clearing later.   Yesterday was misty almost drizzle in the morning waiting for the school bus.  Then I headed toward downtown, and didn’t see any rain, but when I got home everything had been sprinkled.  The overcast was ominous, so I went inside.

Had to pick up the kids from drama rehearsal, so that blew my afternoon.  Same same today, btw.  I’ll have to try to get some stuff done early.

I did get the plumber through what he needed to do to finish the install at the rent house.   It’s not enough that the water heater has a pressure release valve.  Someone decided that it could pop and spray you, so they mandated a discharge pipe to direct it down into the overflow pan.  THEN someone decided you’d never know it had discharged, so they mandated that it run to daylight, somewhere you would notice the water.  That was what he couldn’t do on the original install.   It’s done now.

One thing I’ve decided, with all the work I’ve been doing is that you can’t have too many channel lock pliers.  You maybe could have too many  in one place, but they are so versatile and handy that you can’t possibly have too many.   One mod I’ve been meaning to do is to grind the teeth off a pair or two, so that I can grab brass nuts without galling them.  Add it to the list, and do it to a cheaper pair.

Most of yesterday’s list slid to today.   So I better get on that.

Stack the things, use them, mod them if needed.


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Mon. Oct. 24, 2022 – big pile of work to do at home…

Warm today, possibility of rain?  We’ll find out.   There were some dark clouds in Houston when I got back last night.  The national forecast has us in the middle of potential rain and T-storms.

It was a beautiful day at the BOL, and a nice day to finish up what I was doing.   Got quite a bit of work done while the foundation guys were there.  Foundation repair.   New water service entry.  Repair to the main sewer line.  Connected the pex that was in place.  Ran and connected the gas line for the furnace, and got it running for winter.  Worked on the dock.  Cut the grass.  Poisoned the ants.   Ran pex into the kitchen.  Cleaned and organized.  Did a dozen other small tasks.  Changed out a toilet.  And learned some things about fishing.

For the next two weeks I’m at home.   I hope I’m as productive here because my list is just as long or longer.

It’s hard sometimes to stay motivated.  To keep grinding on.   But you’ve got to do it.   Take some time to enjoy what you are trying so hard to protect and preserve.  Then get back to it.   Whether you are slow and steady, or your work is more ‘burst-y’ in nature, keep at it and you will make progress.

Just keep doing it, and you will reap the rewards.



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Sun. Oct. 23, 2022 – headed home later

Sunny and moderate, another day in paradise.  Other than the stiff wind, like gusting to 30 or 40 mph, yesterday was beautiful.  Lots of little flying bugs though.  Not just skeeters, but some little thing that flies up your nose too.   Wearing a headlamp at night is contra-indicated.

Spent the day moving slow and taking it easy.   All the time on the lawn tractor moving dirt, concrete, and root debris beat me up.   The more time I spend riding that thing, getting all shook up, the more I hurt the next day.

So I took it easy but kept moving.   Got the gas line to the furnace installed.   The gas to the dryer is the next thing, but our current dryer is electric so priority is low.  Getting the furnace online was a major task on the list, and is now completed.

Since I spent the afternoon talking fishing with my neighbor, I didn’t get the hall bath toilet installed.   That is on the list for today.  Then packing up, getting the house ready, and heading home comes after…

Wife and kids are coming home from camp in the afternoon, and I’m shooting to be home for dinner.

All in all a successful couple of weeks up here.  Time to catch up on some stuff at home though.  Starting  with meeting the plumber at the rent house Monday morning…

Stack all the things.   Meet all the people.   Always be working.


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Sat. Oct. 22, 2022 – 10222022 – hah, lotta twos…

Week jokes, I got ’em.

Cool and clear, humid, but hey, lake!  Absolutely gorgeous yesterday.   The stiff wind might have been an issue for some but it was great for me.

Guys finished up and left.   I McGyvered my plumbing issue, and have a real solution standing by (thanks Alan).   Site looks good.  House feels level.   Eggs don’t end up to one side of the pan…

I did mostly ‘helper’ stuff for the crew, moving dirt to refill the holes (since I “stole” their nearby dirt piles to backfill the septic tank) picking up broken concrete and old roots, and leveling dirt in the yard (filling ruts mostly).

After they left I did more yard work and cleanup.  I used my favorite leaf blower to blow out the whole house, and did some other cleaning. Then spent a while chatting with my fisherman neighbor.

He must like me, he’s sharing some of his knowledge.   SO MUCH knowledge, I didn’t even know what I don’t know.   42 years of passionate hobby = a LOT of detailed and esoteric knowledge.  The tabloids assure me that there is “one simple trick” for all kinds of things, and if I can get even one reliable technique or combination of stuff that lets me catch fish, I’ll be very happy.

Meatspace.   Tribe.  Community.   Stack some up.

Today I intend to get that gnu forsaken gas line run to the furnace.   And if I have supervision, install some breakers  in the panel, and connect the new receptacle in the master bath.  Or work under the kitchen sink… I’m sure something will fill the day.

Stack something!


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