Month: March 2023

Fri. Mar. 31, 2023 – where to draw the line?

Another day that starts out cool, but gets warmer, and might have rain.   Like yesterday.   But with maybe more rain.   Because despite forecasts, there was very little rain for me yesterday.  I drove all over town too.

Made most of my pickups.   A late start caused by my bank kept me from doing everything I planned, but I can make it up today.    I spent over an hour trying to get a cashier’s check at the local B of A branch.   IDK if it was incompetence, or if the young lady is afflicted with an unfortunate malady that sabotages her interactions with computers, but after failing to get me a check for 45 minutes, they finally took me to a teller window where I spent another 15-20 minutes doing the dance of the doomed waiting for the stars to align and printers to print…

As part of the service she asked me what my short and long term goals were.   And she really did make the extra effort to be certain I gave her an answer.   So I told her I just wanted to make it through the coming financial collapse with some assets left.   She asked how I intended to do that.  Gold, piles of gold, and rental properties.   She was a bit taken aback, so I pointed out Ferfal’s aphorism that you can sell a gold chain an inch at a time, and that as long as the tenants can pay, if inflation wipes out the value of money, you can keep raising the rent.   It was a bit more than she could easily absorb.

Unrelated but interesting, I found out that an acquaintance had a windfall and without any warning or even an inkling of what was going to happen, inherited “life changing amounts of money.”  “F YOU!” amounts.   “Never work again” amounts.   It would suck really hard for them if an economic collapse took that away from them.   If anyone should have something like that happen, it was this person.

What would you need to be in that category?  What would you do after you got it?  What would you do to keep it?

I would probably keep doing what I’m doing.   I’d have people to do stuff for me, and I’d like to have a ‘mad scientist’s lab’ but IDK if I’d change much.   I would certainly stack some things….

How ’bout you?



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Thur. Mar. 30, 2023 – where does the time go?

Cool and damp.   Supposed to rain.   But it’s Houston.   I got some rain on me yesterday.   It didn’t actually rain as such, which is why I say I “got some on me.”   I had drops of water from the sky hit me at various times of the day, in various parts of the city.   But it never actually rained.  It was even briefly sunny in places.

I spent most of  the day running around.   Did my pickups.  Gas is mostly between $2.89 and $3.09.   Went to Costco.   Costco had many of the things I missed last time back in stock.   Still missing the smoked almonds though.  Selection of rice and flour is still reduced.   Pork was reasonably priced (~$2.50/lb) and chicken was too, so I got some of each.   There were items on sale, just like pre-wuflu, although not as on sale.  They have something that looks like king crab for sale at only $25/lb. which is a huge decrease.  Of course it is ‘golden’ crab, and not actually Alaskan King Crab.  Mostly the same, almost as big…

And that seems to be the state of the world at the moment.  Mostly the same.  Almost as big.  Somewhat fewer choices.  And drab.  FFS, it’s drab.   Cars are all the same silhouette.  And selling in the same drab colors – black, white, red, dark blue, silver.   Houses are black and white.  I’m astounded by how many new buildings are black, white, and grey.   The store complex with our local Spec’s liquor store, Starbux, and various small storefronts just painted the whole brick complex white and black.  It was red, cream, brown, and natural brick  and stone colors.   The lack of color in the built world tells me that people are not happy and optimistic.

I’m seeing more homeless, and they are bolder.   They are sleeping and setting up housekeeping right in the open, right in the heart of commercial areas.  I’m also seeing more vacant commercial space at the same time there is an explosion of residential construction.   All those people moving here are going to need jobs, eventually, when their excess cash from selling in Cali but buying here runs out…

And don’t get me started on what passes for pop music.  What isn’t violent and nihilistic hedonism is depressing glorification of mental illness.

Nowhere is there conditioning for restraint, self control, or self sacrifice.   Those are three of the pillars that built and supported  western society.  And they’re gone from our stories, our heroes, and our culture.  That idea alone is probably worth an essay and a deeper look.

We grew up with those ideas firmly in place.   Our parents sacrificed so their kids could have a better life.   Their parents did the same, and sacrificed their bodies and minds in war in the belief that they had to, to build a future to live in.  Our stories and culture were suffused with the ideas of self restraint and self sacrifice, with the ordinary man expecting that to lead to success, and while for the hero the outcome was often his death, he did it anyway.  As individuals self sacrifice didn’t always lead to good outcomes, for society, SELF -restraint and -sacrifice, done by choice, led to a better world for everyone else.

And that’s almost entirely gone.  There are pockets.  Farmers.  Soldiers (warriors).  Parents. Teachers.  But in the ranks of those, the numbers decrease every year, replaced by parodies of what was.

It makes me sad to see fundamental changes like this.   There isn’t an easy or quick fix when something so vital (in retrospect) is removed from the culture.   I doubt that it’s even possible to get back to a point where those things can be restored, without a complete and massive destruction of what it’s become.   Things never “go back to normal.”   We are all of us and always changed by what happens to us and around us.

Stack all the things.  It’s going to be a while.



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Wed. Mar. 29, 2023 – Hmmm, still got stuff to do, who woulda thunk it?

Cool and damp.  Clear later…  or that’s the hope and prediction.   Don’t know if it will be true.   I HOPE so.  Yesterday was variable, and different everywhere.   Stiff breeze, spatter of rain, distant rain while  the sun shone locally, all kinds of weather in Houston and all in the same day.

Did some errands.   Placed some orders.   Hit the bins…  now today I need to take some full bins of my own to the auction.  I’ve stacked a bunch of stuff ready to go, but I need clear weather to do it.

Today in addition to the (hopeful) dropoff, I’ve got two pickups.   Almost all of it is household stuff, or stuff for the BOL.   Everything ends up in the auctions, even the pimple cover dots that D1 uses, and hand cream that my wife uses, only in the auction, it’s cheaper.

I may even get to the grocery store later in the day.

It’s a full life, and fulfilling, but it sure takes a lot of time.

Stack something you haven’t been stacking.  Gloves.  Socks.  Underwear.  Glasses?  Hearing aid batteries?  There is something you haven’t even thought about because you buy it only  very infrequently…  stack some of that.


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Tues. Mar. 28, 2023 – so a man walks into a bar…

Warm.  Damp.  Overcast.   Big change from the BOL.   Where it was nice all day yesterday.   Here in Houston, not so much.   Oh well, maybe it won’t rain.

Did my plumbing yesterday.   Finished with the major tasks, there is now pex run to every fixture in the house.    Still have the hose bibs to do, but the main thing is disconnecting the old copper completely.  It’s still under pressure and just capped off at the outlets.   I’ll do that next visit.  I just couldn’t get there this time, too much stuff was fighting me.

I’ll have to use this short week to do stuff around here.   Small inroads were made, but more ‘building on momentum’ needs to happen.   Time is rapidly slipping away before stuff like Swim Team and end of term stuff gets going.    And in the next couple of months there will be two birthdays and an anniversary as well.   Socially, it’s going to get busy.

I can’t really predict the future, but I can’t see one where I am idle, with lots of free time to indulge in my hobbies and reading books all day.

Gotta take your joy when you can, and stack it up for the bad times.

Stacks are good ‘um Kay?’



… you’d think he would have ducked.

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Mon. Mar. 27, 2023 – still working on plumbing…

Cool and clear, warmer laterly….  it started clear but turned overcast with a bit of light rain and some scattered showers.   It cleared later, but not clear enough for good observation.

Spent the day doing plumbing.    The dang things fought me all day, culminating in a 2 hour round trip to get 2 adapters.   On the plus side, I drove through some areas that were just carpeted with bluebonnets.  Beautiful.

Decided to push on through when I got home, despite most of the day being gone, but I really wanted to make some progress.  And once I cut the lines, I was committed to getting enough done to get the water back on.   I finally was satisfied it wouldn’t leak all over the place at about 10 pm.   Long day.

Today I’ll finish the plumbing.   If everything goes well, I should be able to decommission all of the old copper before leaving today.   Some of it will be going home with me to the scrapyard.  I made $57 on the last bunch of faucets and copper tube…   There was some steel and aluminum mixed in, but it was mostly plumbing stuff.   I can’t imagine anyone recycling pex in 50 years.

Didn’t do a fire last night, just went to bed. It was so late when I finished that I didn’t have the energy to lay a fire and sit out.   It was hot enough in the attic in my coveralls that I was about worn out…

I did get some of the food I brought up with me stacked.  I have a lot of canned peas for some reason.   I will have to bring something for balance later.   Still, it’s nice to see the cabinets filling up.

Big stacks are good, but some stacks are best.   Do what you can with what you have.



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Sun. Mar. 26, 2023 – work then home…

Chilly until the fusion fire warms the air.   54F when I went to bed.  Probably about the same when I get up.  It was clear and gorgeous when I got here yesterday, and I expect the same today.   High of 80F would be nice.

Before I left Houston I loaded the truck.  Since I had room, I decided to move a bunch of stuff I’d stacked at the beginning of the lockdown.  Kinda disappointed by the condition.  Granted stuff was stored in bad conditions, hot, cold, etc. some stuff failed long before it should have.

EVERY can of Hill Country Fair (our HEB grocery cheap house brand) fruit failed dramatically.  EZ pull lids popped.  EVERY CAN.  That is less than 3 years to complete failure.  None of the veg or soup popped.   A couple of flats of cans failed due to rust though.   When the fruit got everything beneath it wet….  FWIW, I have other brands of canned fruit stored under similar conditions and while they often fail early, none has failed so completely in such a short time.   No more HCF fruit in my long term storage.

Also, no more cardboard flats.  While they do help organize, the cardboard holds moisture and leads to rust on the bottom edge of the cans.  It’s ok indoors, in the proverbial cool dark place, but no where else.

There was also some spoilage due to animals.   Something chewed the plastic bottles, and ruined 3 gallons of cooking oil.  It was fine for a couple of years, but I’m guessing once the fruit was everywhere it attracted the possum.  Wasn’t rats because they’d have eaten all the oil too, and left the bottles empty, while these were still half full.

Oh, and in the fridge both bottles of heavy cream from Costco were swollen up and ready to pop even though they were still in their sell by time.  I’ve had issues with their milk this year but the cream  thing is new.  No more milk products from Costco.  Too much dairy has failed early. That joins my boycott of bagged veg from Costco too.  It never lasts as long as it should.

This seems to be my week for bad luck with food.   When I got here, I found the freezer door on the garage fridge ever so slightly ajar.   Everything was still firm, and had frost on it, but I’ll be cooking it all when I get home.   Since I was up here last week, it basically slowly thawed until today.  Glad I caught it in time.

Today will be attic work to connect the last sink and shower.   If I have time, I will also connect at least one hose bib.  I’m pretty sure we’re past risk of a deep and prolonged freeze.

Check your stacks people.   I let some things go, and lost extra stuff I shouldn’t have.  Also rotate your stored food.   It’s hard if you store more than you eat, and I know that and accept that I’ll have losses, but it’s still worth trying to rotate as much as possible.

Stack it up.  But monitor it too.



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Sat. Mar. 25, 2023 – I will be doing plumbing later… but first…

Hot and humid.   Clear though.   We did have threatening clouds several times during the day yesterday.   The daystar was sometimes hidden, sometimes just contributing to the unpleasantness.

I did most of my errands.   Got most of my stuff ready.   Still have a few things to gather, then it’s load up and go.   Won’t be too early though.  I’ll sleep for a while.   Better in my bed than behind the wheel.

The thought of doing the drive in the dark yesterday was just too much.   Wouldn’t be prudent.

However, because of that,  I’ll be a bit behind the eight ball for the rest of the weekend.

That plumbing isn’t going to finish itself, and it NEEDS to be finished.   It’s a minor miracle we haven’t had a flood yet (touch wood).

So I’ll leave current events to all y’all for a bit.

And I’ll be taking more stuff to stack.


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Fri. Mar. 24, 2023 – waddayaknow…. it’s Friday again.

Probably clear, probably warm.   Certainly damp if not wet.   We are solidly in the ‘rain’ zone on the national map, but then we were for Thursday on Tuesday’s map and it didn’t happen that way.  Thursday was overcast, then sunny, then scattered rain… I got a few minutes of mist on my way home after a mostly nice day.  It was 77F at midnight.

Took my trash to the dumpster.   Did my pickup.   Failed to meet a friend for some thrifting.  Maybe today.   Went by the reStore to get a sample of the floor tile my wife thought might work for the bathrooms at the BOL, but they had sold out.   Gotta buy it when you see it.   Something else will come along.

I’m hoping to deliver another freezer, and get it out  of my storage unit.   That will make it easier to sort for upcoming auctions, and maybe finally let me condense one unit down into another.  One can always hope… and I think my buddy will take  a toilet off my hands.   That won’t make me as much money as I’d planned, but it will get the stuff out of storage.

Today I’ve got all my normal stuff, and I need to get loaded up for a weekend working at the BOL.   Girls have a scouting weekend, so I can get up there by myself and turn off the water for long enough to get my remaining plumbing done.   I think I’ll move a bunch of gas, propane, and food on this trip too.   I should have space in the truck as I don’t have any large stuff going up this trip.  Who knows what might change  though.

I better get moving on stuff, or I’ll end up sitting here most of the day.

Stack something, even just baby steps.


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Thur. Mar. 23, 2023 – 03232023 – fun with nonsense…

Warm and damp.   Possibility of rain.  Likely rain…    So some things won’t get done today. We got scattered sprinkles yesterday, with some places getting more than that.   I could see the rain and clouds in the distance, but it was clear for me.   Houston is like that.  Someone gets the rain, but not necessarily you.  And then they say “It rained in Houston today.”

Did some auction stuff.   Dropped off and picked up… and I’ll do more of that today.   Plus, it’s time to start planning for what work I want to get done at the BOL this weekend.   Of course, I didn’t get all the stuff done here that I wanted to get done.   Never do…

Had some rice with dinner last night.   It went into the bucket in 2014.   Sat undisturbed until last year or maybe even before that.   Then the bucket was opened but closed up with a gamma seal lid.  Cooked up just fine.   No problems, no changes, just rice.    (we don’t eat a lot of rice, but I stack a lot because it’s cheap and versatile.   We’re eating more lately, but I’ve been using the Minute Rice, or the heat and serve packs to save time.)   I didn’t do anything special when it was stored either.   YMMV, but buy quality rice, fill the bucket, leave it sealed.   It will last a long time.

Keep stacking food.   Everybody needs to eat.


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Wed. Mar. 22, 2023 – 03222023 – some thoughts on reselling at auction

Cool, but warming.   We are supposed to get warmer through the week, and into the 80s.   National forecast has us clear today and rainy tomorrow.   There were very scattered and light spattering showers yesterday as we were on the edge of a rainy zone.

I spent time with a friend yesterday, and actually went thrifting.   He got some good stuff and so did I.  We had some time to talk too.  Then I spent some time sorting.

Today I’ll do more sorting, a couple of pickups, and I should be able to drop off stuff for one of the local auctions too.

Speaking of which, a commentor asked some questions last night and as I was writing the answers, it grew to post size.  I decided to put it here today.

So, some answers and thoughts about reselling, based on my more recent experiences.

@nick, when you bring items to one of your local auctioneers, do you have any input as to the starting bid? And what percentage of the winning bid do you wind up with if you don’t mind sharing? I have a few bins of ~$20-$30 items that I should be listing on eBay but never quite get a ‘round tuit’.

WRT starting bids at my auctioneer, he doesn’t like them to be too high. Buyers like to start low, even if it ends up high. I can insist on a minimum, but again he doesn’t like it (he has to manually manage the process). It comes down to you have to trust the buyers (and have enough of them.) For my side, it means curating what I bring him to be things I think his buyers will like, and accepting that something might go cheap. On the gripping hand, if no one ever got a bargain, they wouldn’t keep coming back, so the occasional item that goes too cheap is really an investment in the future.

WRT costs, my two favorite auctioneers take between 30 and 40% of the hammer price, plus they get a “buyer’s premium” on top of that paid by the buyer, not me. The actual percentage they take depends on my negotiating skill, and the quality of the stuff I bring them. Their labor is pretty much the same for a $10 item as a $100 item, so they prefer the bigger items. That said, the majority of their items seem to be $10-$40 sale price, with some higher, some lower. I shoot for $20-$50, with the occasional $100 item, and am sometimes surprised, and sometimes disappointed.

The upshot of selling at auction is that you ‘make your money’ when you BUY the item. It has to be REALLY CHEAP relative to the price you expect. That way you are covered if it sells at the low opening bid. If you pay too much, it’ll never sell at auction with a starting bid high enough to cover your breakeven.


There are lots of pricing strategies, lots of different ways to approach profit margin. If you are listing on ebay with a ‘buy it now’ you have more control over the price, but you will never have a surprise hit, like I did with an antique book. I’d have been happy to get $20, but it sold for $400.

I watch youtubers that will pay up to half the expected sale price for inventory. That’s nuts. You lose a third to ebay/paypal, shipping might eat into the profit, and you have time involved in packing and shipping. Plus if the item is a slow mover, because you’ve priced it at the upper end of the range, your money is tied up, you have to store and manage the item, and you might take an offer for lower, just to move the item. It’s easy to end up breaking even on a low cost item, or even losing money just to make the sale. And that is before counting your time, or the income tax.

There are exceptions. If you have a lot of identical items, and they are very easy to ship, you can either list them with a “select a quantity”  and sell singles or multiples over time, or you can lot them in multi-item lots so you have one sale of 4 or 6 and your margin on that one sale is high enough to be worth it.

Listing and Shipping (packing) are the biggest time sinks for me. Taking the stuff to my local guy saves me both of those costs.

Testing/fixing/cleaning can eat up a lot of time too, so I tend to put it off, and then do it in batches.

I plan to restart listing on ebay but only for items that will sell for $50 or more.   I’ll let my kids list the cheap stuff, and fulfill those orders too.  (yeah I’ll still be doing the work, but they’ll be learning the skills and hopefully my involvement will diminish over time.)    I was going to set my personal limit at $100 but decided I’ve got a lot of items with good profit potential at $50 that I might as well sell.   And I’ll only list items that I am sure won’t sell well in one of the local auctions because the pool of buyers is too small, or to geographically dispersed.

I should also mention that I got all the low priced inventory because for a while, people were only buying “smalls” for around $20.  My big stuff wasn’t moving and I needed stuff that was.   My  priorities have changed though, so it makes sense for me to concentrate on moving up the food chain a bit, and to not spend my time ‘grinding’.

Other people will make other choices based on their own calculations, or their emotions, or by reading sheep’s entrails, but I’m going to try it this way for a while.

I’m hoping to reduce my inventory, and increase my stacks…

Because stacking is good, if the stuff is good.


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