Month: May 2023

Wed. May 31, 2023 – week’s half over… I’m just getting started.

Cool, damp, and warming later…  that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  It was sunny and hot at the BOL this morning.   By noon it was sweaty hot.  And damp.   Last night, Houston had distant thunder, and the smell of rain, but I didn’t notice any  actual rain before I went to bed.  I am hoping for clear today.   Stuff to do, stuff to do.

I slept a bit later than I wanted to, and had to stretch and warm up a bit before I could really move well, so I didn’t get as much done in the morning as I’d have liked.   Well, if I liked it more, I would have done it, right?   Got the lawnmower back together.  Didn’t get the mower deck installed.  I haven’t done the maintenance on it, and it might have a bad spindle that needs replacing.   Definitely needs blades, which I should have somewhere…

Got everything buttoned up and headed home.   I wonder if my sense of ‘home’ will flip, and when?  It’s awfully nice up there.  Did my pickup on the way home.

Today I need to unload and put away some stuff I brought back (and I forgot a big item, but it’s not critical.)  Then I really need to knock off a few of my list items.   I think dealing with the food storage and spoilage should probably be a priority this week.   Getting my storage organized and some stuff listed would help too.  Same ol’ same ol’.

There is a lot of repetition in prepping, a lot of iteration…   It can lead to burn out, and a lack of motivation, at least judging by my own experience.  Don’t let it stop you though.   Keep plugging away, even if it’s just small things.  I’m trying to do just that.

And stack something, even if it’s just a box of bandaids.   It adds up.


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Tues. May 30, 2023 – some work, then home…

Cool and very damp, with a chance of rain.   Yesterday was nice, for values of nice that include high humidity, with overcast later, culminating in a quick inch or two of rain.  It stopped after a couple hours and I did get to sit on the dock and spin the dial on the shortwave.

DX was good with just the basic antenna.   NewZealand was loud and clear on 15mhz for at least a few hours.   Cuba was silent at 1030pm but opened up after midnight.    Fun to spin the dial from 2.500 to 21.000 and see what I can hear, especially with just the radio’s telescoping antenna.

It did remain mostly cloudy, so no observing.   I was hoping for at least one good clear night this trip.


I got a bunch of small projects done before the rain hit, and even got in some fishing.  Had a chat with another neighbor about hard times.   He had a very extensive garden a couple of years ago when he’d lost his job, and kept most of the full timers in veg for the summer.  Said he was ready to do it again if needed.  His biggest concern is access to meds.    Lots of folks out here are ‘tore up and worn out.’   SHTF is very physical and there will be a lot of folks in bad shape when their meds run out.  There are a lot of folks that would have a hard time with the hard work, even now.   His biggest emphasis was on the community banding together and sharing the load and the resources, particularly skills.    Since he’s lived up here his whole life, his ties and local knowledge run deep.

It would be very interesting to see how RBT’s plan might have changed as he settled into his community.   I don’t think that “volunteering to be the local wizard” would work very well, without years of laying the groundwork, building the relationships, and getting to be a known quantity.   It’s becoming more and more clear to me that if we are facing a rapid (or even slow but severe) decline, who you surround yourself with is probably the most important choice you can make.   The really stone cold b!tch of it is that the people most likely to get by, are also some of the least willing to accept and trust newcomers.   If you are dropping into a community, you better have some VERY high demand skills, if you haven’t built the relationships.


Today I’ll do a few things to wrap up, weather permitting.   Main concern is getting the lawn tractor back together and back in it’s shed.   Then any little thing I can do before cleaning up and heading home, I’ll knock out.

I need to pass through north Houston before 3pm to make a pickup, so I’ve got my schedule set.

Stack up the things, and the skills, but REALLY get busy on relationships.



(if your BOL is in a community where someone can say, “One of my second cousins’ wife’s best friends was the one who told me about the boat for sale…” you need a champion, and you’ve got your work cut out for you.)

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Sun. May 28, 2023 – work happened, but more is in order…

68F and a bit chilly early, but warming quickly once the sun does it’s thing.  Yesterday got pretty warm, well into the 90s in the sunlight.  High 80s in the shade.  Very gentle breeze.

Perfect weather for a burn pile.   It rained recently so there wasn’t much risk of fire spreading, and little to no wind meant I could finally burn some of the root balls we dug up to get the septic in place.    I also had a lot of small branches after I cut down 2  small dead ornamental trees.  The freeze killed them  and they weren’t coming back.   The third small tree went on the HOA lot burn pile for later.   It had to come out to provide access to the patio.

Readers who have been following along can infer that my replacement chainsaw parts came in and worked.   The chinese bar and chain fit, and cut very well.  I also finished up with the string trimmer, and blew the debris clear with an attachment for the trimmer’s power unit.   I’ve got a pole saw attachment too, but I didn’t need to use it yet.  I really like swapping attachments for the unit.   Don’t know if the Craftsman branded engine will hold up, but it’s running great so far, and very handy.   I’ve got a blower, pole saw, string trimmer (two actually) and mini rototiller.

The potatoes I planted are growing, but the berry bushes don’t seem to be.    The rest of the garden looked like a lawn with all the nut grass.   Since it’s so late, I might just cover the whole plot with black plastic sheet, and try to kill the nutgrass for next season.   Haven’t decided yet.  I did cut it to the soil with the string trimmer.  So far the deer seem to have left the potatoes alone.   They didn’t even eat the loose potatoes I threw in the yard.   Maybe I’ll plant a whole lotta potatoes next time.   I dug up some of the wild onions from the lot next door.  I will see what I can do with them today.

And I’ll be doing more stuff from the list throughout the day.   I feel like I got a lot done, gotta take the meds and keep pushing.   It may not be the big stuff, but it all still needs doing.

So I’ll keep stacking up chores.   And knocking them down, if only a bit at a time.

Stack it up!


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Sat. May 27, 2023 – a beautiful day

Cool but clear, 68F when I went to bed, and I’m expecting the same when I wake this am.  Damp, of course.   It was 82F in Houston last night, but only 72F on the water.   Sunny and hot during the day.  I think today will likely be the same.

Yesterday was weird.   I was feeling stressed and disconnected all morning.  Make several errors that I don’t usually make.  Took forever to get out of town, and then there were half a dozen accidents, one serious, on the way to the BOL.  Oh, and a grass fire on the freeway right of way too.   Heavy traffic in the usual places.

But I finally got here, and it was beautiful.   So I cut the grass.   Broke the mower.   I’ll fix it.   There is a bushing on the steering column that keeps the gears in alignment that was so worn the gear stripped a little bit.    It wasn’t a problem until it was…   No way to lube it, so I’m thinking it normally outlasts the mower.  Not in this case.   If I can find the part, I can easily replace it.  The damaged gear on the column is a bit harder.   I can shim it (remove the end play) and use a different part of the gear to contact the rack, if the bushing will hold it in alignment.

If I can’t find the part, it will be easy enough to make a replacement.   I’ll clean up the gear as best I can, and run with that.  It’s always something.   Worst case, I buy a new mower.  This one came with the house (we did buy it, but at a pretty good discount.  I would like to get some more use from it if possible.)

We did have a fire and roast s’mores.   Conditions were variable low clouds, so no observing.   Maybe tonight.   Shortwave had a lot of fading and noise.   Still nice to sit by the fire and listen to rock and roll oldies.

X1 is with us for the weekend and seems to be coming out of her shell a bit.  She wasn’t shy but there was a reserve.  She seems more natural this weekend.  Hope it’s helping.  Kids and wife were all in the water and out on the kayaks, so that was nice.    I can’t imagine we’ll get too many more weekends that aren’t sticky hot before summer starts in earnest.

My plan for the day is projects.  Always projects.   And maybe a little fishing.

Stacking up skills.   Do something this week you wouldn’t normally do.  Especially if it’s fixing something, cooking something, or learning something.


Lot of people here for the long weekend.  I hope to meet some more of the neighbors.   Meatspace, and meet-space.




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Fri. May 26th, 2023 – headed to the BOL… to spend the long weekend, not because the rad sensor alarmed…

Clear and damp, with a little coolness, rapidly heating up.   It was only 72F when I put the kids on the bus yesterday, but it got warmer throughout the day.   I’m glad I didn’t have to get in the attic at my client’s house, but using the ladder in the yard was a bit sweaty.   I think today will be even warmer, but maybe some of the humidity will blow out.

There are a lot of mosquitos this year, and they are even biting me.   They normally don’t, and if they do, it doesn’t leave a mark.  Wonder what it’s gonna be like at the lake?

Which is where I’m headed later.   Have to get loaded up and make a pickup on my way out of town.   The auction had the wrong times listed, and I thought I would be able to make it.   I guess it’s good I didn’t drive up last night…  although I would have liked to start the day at the BOL, not driving.

Did get some stuff done yesterday.  Got the NVR to display image from the existing cams.  Well, mostly.   I may even be able to re-use a couple  to extend coverage with the new system.  Can’t order the cams until next week because B&H closed for a long holiday.  Memorial Day weekend must coincide with a Jewish holiday this year.   Maybe every year, but I never noticed…

In any case, I’ll be back out at the site to swap out cams in a week or two.  In the mean time, at least the NVR is recording.

I’ll be taking a load of stuff up with me.  Mostly not food, but I’ll add a couple of buckets if I can.   I saw a pair of rats on the patio yesterday.  They’ve eaten all the stuff they can get into, except the stuff that exploded, so they aren’t wrecking more, but I’ll refill the poison baits anyway.   Cleaning up that whole area has been pushing down the list for a week or more, but that was when I though it was a possum in the mess.   Possums I can live with, rats, no.   So it’s back to the saga of the rats for me.  Good thing I bought those buckets of bait blocks.

Stack some rodent and pest control.  They’ll be increasing as city services decrease, and you’ll be on your own.   Remember when there was nothing in the stores?  That will happen again.

Stack all the things!


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Thur. May 25, 2023 – ..until morale improves. Then the REAL fun begins.

Cool start to the day but should be sunny and hot later.   Yesterday turned out ok for us, no rain, no bright sun for most of the day.   It was a bit sunny in the later afternoon.  Hoping for similar today, but with a bit more sun.

Did my two pickups on the south side of town.   Found a neighborhood I didn’t expect, with a very ‘out in the country’ feel, right in between the ghetto and the ‘hood.   Big lots, old homes, real country boys… guy had a bunch of great older reference books on “rebuild society” topics.  Lots of tools, and clearly enjoyed his hobbies.   The other pickup was sort of “general merch” and is always good for some household item.

The pickup nearest to me was a heavy steel door for the BOL, a bookcase for D2, and some other misc. stuff for some other projects.   Pickup truck is about 1/3 loaded, waiting for the rest before heading up this weekend.

And I’ll load up later, as we haven’t decided whether to head up tonight or tomorrow.

Before that, I’ll  be spending some more time trying to get at least the expensive PTZ camera to work with the new NVR.   Even at my hourly rate, it’s worth poking at it for a while.   I can do some at home, but will really need to head out to the site to find out if I can make it work.

It would be nice to do some more cleanup and organizing this morning, but work slipped to today, so it is what it is.

I’ll be taking some more stuff to stack at the BOL.    If the SHTF, “they” will definitely come looking for “it” for whatever value of “it” you like.   If people are hungry, they’ll look for food.  If jones-ing, they’ll be looking for drugs or booze.   If it’s biggov, they’ll be looking for control, and we know what they’ll be coming for.   Split your stacks up.   Hide your tangibles.   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.   Fallback positions are a good thing.  So is ‘hiding in plain sight.’   Harden your heart, and your house.  Be prepared to degrade gracefully.

And stack, what you can and while you can.


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Wed. May 24, 2023 – Bah. Humbug. Beatings will continue…

Cool and damp.   A tiny respite from the heat of summer.   It was actually a tiny bit of cool out in the country at my client’s house yesterday.   Still warm in the sun, and boiling in the attic, but under the overcast or in the shade there was a hint of coolness.   Today should be similar with a bit more sun.

I didn’t get finished at my client’s.   What should have been a slam dunk turned into a dumpster fire when the new NVR turns out to be riddled with bugs and issues.   Brand new firmware too.   Tech support was no help.   I got an RMA number.   Lots of issues, including me making a mistake setting the master password.  Because you are doing it blind, with a remote control and an onscreen keyboard, and they don’t show it to you or make you type it twice, I got it messed up.   It’s not what I wrote down or intended.  Only the first bit of bad software and gui design.

Long story short, I stayed with the same manufacturer because I didn’t want to replace cameras.   But the new NVR doesn’t open and display the cameras.   It works with the two oldest, but none of the others.   That’s despite identifying them, assigning IP addresses, and that they are all supposed to be standards compliant.  A standard this company championed btw…   And it is supposed to be ‘pro level’ gear, only sold through distributors for install by integrators and other pros, but there is no manual override or even a way to see what the automagic is trying to do.   I’m p!ssed, and disappointed in the company.   I should be done and invoicing, instead of trying to find a new solution and continuing this project into next week.

Now I have to decide.  Do I just get new cams that are on the tested and approved list?  Do I go with another manufacturer’s NVR and cams, or do I look at the ubiquiti cams and storage since we’ve moved almost all the networking to ubiquiti?    Gah,  I could have done all that BEFORE if I knew I would have to do it, and I could have prepped my client.  Now it’s last minute,and extra cost.   Yeah, I’m grumpy.   Standards.  You’d think they might in fact be standard.

Today I’ll be doing some more clean up and organizing.   Also some pickups.  I got a bookcase for D2, who seems to have ‘rescued’ every discarded library book at the school.  I got a high security exterior door that should work at the BOL on the garage or one of the outbuildings, and if not now, later when I build my shop.  And I need to start staging stuff for the trip to the BOL this weekend.

Other than that, I also need to address the cams/nvr issue for my client (including applying the unlock code that MIGHT come today and for which I had to submit a photo ID and request- there’s no ‘reset to factory defaults’ if you don’t know the master password), and get some shipping out the door.

Meanwhile, haven’t heard from some people in a while, so here’s a ping.   DadCooks, Miles_Teg, Jenny– welfare check!

Stack it up folks, things are going pear shaped.



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Tues. May 23, 2023 – 052323 – sorta cool… out of the office today

Slightly cooler but sure to get hot later.  Mainly because I’m going to need to work in the attic.   National forecast has us in the clear so that sun will heat everything up.  It stayed cool in the shade yesterday but it was moist and hot in the sunlight, even with a light overcast.

I did one pickup, mostly home goods, but included 2 kindle paperwhites.   D1 cracked her screen a while ago.  I made her pay half for the replacement kindle.   I think I spent $30 each so it wasn’t a hardship, but bad decisions shouldn’t be rewarded.  Got a UV flashlight too.   Should come in handy.  It was $3, so I expect it to be less than pro level.

Went by the bins since I was in that part of town, didn’t find much of interest.   Some days it’s like that.   Nice pair of like new Vans,  if they fit D2 and she likes them, that will have made the stop worth while.  Spent some time at my storage unit going through stuff and sorting for the eventual auction. That’s where the late afternoon sun was beating down on me, even through the overcast.   Came home soaked in sweat.

Dinner was boxed Beef Stroganoff, one of the cheesy hamburger helper style meals.   Beef was in the freezer for over a year, in a vac bag.   Box meal was on the shelf for a year past its best by.   Milk was UHT shelf stable opened last week.   All was good.  No leftovers.(and I use 1 1/3 pounds of meat, instead of just a pound.)   Eat what you store, store what you eat.


Did some searching through surveillance video.   Fish is there at dusk on Saturday but never seen again.   That night a big tabby cat does come sniffing around, but walks off.   The rain started soon after that, and went on for 12 hours, so I don’t have great video, and I can’t see any time when the pond was disturbed at all.   Can’t figure out what got Mr Fish, but he’s gone daddy gone and has been for a week.   That’s kinda the worst part, that we didn’t notice for a few days and didn’t investigate for a few more (we feed him daily.)  I just figured he was hiding in the deep end.  So much for my situational awareness.


Today I’m headed to my client’s house to do the rest of the install.   The NVR came in, and I can get the rest of what I need on my way.   That’ll be later in the morning though.   I should still be able to waste time on the internet with my friends.  You know, get the day started right.

And then I should be able to  invoice and stack up the result.  ‘Cuz sometimes the best stacks are greenbacks.


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Mon. May 22, 2023 – last week of school… what will we do?

Cool and damp, supposed to clear up though.   Temps in the mid 80s?  Yesterday was warm and overcast, which kept it from getting too hot.  I didn’t even break a sweat mowing the yard.  Today should be warmer, and sunnier.

I did a few things yesterday but mostly got ready for D1’s birthday stuff.   Met the “not a” boyfriend.   His parents came to the door when dropping him off, and picking him up.   Nice kid, kinda shy.  The friend group went out and did stuff together, ate, and went home.   D1 and X1 came back home and we had cake.  At least at Casa De Nick, the cake is not a lie.

Today I’ve got auction stuff to do, some pickups might happen.  Tomorrow I will probably head to my client’s house to finish up.  The NVR came in over the weekend, a full 5 days early, so I can get it installed and invoiced this week.  Client is coming back from  a trip overseas so I may give them a couple of days to settle back in to daily life.

This is the last full day of ‘learning’ for the year.   I don’t think there will be much ‘learning’ going on.  T, W, Th they have testing and half days.  Friday off… and we’re probably headed to the BOL for the long weekend.   Our rec association will be having their summer kickoff and neighborhood open day for the weekend, but we won’t be there.   We’re pretty disengaged from the association this year so far.  Got our own stuff going on.

I hope we have a quiet summer, but I expect the violence to get worse, and to get organized again.  We’ll see, and I want to be wrong, but if it’s a hot one, we’re going to  see a bunch.  Make your plans now with safety in mind.   Think a bit longer term and consider what changes you will make if it does get worse.  Figure out triggers for those changes, and make a plan.

Stack what you need to execute your plan so that you aren’t fighting with 10K others who have the same idea.  Get prepped.


(and globally, we’re sending fighter jets to Ukraine.  What could possibly go wrong?)

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