Month: June 2023

Fri. June 30, 2023 – “ordinary f#cking people, I hate ’em.”

Hot and humid.  It’s the season!  There was a beautiful cool breeze off the lake yesterday and it was very nice in the shade.   For the limited time I was in the shade.   The rest was as hot as Satan’s scrotum.

I did general cleanup and details before cutting the grass and heading home.   I stopped to pick up stuff on the way.   Got some stuff out of storage.   Went to Lowe’s.  Had to clean and organize the entire fitting section to find the electrical parts I needed, and they were out of stock on one item.   Took WAY longer than it should have to shop.   But I got everything on my list and should be able to get the plumbing and electrical stuff done without needing another trip.

So I’m headed back up to the BOL as soon as I get all my stuff together.  I still need to pull a few things out of the garage, like the actual wire I’m using for the new circuits.   I found that the problems were even more dangerous and absurd with the dock and the dockhouse yesterday when I opened the panel and really looked.   NO breakers for the dockhouse, just live conductors.  I live a charmed life, that it was broken when I thought it was safely off.

Once it’s bad enough that it’s all coming out, is it really necessary to look at all the ways it’s bad?

My wallet is over $1000 lighter, but one more safety issue will be out of the way.   Good thing I was prodded into doing the fix.  I just don’t like to have things jump to the front of the line in this particular way.

I was able to pull a bunch of stuff out of stock (and stacks.)   But I’ve never used the pvc conduit before so I had to buy all of that.  Well, three sticks of 1″ I pulled from stacks, because I’d picked them up from outside another business – hey one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.   $30 in conduit?  I was pretty sure I’d use it eventually.

So stack stuff you think you might need.  Stack stuff that is useful and cheap or free but could cost more later.   Stack stuff…


added- checked on my grapes when I got home.   They are the red table grapes and while most are still green, they are sweeter, and there are a few that are red, and pretty delicious.

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Thur. June 29, 2023 – “find one in every car…”

Hot, but maybe a tiny bit less if we’re lucky. It was only 83F at midnight and there was a bit of a cool breeze. The smart money is on HOT. Humid. Sunny. Again.

Well, I finished backfilling the patio area and leveling and compacting it. Did some more cleanup afterwards, moving dirt piles around and picking up debris. Skid steer was low on fuel, so I ran into town after dark. Now that I’m more comfortable and skilled with it, I’ve been keeping the revs up more often and longer, which makes a big difference in fuel consumption. I burned 5 gallons yesterday easy, and maybe a little bit more. This is more in line with what the interwebs suggested for usage.

Today I’ll be doing more cleanup and getting the place ready for people… then I’ll be heading to Houston to pickup a bunch of stuff I’ll need to continue working up here. I’ll be spending the night there, then coming back up. Wife and kids and some extra kids and maybe an extra parent will be joining me later for the weekend. So I better get some stuff ready, and get some stuff fixed.

I took a look at what I need to fix the laundry drain. I’ve got everything except the seal to the concrete tank, and a 2″ to 1 1/2″ reducer. Septic guy will come by next week to do the seal part. I’ll have to leave the hole open for him. I’ll work around it and do what grading I can.

I expect I’ll be doing plumbing and electrical on Friday, and no concrete breaking. Don’t know if I’ll do a lot of loud machine noise over the weekend, but I really don’t have much choice if it’s going to get done. I don’t want to extend my rental any more.

The community here does a big fireworks show for the 4th, and I believe they are doing it early, over the weekend. Not sure though. I’ve got decorations to put up on the dock, and several new flags to give to neighbors who might not have one, or who have a ratty one flying. We’ll have a front row seat for the show.

Take a minute or two to think about your water situation in the event of further decline. Many 3rd world places with intermittent or limited water use cisterns to store the water when it does run. That wasn’t something I mentioned last time. Get what you need to be secure with a supply of clean water.

Figure out your plan, then STACK!


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Wed. June 28, 2023 – ‘life of a repo man’s always intense…’

Oh my, hot hot and more hot. Yesterday started at 78F with a breeze off the lake that felt nice in the shade. Eventually it got to 100F in the shade, and humidity in the high 80s. It was 84F at 11pm, so I skipped radio and dock time.

I did get a lot of progress made. The decision to start backfilling the patio area was a good one. It’s filling in, and the mounds of dirt in the yard are going away which is win-win. My productivity was dropping, so it was a good time to change things up a bit. The heat is draining, and climbing in and out of the machines is taking a toll.

I even stopped at 8pm so I could use the remaining light to figure out what broke and how to fix the washing machine drain line. I ripped it up good getting that root ball out… I’m going to call the septic guy and see if he wants to take a look. Where the pipe enters the tank is loose, and I think it should be tight. Otherwise, I’d just replace the elbows and repair the pipe myself. I’m going to have to start stocking 2″ pvc if I keep digging. What a maroon. Eh Doc?


Water. Water and prepping. You can’t have too much. Our new septic system is sized for 750 gallons A DAY. Obviously during a disaster or grid down, you won’t be using that much, but it takes far more than people think. Standard prepper lore is 1 gallon per person per day, and half for each pet. That is SURVIVAL. NOT living. Figure more like 5 gallons each to maintain some little bit of normality. You need drinking water, hygiene water, cooking water, washing up water, and if the event lasts long enough, clothes washing water…

Store lots. As much as you have room for, in different containers. Have multiple ways to treat and make water potable. Your plan should include stored drinking water, stored clean water that can be used for washing, food prep, and made into drinking water.

You should have a filter that will supply your whole family’s needs every day. You should have the means to capture and store water in a long term event. I’ve got a kiddie pool to capture rain water. But I have stored water in case the rainwater or surface water is contaminated. My rainwater capture for the garden doubles as stored “can be made drinkable” water. Counting the rain barrels I’ve got over 500 gallons stored. Over 100 gallons are supposedly ‘ready to drink’ but I usually run it through a Britta filter just for taste. If there was any issue visible or smellable, I’d filter or treat with bleach.

Water treatment plans should include everything from liquid bleach (unsented, plain bleach), Porta-aqua tablets, iodine, the ability to filter and to boil, UV sterilization (there were some neat pen style sterilizers but I never bought one) but systems designed for drinking water aren’t uncommon, and even distillers or reverse osmosis systems (like on a boat) are available.

Know the theory of building a solar still as bushcraft, survival lore, or camping, just in case. Better to practice it but I’m somewhat realistic… at least stack a roll of clear plastic, and a roll of black- they have MANY other uses too.

Water is your first need, and should be treated accordingly. Have choices, fallbacks, alternatives, and ‘just in case’.

So much to stack. So little time. If I only had one choice to make, I’d probably get two Sawyer Mini filters. Because two is one, and one is none. And five new food safe 5 gallon buckets with lids. Put paper cups and the filters in two of the buckets, keep the others to fill as needed.

Stack it up.

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Tues. June 27, 2023 – ‘Real? You think if I could afford a real snake I’d be working in a dump like this?’

Hot. Hoooboyo, it’s hot. Humid too. Mid to high 80s for humidity. And temps to 100F in the shade. Brutal sun. Yesterday, today… likely tomorrow too. It was 86F and 88% RH when I went to bed.

Spent the day like I always do, planning to take over the world… nah, just riding around on machines. I’m getting friction burns where my arms and legs touch the machines. Between the constant jostling and the fine grit sticking to every surface, it’s like being in a rock tumbler.

I updated my progress in yesterday’s comments. I’m going long, as I’m not done and won’t be done today. Or even tomorrow. I am committed to getting everything back together before the Fourth of July weekend, which will be in 3 days. Then I can continue tearing stuff up for the next 4 days.

Hey, maybe the kids will want to operate the machines. I would if I was 12. Heck I’d jump at the chance to try running most machines at my age now. That wouldn’t help my schedule but it would be cool to spend some time on it.

As a side benefit, I’m now confident that I could whip up some earthworks defenses given a skid steer and an excavator. That ain’t nuthin’.

Learn a new skill. Stack up some useful things.


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Mon. June 26, 2023 – ‘a brand new life waits for you, in the offworld colonies..’

Hot hot hot. Humid, drippy, sweating swamp. Ah the joys of summer in east Texas. On the other hand, our housing market is nuts, jobs go unfilled, and our economy is booming. For values of booming anyway. I am starting to get a little sunburned despite the big straw hat and being in the shade and on a machine most of the day. The sun is so hot that I am noticeably darker tan that when I started the project, just from driving the machine through it.

Did a bunch of stuff yesterday. Was not easier, like I was hoping. The ground beam continues to be a major problem. If there was someplace close, I’d rent a concrete saw (like a chainsaw) to cut the beam. It’s far too deep for my walk behind. 40+ year old concrete is HARD. I am making steady progress, but barring a miracle, I’m not going to be done on Wednesday. It’s a lot cheaper to extend my rentals than to do it again later, so I’ll probably just stay up here and continue working.

Today is more of the same. Break the concrete, scoop it up, put it somewhere, scoop up the sand, put it somewhere, scoop up the topsoil, put it somewhere. Check that we’re still reasonably level and at the right depth. Repeat. Two skid steer buckets of rubble. 3 or 4 of sand. 1 or 2 of topsoil. Transferred by the mini-ex at a rate of twelve+ shovels per bucket. Many more partial shovels of broken concrete as it doesn’t fill the bucket well.

Breaking the concrete takes the most time, mainly because of the effort to weaken the ground beam. The actual concrete patio breaks quickly with the big hammer, despite being 8-12 inches thick. Because it’s in layers, I actually break the top layer, then the bottom layer which is way easier than breaking a monolithic slab. Also fortunately, Old Boy used smooth steel ‘pencil rod’ and not rebar. The chunks do not stick to the smooth pencil rod like they would to rebar.

I got a low fuel light on the skid steer this afternoon. Added 5 gallons and got back to half… so it’s a ten gallon tank, and it lasted 4 days. That’s far better than I expected. I’m running the mini-ex about 3:1 vs the skid steer (technically a ‘track loader’.) Maybe 4:1.

I’m holding up ok, despite the time in the seat. I was a bit ‘punchy’ by the end of the day, and decided I was at a good point to look at the electrical at the dockhouse again.

Today will be more of the same. The dumpster should be switched out for new, and it needs it. It’s full to the top. I hope they get to me early in the day, I’d hate to stack the rubble and move it twice. I’ll do whatever it takes though.

If I have to go to town, maybe I’ll look for the electrical stuff I need. If I have time. Which I don’t.

So stack some stuff for your own projects. And food. Always food.

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Sun. June 25, 2023 – a day of rest. …. no, just kidding, more work today

Hot and humid. Of course. But I mean HOT and HUMID. Yesterday was both, but thankfully most of my day was in the shade. Not as much of a breeze as the day before but still not dripping with sweat unless I was in the sun. I’m getting some funny tan lines though.

I fought my way through the most difficult area yesterday, and things should go faster now. The access was so limited that just swinging the excavator from the hole side to the unload side, was a multi-step process. The 20 yard dumpster is almost full to the top. I won’t overfill it, I can stack material and move it twice if I have to.

Had to refill the excavator fuel tank. 5 gallons lasted all those hours. That’s pretty great. I was figuring 5-10 gallons per DAY. The skid steer still has half a tank. It did beep at me and flash an error code.

Thought I’d broken it, but the intarwebs set me straight. The engine had to ‘regen’ whatever that means, and you have to stop work while it does. Something to do with emission control, and it’s VERY expensive if you don’t stop and let it do its thing. It would be nice to have plain english errors, since there is a bright display screen for setup and management that doubles as a backup cam. No, gotta have an icon, and a number in a log. Programmers. Surprisingly hard to find good info online about the errors, and what the icons mean.

Had one scary moment when I got confused, went down instead of up, and raised the mini-ex onto one tread. I was already leaning back and that pitched me far enough I thought I was going over. I don’t think I was actually in danger of flipping it, they have a really low CG, but it felt like I’d F’d up big time. Took a few minutes for my heartrate to return to normal. The online advice, if you get yourself in trouble take your hands off the controls, worked perfectly.

Today I’ll start with some electrical trouble shooting. When I ‘found” the power supply to the dock house, I only pulled the conduit about 10 inches, but it was enough. No power in the dock house. I will investigate that while Sunday morning is happening to everyone else. There are a lot of people at the lake this weekend, and no one wants to hear diesel engines at 8am.

I’ll just make a repair today. I’ll replace the line later with a proper branch circuit in some liquidtight conduit, or at least actual electrical conduit and not PVC water pipe. I don’t have everything I need to do that here yet, nor do I have the time. I hope that I just pulled apart some wire that was only twisted and taped, and that I didn’t rip it out of something hard to replace. It would be nice if his poor work practice helped me this time.

Then it’s back to digging a hole. A really big hole.

Meanwhile, Russia has promised to open the canned sunshine if anyone else FA and FO. I’d say, get some preps together. Lots of them. Stack it high.


(and btw whatever has been eating the peaches off the tree has eaten all but TWO at this point. I don’t thing I’ll get a single peach.)

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Sat. June 24, 2023 – yeah, work but still… lake too

Hot and humid.   Chance of blazing sun.  Most of my work area is in shade, so that is a blessing.    Don’t think it got to 90F yesterday, at least in the shade.   Hoping for the same today.

I got more hole dug.   More dirt piled.   More concrete broken and removed.  Rebar.  Yeah, whatever he used isn’t rebar as it’s smooth, but it’s 5/8″ thick steel rod and it makes breaking the concrete harder.    Pulls right out of the concrete, once you get it moving, with a 5000 pound machine pulling.

Found where I think theburied  video coax in conduit started.   There was a buried empty pipe (because I snagged the contents and ripped it out) at the house under the patio.  It was right under where the DirecTV coax enters the living room.    Maybe the other end is at the dock.  If I have time I’ll look for it.

Forgot to check on the power line I snagged.   I’ll have to do that today.   Fortunately there is only soda in the fridge at the dock house.   It would explain why the porch light wasn’t on last night.   One more thing to fix if so.  (no I didn’t have any locator service, and didn’t check myself because I thought I knew where the run was buried.  Oops.)

Potatoes are still growing.   Only one of the berry bushes is still alive.   Not good results from the Tractor Supply garden center.  Could be my fault though.

Today will be more work.   Concrete removal, sand removal, rinse and repeat.   I need the rain to hold off for a week.   Don’t know if I’ll get my needs met.    Oh, and I have to fix the stuff I broke.   Fun times.

The end result will be worth it.

Just need the world to NOT go nuclear this year.

But if it does, I’m better prepared than I was 5 years ago, and better prepared than most.

Because I’ve got STACKS.   You can too!



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Fri. June 23, 2023 – all my posts are about work…

Hot again.  Yesterday was 10 degrees cooler than the day before and I appreciated it.   Highest I saw was 87F in the shade.   We had part sun and overcast most of the day, so that helped keep it cool too.   I really hope today is similar.

The rain late Wednesday didn’t soak the ground, so I was able to work Thursday.   The sound of a dumpster being delivered got me moving.    Then they swapped out the skid steer.   All in all, I got a bit of a late start.   I’d forgotten that I took time to build my ‘road’ so my math about how much I’m getting done per day was off.   I’m in better shape than I thought.  Assuming I can keep up the pace.

I have been alternating tasks, both to keep myself fresher, and to better use the machines.  When I swap machines I try to do a bit more with the machine so it doesn’t just run for 5 minutes.   Some of that should continue, but some of the stuff I was alternating with should be finishing up.

I should also get faster both through experience and by getting past the scary close to the edge work.   Can’t move fast when falling off an 18″ edge means rolling the machine down 200 ft of hill with water at the bottom…  Even with the seat belt and the roll over protection cage, I am not sure that would be survivable.

I really hope I can pull this off.  It’s a massive amount of work.

And I’ll continue doing it today.   For at least 10 hours in the seat.

I can put in sweat equity.

And stacks.  I can stack.


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Thur. June 22, 2023 – still working, still hot, still not a millionaire

Hot.  Not right away, but I’m sure it will be hot.   And humid.  And if not hot then still humid.    The storm last evening took the temp down to 74F but the humidity stayed high.  I expect it will get pretty hot today.

I did get stuff accomplished.   Won’t say “done” but progress was made and lessons were learned. I’m learning to run the skid steer.   I’ve got a pretty good handle on the mini-excavator, but I do still sometimes move the wrong way and get an unexpected result.

I broke 10 feet of patio, about 10 Feet wide. Took about 2 hours.  Well, the first layer anyway.   I think I broke part of the second layer too, and I’m hoping there isn’t a 3rd.    But that led me to rethink my removal plan.   I’ve got to leave enough I can get the heavy equipment in to do the haul out.   That is going to involve some to and fro, and inefficiency.   I’ll try something in the morning, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else in the afternoon.

One thing I am good at is working around blocks.  If I can’t do this, I’ll do that, and if I can’t do that, I’ll do something else.   Flexibility and the ability to just keep grinding on (persistence) are vital traits when things go wrong.  And they always go wrong.

Make a plan, but don’t be afraid to change it.

And stack the things you need for plan a, b, and c.


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Wed. June 21, 2023 – hot continues, work continues

Hot hot hot…    Last time I looked it was 97F in the shade yesterday, and it got  hotter.  And I was in the sun most of the afternoon anyway.

I wore a big straw hat, my cool vest, and had a fan blowing on my head.   I also drank a lot of electrolyte replacement drink.

It was still hot, and I was soaked to the skin all day.

Still don’t have a dumpster arranged.   WTF is it with people?  I would have moved on if there was a choice.  I’ll try again today.

Running earthmoving equipment is fun.   If not for the heat, I’d be having a ball.  As it is, I’m still enjoying it.

Today is concrete breaking.   I would like to keep digging but I need to know if the concrete will come out and how much work it’s going to be, that was the primary goal for this week after all.  And maybe if it’s as brutal on the body as youtube suggests, I’ll switch to digging later anyway.   In any case, work will happen.   Even if aspirin is involved.

Stacking up some skills!   And improving my situation.

5 stars, definitely recommend.

Stack something  this week.


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