Month: November 2023

Thur. Nov. 30, 2023 – The best time to plant x is 5/10/15 years ago…

Cool to cold, grey, with a chance of rain. Avoided rain yesterday, which was nice, but I don’t know if we can avoid it today. I’m still hoping so as I’ve still got things to do with the pickup truck’s open bed.

I was able to do my pickups yesterday but no drop off. I’ve now got a ton of stuff to go to the BOL, and no way to do so this weekend without a lot of “messing around.” Wife will be out of town, so I have the kids with me, so I can’t go up in the pickup. Her Honda is WAY overdue for a timing belt replacement, we both suddenly have bad feelings about driving it on a 300+ mile trip, way out in the country and far from home… the service is scheduled, and she’ll drive it as needed locally until then. Just don’t want to take the chance of blowing up the motor out in the woods. That leaves taking the Expy and a trailer. Which I will consider for the next day or two.

Today will be me moving stuff around and getting ready for the weekend, whatever that ends up bringing. I will try again to get at least a few things dropped off, and if I can’t, I’ll stack them with several other bins, ready for next week.

It’s not like I don’t have stuff to do at home this weekend if I don’t get up to the BOL. I’ve got plenty, including stuff that got pushed from previous weekends. Outdoor stuff, indoor stuff, ‘skull sweat’ stuff… maybe even fun stuff.

And there is the stuff the post title alludes to. It’s a joke, but also a truism, and SteveF reminded me of it this week. At it’s base, it’s an admonition to DO THE THING that needs doing. And to KEEP DOING THE THING that needs doing. Do it NOW and you will find in the future that you DID it 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. Planting a tree is an incredibly optimistic thing. It’s a statement that you spend some of your limited time and resources on something you may never benefit from. It’s the embodiment of your belief that there WILL BE a future.

Get out there and plant a tree. Start the training course. Take something apart and figure out how to fix it. Not all the planting is literal… Some day in the future, you will be glad you did.


(oh, and stack. Always.)

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Wed. Nov. 29, 2023 – more stuff, more stuff to do

Cool again, some chance of rain. I’m hoping not in my neighborhood, as there is stuff in the back of my truck I’d like to keep dry. We’ll see what happens. Cool seems pretty certain. It stayed cool yesterday, even in the sun, which was playing hide and seek depending on what part of town I was in.

And once again I found myself in far too much of town. Not quite as much as Monday, but more than I’d like. Over a hundred miles of driving in any case. And now the bed of my pickup is full with stuff that should go to the BOL, but since I’m not going for a while, I have to stash it somewhere. Or maybe I SHOULD go up this weekend…

Today I’ve got one pickup that I couldn’t do yesterday. I waited an hour plus, and never got the stuff. Today I’ve got an appointment, so we’ll see if it goes any better. My guess is not much. This seller doesn’t seem to care about the customers at all. And there are other sketchy things about them, but nothing you can point to with any certainty. Someone said they thought about 75% of small businesses were really money laundry operations, and the auction reseller business is pretty well suited to it, if that’s your thing. It’s funny that when I was describing my experience to another auctioneer, the first thing they said was “money laundry”…

So I’ll do a pickup, a drop off if I can, and I’ll find someplace to unload my truck for a few days.

Daughter has an appointment in the late afternoon anyway, so that’s a hard end to my day.

Hope I get the things I need to do, done.

I hope you do too. Including stacking…


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Tues. Nov. 28, 2023 – my brain, my poor little brain…

Cold, but warming. No rain today but it’s on the way. I don’t think yesterday got above 65F as the sun got hidden behind some overcast before noon, and never made it back out. Today might be the same.

I spent Monday driving all over town doing pickups. Did a big circle, mostly just outside the Beltway, which is the second ring road around Houston. 99, or the Grand Parkway is the third and isn’t complete yet, but where it is done, it is living up to author Joel Garreau’s prediction/theory/observation. In his book Edge Cities, which I recommend as a very well written look at how and why things ACTUALLY get built, he observes that modern mini-cities develop at the intersection of a ring and spoke road outside of a traditional big city. You can see it happening here in Houston, in almost real time.

Anyway, I did a big circle around Houston, only cutting through town on the east side instead of following the circle- mainly because there is water and garbage dump on that side, so the outer ring isn’t being built. It’s also massively built out with petrochemical processing plants, and they aren’t going anywhere.

I’ve got some more pickups to do today, but not in such a smooth circle. I’ll be out west in Katy, then south east in Dickinson. Then I’ll head home. It’s more of a diagonal line, that will combine several stops, but still seems like a lot of wasteful travel. I just couldn’t get my Dickinson pickup into my schedule yesterday so I will be retracing some of my steps. Also what I didn’t count on yesterday was about $30 in tolls. It’s easy to forget you are being charged with the autopay and open road tolling. I’ll try to take that into account today and save a couple of bucks if I can.

These pickups are some spare parts, some Christmas stuff, some domestic home use stuff, and a few items for the BOL.

In between yesterday’s running around I got some domestic bliss in. Laundry, picking up the kitchen, folding clothes. All the un-glamorous stuff that makes the household run.

Wife is still feeling poorly, and D1 is starting to complain she doesn’t feel well either. I’ve been overdue to change the HVAC filters and I think that might contribute. I feel it when I come home. Someone stopped the amazon subscription for the filters that would remind me to change them. Someone. Not naming any names, but IDK why they stopped, or why they won’t start them up again. There are mysteries in the everyday…. I have purchased some in the auctions in the mean time, and will be picking them up today. I’ve seen how nasty the current filters are, and I think it can’t hurt anyone’s health to get them changed ASAP. The red shirts don’t just die on away parties, they keep the dang ship running… when they’re doing the job. Dang red tunic looks terrible on me.

Filters. Wiper blades. Lubricants. Cleaners. All sorts of expendables. Do you have enough stacked?

If not, why not? Stack them up…


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Mon. Nov. 27, 2023 – the map is not the territory

Cold and maybe not damp but I bet it feels like it. The forecast says <40% RH and a temperature range from low 40s to high 50s. That is enough to make my hands and joints hurt. We never did get rain yesterday, which let me get some lights and decor up. I feel less like a slacker with some stuff up.

I only felt slack because I pushed my own workdays back a couple of times. I wouldn’t normally have stuff up any earlier. So far it’s pretty restrained and monochromatic. Seems to fit the times, but then, I might have to stick my thumb in the times’ eye and have some color exploding all over everything…

Or not. We’ll see how much time and energy I have while doing all the other things that need to be done before the end of the year.

Today I’ll be doing some pickups, and jebus willing, a drop off. It would be nice to collect some checks too. Even here at stately Flandrey Manor, the light bill and water bill need to be paid, and evil megacorps don’t give their product away. Unfortunately, even my AAA+ clients are slow payers this go round. There is a fair amount of that in the world at the moment, and I’m not the only one noticing.

So, more stuff goes on the block. There is enough of it… and I need to get some of it back up on ebay too. I’ve been putting that off, but I don’t think I can delay any more. Plus I’ve got some leftover industrial stuff that I’ve been trying to get to the appropriate auctioneer, but he’s been jammed with bankruptcy sales. It would be nice to move some of that stuff out of here. This isn’t a great season for reselling, unless you have Christmas gift items. It is normally slow until February. But it is what it is, and who knows, it might be better than expected.

And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

In the mean time, there is plenty of prepping related stuff to do. You can’t just read about it, you have to do it. You will inevitably find that there was more to it than you thought, or that you couldn’t quite make something work, or that you were missing a critical piece. You have to do it. Pick something in your preps and use it this week. Be sure it will work.

And stack. Because that’s the EASY part.


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Sun. Nov. 26, 2023 – less than a month ’til Christmas…

Cool and clear, sunny. Yesterday was pretty dang nice. Some clouds, and overcast at the Ren Faire most of the afternoon, but nice temps. It would be great if today was the same.

My summary of my day at the Texas Renaissance Faire is in comments yesterday. I enjoyed it. Not a cheap day out, but a day out in the woods, and there was certainly plenty to look at. D2 enjoyed it, which was the main point.

Today I’m hoping to get some Christmas decor and lighting set up. I’ve got a bunch of new lights and some other stuff for this year, and I don’t have a clear idea of what I have or how to use it best, so I have some experimenting to do. I’m also looking at getting a bunch of cheap artificial trees and setting them up outside as part of the display. A forest of Christmas trees, as it were. We’ll see what I end up with. Figuring it out on the fly is part of the fun for me.

I think that public participation in the rituals and traditions of our culture is vitally important, not only for my own kids, but for the continuation of our culture in general. We celebrate a secular version of Christmas, not a religious one, and yeah, I get the issues with that, but it’s what we do… and Americans basically invented most of that from the whole cloth, or stole bits and pieces shamelessly to suit ourselves. It works for us and provides a framework for the coming month. It builds family memories and traditions too. These ARE the ‘good old days’ so do your best to make sure they are “good”.

We are fighting for our very existence culturally. I’ll take every thing I can that helps.

Stack it up, go the extra mile, be the force for change.


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Sat. Nov. 25, 2023 – plans, don’t know why I bother…

Cool and hopefully clear today. D2 made plans. It got to be clear and sunny yesterday, late afternoon. I almost spent the day putting up decorations, but then had other things to do.

Like pick up my Expedition from the repair place. $1400 lighter and I still don’t have a passed inspection. What I do have is new brakes in front, a new sensor, some dirty injectors and fresh oil… and instructions to drive about 100 miles to see if any of the old codes come back. He only changed the sensor for the code that returned after clearing three…

I did get a little auction stuff done and a little clean up. Damn little, but baby steps are still steps. Or that’s what I keep telling myself.

Today D2 wants to go to the Ren Faire. I like that sort of thing, although I won’t be dressing up. D2 will be dressing up. I’m just there for the meat on a stick. It’s the last weekend for the Faire, and I have no idea what the crowd will be like. I don’t think anyone would consider attacking a Ren Faire, but ya’ never know. Arms are not allowed and edged weapons must be ‘peace bonded’. Kid will be carrying a big pointy pig sticker. It’s chinese and doesn’t have sharp edges but the thing would go right through you if applied in the right direction. Should be fun, and it gets us out of the house. Assuming it’s not pouring down rain.

So we’ll be out making memories of the good ole days. Stack them up too.


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Fri. Nov. 24, 2023 – Friday of color. And fistfights over cr@p.

Cool and damp again, possibly upgrading to ‘wet’. It was off and on drizzle most of yesterday here in the swamp, so I sat and watched youtube vids instead of putting up Christmas decorations.

It was odd, not having an agenda for the day, once the decoration stuff went out the window. I did throw ingredients into the breadmaker so we’d have a fresh loaf. I went with the ‘oatmeal’ bread recipe that came with a breadmaker I never owned, and have used for a couple of decades. I think I got the recipe book from a friend, and the times don’t quite match any ‘maker I’ve ever owned, but they work fine. The oatmeal bread recipe is a favorite. Fluffy, chewy bread, no hint of the oatmeal in the taste or consistency.

Wife and kid2 outdid themselves with the dinner cooking and pies. I just had to cut and serve…

I did do some more sorting and cleaning and getting stuff ready for auction. Partly that was to clear space for the Christmas tree. Partly it was because it needed doin’. And I’ve been feeding DVDs into the computer to add to the ripped library. I found a box full that I had forgotten about and I’m getting back into the habit of feeding them in. I’ve still got several banker’s boxes to rip but they are not where I see them every day. I am finding a fair amount of duplicates as I go, but that’s ok, they were cheap. Getting them ripped means the media can go into deep storage and not be in the house.

I also did a bit of Friday of Color shopping online last night. I ended up buying a couple of things that were heavily discounted. Passed on the item that was only discounted slightly. I will put it on my Christmas list, and maybe I’ll get it. I don’t need it soon anyway (it’s a desolder gun, similar to the Hakko one that is the industry standard at its price point. I’ve wanted one for over a year, but can’t justify spending the money on myself, when my old bulb sucker works ok.) Not having a good solder removal tool makes it easy to put off doing repairs. I would like to eliminate some of the reasons NOT to do things in my life.

That is a goal for me in general for the coming year. Make it easier to ‘do’, than to ‘not do’. And of course to continue improving my situation. Doing things should help with that.

Join me won’t you? Get a jump on your New Year’s resolution.

Stack something. Get the stuff you need to do something that needs doing. And then do it.


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Thur. Nov. 23, 2023 – 112323- Happy Thanksgiving Day

Cool and damp. Chance of rain? Same as most days. Part clouds and light rain in the local forecast. We had all kinds of weather yesterday, with the exception of heavy rain.


Another year has gone by and we’re still here. Slightly worse off. Slightly more broke. Slightly fewer freedoms. But. We have much to be thankful for. Family. Friends. Time to get ourselves ready for what is coming. Robert believed that would be a slow slide into economic collapse. I believe it too, although the shape of the slope and how long it can take are up for grabs.

I’m thankful the slide is slow. That we have time to try to improve our outcomes. That we can mostly just live our lives.

I’m thankful that you all keep coming around and sharing in my life, and sharing your lives with us. It’s a pretty unique place on the web, and I like it a lot. Thank you to Rick for the help and support. Thank you to the others with the ban hammer for your help. And thank you to Barbara who lets me continue to keep the doors open and lights on.

Take some time today to count your blessings, because even the most wretched among us is still blessed compared to about 99.999% of those who have ever lived on this earth.

Take your joy where you find it. And keep stacking.

nick flandrey

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Wed. Nov. 22, 2023 – 112223 – Well now. Better get some groceries in for the big feast…

It’s supposed to be in the low 60s and partly cloudy today. And we might have that. Some places. And for a while. It’s just as likely to be warmer and colder, rainier and drier. Yesterday certainly was.

Spent the morning getting caught up with online stuff, and doing my normal at home morning stuff, mainly auctions. Had to take the kid to a “not a date” with some other kids. On my way home I dropped the Expedition at the repair place. I’m overdue for an inspection and won’t pass with a ‘check engine’ light, so there needs to be some diagnostic work and probably some part swapping before I have a chance of passing. It’s probably emissions related too. I should hear something from him today. Even a truck that is 6 years old is too new to work on without a ton of specialized tools and knowledge. All the mileage and eco cr@p grafted on to meet arbitrary standards does not increase simplicity or reliability. Or economy in the economic sense.

In the mean time, I’ll drive the Ranger for my errands today. I’ve got pickups, a trash run, and possibly a drop off to do. As vehicles become more computer than machine, Pournelle’s observation that to keep n computers running takes n+1 computers, starts to apply.* I’m fortunate to have the choice of vehicle, like I have the choice of tool for the job.

One of the errands will be hitting the grocery store for some stuff for Thanksgiving dinner. If we had to we could go with what we have in stock, but some things are time savers- like the refrigerated pie crust. And some things it’s nice to have fresh versions, like fresh apples instead of canned filling. In any case, I’ll be shopping this afternoon. I wonder what inventory is going to look like. I know prices will be higher than last year.

Which brings me back to my broken record. We’re living in the beginning of a serious decline. It might be the 70s, to be followed by the 80s rebirth and exuberance, or it could be the 20s-30s and the misery that only ended after the war ended. But even that was followed by the 50s and the explosion of our industrial might. Point being that things are going to get worse before they get better. They might get a LOT worse. But there are steps you can take to ease the passage to the good times that will follow.

It’s not impossible, or even particularly hard. You just need more of all the stuff you won’t be able to afford or even get at any price, to carry you through. You need a way to continue bringing in money/valuable stuff, so that you can get some of whatever is available. The harder part is being in the right place, and surrounded by the right people. But I’m pretty sure we can all identify what places NOT to be, and what people to avoid.

Make your plans and work the plan. Be flexible, and open to opportunity. There will be a great many of them as things undergo tremendous change. Don’t hold on to the wrong stuff or the wrong ideas for too long either. Now more than ever be aware of fighting the last battle, and not what is actually happening. With planning, foresight, flexibility, and luck we can get through this, and even thrive.

Keep your head on a swivel, and keep stacking.


*I haven’t missed the joke in his statement, it’s just that there is often truth in jest.

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Tues. Nov. 21, 2023 – kids are at home for break, so I’m not working…

Cool, and damp. Partly cloudy, but not raining? We’ll see about that. Had a day with all the weather at the BOL. Sun, overcast, rain, wind, calm, and clear. All in about 14 hours. And it was mostly 65F through all that.

I got up early for the second day in a row, ate a hearty breakfast, and got to work… no, not really. I got to playing games with D2 and my wife. Played a few rounds of Rumikub and THEN went to work. Finished the trim on the twice danged garage entry door. (“danged” didn’t get a spell check wavy line, who knew??) Then in between periods of rain and clear and rain, I got a few things done. Sorted and put away stuff that had piled up. Cleared some debris. Got the pole saw out and did some limb trimming. Trees, not mine.

I was stacking the firewood when the rain came back, again. Then it stopped and I decided to fish. It was a beautiful dusk and sunset, after the grey dreary day. And I caught a bass. It’s possible, I’ve done it. Now to catch something I can eat…

Hey it was a great weekend from a prepper point of view. I ate venison, and the kids liked it too, and I caught a fish. My drainage changes around the house work, and just need a bit of refining (I didn’t go big enough with the execution of some of it.) I improved the safety and security of the house, a little bit anyway, and stacked a little bit more firewood. Baby steps are still steps, amiright?

So keep stacking, and keep plugging away at whatever you need to do to improve. Every little bit helps.


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