Month: December 2023

Thur. Dec. 21, 2023 – not many secrets left on the Advent calendar…

Cool and clear, maybe. Forecast says – no rain. But it’s Houston. Yesterday started nice, warmed up, then got a bit overcast, with patchy clouds late in the day.

I was at home all morning, then picked up the kid. Did my pickups, mostly BOL stuff with a bit of Christmas mixed in. Came home, chauffeured D2 to an appointment, then worked on adding some decor to the yard display.

I got three cheap artificial trees, put them in the yard, and overloaded them with lights. There are colored and white on each tree. Adding the white really gives the trees shape at night, and stands in for snow, right? In any case, they look good and help fill out the yard.

I also got a couple of Star Wars inflatables at Goodwill, the droids and a Chewbacca, both about 5ft tall. I think they are pretty cool. Wife is less enamored. I have just a couple of things I will add, and then I’ll be happy. I’ll try to get to it today, so I can relax.

Today I’ve also got a pickup, or two. I could do them Friday but my wife wants to head to the BOL for a couple of days before Christmas. I’d like to too, but have auction stuff going on that I’d have to move. Since she waffled instead of planning, we’ll probably stay home. Getting the pickups out of the way today gives me options though, and I like options.

Last night while getting dinner ready I discovered that between taking stuff to the BOL, spoilage, use, and a lack of sales for replenishment, I’m almost out of pasta… Hard to believe, but the kids eat a lot of it, and it really hasn’t been on sale in a long time. I must have taken more to the BOL than I thought, as I should have a bucket or two… Maybe they’re at the secondary. Stuff is still scattered around as my ‘clean up and reorg’ project stalled, and hasn’t been completed. FAIL!

While opening buckets I also discovered one of white flour that has water intrusion. So that one is done. I think I’ll pop lids on several buckets and check on the contents. The red beans bucket has an odd smell. Not bad, or offensive, but not neutral like I expected. I’ll have to look at it in daylight.

Check your stacks people! Rotate your stock, and try to use it as part of your daily life. I budget for and accept that I’m going to have higher than average spoilage as my storage conditions are terrible. You should be able to do better than me.

And even if you can’t, more stacks will help compensate. Be like the Quakers, when you plant your garden, plant 10% extra for God’s creatures, and don’t sweat it when they eat.


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Wed. Dec. 20, 2023 – Drawing a blank…

Cold, then warm. Sunny and clear for a while yet. If we get rain over the weekend, it’ll be a wet Christmas, but until then, the national forecast is showing us in the clear. Yesterday was like the day before, and today is supposed to be the same. It’s great.

Did stuff around the house in the morning, then got D1 from school. They are having finals and early dismissal this week, and are off starting Thursday. The parent pickup line is a lot shorter at 12 noon, than at the end of the day. I’m pretty lucky to have the freedom to do it.

Spent the afternoon doing pickups, then spent more than an hour with my auctioneer going over the last sale and what we want to do for the next ones. Short pause for the holidays, then back into it. That’ll do. My items were almost a quarter of the lots last week, which is risky for him, and he makes less money selling my stuff than he does selling his own. His auctions are usually a mix of consignment stuff, like mine, and stuff he’s sourced, and often estate stuff that wasn’t enough for its own stand alone sale. The work of listing and fulfillment is the same no matter the source, so his profit is a mix of how well he gauged the market for my stuff, and his stuff, and the ratio of the two. It’s easier when it’s all his, so including consignment stuff is doing me a favor, in some senses. I guarantee if my stuff didn’t sell for decent money, he’d stop doing it.

FWIW, clothes, books, and the occasional vintage piece are my highest ROI. I’m VERY selective in those categories though, so I expect them to sell. I don’t pick up clothes unless there is something special about them. (Allen Edmonds mens dress shoes, or Lucchese boots, vintage or designer, technical outdoor wear…) Books are old, and usually have a local interest. Plus, I’m getting them at the bins for 50c each. Don’t have to sell for much to make crazy ROI on a 50c item. I shoot for $10-20 for books, and sometimes score with $100 or more. Got $420 for one… I had a designer beanie hat sell for $47 last week. That was probably a 10c purchase… The trick is to either hit more home runs, or increase volume if I want to increase my top line.

Balanced against that is the problem that buyers are paying less than they were a year ago. They just don’t have the cash. If you are selling something they don’t really need, and you are competing with food and rent, you’re going to have a problem. I’M going to have a problem. On the other hand, if you have stuff they need to buy anyway, and it’s cheaper than other retail outlets, you should do ok. As a buyer, those are the places you need to be looking, as I’ve said many times. The secondary economy is going to save you money, and might have stuff you need that you can’t get elsewhere.

One other mitigating factor for me is that people are often willing to spend on their collections or hobbies, justifying it as an affordable splurge. As long as it’s affordable. Markets are complex.

And I see that once again I’ve gotten off into the weeds with my particular situation. I didn’t intend to end up there again.

Did I mention I fixed my garage fridge? That’s a bit more ‘prepper’ content. Food storage, self reliance, fixin’ stuff… It was just some ice build up behind a cover blocking the fan, but it was making a gawdawful noise and wasn’t keeping as cold as it should… and it just started sometime yesterday afternoon. Took the cover off, sprayed everything with the Rain-X DeIcer I mentioned last week, cleaned up, and put it all back together. Success.

But it’s always something….

Stack what you can, find a side hustle.


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Tues. Dec. 19, 2023 – yep, busy day ahead…

Cold and clear. Warming later, to a nice day, then cold. That should be the pattern for a while, with the starting temp slowly falling. Nice day once it warms up.

Did stuff at home in the morning yesterday, waiting to get the eldest child from school. Then did some pickups to the north of me. Today I’ll do pickups to the south…

Got home and made dinner. Visiting sibling so I made one of the picanha roasts (the sirloin cap) with smashed turnips, and brusselsprouts sauteed with onion and truffle oil. D2’s homemade Tollhouse cookies for dessert. Kid is learning to make some fine cookies. Then we did a small gift exchange. Sibling will not be here for Christmas, so we did it early.

These are the good ole’ days.

I’m still thinking about a bigger post. Have to get some quiet time to get it together. And some things have to work themselves through in my head…

In the mean time, the best advice I can give, you’ve heard about a thousand times, stack what you’ll need. Getting it might be a problem sooner than you think.


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Mon. Dec. 18, 2023 – one week to go!

Cold and clear. Supposed to be dry. It was cold and clear at the BOL until it warmed up, and then it got to mid 70s. It was pretty cold again as soon as the sun went down.

I spent Sunday doing the things I’d gone up to do. Took longer to unload the truck than to winterize. It’s much easier if you plan for it when doing the construction. In this case, I’d put all the hose bibs on a separate loop of pex that I put a valve on. Close the valve, open the hosebibs, and no worries about them freezing.

I also did what I could to drain the irrigation system, and opened the valves, and disconnected the hoses from them. I hope that’s enough to prevent damage. Of course, it might not freeze this year.

Or it might.

I spent about an hour chatting with my fisherman buddy up there, and his wife, before I drove home. Meatspace.


Today is half day for the kids, so that cuts my day short. I’ve got a couple of pickups, and a drop off at my auctioneer. Some shopping to do. Some cleaning. And maybe some more decorations in the yard… I really like colored lights better than white.

Oh, and I need to re-bait all the poison boxes for the rats. There was evidence they’ve returned in the attic.

Later my sibling will come over and we’ll trade gifts. Won’t open them but we’ll have ours and he will have hers… or she will have his. Or “they” will have “theirs” to take home and open on Christmas.

There were roses on the rose bushes at the BOL, so even though I missed most of the color in the tree leaves, I did see that… take your joy where you find it.

Keep it close, nurture it, and stack.


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Sun. Dec. 17, 2023 – a bit chilly, perfect for feeling like Christmas is coming…

Chilly and damp, 40F and then warming. It was 40F last night at the BOL. Supposed to be clear for a couple of days.

Got a late start to things yesterday but eventually got the truck loaded and headed to the BOL. Stopped on the way to pick up an item that hadn’t been shipped, even though it’s been a month or more. It will let me do a repair on something I’d written off as too expensive to fix.

Won a few things for Christmas presents, and a couple of things for the BOL. I’ll pick them up this week.

Today I need to unload the truck, put stuff away, and winterize the hose bibs and outdoor shower water heater. I’ll do some Christmas things if I have time. We’ll be back up after Christmas and I’d like to walk into a decorated house. I’d like to put up some lights here too. I’ve got the lights, but don’t know if I have a good way to hang them…

I’ll take some colored lights home to put up there too.

I spent some time thinking about truly bad things happening while I was sitting by the fire last night. I think I have a nice post coming up, if I can organize my thoughts.

In the mean time — stack.


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Sat. Dec. 16, 2023 – probably headed to the BOL to do some work…

Cool and wet. It was drizzling from evening on yesterday, and was still coming down at 1am. I am hoping it stops so I can take a truckload of stuff to the BOL, but if it doesn’t I’m might take what I can and go anyway.

Or I might stay home today and put up the tree. It’s a pretty skinny “Charlie Brown” tree this year. Kids picked it out so I guess it’s fine. At least it has short needles.

Did a couple of pickups yesterday. Stuff to flip, some Christmas decor, and some stuff to take to the BOL. I have been cutting back on auction purchases dramatically. My average ticket total is a third of what it was a year ago. That’s partly due to not needing to buy as many things, partly due to more self control about need vs want, but mainly because prices for the stuff I am buying are dramatically lower than they were. As a buyer, that’s great. As a reseller, that sucks. As an observer of the economy, it’s very worrying.

These are not quite yet the times that try mens’ souls, but they can be seen approaching.

Get yourself squared away.

Stack what you need, deep and high.


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Fri. Dec. 15, 2023 – soon this year will be over… but not soon enough.

Cool again. Overcast again. National forecast says rain and thunderstorms are possible. The morning overcast cleared yesterday to leave a very nice sunny day, until evening when the overcast moved back in. Saturday is supposed to be nice.

I did some pickups all the way across town and far to the south. The most notable thing is the amount of new construction that I saw. They’ve been throwing up new mega-apartment complexes in Houston and surrounds, but this was the first one I saw so far south. It is right in the path of almost any hurricane, and built in an area that floods. New residents from Cali and NYFC won’t know that, so I guess it will work…

Today I have some more auction stuff to pick up, and some other stuff to do around the house. I might head to the BOL tonight, but more likely is tomorrow, so I can grab some auction pickups on the way. There is one that isn’t on the way that I will call and see if I can get them today. Most auctioneers don’t want late pickups, but maybe he’ll go for an early one.

In other news, Elon must have gotten a few more sats in space, because Starlink is available at the BOL again. Now I’m faced with making the decision. It’s pricey, but will let my wife work from home if we are up there, and will let me get some cams in for monitoring the place. I’m going to talk to our friends up there and see if they want to share. I think they are already splitting their new service, as he asked me for advice on sharing network between a couple of houses…so it might just be us. The guy who was initially interested in sharing backed out.

Shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone here that the internet has become so important that I’m seriously thinking about paying double what we pay for fiber here to get it at a place we use one weekend out of the month. I kind of like being out of touch when I’m up there, but my wife would like to be able to spend more time there when the kids are off school but she’s still working. Hmmm. Something to think about, since it won’t be an issue until summer, or possibly spring break.

I vac sealed and froze some more meat yesterday, and added it to the stacks. I’ve been adding other stuff, and getting stuff for the BOL, rather than food, for the most part this year. I’m hoping that doesn’t come back to bite my behind, but other than meat, there isn’t a lot I can add that I’ll use before the cans explode, if the worst case situation doesn’t happen. That’s a good place to be, and I’m glad for it, but now I need to balance between here and there. Might be time to rotate a couple of buckets of flour for example, rather than just add one, same with some seasoning packets, and other things. Or not, as even less that perfect food is still food when it’s all gone pear shaped. I think organizing and swapping my storage around is probably a better use of my time.

Time. Ask me for anything but time. Well, I better get started on the list, because they aren’t making any more time… everyone gets the same amount every day, you can’t ‘save’ it, and you don’t ‘waste’ it. It just is.

So do something. And stack. Or stack. But stack.


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Thur. Dec. 14, 2023 – can’t quite put my finger on it, but…

Cool and wet. Dreary. Not festive. Grey. And supposed to be wetter. All things I don’t like. Yesterday was like that too, with only a little bit of scattered misty drizzle, or very light drizzle. Stuff barely got wet, but the roof edges were dripping. And it was cold enough for a jacket all day. Today should add heavier rain to that, although I don’t know how much.

I did my errands yesterday. Got rid of the carpet I pulled up in the library/kid’s toy room/former formal living room. Put some of the lights I bought dirt cheap into storage. Got stuff out of my pickup truck cab and bed. Dropped off some stuff at my auctioneer. Picked up the kid and ran her around to her stuff–which takes a couple of hours every afternoon. I’m the stay-at-home, so it’s my job, and I shouldn’t whine, but I’ve been able to avoid doing it consistently until now. I’ve got some adjusting to do with regard to my attitude and expectations.

Today I’ve got an item here, and an item there, and a third item somewhere else, so I’ll be driving around dealing with that. I’m also taking an item I did some repairs on back to my auctioneer. One of his guys needed a hand getting a thing running, and I had the stuff to do it. Favors. Exchanges. The ties that bind. Meatspace. You need to be out of the house and doing stuff with people.

When push comes to shove, who you know and who knows you is going to be REALLY important. You need to be cautious, you need to be circumspect, you need to protect yourself, but you also need to be meeting people. People who you can help, who can help you. People who can get you what you need when you can’t find it yourself, people who will be glad to know you. You don’t have to be the guy with the good stuff for sale, you can be the guy who always BUYS the good stuff. That guy is very valuable to someone with stuff to sell. That guy isn’t someone you give up to the secret police. That’s a guy you help and protect because he puts food on your table. Be the guy other people value, for your knowledge, your attitude, the stuff you have, or what you can do with it.

And stack. Because stacking makes sense…


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Wed. Dec. 13, 2023 – suddenly time is slipping by again…

Cool and clear, warming later. It was actually a pretty nice day in Houston yesterday. Warmed up a bit, wind gentled, and the sun stayed out. Nice sunset too. It would be great to have another day like that.

I spent the nice day driving to my pickups, after doing my morning home stuff. Then picked up the kid and hit the HEB. Prime sirloin was on sale again, $5.99/pound. No limit so I bought it all but one tray.

They had cream in stock again, which was nice. Seafood counter looked sad, run down, and unappealing. Saved about 15% off my ticket with in store coupons and the meat discounts. That’s a bit better than my usual 10-12%.

I did notice they are slicing the sirloin thinner than they used to. 1/2 inch vs 3/4 inch. Still paying by weight, but it gets the price per tray for two steaks down a bit. At $6 I don’t care much, they are usually $20/pound though and taking a third off the plate reduces the sell price a lot.

My average ticket total is still up significantly from before the chinkyflu/biddenomics.

Gas is $2.49/gal so that’s better. Diesel still about a dollar more.

It’s not getting better overall though.

Do what you can. Learn. Build. Stack.

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Tues. Dec. 12, 2023 – 12122023 – not quite time for a ‘year in review’ post…

Cool again, not cold. I hope. Because it was pretty dang cold yesterday, 36F when I got the kid on the bus. My buddy at the BOL said it got to 31F but warmed up shortly afterward. I’m hoping the lines I didn’t drain haven’t frozen yet, and kicking myself for not getting up there.

I should have been back at the BOL this last weekend, but my holiday party got in the way. Now I’m worried that the instant hot water heater for the outdoor shower got ruined, or the hose bibs I didn’t drain got damaged, or even that the irrigation system is even more broken than it was. It wasn’t cold for long, so I think everything will be ok so far.

Spent yesterday trying to do stuff around the house. Had to get the kids in the afternoon which really shortens my day. I’m going to have to get out of the house sooner if this continues, or I won’t get anything done. I did get a few things done, including tearing out the last of the original carpet in the house. It was in the “toy” room, and was old and nasty when we moved in in ’08. White carpet. Two kids, and a dog. The Bissell worked well, and the home version does a pretty good job, but it still accumulated stuff that just wouldn’t go away. This time, rather than clean it, I ripped it out.

I have enough of the same engineered hardwood flooring we put in the rest of the house to complete this one room- planned it that way, and stored a pallet of material at my secondary against the day, but now IDK if my wife will still want to go that direction. For now it will be concrete with a throw rug. Like the living room at the BOL… Because to do the job we’d have to move the book cases too. And that would be a task. (I just cut the carpet around them for now.) It’s always something.

Today should be me out of the house collecting some stuff for the stacks. I’ve got pickups all over town, and some people to see. Maybe even a drop off for my auctioneer too. It would be nice to continue some of the progress I’m making clearing stuff out.

I’m trying to make the hay while the sun, she is a shining…

And stacking. Doing that too.


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