Tues. July 21, 2020 – another day…

Hot, but maybe a bit less.

Yesterday never got as hot as the weekend.  The overcast and rain kept it a bit cooler.  Miserable humidity, but cooler.

After running around all day, getting and fixing a flat, picking up and dropping off, just when I was really getting started in the garage the rain shut me down.

So the plan for today is start back in with that.  Meet the guy from ebay for his pickup, then do some errands.  Easy peasy.

Much easier than helping my 9yo deal with not seeing her friends for months at a time.  She was really upset last night.  It’s not just us, the other kids’ parents don’t want to get together for a virus swapfest either.  Things aren’t ever going back to “normal”.  We’ll adapt to the way things are.  I better figure out how to get the kids started on that.

And myself too.

Keep stacking,  and drop Barbara a note…. AT HOME!  She’s headed home today.   HOOORRRAAAY.

email me if you need the address.


Tues. July 7, 2020 – ay, que loco

Hot and humid, but maybe less so.

Yesterday was cooler in the evening than last week.  Hot during the day though.

I didn’t get much done.  Had to go to my storage unit to get an ebay sale item, then pack and ship that.  Grabbed some useful stuff from the unit while I was there.  On the way home, I cruised the heavy trash piles and easily could have filled the pickup with free firewood.  As it was I grabbed mostly 6-8 inch diameter limbs, all oak, and about 4 feet long.  I’ll get them cut and stacked soon enough now that I have the racks in place.  Having the pickup truck makes it easy to do some things that would be much harder without it.  Scavenging, and transporting building supplies are two that leap to mind.

Today I need to drop off a projector for service, hit the Habitat reStore to see if they have a door that will replace my patio door, and do a quick site visit for my client.  He lost about half his wifi in the house.  I think I probably messed up the PoE or net connection when I was over there last week.  I think I’ll mask up, or at least be back to wearing gloves on site, as I didn’t want to be there for a couple of weeks while the covid cooties died off.

Hopefully I can also find time to drop off some auction stuff too.  Most of my errands are in the Northwest metro area today.   I try to “clump” errands to save driving and time.  Can’t always, but I do try.

Thanks to whoever recommended the Alex Verus magic books, both my wife and I enjoyed them a lot, and are looking forward to the next one.   Harry Dresden and Alex Verus both have new books in the series out this Fall.  That seems a long time away at the moment.

Dinner was mostly leftovers.  A bit of ham steak rounded out the meal.   In times of hardship and privation, throwing out food is very undesirable.   Cooking portions that all get eaten is a learned skill.  Eating the leftovers just takes doing it.  So much easier, and yet I know people who don’t and won’t eat leftovers.  I hope they can continue to be so choosy.

In other news, I had a long conversation with Frances about Barbara’s condition and status.  Good news.  They are transferring her to a rehab facility.  That means that outside of the picc line, she’s off of IV meds, and the infections are taken care of.  The exception being the one in her spine that is causing the pain and disability.  She’s looking at 6-8 weeks of treatment for that, hopefully with prompt and continued improvement.  They are not setting a schedule for when or under what conditions she can return home, she needs to get more mobile, get daily living chores under control, and get the pain under control before then.  However, she’s making progress, and getting out of the actual hospital.   Once she’s settled into the new facility, I’ll pass along contact info for cards or treats.  She’s aware of and grateful for the concern and support from our community.  I should have another update in a day or two.  (and Colin is doing fine with Al as his personal body servant)

And that’s it for this morning.   Keep stacking.



Thur. June 25, 2020 – here I sit…

Hmm, warmer?  Humid.  Really humid.  Wet even.

Yesterday did warm up but didn’t get scorching hot.  The sun never really came out for most of town.  Parts got hammered by rain- I could see the cell dumping on the north side when I was out running errands.  Only spatters here at home though.


Turns out I won’t be buying a new Lexus for the Orthodontist this fall.  The doc said to wait for a while longer before Daughter 1 needs braces on her teeth.  That is a relief for us all.  My wife took her and was impressed with the lengths the orthodontics office went to to prevent infection.

Speaking of, we won’t be going to swim team practice today.  We’ve decided to pull back a bit.  One kid with headache and sore throat, the other with ‘itching’ throat, and everyone seems to have forgotten to even try to distance themselves.   We’re going to be prudent, cautious, and considerate.  I think having a family we know all come down with wuflu has ratcheted up my wife’s concern level dramatically.  She’s quoting local hospitalization rates and available ICU beds to ME….

I have other stuff to do.  With the 4th of July coming, my client wants all his stuff working, and the new stuff all installed.  He’s even got my conduit trenched in.  I thought waiting for that to happen would buy me a lot of time.  So today I have to get up in the attic and pull some cables.  I’m hoping for rain and lower temps out in the country.  Then tomorrow I’ll finish up the install and commissioning of the new stuff.  That’s the plan anyway.  It does mean I’ll be entering the Costco to buy a new TV for him.  He’s tired of waiting for the service guy to make a decision and proceed with the replacement.  When Concierge services does get around to it, we’ll have a hot spare for the next dead tv.

I’m debating whether to do my Costco shopping or not since I’m in the store.  Big difference in my mind between entering, grabbing a TV and exiting, and spending an hour shopping.   I’m leaning toward instacart.  Costco is back to discounts on a bunch of my normal purchases this month, so I’m definitely either ordering or shopping.   I was also thinking about hitting the HEB in person.  There are some items I buy that aren’t listed on the Instacart app, that I’d like to restock.  But again, if we’re pulling back, this is not the time to be returning to the stores.

Am I being consistent or stubborn?  Consistent or unwilling to adapt to changing conditions?  I know which I think is true.

Dinner was mostly leftovers with a bit of rice added, and cookies from mix for dessert.  Mix was BB 2020, so right on time, half a decade early by my usually standards.

I got a brief update from Frances regarding Barbara.  She’s doing better, sitting up, talking, had some of the medical stuff removed, she’s even being funny, but no timeline for her return home has yet been discussed.  They are continuing to test and check for other issues, but it sounds like she’s responding well to the current treatment plan.  Let’s hope that continues.

It’s important to remember that the people driving the BLM movement, Antifa, and the other grab bag of protesters and rioters are still out there doing their thing, or getting ready for their next thing.  Even in Madison WI, one of the most progressive places I’ve ever been, and also a tiny little place on the edge of nowhere, they’re pulling down statues and pummeling state senators.

If anyone here has a credible scenario for how we get back to “normal” by Christmas, feel free to share in comments.  I can not think of what would need to happen for that to work out.   I can think of LOTS of ways things are worse then than now.  So, unless you can do the math, and show your work for how this all ends before the end of the year, it behooves you to make some preparations.

This stuff has a life of its own now, and it won’t want to die.

Keep thinking.  Keep prepping.  Keep stacking.


Sun. June 21, 2020 – Fathers’ Day

Hot and humid.  Possibly rainy.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads.  Becoming a dad and raising my kids has been the best thing that ever happened to me.  It definitely changed my planning horizon  🙂

Yesterday did finally cool off a bit late in the day, but otherwise was hot and oppressively humid.  I was north of the city running my errands, and could see the storm cells south of me.  I did finally move south and got hammered by rain at my secondary location.  As I moved away from there, only a mile west, it was dry as a bone.

I stopped at an estate sale, with a seller that I like whose prices are always good, and LO! the upright freezer they had listed was still there.  Second day, discounted to $200.  It’s older but a good brand and was plugged in and very cold, so I grabbed it.  I’ll have to move even more stuff around in the garage to accommodate it…  Funny thing was, as I was chatting with one of the helpers (who I see and talk to fairly often at sales, and is a friend of a friend) he looked at me and said “how you gonna fill it with meat? Cuz prices are crazy and you can’t get a lot.”   It’s funny because I’ve been wondering the very same thing.  If nothing else I’ve got some redundancy and excess space for a while.  I am going to try to fill it though.

Dinner was beer brats on the grill, with cookies and cupcakes for dessert.

Followed dinner with family game night.  One easy quick game of Sequence, and one long three way battle that ended in a draw.  It’s a fun board game that uses playing cards, and even younger kids can play effectively with adults.  Definitely recommended, and best played with two teams of two.

Sequence is one of my favorites, and I also really like Ticket To Ride.  I’m always up for one or the other.

Later I got an email update from Frances.  They have decide that Barbara has a staph infection and they are going to treat that with antibiotics.  It will be a couple of months if everything goes well until she’s finally done, but hopefully she’ll see some improvement right away.   We’re still holding off on cards and flowers.   I’ll let you know if that changes.


Out in the wider world, we’ve moved to full on third world behaviour.  Mobs are pulling down statues of our country’s founders and military heroes.   Armed insurgents have captured and barricaded off an area inside one of our cities.  They’ve held it, and plan to continue holding it.  Make and adjust your plans accordingly.

Keep stacking.



Sat. June 20, 2020 – another week gone

Slightly cooler, humid, might be some rain.

Yesterday we got rain almost everywhere I wasn’t.    I could see the cell moving across the north side of town as I drove around, but I never had any significant rain hit the truck.  It did rain here at the house according to my  wife,  so I won’t have to water the gardens.  Streets were dry by the time I got home though.

Juneteenth was a nothing burger.  I’ve lived here since ’03 and never was aware of any particular celebration even though it’s supposed to be a Houston thing.  I certainly never heard anything about it in all the years I’ve lived elsewhere.  The scanner had the cops following and keeping an eye on various groups throughout the day, but I didn’t hear about any violence.  I guess it could have gone a different way, and it did bring home the value of the scanner for at least a heads up, since I was completely unaware until I heard the first discussion about the gathering crowd.  I chose a different route for my errand and avoided any potential threats.

Today I’ve got a couple more things to pick up, and then I’m battening down the hatches again.   Too many stories of people who just HAD to go out and break the distancing rules, who are now getting sick.   I don’t feel super anyway, so I’m not risking it.  YMMV.  I am ADVOCATING that you all continue to isolate as much as possible.  I could be wrong and often am, but the downside risk is huge for this one.

Kids are at swim team practice with the wife this morning, and then (possibly) staying for some free swim.  I’m not the boss of her and I know she’ll TRY  to stay separated.  It will also let her take the tenor of the (female half of the) tribes.  Perhaps she’ll get home with renewed commitment to isolating.

It could happen.

Dinner was stewed chicken thighs, in the slow cooker with a sauce packet and veg.  I didn’t have what I usually put in, so I went with onion, turnip, beets, carrots, and apple.  It tasted great.  Just a bit of extra sweet to go with the savory of the spice packet.  Dessert was a cupcake.  Daughter baked cupcakes for our friends with covid, and another family we haven’t seen in  a while.  They dropped them off as a drive by act of kindness.

Some of you know from yesterday’s comments that Barbara is sick in the hospital, which is why she hasn’t posted this week.  Please see my post over at her site for what details we have.  I’ll be passing along whatever she or her sister Frances would like me to.  Please keep  her and those who love her in your prayers.

The one scenario/ contingency I can’t remember Bob ever discussing planning for was his absence.  Give it some consideration in your own situation and planning.

Keep planning, and stacking.




Tues. Feb. 11, 2020 – so much to do

Warmish and wet. [not so much, front moved in, 50F and dripping this am]

Had overcast all day but didn’t get any rain until after 9pm, and it didn’t last long.

Spent the afternoon running around doing pickups and drop offs. So much stuff to do normally, and I’m also trying to step up my preps.

I’m going to try to fit in a Costco run today with all the other stuff going on.

I’ve been a bit casual checking my email lately. I’ve got my reader open to my sales addy, hoping to see orders coming in… so I was very pleasantly surprised to see a note from Barbara.

It was in regard to our discussion of Bob’s works in progress. She didn’t want to pursue the fiction book, and had this to say–

The best prepping insights from Bob are what he posted on the site.

All of his previous science and computer books are now pretty much out of date. Those that are still in print can be found on the O’Reilly site.

I want to thank you, Rick, and all of the readers on Daynotes for keeping his ideas and memories alive.


I’m sure I speak for all of us saying “Thank You” to Barbara for supporting our continued efforts here. It’s a unique place on the web, due to Bob and the readers he attracted. It’s been a daily part of my life, and I’d miss it enormously.

Now, off to work. Go forth and prep, because it’s bad, and it will be getting worse.


Tues, Jan 9th, Nick posting- placeholder- with update from Barbara

Update 13:42. Bob is still waiting to go to a rehab facility. Yesterday morning the place we had lined up decided not to take him because of the trach which they knew about Friday when they offered the bed. Oh well. I ended up staying in Winston yesterday hoping we could get something else worked out. Also, there was inclement weather up here and supposedly heading to Winston so Al and I decided we would stay in our respective locations until today. I spent the morning at the hospital working with the case worker and visiting with Bob. He is doing well BTW. He had a good
PT session and when he speaks slowly and loudly I can understand him even with the trach tube. There are not a lot of choices in our vicinity that will take trach patients but fortunately the hospital is being patient until we can find a place.
Hopefully this is just a placeholder for Barbara’s update, but if she’s busy (and that’s pretty likely!) I’ll open the day.

I’m out and about most of today, nothing like the waste of time involved in a 12 hour appointment window for the gas company. It’s cold today too, 46F, and the house has no heat (‘cuz no gas) so I’m gonna LOVE sitting around there waiting.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

10:20 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, heavily overcast and with a stiff breeze. We’d had 2.4 inches (6.1 cm) of rain since yesterday. I’d have to check my records to be sure, but I think we’re around 10 inches (25 cm) for the month to date. Overnight and tomorrow, we’re to have our first hard freeze of the season and our first snow accumulation.

Barbara called yesterday afternoon to say she’d changed her mind about staying in Winston last night and heading home this morning. Instead, she just stopped long enough in Winston to transfer her personal stuff and things she’d bought in New York to her own car, after which she drove back here to Sparta, arriving at about 19:10.

Colin and I were both delighted. Barbara thought I looked so bad that she wanted to haul me over to the emergency room. I convinced her that wasn’t necessary. She agreed but only if I started doing what she told me. Right now, that’s mainly drinking lots of fluids (even though the doctor said I wasn’t at all dehydrated) and breathing deeply to draw in lots of air (even though my pulse ox this morning was 98, two points better than Barbara’s). I think the problem is that I’m still gradually recovering from pneumonia and still have some congestion in my lower lungs. And I will admit that I’m not drinking anywhere my normal 3 to 4 liters per day. For the last couple of weeks, it’s been more like one liter per day, and sometimes less.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

11:28 – Barbara gets home tomorrow.

It was 42.7F (6C) when I took Colin out at 0625, heavily overcast. I fed him breakfast. His usual, dog food with canned pumpkin on it. He ate the pumpkin, but wouldn’t touch the dog food. This is the third or fourth time he’s refused to eat his dog food since Barbara has been gone. He always eats it, eventually, but I think he’s showing his displeasure.

Afterwards, even though he hadn’t eaten, he whined insistently until I finally gave up at about 0830 and took him out. He promptly disappeared and was missing for 20 minutes. I called him repeatedly and activated his shock collar, but with no result. I was just about to go driving around looking for him. As I walked up the front porch stairs, I heard a jingling. It was his collar making the noise as he trotted across the yard toward me.

The raccoons showed up again last night. It was about 2000, and full dark. Colin was lying at the front door, looking out through the glass storm door, when he let out a yelp that turned into a howl and then maniacal barking. I ran over to the front door and flipped on some of the outside lights, which revealed two raccoons trying to vacuum all the sunflower seeds out of the feeder. They just stared at me. I didn’t have my pistol in hand, and the angles weren’t right for safe discharge anyway, so I bellowed at the raccoons. They took off running down toward the south tree line.

I turned around and went back in the house to get my .45 and big flashlight. Colin was obviously raring to go, so I let him out. He charged down toward the tree line and paused just short of it to sniff. Apparently the two of them had split up there, or perhaps made a jump for refuge in one of the huge pines. I shined my light up around in the trees looking for eyes, but didn’t spot any. (Not that I’d have fired at that angle even if I had seen a target.)

A clarification. When I mentioned that our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars is now 144, sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat, at least one reader thought I intended to rush out and buy 288 pounds of dark-meat chicken and sausage.

Not at all. Those jars are in reserve. At any given time, our big vertical freezer out in the garage may have anything from maybe 50 to 150+ pounds of meat and fish in it, not to mention anything from 50 to 100+ pounds of butter, and other relatively high value frozen foods.

We have very, very few power failures here, and the ones we do have tend to last only a few minutes. If we have a power failure that looks like it may last a few days or so, we can fire up the generator as needed to keep the stuff frozen. But if we have a power failure that looks to be long-term, we’d start pulling out meat and canning it.

With Barbara gone, I’ve been spending some time in the evening watching Youtube videos. There are a boatload of prepping and homesteading channels, and I’ve been sampling many of them. They’re pretty much on a bell curve, with a few that are excellent, a few more that are truly terrible, and the vast majority in the middle.

One of those in the middle is run by a guy who calls himself preppernurse1. He’s in the Rochester, NY area and lives off-grid. He posts videos very frequently, sometimes more than one a day.

He seems obsessed with his PV solar installation. He started two years ago with six 250W (or 280W?) panels and added three or four more last year. He often reports how many kW-hrs he collected the previous day, and the biggest number I remember him reporting was about 2.8 kW-hrs. That’s about what his array should produce gross with just a little over one hour of full sunlight. I don’t know what the average sunny hours per day are in his locale, but surely that figure must be at least 2.5 to 3 hours per day. Sure, there are losses in transmission, inversion, and so on, but his net figure is pathetic.

I see two big problems with his setup:

1. His original six panels are simply leaning against a crude wooden framework, I’d guess at about a 75-degree angle. Almost vertical, in other words. The panels he added later are similarly held in a crude framework, but those are oriented almost horizontally. Neither is at anything close to an optimum compromise angle.

2. His PV panel array appears to be a long way from the charge controllers and battery bank. I mean, a LONG way. And from the one quick glimpse of the cables he’s using to link the panels to the charge controllers, they’re not very thick. If my panel outputs were even 10 feet (3 meters) from my charge controller inputs, I’d want to be using #00 if not #000 copper to link them. At a guess, he may have a 50-foot separation spanned by maybe #12 cables. Voltage drop on a low-voltage DC line is pretty hideous, so just this one factor may be losing him a large percentage of the power his panels produce.

I thought about emailing him, but he has thousands of subscribers, so surely at least one of them has already done so?

Friday, 27 October 2017

10:38 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, clear and calm. We got a later start than usual this morning. That was down to me, not Colin.

Only two more days until Barbara returns home. It seems like she’s been gone a month, literally. I found Colin yesterday sitting at my computer, trying to get me signed up at a singles site. He thinks Barbara is gone forever.

I haven’t seen any more of the raccoons, but I haven’t seen Animal Control at all. They were supposed to come out and set traps. I guess they figured it’d be easier just to let me shoot them.

I mentioned in comments last night that the free ride at Walmart is over. They still offer “free” two-day shipping, but they charge a lot more for the same item if you have it shipped versus picking it up at a store.

Here’s a good example. A gallon of their store-brand vegetable oil, which will cost you $3.68 if you pick it up in the store. They’ll instead ship it to you “for free”, but then the item costs you literally twice what it does in the store.

I looked at prices on literally dozens of items I’ve ordered from Walmart. Some they apparently hadn’t gotten around to changing yet, but most had the shipped price padded, in some cases by more than double.

One of the things they hadn’t gotten around to was changing prices on items in the Saved for Later portion of my shopping cart. This time of year, canning jars are always hard to find and expensive, particularly the name-brand ones. (Avoid store-brand canning jars like the plague; they’re mostly made in China instead of the US and are very inferior quality.) I had a bundle of two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars with lids and bands in my saved cart, so I went ahead and moved it to my main cart, expecting it to jump in price. It didn’t, and it said they had only three left in stock, so I crossed my fingers, updated the amount to 3, and clicked on Order. Once those arrive, they’ll boost our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars from 72 to 144. That’s sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat.

A couple weeks ago, while we were watching a Guildbrook Farms canning video, Barbara mentioned that she’d just as soon stay stocked up on Keystone canned meats rather than canning our own. I agree, except that I want to can some types of meat that aren’t available or are very difficult to find commercially canned. Things like dark-meat chicken, the sausage Barbara buys from Costco and Jimmy Dean, and so on.