Sun. Jan. 3, 2021 – when I say ‘keep stacking’ I’m speaking literally…

Cold and clear today, with some sun and wind.  It was downright chilly when I went to bed, 37F, so I’m expecting the day to start near there, and warm to mid 70s.

Like it did on Saturday.

Which I spent entirely indoors, fixing minor household issues, moving stuff around, and doing some minor organizing.  Basically more time off after sleeping very late.

I was asked in a comment yesterday about my organization system, or lack of one, with a youtube of Fibber Mcgee’s closet as an example… that was more true to life than I’d like to admit.  So here it is, my very slapdash dis-organization methods.

Unlike Commander Zero (who everyone should be reading for prepping stuff anyway) I am not particularly organized. Or rather, not rigidly structured. I tend to organize in a very ‘macro’ way by keeping stuff in ‘clusters’ or areas for lack of a better word. The plumbing parts are all in one place. The electrical parts are in their area. Bike stuff is in one spot, etc.

Like goes with like.

I know what I have by going thru it every so often, usually while looking for something. That’s why it’s easy for me to have too much of something- I just keep stacking it with like stuff and don’t account for it very well until I realize “OH, I’ve got a LOT of coleman lanterns hanging from the rafters in that part of the garage.”   On the surface it looks very random, but it is actually pretty efficient most of the time, and it avoids two problems- getting caught up in the SYSTEM while losing sight of the goal, and spending time on admin rather than productive work.

One of my philosophical approaches it to ‘just get started’.

I’ve talked about it in terms of ham radio – don’t agonize over how to program your radios, which radio is best, which software or channel list is the best, BUY SOMETHING and START USING IT.  Start cheaply and figure out if it’s good enough, or if you want to get more involved.

With food storage, I don’t worry about calorie counts, or nutrition, or getting the perfect balance of stuff.  I started buying extra of my normal shopping and then added to that.  Food on the shelf is a whole lot better than the Mountain House pallet of freeze dried you never bought because you couldn’t commit to spending $5000…. and if you aren’t starving or wasting away on your current diet, it will keep you sufficiently fed and healthy during the hurricane and recovery.

I want to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ and also avoid spending time on building a perfect inventory system, instead of building up stocks of supplies.  I acknowledge that this is sometimes inefficient.  I’ll buy and have too much or too little of something.  But I have SOME of it, which is better than NONE of it.  And EVERYONE complains about keeping their inventory current, and the work involved.  One of the lessons I’ve learned from this pandemic is that my assumptions were wrong anyway.  My 6 months of peanut butter became 12 months worth, or even forevers worth, as my kids’ usage changed.  Ditto for breakfast cereal.  WAY too much on the shelf, because our eating patterns changed.  The inventory spreadsheet wouldn’t help me with that…

So what do I do?  First off, books are special.  They are actually organized.

My books are sorted and shelved by subject for non-fiction and reference. Fiction is all alphabetical by author. I never have enough shelves.

The rest of the stuff is literally in stacks. And yes, sometimes it’s like a jenga game to get the piece I want. Usually though, I just have to move a couple of things.   It helps that a lot of the stacks are made up of flip top crates.

Yesterday for example, I decided to replace the fill valve in the hall toilet. It’s not flushing right, and I think it’s because the fill isn’t happening right. There should be water at the bottom filling the tank while it’s still flushing, not just the tube filling the bowl. SO- I know I’ve got toilet fill assemblies. I did some replacement/repairs to the toilet in the master bath not too long ago and went through the boxes then. Out to the garage, up the steps into the attic, plumbing parts are in boxes just to the right, next to the irrigation parts, and the spare jars… Pull the plumbing boxes and go thru them to pull out the 3 fill assemblies. Take them back to the bath, pick the one that matches best, install it. Clean and put the old parts in a box so I have spare components for next time. (I did find that there was some blockage from a deteriorating plastic piece.) All the plumbing stuff goes back into the boxes and they go back into their spot in the attic.  Job done, not much more time than looking up where a piece might be, and then retrieving it but without any of the overhead of tracking what I have outside of my own head.

Electrical stuff is clustered in the same area.  There are a couple of boxes of electrical parts and supplies on the other side of the plumbing parts.  That is my ‘bulk construction type stuff’ area.    There are also more commonly needed repair and install parts in a drawer in a cabinet in the garage. And stuff I use for work has a box in the truck…  Those are three clusters by themselves- the drawer unit by the garage door has parts and pieces I need often, the attic has stuff that is more for construction and occasional repair, and the truck has stuff I need for work.

Camping stuff is in bins on the patio, next to the cabinet that has more camping stuff. Bike stuff is in another bin. The pool stuff is all going to storage for the season, but was stacked on the patio in a group.

There is an area of the garage that has a lot of bulk medical in bins, but there is also normal use med stuff in the hall bathroom. Most of the normal inventory is lined up on cabinet shelves, oldest in front, newest in the back, just like a store.  Medicines, first aid, and OTC stuff is clustered near point of use, the central bathroom.  A couple of steps away, in another closet, the grab and go med bags live with some other more “doctor” type stuff.  It’s a cluster, but more for emergency use than everyday, and thus it’s separated on purpose.

In fact most things have an area where the ‘normal use’ stuff is, with a deeper inventory somewhere else, less accessible.

Kid stuff, and most of what I talked about in yesterday’s post is clustered in two areas- the part of the kitchen we think of as the ‘craft’ area, and a hall closet that holds all the educational kits and the ‘presents’.   Everything in that closet is stuff that hasn’t been allocated to a kid or a project yet.  I have a couple of bins full of ‘maker’ stuff in the driveway under the tarp.  Another cluster (bits and pieces, leather, cardboard tubes, craft items, electronic scrap stuff.)

My office is a microcosm of the whole. I’ve got a desk area for electronics repair, and all my test gear.  There is another desk area that I sit at daily with my pc, main radios, some simple repair stuff, and stuff for my non-prepping hobby close to hand.  Behind me is the bulk of my reference library, on shelves above cabinets.  And…. several stacks of stuff, computers and electronics to be set up or fixed, non-prep hobby stuff, my laptop and work bag, some auction stuff, and lots of paper waiting to be filed.  Several stacked bins of stuff in fact.

Back in the day when I was a bachelor, and didn’t actually have all that much stuff because I moved frequently, I decorated with “a minimum of horizontal surfaces”. It was the only way to stay neat and organized, because my natural tendency is to pile stuff on horizontal surfaces. I’m one of those people who uses a second floor staircase as a filing system…

All this leads to me not necessarily knowing for SURE that I have an item, but if I do, I know where it will be.  Once I’m looking in the right spot, I can either put hands on it right away, or my memory is sufficiently prompted to know if I have it or not, and where it might be if not there.

I guess my guideline is “like goes with like” and DON’T REORGANIZE or you’ll never remember the new spot!

I will stipulate that this is SUB-OPTIMAL and very idiosyncratic but it works for me. I can go for literally years without accessing something, and when I need it, I know where to look (full face respirators and spare cartridges, at the beginning of the lockdown, for example, hadn’t touched that since the ebola scare).  More times than not, I can walk right up to what I need without too much fuss.  No one else could though.

I am working on this. Lifesaving preps need to be accessible to others in case something happens to me. I’ve started showing oldest daughter some of the system, because it drives my wife crazy. I’ve also started regularizing some of the stuff. Moving the food from storage to usage at the beginning helped tremendously. I was able to go thru it all, and while moving it, arrange it in a way that is much more organized. I even bought FIFO can organizers. In fact, I’ve got more on order, since daughter two wanted her soup organized.

I have been in acquisition mode for a long time.   My focus was on getting the stuff, not using it or organizing it.  I stacked it up with the idea I’d have a chance to better organize it later.  Um, not so much.  Then I had to move and organize the food for this lockdown, and that prompted putting up shelves, going through the stacks, getting them all in one place, and actually organizing the food.   I’ve been trying to make the space I need to organize the rest since then.  My progress has been – slow – and spotty.  But I am making progress.

The main thought to take away is, do what works for you.   If you can’t sleep at night without reviewing your spreadsheet and usage budgets, then do so.  If you are like me, and know were everything in your office is, but no one else could find a pen, that’s ok too, AS LONG AS YOU ARE THERE, BUT — you might not be…  part of really prepping is doing so so that your loved ones are still covered even if you aren’t there to help.  Take that into consideration for any system you use.

Any system is better than no system.  Any prepping is better than no prepping.  Don’t get hung up on designing or having the perfect system.   Perfect is very much the enemy of good enough.  Get started.  Build on what you have.  Always be improving your position.

And keep stacking.  😉

 

nick

Sat. Jan. 2, 2021 – and away we go!

Cold.  Clear.  Gusty.  Starting in the mid 30s and getting warmer throughout the day.  I hope.

It was a nice day, if a bit gusty and cool yesterday.  36F when I went to bed, down from mid-40s.

I basically took the day off.  Didn’t even look at my phone until midnight.  Left it on the charger in the other room.  I did make a nice dinner for New Year’s Day.

I started with five pounds of bone on ribeye roast from the sale last week.  Mashed potatoes with cream and bacon crumbles.  Steamed broccoli from the garden.  Biscuits from a roll, and key lime pie from a can.  Yup.  A can of pie filling, some whipped cream, and a graham cracker crust, a few hours in the freezer, and a delicious treat was served.  I even garnished it with a thin slice of lime, heavily sugared.

Canned pie filling is one of my stored food staples.   Cheap, quick, easy, and very satisfying.  I’ve got everything from key lime to chocolate, with dark cherry and apple being two favorites.  Some you bake, some you freeze, but all have been good and the dark cherry is great.  Crusts are either pre-made graham cracker (which keeps forever in the fridge) or the rolled up pilsbury, also in the fridge, or from some premade mixes.  My wife will make pie crust from scratch.  I don’t.  The other way I use it is to make little ‘mini’ pies in small ramekins.  A circle of pie crust, a scoop of canned filling, another circle to cover, et viola!  Personal sized pies.  I sometimes roll the pre-made crust a bit thinner to be sure I have enough.  Or use the mini pre-made graham crusts, and some jello pudding mix to make little pies…  Everyone is cheered by the sight of a pie.

Which transitions nicely into the idea of morale, and the importance of keeping it up.  Even though we’re not fully locked down and isolated, we were in the early days.  I’d planned for a long time on our lifeboat, and did several things to hopefully improve morale.  Firstly I stocked a variety of food.  I stock a bunch of stuff we don’t eat regularly and some we’ve never eaten as a family.  I figure that coming up with new meals and tastes is important to keep people interested in eating.   I stock a bunch of different canned pie fillings.  They can be used as pie filling, served over icecream, or used in other ways to keep things interesting.  I have some freeze dried “astronaut ice cream” as a special treat.  I have a lot of cake and cookie mixes too.  I figure a nice dessert goes a long way to helping with morale as does good food.

I stocked up on gifts for special occasions.  We were able to augment the stored gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, but I had SOME things ready if needed.  It had been handy pre-covid, to grab a gift from the closet for the ‘pop up’ birthday party the kid forgot about until the last minute.

I have lots of movies and tv shows on DVD that the kids and even my wife and I have never seen.  We’ve got old favorites too.  I’ve got puzzles, games, and art supplies.  Books of course, but also books with activities for kids – like how to draw horses, or making paper airplanes, or how to make origami animals.  I’ve even got a couple of books on learning to play instruments we have.  The idea was not just to have stuff to do, but also some novelty.  A couple of decks of cards and a Hoyles book of card games is a DEEP fallback position.

I stored books and supplies for traditional crafts and handiwork too-needlework and leather-crafting in particular, as there are practical applications as well as busy work.  Keeping hands occupied and accomplishing something usually raises peoples’ spirits.

Lego and Vex kits also keep them busy.  I’ve got other educational kits in reserve too.

Throughout the last 9 months, as the kids were looking for something to do, or needed project materials for classes, I was able to just tap into the stuff I had stored.  When they would get a bit ‘down’ we’d whip out something novel they hadn’t seen or done before.  Sometimes it didn’t work.  But usually it did.

For us here in Texas, and other states that didn’t go full jackboot, the covid restrictions have been a bit of a dry run for the zombie apocalypse or a really bad plague.  Mostly stuff worked well.  There were some gaps, and I’m working to fill those.  Being able to keep prepping and adding to preps during the pandemic has been helpful.   Still a long way to go to prep for civil war, economic collapse, civil unrest/race riots, the Greatest Depression, global cooling, alien invasion, ebola, chicken AIDS, or whatever is coming next to plague us.

People and relationships are important, both virtually and in real life.  Skills are important.  Knowledge is important.  Having the stuff to USE those skills and that knowledge on, or to help out a friend, or build a relationship, is important too.  So keep stackin’, you don’t want to be lackin’…

nick

Wed. Dec. 30, 2020 – sooooo close….

Cool and wet is the forecast, with rain throughout the day.  If so I’ll work on inside stuff.   There is plenty of it.

Yesterday I did some errands, the biggest of which was getting a large 3d printer out of my friend’s workspace.  It was an inkjet and powder type, and we weren’t going to be able to run it anyway, so when the original purchaser called with his sob story, I agreed to get it back to him.  That generosity led to a bunch of messing around and time wasted.

Eating donuts for lunch took me out for a bit over an hour too.  Then off to pick up some auction stuff, mainly PPEs.   N95s in very battered packaging are showing back up in the auctions, a box at a time, and are selling for reasonable amounts, $1-$2 per mask.  I’m set for a while yet, so I’m buying respirator cartridges if the price is right.  Gloves and eye pro too.   In austere conditions protecting what you’ve got is more important than trying to heal afterward.

Throughout a long career working with my hands, I haven’t been that big on wearing gloves for ordinary work.   That is changed now.  The molded grippy rubber coated stretch fabric gloves give a high degree of dexterity, while still giving cushioning and cut protection.  I wear them for any job where I’m touching metal and can cut or nick myself.  There are so many choices now, that you can find a glove engineered for whatever task you are faced with.  I still have some goatskin leather ‘drivers’ for jobs like swinging an ax or sledge hammer, but for everything else, there’s probably a better choice.    The anti-vibration gloves made a HUGE difference in my comfort while running the pressure washer all day.

Eye pro should be a no-brainer.  I have clear, amber and grey tints with and without ‘reader’ or ‘cheater’ lenses in the bottom, yellow for high contrast, and goggle types for chemical use.  I’ve got mesh shields for chainsawing and clear shields for metal and wood working.  I’ve got lots of spares, and lots of cleaning solution and wipes.  I think I can check gloves and eye pro off my list for a while.

That is one of the main ways I approach prepping.  In addition to ordinary stacking, I’ll focus on a specific area ‘while the getting is good’.  Usually I keep acquiring the items for a bit too long.  It’s been that way with storage batteries and gloves and eye pro for the last couple of months.  The stuff was on my list, and it came available, so I’ve been a buyer.  I prefer that method to trying to fill the list at a particular time.  I save a bunch of money by waiting for it to come to me, but it does take longer.   Of course, being me, I had stuff in all those categories, just not as much.  Enough to meet an initial or short term need, but not ‘bulk’.  Now I’ve got some depth to the shelf.   I will keep looking for batteries and charge controllers, and I wouldn’t say no to cheap solar panels.

Whatever your list looks like, start filling in gaps.  Get something in each category,then start building depth.  Food, water, shelter, defense, health and hygiene, comms, education and reference, entertainment and morale, any other that suits you.  Evaluate what you already have, you might be surprised, then build on that.

Keep stacking.

 

nick

Sun. Sept. 13, 2020 – not even close to a Friday

Hot and humid, but perhaps less so.  I think Fall may have arrived, although my wife doesn’t think so.  I don’t even think it got over 100F in my driveway yesterday…

It was still hot out.

After spending the morning watching an auction close out (got a couple good things), I finally got out and did some stuff around the house.

I cleaned the pool, and then got right to work on my Honda eu3000.  The new  battery, fuel petcock and filter, were installed.  The fuel gauge turned out to be fine, the part I thought needed to be replaced was a separate part and just needed cleaning.  It started right up and ran smooth for a short while.  Then the roughness started.  Looking at the carb, fuel was spitting out into the venturi part, and that would bog the engine.  I decided to tear the carb down again and be certain it was clean.  That took up the rest of the daylight so I’ll be finishing that reassembly today.  I didn’t find anything obviously wrong though.  Next step is a little more trouble shooting, then a replacement carb.  There is progress as it now runs, just not as well as I’d like.  And it is worth spending some money on it, as it is a nice gennie.

Also on the list for today is planting something… I’ve got a bunch of fall stuff I can plant,  and want to get it in the ground.  I’m going heavy on the seed, assuming I’ll have low yields like last time.  I’ve also got a couple more “window boxes” to build and hang on the fence.  I’ve had the material for months.  Except the dirt.  I’ll need to order some more dirt.  Or use the dirt from the failed potato towers.  Actually, that’s a good idea.  I can order more dirt later.

Like all my plans, we’ll see what survives contact with the day.

What, if anything, have you guys and gals been doing to improve your position?  I’d especially like to hear from anyone who Bob talked to about prepping directly, now that it’s a couple of years later…

You know me, I’m going to keep stacking.  And I think you should too.

nick

Thur. Sept. 10, 2020 – getting close to the day

Hot and humid, hopefully less so than yesterday.

Yesterday,  when it was hot and humid.  Until the rain came, then it was hot and UNBEARABLY humid.  Bah.

I got the grass cut.  I did my errands.  That was it.  Rain killed the rest of the plan.

Today, I was going to do a “ok you just realized you don’t have enough stuff stacked, what do you do?” post but I fell asleep.  I’ll do it in comments.

Cuz y’all need to keep stacking.

 

nick

Sat. Aug. 15, 2020 – hurray for the weekend, just 2 more days to work…

Yup, hot.  Real hot.  Sunny and humid too.

Friday was a bit of a bust.  I got done the stuff outside the house that I needed to do.  Did some organization at my secondary space.  Picked up some stuff.

Today I need to do some catching up here at the house.  I’ve been slack.

I don’t think I mentioned it on Wednesday, but I broke down and vac sealed a bunch of meat for the freezer.  9 pounds of pig roast, into 3 smaller roasts and 4 chops, 6 pounds of hamburger into 1 1/3 pound blocks, 6 pounds of bacon into 1 pound bags, and we ate the steaks I’d bought in the last order.  It’s great having <s>some</s> lots of freezer space.  I also vac sealed a couple pounds of coffee that I got from my auction guy, $1 / pound.  I’d have bought more if he had more in roasts that I like.  You get what you see, when you see it if you want it.  The vac seal and freezer let you keep it a long time.

Speaking of which, I can’t really imagine prepping without a vac sealer.  It lets you keep stuff fresh for a LOT longer than any other packaging technique I know of for the freezer.  I’m still using the same one I bought on sale at Costco 5 or six years ago (or maybe 10 years ago).  I do have a backup that I picked up at a yard sale (same model), and a couple of backups to that that are simpler and more in the original Seal-a-meal style.  I like backups.  They were all super cheap at yard sales or thrift stores.  Even new in the store, the vac sealer will earn it’s cost back when you can buy cheap bulk food and break it down or when you can buy lots of food when it’s on sale and keep it in good condition for years.

Of course, with a freezer full of food, you’ll want a gennie, or solar setup.  Or battery backup and inverters, or hamsters on a wheel…. but that’s prepping too, it’s fractal.   And some people have opted for pallets of freeze dried food, or shelves full of canning to avoid worrying about the freezer.  If you do that, you need canning supplies, ways to clean them, heat source, storage, etc, and if you go for freeze drieds, you’ll need deep pockets 🙂

Whichever way you go, get busy.  You will feel better with food in the pantry.  So keep stacking!

 

nick

Sat. July 25, 2020 – so tired and still stuff to do

Hot and humid, storms on the way.

Yesterday stayed pretty darn hot until late in the day.  Here at the house they got a huge rainstorm, but it didn’t last and the humidity dropped enough that the streets dried off.  I was south east and east, and I missed all but a smattering of the rain.  Traffic was very light for Friday at 4pm.

I did get a couple of things done, but really, not much.  Today I’ll be running around and picking up stuff for the house.  Did I mention that my wife figured out I can buy stuff for her and the house?? I think I might have mentioned it…

It lets me buy preps too, so I should quit b!tching, even in fun.

Speaking of which, 37.5 pounds of metal and chemistry is headed my way.  Still more in stock according to the email I got…   If you have a commie rifle, you can still feed it, if you haven’t already stocked up.   Everyone thinks they have enough guns-until the zombies come….

More likely we’ll be short food and meds, but hey, you can’t keep either if you can’t defend yourself.   Although I think the best tool might be a small tool with a suppressor.  Even a big tool with a suppressor is better than no suppressor.  IDK if there is any chance of getting your stamp under the current conditions, but you might want to consider it.   I have and wish I’d started the process.  I’d probably have one today if I had just taken that first step.

Which brings us to the heart of prepping.  TAKE THE STEP.  Whether that is stacking stuff, taking some classes, or getting out and meeting some new people, do it.   Get ready to take that ham licensing test.  Get those gunsmithing dvds.  Order something with a long lead time.  Take the step.  Start the journey.

 

Keep stacking.

nick

 

Sat. July 18, 2020 – funny the things that sometimes pop in your head

Hot and humid.  Really.  No kidding.  Hot. 🙂

Yesterday was hot until the rain, then slightly less hot for a while, until the hot caught back  up.  It was pretty late before we got back down into the 80s.

As predicted no real work got done in the garage or driveway while I was running errands.   The kids did play in the pool for a while.  Between my wife forgetting and overfilling the pool, and then 2 inches  of rain, there has been a LOT of sloshing out.

In order to push myself to actually finish the garage/freezer/workbench reorg, I ordered a good bit of food that will end up frozen.  I also did my normal replenishing.  Not much extra canned meat or dry goods, we’re pretty good on them.  Meat and frozen fruit and veg are what needs building up.  I really hope I don’t end up screwing up another order’s worth of food.

I’m still filling other holes and gaps in long term preps.   I’m trying to improve my stores of things I can get cheaply now, but would be very dear if there was a collapse, or long term interruption to “normal” life.  To that end, and because it’s what’s in the auctions, I’ve been buying safety gear and PPEs.  This auction I got several boxes of safety glasses.  Some tinted brown for outdoor work, some clear.  I previously got a huge selection of clear with bifocal lenses.  They are great for carpentry or soldering, both activities that need safety glasses.  Safety glasses are an expendable, and you should have extra.  Same with gloves, and workboots.  Good fitting ones are essential or you won’t wear them.

Hearing protection and respiratory protection I took care of last year.  I have several boxes of foam ear plugs and I’m set for a while on N95 masks and organic vapor cartridge based respirators.   I even managed to pick up some more tyvek painter’s suits.

I’m also considering what I would need to multiply my strength, just like in the old days.  I’ve got very good block and fall setups with synthetic rope and a lot of rigging supplies from a previous career.  I picked up a dozen spools of 550 cord in various colors at Habitat a couple of years ago, and I’ve added some rope when it became available.  Chain and chain binders are incredibly expensive for some reason.  Chaining my forklift into a trailer would cost about a quarter of what I paid for the forklift if I did it with new, so I’ve been watching for ways to reduce that cost.

If I had more land, I’d be looking for gardening power tools.  Prepping the soil takes a lot of work and any way to make that easier increases your chances of getting a good result.  I wouldn’t turn down some things, but as I don’t have space or the need, I’m not looking for them.  Some of you might be in a different place.

Basic plumbing, electrical, automotive and hardware supplies on hand will save a trip to the store, and can be the difference between a disaster and a disturbance.  Of course you need to know what to do with them, but there are lots of resources available to help with that too.  This is a good time to practice as you can still get help if it all goes pear shaped.

Like RBT, I came to consider that, outside of our normal disasters – hurricanes here in Houston – the most likely scenario was an economic collapse or a long slow decline.  Civil disorder, up to a civil war was in there somewhere, with global pandemic as a longshot.  Pandemic has been a focus of the CDC for a long time (and I constantly referred people to their pandemic preparedness pages as a resource for general disaster prepping), and with ebola in 2014 being in Dallas, I moved that up my list DRAMATICALLY.   Panic buy fits pretty well.  Of course, ebola wasn’t an issue for us here, by the skin of our teeth, but the preps have served me well in what the CDC said was this inevitable pandemic.  (Why was the CDC so ill prepared when this was something they’ve been pushing for a decade?  I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.)

So here we are, living in one of the longshot scenarios, generally doing better than we thought.  Which is awesome.  Unlike some places, we’re not stacking bodies in the streets.  But we are also clearly (to me anyway) in the beginning stages of economic collapse.  Supply lines are disrupted.  Prices are fluctuating.  Markets are being distorted by outside forces and have become increasingly decoupled from fundamentals and become more and more like gambling in a casino.  Everything is slightly worse than before.

Trash isn’t getting picked up as quickly.  Dumping is more common.  Maintenance is being deferred by civic units and individuals (with the caveat that individuals with the means have had more time than usual to do ‘projects’ around the house.  The guy with no job isn’t putting up sheds, and painting the siding though, but he might be powerwashing the driveway…)  Graffiti and tags are more visible and common, and stay in place longer.  Crime increases.  Violence for no reason increases.  Civil discourse becomes more shrill.  People contract their focus and concerns to more local issues.  People’s tolerance for the other, the different, decreases.  Behaviors become more extreme.  Tempers get short.

Any of that sounding familiar?

Given where I think we’re headed, it makes sense to me to stock up on the kinds of things I’m stocking.   I wouldn’t FOCUS on them, as there is still a chance of avoiding the worst aspects of the decline.  But it won’t hurt to start putting them aside, especially at low cost and low effort.  This assumes you have the basics in place.   Water, food, shelter, defense, medical, and money.  Huge piles of tangibles will probably buy you any of the things you need, so money is the best prep, but money is in kinda short supply too at this point for most people.

Periods of great change are scary.  Lots of destruction.  But there are also always opportunities too.  Crime goes up, and the guy who can weld burglar bars gets busy.   Some people are finding ways to prosper in this moment.  I believe hard times, however you want to define that, are coming.  If you don’t, if you think good times are coming, I’d like to hear why you feel that way.   Could be I’m missing something important.

Outside of figuring out what that something is, I’m going to keep stacking.  I think you should too.  I know it’s getting repetitive, but really and truly I think you can improve your situation and I WANT you to.  It’s made a world of difference in my life.

 

nick

Wed. June 24, 2020 – more of the same, sorta

Hot and humid.  [74F and dripping, overcast. I purely suck at weather forecasting]  It is Houston and summer….

Yesterday was hot and humid, although less of both than previous days this week.  Stuff was actually drying out once I dumped the standing water.  Sometimes we’ll go days with water in every nook and cranny because it just can’t evaporate.  And I was able to work outside for a while, without my vest or my head exploding.  Nice little break.

I took some time and did pool care.  Skimmed off the leaves, swept the bottom, and made a big siphon hose to suck out the debris.  My little siphon hose took too long and used too much water.  And it clogged easily on the half eaten pecans.  The damnable tree rats are chewing the still very undersized and unripe pecans in half.  That makes two marble sized pieces to drop in the pool, since they can’t eat them.  Bigger hose, stronger flow, less choking, and I had that cleaned up in a jiffy.

Then on to pulling some inventory to go to the local auction.  I’ve got two big black bins full, and more to go.  SO MUCH MORE.  The auction isn’t appropriate for all the sort of stuff I have to sell, more for the household/estate stuff than the industrial stuff, but I’ve got plenty of that too.  In the process, I was going through stuff in the house, on the patio, and in the garage.  Miles to go before I sleep, but every journey starts with a single step, right?

Dinner was Taco Tuesday.  Canned chicken, canned beans, tortillas and fixin’s from the fridge.

Daughter one has a visit with the orthodontist this morning.  We were doing a retainer to move some teeth around so they didn’t get damaged before we could do the braces.  She lost the retainer.  It’s been months, so it’s time for a reassessment.

Daughter two is complaining of a mild headache and feeling “pukey”.   No actual vomiting, but no appetite either.  I’m wondering where she picked up a bug, and the only answer is ‘swim practice’.   That is double plus ungood as it points out how easy it would be to get something else.  I’m not feeling great either, with occasional coughing, and some mild headache.  I’m blaming mine on allergies and doing too much reading with my cheap ‘cheater’ glasses.  We might stay home from swim today.  We’ll see.

As part of my cleaning up and moving stuff, I moved some rice from bags in the black bins to buckets with O2 absorbers.  I filled two buckets and could have filled a third and fourth with rice and another bucket with flour.  30 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, 2 cups a day, and each bucket is good for approximately 30 days.  That’s a nice tidy number and easy to see at a glance what inventory looks like in ‘days’.  I find it much easier to think in terms of ‘meals’ or ‘days’ when looking at my stored preps.  I absolutely never think in terms of ‘calories per day per person.’  Bob and I had some discussions about our different approaches to thinking about food, and I’m convinced that mine has fewer built in barriers to action, lower friction for the prepper, while his has the advantage of having math and science behind it.  Like a lot of prepping, it’s easy to go off into the weeds and to find reasons not to start.  “Oh, I have to figure out how many calories are in a bucket of flour before I start storing it.” “are mylar bags really necessary?  What about oxygen absorbers?  I don’t have any.”   Stuff like that.  My method feels a little more haphazard, but really, do you think in terms of making a pot of rice or of cooking 1700 calories of foodstuffs?

However you think of it, get started if you haven’t already.  I’m eating rice stored very haphazardly in 2014 and it is delicious.  (stored in a black bin, limited airflow, no vermin, constant comfortable temps.)  I didn’t use O2 absorbers, or repack into mylar, or any of the other things.  I saw a case of ebola in Dallas and panic bought a bunch of food.  I packed it tightly in bins at my secondary location, and ignored it until this year.  Because I moved it home, I’m repacking it into buckets as they are more air tight, and easier to move when full.

I’ve rotated the 2014 stuff to the front and put the 2019 and 2020 in the back.  If I move some back to my secondary storage, I’ll move the 2019 and 2020 food.  My point is, you don’t have to do it perfectly, or in any particular way at all.  You don’t NEED all the rest of the stuff or to spend a lot of time.   Rice is cheap.  Flour, sugar, salt, and even peanut oil (my stored fat) are cheap.  If you have some spoilage, it’s a small price to pay vs. NOT having any food.  To the staples, add canned food- meat, veg, and beans to start, fruit, pie filling, and ‘weirder’ stuff as you can.  The cans will do just fine for years if you keep them cool and dry without any other work on your part.

You can and should build off that food stockpile, but at least you won’t starve to death in the first 3 months of a disaster, whatever that might be (prolonged unemployment being the most common, sick spouse or kid being the second.)

So, get started, or keep going, but keep stacking.

 

nick

Fri. Sept. 20, 2019 – so I learned some things…

77F and wet.  Probably.

Boy did we get some rain yesterday.  And I got stuck at the kids’ school, where I was able to help out, and everything worked out ok, but…

Turns out there are some holes in my vehicular preps, and in aspects of my current habits and lifestyle.  NB-I don’t typically carry a BOB or GHB or any other specific bag in my truck.  I’ve got a couple of totes in the back with extra stuff, and my EDC.  I thought that was pretty good, and it is.

I usually have some additional supplements like energy bars tucked away, but I ate them.  Day before yesterday and I didn’t replace them.  I usually refill my gas tank whenever there is a storm coming, and whenever it gets low.  I didn’t notice the level on Wednesday, and it beeped at me on the way to school- 50 miles to empty.  No problem, I’ll fill up on the way home.  Except what if I get stuck in the water on the way and need to wait out the flooding?  Not enough gas to do that.  My friend took 3 hours to get home with his kids.   I certainly didn’t have 3 hours worth of gas, to go less than 5 miles.

I have shirts, sweatshirts, pullover windbreakers, and long pants in the truck.  I’ve got hat and mittens when it’s cold.  I’ve got yellow plastic rain gear, ponchos, and even a set of FroggToggs.  No socks.  No dry shoes.  That’s a big oversight.

I don’t carry my ‘daddy bag’ anymore, so I don’t have a change of clothes for the kids.  It’s been a long time since one had an ‘accident’.

A couple of days ago, I had a case of Mountain House in the truck.  Yesterday I had only two expired MREs (the date doesn’t bother me) and USCG approved lifeboat survival bars.  Plenty of water, soda, and cans of flavored water… and I’d even added instant iced tea to put in the plain water.  I did so and drank that during the afternoon.  Had we been stranded at school overnight (and we have school friends in walking distance, so that was EXTREMELY unlikely) the kids and I would have eaten MREs in the truck while everyone else dined on microwave popcorn.  I did share a big Costco bag of candy that I was taking to my gunstore buddy.  Daughter used it to earn points with her friends.

The biggest problem is that there are only two real driveable ways into the school’s neighborhood, and BOTH are subject to flooding.  If we were desperate, I would have taken the chance on the deeper intersection.   I could see vehicles making it through and had a good idea of depth, but I also couldn’t get good info about the next step in my route.  I retreated to safety and comfort, deciding that the unknown and risk was not worth it to sit at home for the afternoon.

The situation might have been different if I was trying to GET to school and pick them up in an emergency.  This was not an emergency.  No one should have wrecked a car in an attempt to pick up the kids from a fully functional school, in the middle of the day.

It’s amazing the speed and reckless regard with which some people entered the high water.  They didn’t even wait to see how the guy in front of them made out.  Some pulled out around me, while I was watching the other guy go, and sped on ahead.  No way could they have seen the other guys success or failure before entering.  Dumb doesn’t even begin to cover it.

This being Houston, one of the items in my tote is a professional personal flotation device, designed for people who work on the water.  It will auto inflate, but most of the time stays out of your way.  It’s the first item in the tote.  If there ever came a day when I felt compelled to enter high water, I can at least gear up first.  I have a short rescue rope on top too.

My Expy is currently full of cr@p to the point I couldn’t have taken 2 extra kids with me, only one.  I’ve got a lot of auction stuff piled in the back and on the back seat.  That stuff needs to get out of my truck.

I need to add some Mountain House, durable snacks, and kid clothes to the tote.  I need to move a pair of sturdy shoes and a good pair of socks to the tote.   I may even set up a 3 gallon bucket as a toilet for the truck, and leave it in there.   (the 5 gallon with the seat only goes with us when I think or know we’ll want it.  Like 4 hours in a parking lot, watching fireworks,  It’s too big to live in my truck 24/7.)

The kids have grown, and I haven’t changed my truck pack much.

Meanwhile, my wife was stuck at her work.  I reminded her that there were at least a couple of powerbars in the ‘resource kit’ in her minivan.  She decided to stay at work, where they had food, light, AC, and work to do, rather than move through flooded streets.  Maybe I’ll be able to stash a bit more in her vehicle, ‘for the children’ now.  (FWIW, the thing we’ve used most often from her kit is fire starter and matches.)  She waited for clear streets and drove home without incident.

We’re supposed to get more rain.  I hope not, but I guess we’ll see.  This was a good opportunity to find holes in my preps without any resulting drama…and I’m going to use the gift to get better.

nick