Thur. May 19, 2022 – driving around today

Hot and clear, some small chance of scattered showers.   But mostly it is likely to be hot and hot, with a side of hot.   My weather station said 102F in the afternoon yesterday.  Granted that was in the sun,but jeez.

Since my back responded well to the stretching, manipulation, and inversion table, I woke feeling pretty good.  I decided I didn’t want to screw that up by unloading trash from my truck or cutting the grass.  So I spent most of the day online.

Today I have to venture out and collect all  the stuff.   Metro shelves for the garage and storage.  Another bucket of freeze dried food, and a cell booster for my client’s place.  A bunch of stuff for the BOL.  Typical week.   Keep moving as the world does its thing…

Which seems to be continuing on the path we’ve already started down.  The drums of war are beating and they won’t stop.*  Various items are in short supply, and there are more of them, and the supply is shorter, from what I’m hearing.   The money markets are in turmoil.  People are starting to buy less, move down scale, and run out of credit card.  Home sales are slowing, which is normal when rates increase, but a lot of people are going to feel a lot less rich when they are making two mortgage payments, waiting for a house to sell.

There are HUGE new developments going in all around the Houston metro area in green field developments.  They are tearing down warehouse and industrial space to build apartments and condos, and clusters of houses closer in.   Everyone in the country seems to be moving to TX or FL.   This is historically a boom or bust town, and we’re seeing it again…

But there is a frantic quality to it.   People are in a big hurry to get done before the bad thing happens.  IDK which bad thing they individually fear, but there is starting to be a sense of wrongness in the population, at least the parts I interact with.   And I talk to everyone I can.  Store clerks, construction company owners, workers, yard salers, hustlers, professionals, tradesmen, small business owners, other random people.   Change is in the air.  Not hopeful, good change either.  More like dread, and trepidation.  Everyone is nervous and unsure, but soldiering on as fast as they can.

8 buckets of rice is 2 dry cups a day for more than 2 years.   Including the buckets, it’s about $400.  Don’t wish you’d bought them, BUY THEM.   You don’t have to get it all this week, but I wouldn’t wait too long.  Everyone has room for 8 buckets.   Throw a couple big bottles of multi-vitamin in the cart too.

Bob would talk a lot about “iron rations”, food that was enough to keep you alive, but not what you’d eat by choice.   There are a lot of details in posts and comments tagged with the keywords on the right.  Go and read the posts.   But at a minimum, buy and store the rice.  It will extend whatever else is available, and it’s the single simplest thing I can think of to recommend doing.   Of course there is a lot more, and I urge anyone who hasn’t already to read the stuff at the keywords.  Then ACT.   It’s really cheap insurance.

That’s the baseline.   Build from there.  Stack it all.

nick

 

*”why are the drums going all night?”  ” when the drumming stops, the guitar solo starts…”

Sun. Apr. 3, 2022 – home later, but for now, work…

Shipped to be another great day like it was yesterday.

I got stuff done.  Still have more on the list for today though.  I deff want a brad maker up here.  SteveF got me thinking about it, add it makes sense.

Met another person that knew the previous owner.  This guy didn’t know he’d passed. He was very upset as he used to come by and fish with the previous owner, and he’d brought the kids to fish with him.  After he recovered, I invited him to fish with me.  And I got a lesson in fishing this lake.

 

Meeting people and gettng local knowledge, priceless.

 

Don’t forget to stack up more than just cans.

n

Wed. Mar. 23, 2022 – 03232022 – yeah silly, but it does amuse me

Cool and clear after the crashing rain and hail that started off yesterday.  It even got into the high 70s and was sunny and blue sky by noon…   and I feel like I could use some more of that.

Did my errands.   Got lucky at a Goodwill on the east side of town, and got 3 shirts and a pair of pants, all like new, and priced like rags.  One of the peculiarities of shopping thrifts is that they don’t usually differentiate between brands when pricing.   So UnderArmor, Nike, Mammut, North Face, etc are all priced the same as Old Navy, or Abercrombie and Fitch, or the chain store ‘house brands’.  So why buy the cheap clothes when you can buy the expensive well made clothes for the same money?

Had a chat with one of my auctioneers about the secondary economy and buying at outlets, resellers, and auctions.   He sells $1200 sheet sets (yes bedsheets) at auction for 30-100$.   Who has money to spend at Macy’s on a $1200 set of sheets?  And how many of those people will there be when things go pear shaped?  (just an example)   He sees the number of people logging into his auctions dramatically increasing every week lately (which I hate because his prices won’t be so low anymore).  It tells me that people are finding the lower cost ways to get what they want and need.   Eventually, there won’t be a surplus of expensive stuff to sell cheaply, but those days are in the future yet.

If you haven’t checked out alternative ways to buy what you need, like ‘casual sales’ at yard or garage sales, ‘person to person sales’ either mediated by an app, or in a more traditional venue like a swap meet, or things like estate sales and thrift shops,  or the online versions of any of the above, you need to.  It takes a bit more time, and what you need or want may not be immediately available (but it may not be in traditional retail either), but prices are better.   Remember the quality triangle, good, fast, or cheap, – pick any two…   It applies to retail too.

However you do it, stack it up.  The worse it gets, the harder it will be to catch up.  And it sure looks like it’s getting worse.

n

Tues. Feb. 1, 2022- 02012022 – more work, more stuff to do, more MOAR!

Cool and damp again?  Rained yesterday.  Had to drive all over town and back in the rain doing my pickups.  Didn’t get the violent downpour that the weather liars were predicting, but did get some.

So I did my pickups as soon as they were open and made it back to pick up D2 for some together time.  We couldn’t find the stuff for the project she wanted to do in her bedroom, so she taught me how to play chess instead.  WEEEELLLLLLLL……  Taught me how to move the pieces anyway.  Mom says I played as a young kid, but I don’t have any memory of it.  May be that I lost it after one of the blows to the head?  Don’t know, can’t worry about it.  Had fun.  Played two games and she beat me both times.  She loved it.  D1 got home from school and that was that, but I had her for over an hour, all to myself.   Because of holidays from school and the trip up to the lake house, I missed the last couple of weeks.  And jeez, I’m happy about a single hour…   which is kinda F’ed up when you think too much about it.

Anyway, busier than a one armed paper hanger today.   This morning I’m headed to my client’s house.  Painters are there, and I need to pull a few TVs down to keep them safe and paint free.  Also, they’re having some network issues that I need to look at.   Then back to town to finish my pickups.   More stuff for the house and for my shop.  I got a ‘tombstone’ stick welding machine for about half to one quarter of what they normally go for, and I’ve always wanted one.  They are great for heavier steel welding that MIG really isn’t the best choice for.  Granted that in the shop I’ve also got a Miller 250 welding machine and it has the capacity to do some pretty heavy welding in steel and even heavy welds in aluminum with the spool gun, the stick welder and some long leads let you do  a bunch of stuff that is much harder with the MIG process.  Working outside on a fence is just one example, or a dock…

So how to slickly transition to a prepper topic???  Well, I’ve talked before about fixing things, and making things as a valuable skill any time, but especially in hard times.   If you can build stuff you can make it for yourself and save money, fix it yourself and save the replacement or repair costs, or make and fix stuff for other people.  Here in the oil patch, I’m the least likely guy to bust out a welder and fab up something big, but I’ve made a ton of smaller stuff for myself and occasionally for others.  I built the security bar door for my rent house, for example.   I made it in a style that complimented the craftsman style of the door and it came out really well.   I’ve made furniture for the house, some that we still use every day.   I’ve made or modified tools for my workshop, and fixed tools as well.

This new welding machine will just extend capabilities I have, and possibly make some ‘field’ work much easier.   Working in metal isn’t any harder than working in wood, but the tools and techniques are different.

Whatever you have an interest or skill in making, or repairing, or building, I encourage you to get the tools and some supplies while you can, if you don’t already have them.   It can be as simple as sewing by hand in leather, cloth, or web gear, or as complicated as 3D printing parts that aren’t available any more, due to supply chain or obsolescence.   Timber frame construction, and hand wood work might be very useful if things go very far down the slope.    There are some really interesting youtubers doing “green wood” or “traditional hand woodworking” or “bodging” that demonstrate the very high levels of functionality you can get in a ‘world built by hand’.

It doesn’t have to cost much.  I get leather and cloth at the goodwill and the goodwill surplus for pennies.  Purses, leather coats, leather clothes, belts, wallets, even boots, all provide raw materials.  So do bed sheets, blankets, and most commonly, curtains and window treatments.  A pair of work pants might not fit, but the heavy cotton duck or denim can be used for patching and reinforcing your pants.   So many backpacks, book bags, and duffles are in the surplus bins that all can provide donor material for repairs to your gear or customizations.  You can salvage buckles, straps, pads, and webbing from them too.

I grab small pieces of wood at thrift stores too.  They are usually a walnut serving tray or a piece of teak used as decor, or some other nice but small wooden object.  $1.20 per pound, and I’ve got some really nice walnut for small projects.  There are a number of things you can reuse the plastic material of cutting boards for, like wear pads, or friction reducing pads.  There are almost always plastic and wooden cutting boards at the thrifts.

You need the tools to take advantage of the materials, and the skills to make something useful.  It’s not hard though.  And if you are working with junk, or something already broken, the cost of failure is low.

Get some tools and try doing some things.   While the resources are still abundant.

And stack what you need.  Two is one, and one is none.

nick

Mon. Jan. 31, 2022 – this month is finally on it’s last day…

Cool and kinda damp today, with the possibility of some real hard rain according to openweathermap.org.  I guess we’ll see….    Sunday was nice, cool but sunny and decently warm in the sun.

This January took forever to pass by.  Usually I feel like the days are flying by, but with 5 weekends, this month dragged.  I don’t know why I want it to be past, but I do.    I don’t think great things will be happening in February, but at least it won’t be January.

Spent yesterday watching auctions for stuff for the new place, while also doing other stuff around the house, and I blew it.  I let something go that I really wanted and would save both time and money at the new place.  Got distracted…

Then made dinner.  Which brought me this thought.  I can talk briefly about one of my storage options, the freezer.

I freeze bread.  I find that bread products keep really well for me in the upright freezer. I don’t do anything special, just put them in the way they come from the store. I freeze regular loaves of Sara Lee white sandwich bread, with at least 2 and usually 3 in the freezer at a time.  We use about 2 loaves in three weeks, so  they do turn over regularly.  I like the Sara Lee because it holds up to spreading peanut butter.  A lot of the white breads don’t.

I freeze naan bread.  (indian flat bread) It’s pre-baked, and just needs to be warmed up, so it’s a quick and easy way to get a bit of bread with a meal.  It does come in a sealed plastic bag.  It lasts for a year or more in the freezer, doesn’t take up much space, and is a solid “go to” for me.  Very easy to warm for use too, spritz with water and throw on the grill or in the oven (whichever you already have hot) for a few minutes each side.  I think if things get really shirty, flat breads will be the way to go vs leaven breads.  Much less time and energy to cook than baking.

I freeze english muffins.  Thomas’ to be precise.  Again, I just chuck them into the freezer in their store packaging.   They store well for a long time.

I freezer a 300 pack of wheat tortillas too, but also have a 300 open in the fridge for normal day to day use.  They last in the fridge for months.

I thaw the white bread, and the english muffins all at once for the week before use, but the naan I heat from frozen.

Hamburger buns and hotdog buns do well too, but do get ‘freezer burned’ if left too long.

It is very convenient to have bread in the stacks and to not have to head to the store every week.

One other option deserves mention, my Costco has 3 packs of shelf stable bread.  They are loaves of sourdough and are vac packed with some sort of absorber packet.  They just need to be heated to ‘crunchy’ and they are great when you are looking for a crusty hearty loaf in a hurry.  They are still good after the best by date, but the absorber starts to stain the crust black.  I just cut that part of the crust off and ate the rest.


Of course, you can bake from scratch, kit, or with a bread machine.  I’ve done the machine and still do for holiday breads.  It’s very easy and a great way to get good bread on demand, and save money while cycling through your stored bulk.  I’ve found the loaf doesn’t last long once made though, and if we don’t work hard at it, we don’t eat it before it gets hard.  So the store bought breads are a better value as they last long enough to get eaten.


There it is.  Compelling content!  Exciting discussion!  Friendly folks!  Random factoids!  Red Lectroids!

If you haven’t been stacking bread or bread-like food items, I hope you can throw some in the freezer now.  They’ll probably be good later too.

Stack all the things!  Including bread.

n

Mon. Nov. 8, 2021 – joy… and pain, sunshine …. and rain

Cool but clear and sunny later. Basically gorgeous weather. And the forecast says the same for a couple more days too. Hooray! That was yesterday, started running the heat in the morning, and ran A/C in the late evening once the house had soaked up the sun. I’m certainly hoping for more of the same.

Yesterday was eaten by ducks. And pain. I was paying the price for my lifting, bending, and toting the day before. The inversion table and the foam roller both got a workout, and both helped, but I couldn’t walk, stand, or sit without pinching pain in my back until late in the afternoon, and after my second go ’round with the table and roller. That coupled with the family coming home meant not much got done. I did put away a few more Halloween decorations, got out the Thanksgiving decoration bin, and cleaned up some stuff in the garage and attic.

I added a couple of small bins to my upright freezer to better organize the meat. I had been just stacking it on shelves and it would cascade out if I bumped it wrong… I don’t know if the plastic bins will hold up in the cold, but they are better than having everything slide around. I need to find a few more that fit.

I ate my first grapefruit off my potted tree for breakfast yesterday. It was a bit on the smaller side, like a navel orange, but was delicious. Only three more on the tree, but that’s more than I got on the big tree in five years. And then the freeze killed it the year it produced a dozen fruits. I really like the idea of fruit and nut trees as a prep, but they are damnably hard to keep alive here in Houston. And I’ve still not seen a single fruit or flower on the peach tree.

Growing your own food is hard. Get started learning about your area and your garden.

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For the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about doing some followup on stuff that worked for me, and that I still like. So here goes.

I really like the container I got to save cooking fat in the kitchen. It is stainless steel, has a flip up lid, a strainer, and the top 1/3 lifts off to reveal the saved fatty goodness in the bottom. Got it on amazon and it works well. Saving cooking fat has a long history and is a great way to save money and cook tasty meals. Use mason jars, airtight canisters, or something airtight and new, but start saving that bacon grease, and using it later.

Ditto for the little flip top trash can I got for the bathroom counter. It looks like a mini version of the old school round topped metal trash cans, with the ‘flap’ in the top. It’s a bit thin and the stainless isn’t really, but it does the job of catching all the little bits of paper from the breathe-rite strips and any other little bits of trash. Those bits would flutter and scatter all over the bathroom when I used to toss them toward the regular can.

The Toto Drake dual flush toilet works really well. Only one time since I put it in did it need a plunge, and that’s down from several times a day. Every Toto toilet I’ve put in has worked very well. This one has a very small amount of water in the bowl, and a lot of dry porcelain. It gets dirty quickly. If having a spotless bowl is important, get one with a bigger water puddle. Other than that, it’s a flushing CHAMP.

The can organizers I installed at the beginning of the lockdown work, but they have slightly distorted over time. They are plastic, and have sagged enough that cans don’t roll through as freely as when it was new. FIFO is important when using your preps, but the racks aren’t as efficient for storage as just stacking flats of cans. You won’t get as many cans in the same volume space, but they are MUCH easier to actually use daily for cooking when you can get to them. I added more despite knowing they aren’t perfect, so that I could have more varieties of cans in the dispenser. If you’re not just piling up cans against future need, get some kind of FIFO can racking.

And while I didn’t use them as much this year as last, both styles of cooling vest worked well for me. Techniche for the evap one, ergodyne for the gel pack.

The Uniden Home Patrol II scanner continues to work well, and I’ve heard a lot of stuff going on in my area on it. Pair it with a good discone antenna from MFJ and listen to it. There is a lot of stuff that is going on around you that never gets reported. Start paying attention to it, and you’ll be better off.

High tech ‘cool’ fabrics for shirts, and shorts, and wool blend socks. What a difference in hot weather comfort. Cotton is NOT for that first layer, or maybe even for the second. About the only good thing about cotton is cost and flame retardant properties. Even for my cold weather clothes, the high tech breathable wicking t shirts in long sleeve are more comfortable than anything else I’ve ever used as a first layer. Clothes have gone technical, and it makes a difference. If the cost is too much, look at Goodwill. A lot of stuff there is never worn. You can try the technical fabrics cheaply, and then spend the money in the store on a brand you like, if you must have new. These are not the stinky poly blend fabrics from decades ago.

Boots and shoes. I rotate through shoes, rarely wearing the same pair two days in a row. It helps the shoes last longer, and your feet will be more comfortable. And for gnu’s sake, get shoes that fit. All the different manufacturers use different ‘lasts’. The last is the shape they build the shoe on, and by trying different brands you can find shoes and boots that fit your weirdo feet. KEEN has a large ‘toe box’ but the soles are a bit slippery when wet. I wore through a couple of pairs and generally liked them. Asic and Columbia made the lightweight ‘sneakers’ I wear on normal days. They are available in wide widths if you need that, or have a high arch. They fit me perfectly in a EEE width. They aren’t “sturdy” but they are lightweight and have held up well. I wore the Columbia pair in Disneyworld and never had an issue. Get some shoes that FIT and don’t be afraid to try sports and active lifestyle brands that are smaller, they have to cater to their buyers, and seem to offer more options.

And for long term, leather boots with vibram soles. Any overmolded soft plastic in place of rubber will turn to goo with time and crumble to a sticky mess. Men should be able to buy all leather dress shoes from a quality maker, and with care they will outlast you. Cole Haan, and most of the J&M lines are not quality. They are better than Stacy Adams, or modern Florsheim, but not by much. Workboots are either disposable or will last a lifetime. There are US makers still, and they have quality reps. Find a solid pair you can maintain and they should last a long time. Chased by zombies while wearing sandals made from old tires or barefoot just isn’t the same as crunching through the detritus of a fallen city in good boots. If you do go for disposable (and I like my under armor technical boots) know that just storing an extra pair won’t help once the plastic ages out. Mil spec and milsurp are designed to be stored and still be usable so having at least one pair is a good prep. Bonus is that they fit me well and are very comfortable.

I’ll stop the list here for today. If you have something that has worked well for you put it in a comment. There are plenty of things I might add below as I think of them, this list was just ‘top of mind’ when I wrote the post. I’m already thinking of the Honda inverter gennies and DeWalt cordless tools….

Improve what you’ve got stacked, add to your stacks, organize your stacks, and KEEP stacking…

nick

Wed. July 7, 2021 – inflation, not just for grades and resume’s

Maybe a little cooler, still rain in the forecast though. Yesterday was a mixed bag of rain, sun, overcast, and sticky heat. Today probably will be too.

Spent part of yesterday doing an auction pickup. This was entirely books about my non-prepping hobby, so a pure waste of time :-p Took youngest, and stopped for a lesson in what I do for a living. Got her a nice piece of fabric in a cheetah print, which she loves, and we’ll use in a craft project. FWIW, thrift stores are a great place to get fabric very cheaply. Every one I frequent has draperies, linens, and other fabric, perfect for small projects, or big.

Then home to puppy love, yard care, cleaning, shopping for groceries, and cooking dinner.

I went to the HEB store near my house or what we call the “little” HEB. It doesn’t have the selection or the quality of the “big” HEB store in the better neighborhood, but it’s been getting better since we moved here. Some stuff I don’t want to get better. Corporate sends prime grade meat there, and it doesn’t sell, so when I’m lucky I get to buy it cheap!

I have some observations.

There were still gaps on the shelves. The staff was blitzing the aisles, facing product and cleaning up stock, but there were still gaps. Many products had reduced shelf space, or they were only one unit deep on the shelf. Some stuff is still in limited varieties, where there would have been more choices before- canned veg is the best ongoing example. Staples are there, but some of the tasty combinations aren’t. Ice cream flavors are reduced. Charmin red was on the shelf, but no blue, and not much red for that matter. No frozen chicken in the ready to eat section. I haven’t seen anything but wings in months.

Eggs were the weirdest thing. They normally have a whole cooler full of one dozen cartons, all different “special” kinds of eggs, one cooler with plain HEB branded eggs in different cartons, and one cooler of bulk cartons. The “special” eggs were half the normal display, and the HEB eggs were only available in 36 egg cartons. Two full coolers of 36 egg packaging, and severely reduced choices for the rest.

Soda was still hit or miss, with more flavors in stock but open shelves too. Diet ginger ale was back and several flavors of Dr Pepper. On the other side of the store, the apple display was 1/3 or less what it normally is. Avocados were crazy money. Potatoes and onions were there, but with reduced choices. Green beans and asparagus were horrible quality. Locally grown corn on the cob was only 6/$1 though.

On the other hand, HEB shelf coupons for in-store deals were back. Rice and potato box sides were on sale this month. I bought some of both. Pasta was BOGO, so I got another 10 pounds. They had a loss leader deal on meat- half off some cuts if you bought $10 of other stuff, limit two packages. I bought select grade ribeye steaks for <$6/pound. (We ate half of them for dinner, and they were delicious, far better than select usually is. The rest got vac sealed and frozen.) Milk, cream, fresh veg, and fruit rounded out my cart. For the first time ever they had marked down milk (for short time) in the cooler. It was the pricey organic gallons, 2 days left on 'sell by' and a dollar a gallon cheaper than regular whole milk. I've never seen that before. Through some luck and smart shopping I spent $250 but saved $68 on the cart. That's better than I used to do, when I averaged a 12-15% savings on the cart. The meat and pasta were the biggest contributors to the savings. It was nice to see discounts again. Prices for some things are definitely up. Lays potato chips used to be $2.50 a bag, they were $2.85 and the bags seem smaller. Canned veg was up slightly, meat has been way up in general, although I still paid the 24c/oz I've been paying for house brand thick sliced bacon. It's the best deal in the meat section. The breakfast sausages the kids like are up about 10%, and they never go on sale anymore. I didn't see any spiral sliced hams in the cooler, just like I didn't see them at costco last visit. Turkey was still the $1.28/lb it's been for 3 years (for their house brand whole frozen birds.) It's nice that coupons and deals are back, because prices are higher in general. This article is worth the read.

America stockpiles: Supermarkets buy up to 25% more supplies as they predict inflation will soar and cost of essentials like bacon and milk rising by up to 14%

Supermarkets are trying to protect their profits amid higher costs
Shoppers are buying more with grocery sales up 15% in June compared to last year, leaving shelves depleted
Food prices are surging as inflation rises to its highest level in 13 years
Associated Wholesale Grocers is buying 15 to 20% more goods while SpartanNash up to 25% more stock including frozen meat
Consumer price index for grocery store and supermarket food purchases was up 0.7 percent in May compared to May of last year

Food is pretty important. In general, I’m seeing higher prices, limited choices, unusual brands and suppliers, and I’ve been either skipping purchasing an item, or buying something that wasn’t my preference. I expect this to continue and worsen.

Save money where you can, you’ll need it elsewhere. If you see something you need or want, buy it now because it might not be available later. Get used to the idea you might not get your first choice, or be able to just buy something whenever you want to. Prepping and stacking will help with all of that.

Stack it up. Keep it secret, keep it safe.

nick

Wed. May 19, 2021 – well, that was wet

Had a big storm last night, and we got 1 1/2 inch of rain in very little time. Then it all blew through. No idea what today will be like. Probably won’t be 12 inches of rain…

Got a bunch of errands run, and a bunch of pick ups done yesterday. Spotty rain all over town, but nothing very dramatic during the day.

While I was out in the country, I refilled the tank on my new truck. Initially I was getting 20 mpg, but that quickly dropped. For this first 27 gallons, the computer says ~17 mpg. Miles over gallons, it would be 15mpg, but I don’t know how full it was originally. The dealer’s “full tank of gas” might not be the same as mine, all the way up the filler neck. Or the computer might only count while the vehicle is moving. I tend to leave it running with the doors locked if I’m just jumping out for a minute or three. I always wondered how sophisticated the calculation is. Anyway, given the weight and size of the truck, and the weight and size of my foot on the accelerator, 17mpg is pretty good.

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I’ve noticed that ammo is starting to show up in some of the online stores, and it’s even a tiny bit cheaper than it was last week. If you need some, this might be a good time. Just suck it up regarding the cost. NOT having it could be much more expensive.

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Same goes for all the other needful things. I’m the king of waiting until something is on sale, leveraging coupons, buying in season, and getting lucky, but I have been re-stocking and adding to the stacks without waiting for bargains. The time to slowly build your reserves for the least outlay possible is gone. I think your focus now should be on filling gaps first, then extending the stack, and for getting stuff you’ve been putting off as ‘not really needed’ or ‘too nuts to buy that’. If body armor fits that description, AR500 Armor has some on sale and in stock.

You’re on your own for meds for your fish, but there are advertisers on Rawles site, and other places online. Aesop reminds everyone that wound care takes a LOT of supplies and they may be in short supply (see Venezuela for a current example). Think case quantity on some of the stuff. I’ll second his first hand knowledge with some of my own. I’ve mentioned it before.

Bacitracin and other antibiotic cremes are crazy cheap when you consider it’s a lifesaving tech that even kings couldn’t buy 100 years ago. I don’t think a sealed tube will degrade significantly in years, but again, VERY CHEAP at the moment. It would be crazy not to have a bunch of tubes on hand. Anti-fungals too. Think about doing a bunch of hard sweaty work, and not having access to running water. Last time I was in Cancun, that was the situation for everyone outside of the city. Athlete’s foot, jock itch, “feminine itching”, etc will seriously degrade your effectiveness.

I’m not a doctor, even of Education, but I have first hand experience with silvadine cream (silver sulfadiazine) on burns and through the skin abrasions. I would get some and have it on hand, if I was planning for a future with degraded access to medical care. Ebay and the Israelis might be your friend there.

Standard OTC meds are on the shelves in giant bottles. Get some. Aspirin and acetaminophen and ibuprofen and benadryl to start. Those are the ones that will keep you in the fight. Add the comfort meds (snivel meds) like cold and flu remedies, allergy treatments, heartburn, etc. after you’ve got the lifesaving covered.

I stocked up at the beginning of this mess, reasoning that the supply chain might break. Didn’t need much more than ordinary usage, and I don’t think supplies got particularly short, but it was nice to have.

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Don’t forget cleaning and hygiene supplies either. Food borne illness can kill you. We should all be pretty well stocked at this point, but if not, stack it up.

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Get whatever your fur babies will need too, like heartworm and flea treatments. Food for them as well, there might not BE any table scraps…

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Huh, turns out I did a real post after all. There’s plenty more on the list of stuff you need or might want, but think about what sort of things you don’t have in the cabinet, because you can just pop down to the store if you needed that. Then get some.

And stack it all high.

n

Fri. April 30, 2021 – might have the family home this weekend after all

Warm and humid, possibility of rain, and flooding. Yesterday was part sun, part overcast, no real rain but some spatters. Today could be bad, depending on where you are.

Which is why my wife might cancel her Girl Scout camping weekend. We have one kid sick with sore throat, cough, and sniffles (but no covid), and the counties between here an camp are under flash flood warnings, with a weekend of rain in the forecast. I don’t think any one of those things would be enough, but all of them might make for a no fun, higher risk, weekend. They are supposed to be doing canoeing, and stargazing, and night hiking. Not likely during thunderstorms.

So I might be home, I might be working, I might be nursemaid. I’ll just be flexible and see.

Electrician is supposed to come by Saturday, and I’ve got some prep work to do, but not if it’s pouring down rain.

Yesterday I ran a couple of errands, and refilled some 1 pound propane bottles. That was interesting. I got much better results than the first time I tried it. We had a dozen empties after the big freeze, and my wife wanted to take a couple camping, so I got out the hose and got to work. I’ve got a hose/regulator/valve from amazon, which I’ve linked before. The chinese ones come and go, and brands are kinda ‘fluid’ so it’s hard to make a recommendation. There are lots of videos on youtube with techniques. I found that turning the BBQ bottle up side down, and holding the 1 pound bottle upside down worked the best. I could hear and feel when the propane stopped flowing. You just make the connection, turn on the valve, and after the flow stops, close the valve and remove the hose. Move on to the next bottle. Then, you need to release gas pressure from the bottles (you could use a propane torch with a valve, DON’T LIGHT IT, or just use a chopstick or other device to open the valve in the bottle. I let out a bit of gas, and then when you reconnect, more propane will flow into the bottle. I used a kitchen scale to weigh the bottles and monitor both how much I release, and how much got added. Starting with an empty bottle at 14 oz, I got about 3 oz fill each time, while letting off gas pressure reduced the weight 1/8 to 1/2 an oz. Do this a few times and the bottle will be at 1 pound 10 oz or more. That’s where I stopped, because a bit of that spattering rain started.

Now, messing about with propane is dangerous. I’m not suggesting anyone do it, and all my comments are for ‘entertainment’ and not instruction. Do whatever you do at your own risk. It’s NOT recommended to refill those 1 pound bottles. I definitely do recommend adding the brass screw caps to any bottle you’ve refilled or to any bottle that is partially used and removed from a device. Check them for leaks with soapy water (bubbles or foam mean it’s leaking.) Don’t store them inside or in enclosed spaces.

It’s also undeniable that refilling the bottles seems a whole lot less wasteful than just disposing of them, and cheaper too. Do what YOU are comfortable doing. I will refill the bottles at least one time, and more if the valve seal continues to close reliably. Keep in mind you’re venting propane gas as part of the process. Do it outside on a mildly breezy day, away from any potential ignition sources. Don’t breath the propane. Having watched the big bottle refill process many times, and seeing how much propane is released by that process, I’m not worried about what little gets released when you mount and dismount the little bottles.

I’ve got a bunch of the BBQ bottles. For a while I was buying them at estate sales whenever I saw them. They store indefinitely, as long as the valves are good. I’ve got conversion hoses and fuel filters for my Mr Heaters, the refill setup, and I think I’ll get a propane conversion kit for my Honda eu3000i gennie too, as that would give me another option for fuel. In addition to the BBQ bottles, the little bottles are very handy for stoves and lanterns and heaters (and hoses are available to adapt the BBQ bottles to Coleman stoves and lanterns if desired). Whether you refill them or just buy new, they are very handy to have around, and even handier if you can refill them. Add them to your stack!

One of the beauties of “camping” is that it lets you ‘stealth’ prep. I’ve got a bunch of camping supplies, and a family of Scouts, what’s suspicious about that? And because camping gear is all designed to sustain life away from your home, it’s great preps…( and it has deniability if needed – “oh that? We used to camp but we haven’t used it in ages…”) Like the old CB radio and the fishing gear on the shelf, it just looks like typical garage stuff at first glance. And that might become more important as time goes by.

So keep stacking, or you’ll find yourself lacking…

nick

Fri. April 9, 2021 – and now we’re one step closer to CWII, thanks Joe!

Warm and sunny, with a small chance of rain, or hot and sunny, I’m reasonably sure it will be one or the other. It was sunny and warm yesterday, but so humid that puddles in the driveway wouldn’t dry. I was soaked with sweat pretty quickly after going outside. Sunny and beautiful, but not pleasant.

Spent a couple of hours napping. I just felt really wrung out, and was falling asleep in my office chair. Since that hurts my neck, I just went back to bed. I’ve done that more in the last couple of months than in the last couple of years. That is not necessarily a good thing.

The rest of the day was eaten up with small tasks. I got a mounting arm for my last camera cobbled together. I put the mount for the mount in place on the chimney. And I got the camera configured, along with the NVR software. Even though the cam is sitting in my office, I am looking at image from it on my NVR. Since getting that camera in place and working moved to pretty near the top of my list, it felt like a good day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was devoted to cooking our belated Easter dinner. I was able to use mint and rosemary from the garden to season the lamb. I also used some instant potato packets from 2014. They were a bit orange, as the butter flavor coloring changed with time, but after adding some cream, butter, and bacon crumbles, the mashed potatoes were perfectly fine as an accompaniment to the lamb. I had one box of envelopes that tasted “old” and then this box that is well within acceptable range for taste. Same age, but one got more heat than the other. Heat is the killer of stored food.

I have decided to increase my stored bulk rice and flour beyond where it is now. It’s relatively cheap, and things aren’t looking better world wide, in fact our pResident seems to be actively working to make them worse. (And of course I don’t believe it’s him at all, but whoever is pulling the strings. It’s convenient to blame him, after all he’s sitting in the big chair, and that way I don’t need to type all this every time.) I think when I did the math, if we were eating it every day, one bucket of rice would last one month, and 50 pounds fits in a bucket. I’ll double check later today and update. So, 10-12 buckets of rice at $25-$40/bucket for the year. I haven’t priced bulk rice in a year, and it varies by grade, producer, and availability. If someone here is using rice every day (roughly) please add your usage observations.

Flour is much harder to judge because I do almost nothing with bulk flour. I’m going to guess at 10-12 buckets per year for that too, because it’s cheap, so why not.

I’ll need to add a few gallons of vitamin E stabilized peanut cooking oil too. That will actually be the most expensive part.

Those three things, and some salt, comprise most of the traditional ‘poor people’ food the world over, time without end. Some type of powdered flour, some rice, some cooking oil, some water and salt, and you have basic calories that can be added to with whatever is available. RBT called them “iron rations” and it never seemed very appealing to me. I plan to have lots to add to them, but they are the base load. It’s time to build up the canned storage too.

We’re currently eating canned corn, beans, peas, and a few other things that I panic bought during ebola-14, and the vast majority is as good as when I bought it. There are exceptions. High acid foods don’t survive as long in cans. Pineapple, tomato products, some other fruit, they have swelled up and/or popped. Dry mixes with a high fat content also tend to taste “old” once past their best by date. In our climate, dried food in boxes picks up an “old” taste too soon too– Kraft mac n cheese I’m looking at you.

The way I’m looking at it, maybe we WON’T need enough stuff to stay home for 6 months to a year because of a pandemic…. and maybe we won’t need to supplement our shopping with stored food for a year or two, while the economy and security situation stabilize. But what if we do? Food security is cheap insurance.

So stack it high.

nick