Thursday, 29 June 2017

08:55 – It was 60.7F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0615, partly cloudy and calm. Barbara is out filling bottles for science kits, which she’ll be doing most of the day. She’s headed down to East Bend, outside Winston, around 1700 to have dinner with her friend Marcy. She should be back mid-evening.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the water heater. It was one of the copper feed lines coming out the top of it. Two guys from Shaw showed up yesterday around 1100 and replaced both the old copper lines with PEX. It took them less than half an hour. They were both surprised that we had a 110V well pump. Neither of them had ever seen one before.

A few minutes after they left, Jay Shaw stopped back with a sheath of paint swatches to show me. He matched the existing paint pretty closely with an off-white color called “cotton ball”. I told him that, fortunately, Barbara didn’t really care about the exact color as long as it was an off-white and a reasonably close match for what was on the walls now.

I ordered 250 grams of reagent-grade (AR) iodine crystals off eBay yesterday. Thirty bucks, including shipping from China. If it weren’t for federal regulations, I could have just ordered it from Fisher Scientific or another US supplier. But that involves an incredible amount of paperwork, so much so that many US vendors no longer sell elemental iodine, and if they do the cost is outrageous.

Understand, I’m not breaking any laws by ordering iodine on eBay. It’s perfectly legal for me to buy it, import it, or possess it in any quantity. It’s just illegal for US resellers to sell elemental iodine to US customers without going through all the regulatory bullshit. I can even sell iodine solutions, as long as I don’t sell more than 30 mL at a time and it’s less than 2.2% iodine w/v. That’s fortunate, because every kit we sell includes a 30 mL bottle of Lugol’s iodine solution, which is 1.27% w/v iodine in a 2% solution of potassium iodide.

For that matter, it’s trivially easy to isolate elemental iodine from potassium iodide, which is completely uncontrolled. I could order a hundred kilos of KI, and no one would blink an eye. And all it takes to convert that potassium iodide to iodine is some hardware store muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) and a jug of supermarket chlorine bleach. I did that as a demo at MakerFaire in 2008 to demonstrate how futile federal regulations are.

Lisa emailed me an update of their progress. They’re well past her initial goal of food/water/shelter for three months, but are still accumulating LTS food and other supplies. They’re now studying for their Technician Class ham radio licenses in preparation for taking the test in August.

They’ve also stocked up on OTC medications, bandages, etc., but Lisa came across one of my posts about SHTF antibiotics and wants to get some. She said that the source I recommended, aquabiotics.net, appears to be out of business. Their web page is still up, but it’s nothing but a placeholder.

They’re actually still in business, but not on the Internet. PayPal and other credit-card processors have banned them solely because they’re selling antibiotics. The owner, Dave Folsom, is now processing orders solely by email. Email him at dcfolsom@reagan.com and ask for his current price list. Decide what you want, total up the price, and send him a check. I know that’ll probably make a lot of people nervous, but I’ve bought from him twice that way, and each time he’s shipped exactly what I ordered via USPS Priority Mail the day he got the check.

I suggested to Lisa that for the six of them (assuming no drug allergies) she order at least a few courses each of 100 mg doxycycline, 800/160 mg SMZ/TMP, 875/125 mg amoxicillin/clavulanate, and 400 mg metronidazole. And, in case nothing else works, at least a course or two of 500 mg levofloxacin. Stick them in the freezer, and don’t even think of touching them unless the S has really, really HTF and you’re convinced the patient is going to die if you don’t take desperate measures.

More email from Jen. They routinely run readiness exercises every time there’s a three-day holiday weekend. This one is four days, which is better still. They’re starting as of 1800 tomorrow and running their exercise through next Wednesday morning. David is on call for a couple of those days, so he has to keep his cell phone on, but otherwise they’ll be completely off-grid for the duration. No grid power or other utilities, no TV other than DVDs and other local stuff, no Internet (although they do cheat and check email and news sites in case there’s a real emergency), etc. These exercises became routine for all of them a long time back. As Jen says, it’s essentially just a family camping trip at home.

Brittany and her family are also doing a readiness exercise over the holiday weekend. These aren’t as routine for them, yet, because they haven’t been doing them as long or as often as Jen and her family have, but they did get most of the bugs worked out some time ago.


11:15 – I forgot to mention one new thing Jen and her family will be trying out. In past readiness exercises, their main problem was keeping a 24×7 watch, particularly when it was just the six of them participating. So they decided to install an HD NV surveillance system. The system they bought has eight Ethernet PoE 1080P surveillance cameras with IR illuminators, and is rated for 100-foot detection at 0 lux (with the IR working). Those cameras feed into a 16-port DVR that has all kinds of bells and whistles.

Jen’s husband, brother, and nephews spent some time last weekend getting cameras mounted and everything installed. The cameras and DVR have standard Ethernet RJ-45 jacks. They mounted the cameras under the eaves at each corner of the house facing out at 45-degree angles and at the center of each wall, facing out at 90 degrees, and ran pre-made Ethernet cables to each camera. Jen didn’t want a bundle of Ethernet cables coming down into the house proper, so they declared the main floor utility room to be their comm center and ran all the cables back there.

They were a bit concerned that the rated 100-foot IR detection range was insufficient, so they also bought one PoE IR illuminator, installed it under the eaves near one of the cameras, and ran an Ethernet cable back to the comm center. They’re going to try that one camera with and without the supplementary IR illuminator and see how much difference it makes. If it greatly increases the range, they’ll install seven more IR illumintors, one per camera.

They’ll power the illuminators with an old 8-port Ethernet hub, of which they have several. They also bought a low-end BPS that should run the cameras, DVR, and illuminator for a long time on battery. The comm center is near their solar power charge controller and battery bank, so in a grid-down situation they’d be able to power their surveillance gear indefinitely.

I’m looking forward to hearing how that all works. They spent a fair amount on all the gear, but getting a smaller system costs only a few hundred dollars and would be a useful security supplement.

Friday, 23 June 2017

09:10 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out around 0645 this morning, damp and overcast. Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket this morning. This afternoon we do science kit stuff.

I forgot to mention that our purple-top white globe turnips failed miserably. We knew they were best planted in autumn, but decided to try planting a row of them this spring. They apparently flourished, but last weekend when Barbara and Al were working in the garden they decided to dig one up. It looked fine, but when they cut it open it was full of worms. So were all the others.

So we’ll plant another row of them in September and see how they do. One of the local gardeners Barbara knows recommended applying borax to keep the worms away from them. We’ll try that.

Email from Brittany about my post yesterday. She and her husband started studying for their Technician Class ham licenses a month or so ago. They’re taking it slow and easy since the next exam session anywhere close to them isn’t until August. One of their neighbors is a serious ham, and got them started by giving them a tour of his shack and demonstrating how everything worked.

They were intimidated by the room full of gear, and figured that it’d cost them thousands to get into ham radio. When he told them that they could get on the air with a radio each for less than $100 total, they thought he was kidding. He showed them one of his throwaway BaoFeng UV-5R transceivers that was set up to hit the local repeater, and told them that it was a $25 radio.

After reading my post yesterday, Brittany and her husband decided to order a UV-82 for each of them, each radio with a spare battery, whip antenna, and speaker/mic. They also got a name-brand programming cable, and downloaded/installed CHIRP. They plan to have the radios ready to go on-the-air the moment they get their licenses.

 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

08:37 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, mostly cloudy. Barbara is off to Winston today to get a haircut, make a Costco run, have lunch with friends, and do some miscellaneous errands.


Ruh-roh. Lisa has hooked up with Jen and Brittany. These women are going to take over the world, I tell you.

I got email overnight from Lisa, CC’d to Jen and Brittany, congratulating me on getting my ham radio ticket. Lisa had been thinking about ham radio for a while, and asked me what she needed to do, on a budget, to get started. What to do, how to get licensed, what to buy, etc. As happens so often, she wanted to know exactly what I did because she intends to copy me. So, with the usual provisos that she is not me and what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for her, here’s what I told her:

How to Get Started

First, go to http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club and locate the nearest ham radio club. Contact them and attend the next club meeting. Take your family along and let them know you’re interested in getting licensed. I’ve never met a ham who wasn’t friendly and eager to get others involved in the hobby. You’ll find the club very welcoming.

Find out if they offer classes for getting your license, and when and where the license exams occur. The exam for the entry-level Technician Class license and the second-level General Class license each comprises 35 questions from a published pool of 400+ questions. You don’t absolutely have to attend classes to pass your exam. Many people do so just by using on-line ham resources like hamexam.org, which has the question pool (with correct answers), flash cards, and sample tests.

If you’re interested only in local two-way communications–say within a 20-or 30-mile radius or within your county–all you need is your Technician Class license, and that exam is pretty easy to pass. If you’re interested in talking with other hams around the country or around the world, you’ll also want to take the General Class exam, which offers almost complete ham privileges. The General Class exam is harder than the Technician Class, but is still pretty easy.

Once you decide which license class each of you wants to get, start preparing for the exam. If you wish, you can buy the official ARRL study manuals for Technician and General Class, but chances are you’ll do fine just drilling on hamexam.org.

The tests are administered by a group of three Volunteer Examiners. There is usually a $10 per person charge for an exam session. During that session, you can take only the Technician Class exam if you wish, but if you pass that you can go on to take the General Class exam without paying any more. In fact, you can take all three, including the top-level Amateur Extra exam, at one session for the one $10 charge. You have to pass each lower level before you’re allowed to take the next level up.

What to Buy

Again, I’ll emphasize that what I recommend here isn’t best for everyone, but it’ll certainly get you started well.

⊕ Transceivers are available in hand-held versions (called HT’s for handy-talkies), mobile versions designed to install in the dashboard of your vehicle, and base station versions that are designed to sit on a desk or table at home. Nowadays, most hams start with an HT, and many never use anything else.

HT’s are available in a wide range of prices. Name-brand units (Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.) are generally quite expensive ($150 to several times that), and are limited to transmitting only on amateur radio frequencies. No-name Chinese models (BaoFeng/Pofung, etc.) are much, much less expensive (typically $20 to maybe $70), and can transmit across a broad range of frequencies, typically 136 to 174 MHz and 400 to 520 MHz). That range includes the amateur 2-meter and 70-cm (440 MHz) bands, but also includes many other services, such as FRS/GMRS, MURS, Marine Band, Business Band, etc. Many experienced hams dislike these programmable HTs for just that reason, while most preppers love them, for just that reason.

You might think you couldn’t possibly get much of a radio for a quarter to a tenth or less the price of a name-brand model, but you’d be wrong. A $30 BaoFeng HT has specifications (power output, sensitivity, selectivity, etc.) very similar to a $300 Icom or Yaesu.

There’s not much difference in terms of construction quality, either. One guy on Youtube torture-tested a $30 Chinese HT. He froze it, baked it, drenched it with a hose, and ran over it with his truck. Each time, it kept on working. Finally, he drenched it with gasoline and set it on fire. When the fire finally burned out, the case was charred and melted and the rubber-duck antenna was just a naked coil of wire. And it still worked. Note that he tested the UV-5R, which “feels” like a consumer-grade radio. The UV-82 “feels” a lot more like a commercial/industrial-grade model.

In fact, the commercial model of the UV-82, the UV-82C, is widely used by government and NGO emergency services agencies and volunteer groups that work with them. The only difference between the C model and the regular UV-82 is that the former costs about $60 rather than $30 and is a Type Accepted Part 90 device. It has had keypad access to VFO disabled, so new frequencies can’t be input from the keypad. These units have to be programmed with a computer and cable.

So I have no hesitation in recommending these radios for new ham operators, particularly those on a budget. You can buy a $30 model and use it as-is. If you want to accessorize it, you can spend another $10 or $20 each on things like a spare battery, a battery eliminator that let’s you plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car, a AAA battery adapter that lets you use AAA alkalines or NiMH rechargeable, a good whip antenna, a speaker/mic, and so on.

So, what specific items do I recommend for getting started on a budget?

BaoFeng UV-82 HT – buy one or more of these. They run about $30 each. Assuming all of your group are getting their ham licenses, buy one for each of them. You can use them legally on the 2-meter and 70-cm ham bands to communicate directly between units (simplex mode) or with local repeaters (duplex mode) to extend your comm range over probably a 50- to 100-mile radius.

BaoFeng programming cable – The UV-82 has 99 programmable channels. You can program it manually, from the keypad on the radio, but it’s much easier to use a programming cable connected to your computer. This genuine BaoFeng Tech cable costs about $20, but it Just Works. Don’t make the mistake of buying one of the cheaper clone cables for $6 or whatever. They use an obsolete chipset that requires old drivers that screw up your computer. The cheap cables are nothing but headaches. You only need one programming cable no matter how many units you need to program, unless you just want a second one as a spare. (two is one …)

Download a free copy of the CHIRP software (available for Linux, MAC OS, or Windows) and use it to program your radios. You can also download various templates for CHIRP that include groups of 99 useful frequencies. Here’s one example, which includes a useful set of frequencies for preppers.

CHIRP templates are stored as simple CSV files, which you can edit with any text editor. You might want to edit the template mentioned above to remove some of the less useful frequencies (like the PMR446 group, which are kind of the European equivalent of the US FRS/GMRS frequencies). You can then use those free channels for 2-meter and 70-cm ham frequencies that are popular in your area for either simplex (direct unit-to-unit) or duplex (repeater). Programming frequencies, mode, etc. is very easy once you look at the CSV file. Pretty much self-explanatory.

The UV-82 itself comes with a charging base, battery, and rubber-duck antenna, which is all you really NEED to get on the air. I consider the programming cable and CHIRP almost a necessity, so I also included it above. There are also several optional items you might WANT. Here are the most popular ones:

Nagoya NA-771 replacement antenna – this 15.6″ dual-band whip antenna costs about $17 and is a direct screw-in replacement for the rubber duck antenna included with the radio. It is much, much more efficient and effective than the standard antenna. Using it can easily double the effective range of your UV-82.

⊕ BaoFeng BL-8 7.4V 1800 mAh battery – you’ll probably want a spare battery for each of your UV-82 HT’s. Battery life is good on the UV-82, but if you ever need to run your HT’s 24×7, spare batteries for each are critical.

Buy the Nagoya-branded antenna and BaoFeng-branded battery, and buy them on Amazon from BaoFeng Tech or BTech (same vendor), which is the authorized US distributor for BaoFeng. Do NOT buy them if Amazon is listed as the vendor. Amazon and its third-party vendors are both notorious for shipping counterfeit products. The branded units from BTech/BaoFeng Tech cost about the same price Amazon charges if they’re selling them, and BTech doesn’t charge sales tax to most locations. Amazon ships it, but BaoFeng Tech is the seller.

BaoFeng battery eliminator – this $16 item has a cigarette lighter plug on one end. The other end looks just like the UV-82 battery, and slides onto the HT in place of the real battery. You’ll probably want at least one or two of these, and maybe one for each radio or at least each vehicle, if you plan to use them a lot in vehicles. Once again, buy these from BTech or BaoFeng Tech as the vendor.

BL-8 AAA battery – another $16 item that’s basically just an empty battery housing for the UV-82. It lets you use AAA alkaline or rechargeables. Interestingly, this adapter requires only five alkaline AAA’s but SIX NiMH rechargeable AAA’s. That’s because the real battery is 7.4V. Five alkalines is 7.5V, which is close enough; six NiMH’s is 7.2V, which again is close enough. But if you put six alkalines in this adapter, it’s delivering 9V, which is too much. The UV-82 apparently continues to work, but it won’t transmit. That’s why this adapter includes a dummy/spacer battery, for when you use alkalines. Again, buy these only from BaoFeng Tech or BTech as the vendor.

⊕ Finally, if you can find it, you might want a clone-and-copy cable. I bought one of these from Amazon back in 2013 or so but they’re now listed as no longer available. Like the programming cable, they have a two-prong connector on one end, but instead of having a USB connector on the other, they have a second two-prong connector. That allows you to connect two UV-82 HT’s directly together and transfer the programming from one unit to the other. The only reason you’d use this is if you don’t have access to a working computer to program units directly. And, if absolutely necessary, you can program units directly from their keypads. So this is definitely an optional item.

So this is what I recommend, in the sense that this is what I actually did and bought.

 

Monday, 12 December 2016

09:50 – Barbara is off to the gym and the bank. We’ve gone from cold and dry weather to warmer and a drizzle. Later this week, we’re to have the worst of both worlds: lows in the single digits F (~ -15C) with precipitation. Ugh.

Several people commented, here or via email, that cast iron wasn’t a good choice for a wok. Before I ordered, I read a lot of the comments that were discussing this very issue. The weight of opinion seems to be that heavy cast-iron is a much better choice than thin, light steel because the cast-iron wok retains its high temperature when one adds things to it. Neither of us is Godzilla, so we won’t be flipping the food in a 14-pound wok, or even tilting the wok to dump food onto plates, but the average of almost 1,000 customer reviews on Amazon is close to five stars, so it obviously works for a lot of people.

Several prepper sites have been running articles about how the supply of “fish antibiotics” is supposedly going to dry up as of 1/1/17. That’s simply not true. What is true is that antibiotics for agricultural/livestock use will become harder to come by. As of now, you can simply buy many antibiotics over-the-counter from farm-supply places. Many farmers and ranchers routinely treat their cattle, pigs, and fowl with sub-clinical dosages of various antibiotics because that allows them to grow and put on weight faster. Unfortunately, routine sub-clinical dosages are also the best way possible to help bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. That’s what these new regulations are aimed at. Starting January 1st, many widely used livestock antibiotics (such as this one) will now require what amounts to a veterinarian’s prescription. Antibiotics intended for use with ornamental fish, such as those sold by Thomas Labs, should not be affected by these new regulations.

That said, regulations can change any time, so it’s not a bad idea to acquire at least a minimal stock of a few key antibiotics. I still recommend aquabiotics.net as a good source. They sell a much broader range of antibiotics than Thomas Labs does, and they’re much less expensive. A few weeks ago, Brittany ordered what seems to me to be a reasonable supply for a family or a small group. As Brittany is aware, all of these antibiotics are to be used only in an absolute emergency, where regular medical services are unavailable. Every one of these antibiotics has the potential for severe side effects, up to and including death. Do NOT self-medicate when a physician is available. I regard these antibiotics as an absolute last-ditch solution. I wouldn’t administer them to myself or others unless I was pretty sure the person was in imminent danger of dying without them.


Sunday, 11 December 2016

10:45 – Barbara cooked dinner on her new propane cooktop last night. A pound of pasta, a pound of ground beef, a pound can of chili beans, a 6-oz. can of tomato paste, 1.5 cups of water, one tsp. of chili powder, and one Tbsp. of onion flakes. It turned out pretty well, although I’d boost the onion to 2 Tbsp and add a tsp. of garlic powder.

Barbara really likes her new propane cooktop, although she’s having to get used to the burners. There are four: 15,000, 12,000, 9,100, and 5,000 BTUs. Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Tweenie Bear, and Baby Bear.

I’ve been building our collection of cast-iron cookware, which is particularly well suited to use on a gas cooktop with a heavy cast-iron grate. I just ordered a Lodge P14W3 Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok. We’re doing stir-fry more often. We have a cast-steel wok that works fine, but I want to have a reasonably full set of cast-iron cookware.

If electric power goes down long-term, we’ll have to do all our cooking on the propane cooktop. I’ve never baked bread in a Dutch oven on a cooktop, but there are numerous pages on the web that describe how to do so. The next time we bake bread, I want to try baking at least one loaf in a Dutch oven on the gas cooktop.

Email overnight from Brittany, who’s been following our progress on getting propane installed for cooking. They currently have an electric cooktop and oven, and have decided to switch to a propane cooktop. Brittany ordered the same cooktop we have from Lowe’s, and has contacted their local propane supplier to have a tank installed and connected up to the cooktop. They’re going to move their current electric cooktop down to the food storage area in the basement and use it primarily for canning. I plan to do the same thing with our old electric cooktop.


Monday, 24 October 2016

09:54 – Barbara is off to the gym. This afternoon, she’s volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore, and tomorrow evening she’s volunteering at the annual library Quiz Bowl. Yesterday, her new friend JoAnne from the historical society stopped by with her husband, Jeff, and their son, Colin, who’s 15. They have roots in Sparta and have owned a vacation home here for 15 years, but they’re just now in the process of moving here from New Jersey to live full-time. Jeff is 55 and just retired as manager of a waste water treatment plant after a 33-year career in water treatment.

After numerous email questions to me and Jen’s husband, David (a veterinarian), Brittany has decided what antibiotics to order for her, her husband, and their two young children. I suggested and David concurred (in his role as a layman) that Brittany and her husband should read the detailed data sheets for each antibiotic on drugs.com before deciding. Brittany also asked my advice on where to order, expecting that I’d know who offered the best prices and quality. I suggested aquabiotics.net as an inexpensive source of good-quality antibiotics.

After careful consideration, mainly because of the side effects in children, Brittany decided to order two 50-packs of these ($30 total), which is five courses of doxycycline. She also decided to order two 50-packs of these ($30 total), which is five to seven courses of SMZ/TMP, five 50-packs of these ($67.50 total) or a total of 100 grams, which is 2.5 courses at 4,000 mg/day for ten days, or ten courses at 2,000 mg/day for five days of metronidazole, and one 24-pack of these ($32 total), which they’ll use in combination with ordinary 500-mg amoxicillin capsules they already had to provide three courses of amoxicillin/clavulanate. They decided to pass on the ciprofloxacin entirely, and instead buy two 30-packs of these ($42 total), which is four to six courses of levofloxacin. Levofloxacin is a more expensive later-generation fluoroquinolone, similar to ciprofloxacin but with fewer resistance issues.

The idea of self-prescribing antibiotics scares the hell out of Brittany, which is good. It scares the hell out of me, too, even more so because I know a fair amount about them and their side effects. But Brittany intends to store these medications in the freezer against a truly catastrophic emergency, using them only as an absolute last resort. She looks at this purchase as a one-time outlay of $200+ on insurance.

Brittany’s first job in high school was working at a local pharmacy. As she said, most people who walk into a pharmacy and see hundreds or thousands of large bottles of drugs on the shelves behind the counter probably just assume that means the pharmacy keeps enough drugs on hand to fill prescriptions for weeks or months on end. She knows the truth is different. Most pharmacies get daily or more frequent deliveries of drugs, and what they have on hand of any particular drug at any given time may be a one-week supply, or less. If the transportation chain breaks down for any reason, a community may have at best a week’s or ten days’ supply of most critical drugs. That’s counting everything: pharmacies, hospitals, emergency-care clinics, doctors’ offices, veterinarians’ offices, everything. As Brittany said, a doctor without access to drugs is severely hampered in what he can do. But if the patient can provide his own drugs based on the doctor’s recommendation, there’s a much better chance of a good outcome.


Sunday, 23 October 2016

10:00 – Email from Brittany yesterday, CC’d to Jen. Like many preppers, with only a couple of weeks until the election, Brittany is trying to make sure she has all her ducks lined up.

She’s been reading about fish antibiotics, and wanted to know which specifically I’d recommend she buy RFN. With the usual disclaimer that I am neither a physician nor a pharmacist and so as an unqualified person all I can do is tell her what I would store in her place, I mentioned the following, assuming that neither she nor her family has any allergies to any of these antibiotics:

1. Doxycycline — probably the most flexible of readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotics. The usual adult course of treatment is one 100-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 tablets is 30 days’ worth, or three to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

2. SMZ/TMP — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 400/80-mg tablet every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 800/160-mg tablets is 60 days’ worth, or six to eight full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

3. Metronidazole — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is also active against anaerobic bacteria and many protozoal pathogens. Although it varies with the disease being treated, the usual adult course of treatment is 2,000 to 4,000 mg total per day (at 7.5 mg/kg) divided into three or four doses for five to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets (30 grams total) is one to two full courses of treatment for a 150-pound adult. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

4. Ciprofloxacin — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 500-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for seven to fourteen days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets is two to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 6 to 12 courses on hand.)

Although it’s harder to come by than the antibiotics listed above, I’d also want to keep a few courses of 875/125-mg amoxicillin/clavulanate on hand. Resistance to plain amoxicillin is now so widespread that many physicians treat it almost as a placebo, so don’t bother stocking it or other beta-lactam antibiotics.


Thursday, 6 October 2016

10:05 – Email overnight from Jen and Brittany. For the last ten weeks, they’ve both been keeping track of how much toilet paper their families actually use, counting dead rolls each time they emptied the bathroom trash. They both thought the toilet paper they had in LTS was sufficient for at least a year. They were both optimistic by at least a factor of two.

Jen and David average 2.2 rolls/week for the two of them. Brittany and her family average 4.1 rolls/week. That sounds about right. Men average about half a roll per week. Women, particularly those of menstrual age, go through two to three times that much. Young children average somewhere in between.

So Jen and Brittany both plan to do Costco/Sam’s runs devoted to paper products. Not just toilet paper, but paper towels, napkins, and plates, all of which would be consumed at much higher than normal rates during an emergency. In fact, those things are on my Costco list for our next run as well. And I suggested to Jen and Brittany that no matter how much toilet paper they have on hand, it may eventually run out. If that happens, it’s an excellent idea to have a bunch of personal cloths on hand, as well as lots of bleach/pool shock to sterilize them.


Monday, 26 September 2016

09:58 – This is our first autumn living in the mountains, so I’m not sure if the weather we’ve been having for the last week or so is typical. I suspect it is. Highs generally in the 70’s F, lows in the 50’s, and a lot of fog, particularly mornings. The winds generally pick up during the day, which takes the fog off but skies are overcast about half the time and sunny the rest. We’re not seeing any fall foliage to speak of yet. I suspect that’ll change as our lows drop into the 40’s.

I added the ABC News channel to the Roku box this morning, in case we decide to watch at least part of the debate tonight. Apparently, they’re expecting an all-time record number of viewers for this debate. I’m not sure why. It seems to me that about half the country wouldn’t vote for Clinton if she was the last politician on earth, and the other half wouldn’t vote for Trump. So why would anyone watch the debates? Undecideds seem to be the core audience for debates, and there aren’t many undecideds left. I may watch the first few minutes of the debate just to see if Clinton face-plants into the stage.

Email from Brittany overnight. She’s feeling a bit under-equipped firearms-wise after reading Jen’s plans yesterday. She and her husband don’t have even one black rifle, so reading about Jen’s family having one each is inducing AR-15 envy. I repeated my earlier advice to Brittany. Their situation is different from Jen’s. Jen’s family has four high-earners, while Brittany is a stay-at-home mom whose husband’s (secure) job supports their entire family. An AR-15 with magazines, accessories, and ammo will cost them at least $1,000, and they have other places that that $1,000 could be better spent. They’re already very well-armed compared to the average family, so spending lots of money on tactical rifle(s) should be a lower priority for them. They also live on the outskirts of a small town that’s remote from even mid-size cities. They’ve both lived there all their lives, are surrounded by family and friends, and very seldom see anyone on the streets whom they don’t know. In short, they’re part of a community. In a catastrophic emergency, the community will help protect them, and they’ll help protect the community. As far as I’m concerned, their situation is about the best possible one, and should allow them to ride out any serious emergency.

I wouldn’t say they can declare their prepping “complete”, but they’re already better prepared than about 99.9% of the population of this country. Anything more they do is icing on the cake.





Friday, 16 September 2016

09:59 – Barbara is leaving today to drive up to Cape May, New Jersey to spend several days visiting with friends. It’ll be wild women and parties for Colin and me while she’s gone. Or it would be, if I knew any wild women. Unfortunately, Alleghany County and Sparta are really just a big Basket of Deplorables, and wild women are very rare in a BoD.

Another flurry of emails from Jen and Brittany, both of whom independently decided that, with the approach of colder weather, what they’re both shortest of is firewood. Both of them have trees and the means to fell them, but both decided just to order in a good supply of dry firewood. Like me, neither of them expects anything catastrophic to happen with the election but, also like me, both of them think there’s a small but real chance that something will happen. Better to be as prepared as possible against that.

The closer we get to the election, the worse things look for Clinton. A couple months ago, it looked like it’d be a slam-dunk for Clinton. A month ago, Clinton still had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the polls, but now things appear to be just about tied. The momentum definitely favors Trump, and that’s even without an October Surprise. And I think we Deplorables are underrepresented in most or all of the polls. I think a lot of mainstream Democrats and Independents are going to end up holding their noses and voting for Trump.

A white police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a black armed robbery suspect who pulled a gun on him. Based on the reports of the incident, there’s no doubt that it was a good shooting. After the fact, it was determined that the dead suspect, Tyree King, was 13 years old and that the gun he pulled on the cop was a very realistic-looking BB pistol. That cop had to assume that it was an actual Glock, and that he, his colleagues, and innocent bystanders were at risk of being shot. I have no sympathy for the dead suspect. Think of it as evolution in action. One has to be incredibly stupid to pull a gun on a cop, let alone a toy gun. No reports of rioting so far, but it wouldn’t surprise me if riots occur. I’d think that any reasonable person would conclude that this kid deserved to be shot, but BLMers are not reasonable people.

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