Wed. Sept. 22, 2021 – what, Wednesday again?

Hot and humid with rain! So much fun. Not. Well, maybe we will get it, maybe we won’t, but I’m pretty sure the cool front can’t get here too soon. I’m about over summer.

Did some of my stuff yesterday. Got some auction items cleaned up and tested. Got some stuff listed on ebay. The ebay algorithm sure seems to reward new listings. I’m making listings, and I’m selling an item every couple of days. That is still way down from the ‘old days’ but a lot better than nothing, and it looks like it might be getting better. I will continue the experiment.

I’m still buying stuff for myself at auction too. Live better for less. Saving 50% on lawn fertilizer or pest control may not be exciting, but it’s steady savings that add up. There is a lot of ordinary stuff in the auctions, estate sales, yard sales, etc. Even stuff like the contents of a kitchen drawer can save you a bunch of money. I joke about buying rolls of aluminum foil and cleaning products at estate sales but $2 for a heavy Costco roll, or a jumbo Windex bottle saves a lot over time. Some people cringe, but ask yourself if you would have any negative reaction to your host covering a dish for you to take home with that same roll of foil? Of course you wouldn’t.

Hard times are here for some people already. They are coming for most of the rest of us. Everyone can save money or stock up for later. Better to ease into it, and get practice while you have backup, than find yourself doing it out of dire need one day. A penny saved may not really be a penny earned, but it’s a penny you can use to improve your position.

ALWAYS be working to improve. And stack stuff as high and deep as makes sense to you.

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.

———————————————————————————-

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.

———————————————————————————-

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.

—————————————————————————————-

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.

—————————————————————————————

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…

—————————————————————————————

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

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. Mar. 4, 2020 – more to do, time is short

Warm and wet.

Yesterday started in the high 60s and warmed up throughout the day. No rain for me though.

I picked up some extra food, OTC meds, and cleaners. Hospital grade and they have that smell… I hope I never have to use them.

But I suspect I will.

My wife and I both try to avoid carbs as much as we can so we’ve gotten out of the habit of eating potatoes, with the occasional exception for the little colorful heirloom ones or tiny reds roasted. But some of you will have noted that I’ve bought over 100 pounds of potatoes in the last couple of days. I’ve bought a bunch of onions too. Other than rice, I can’t think of anything as cheap, versatile, durable, and tasty as the potato. Combined with onion and a fat, it can be cooked in dozens of ways from simple baked to fried, mashed, twice baked, with additives, or even raw. 100 pounds for $35. 100 meals for 35USD and it will store for 100 days if kept cool and dry. Go get you some!

As a taste of what’s to come, I thin sliced a few, and saute’d them in bacon fat with sweet onion and served them with dinner. Kids ate them up and oldest daughter complimented me and asked for more. Low carb prepping is hard. It can be done, but it’s expensive. The bulk of my “bulk” stored food is not low carb. It is what it is, and at the very least, I can give it away if not needed. If needed, I’ll enjoy the flavors of the forbidden carbs….

Keep stacking folks. If you don’t need it you can celebrate that it missed us… if you do need it you’ll be glad you had it. Remember Italy. They went to bed on a normal day and work up under quarantine. When it happens it will be sudden and unwelcome and probably completely unexpected.

nick

Fri. June 21, 2019 – already Friday again, jeez

82F and 90%RH. Never got a drop of rain yesterday, hope today goes the same. Openweathermap (henceforth OWM) has our high at 97 or 98F. It’ll be much hotter than that here in my driveway.

The march to war continues– https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-21/trump-backs-down-military-strike-iran-last-minute

This looks like classic Trump to me, promise some outrageous thing, let everyone freak about it, then offer the compromise. We’ll see. I’d prefer not to have a nuclear Iran, and the weaker they are, the better for stability in the middle east.

Lots of kid activities this week so not as many preps as I’d like, and I’m getting ready to head back to Chicago to help my mom with selling her house. I’ll probably be there a week.

The little tiny caterpillars were back with a vengeance and ate all the leaves off one grape vine and most off the other vine. It did reveal on bunch of grapes, which I split with littlest child. They were tasty with thick skins. I sprayed them with the thuricide and I hope the vines recover for next year. Grapes are a huge PITA.

We have one little apple growing on the tree, and one orange is still clinging to its tree too.

Peppers are still producing but tomatoes aren’t showing any fruit. Cukes and zukes haven’t died yet. The stems usually spit open at the ground level and get eaten by ants. I’ve been hitting them with different things hoping to find something that will get them thru the summer. Seems to be working so far. The plants in the one raised bed are still slowly bleaching to white and dying. No time to investigate that further. It MUST be an issues with the soil.

I did add another bucket of rice and some more cans to the stack. I can tell the hand warmers I’m using as O2 absorbers are working because the buckets ‘dent’ in.

I’ve mentioned it before but I think prepping to make tortillas/pita/naan/ or some other flat bread makes more sense than risen breads. They take less time, effort, and fuel. The staples of poor rural people and indigenous people the world over are refined by long history to be efficient in all those areas. (that root you have to smash for hours being an exception necessitated by a lack of alternatives.)

Someone mentioned that my SWAG at a couple of months food for my family was missing some things… yup. It was. There were LOTS of things missing from the list, but it was intended to show that it doesn’t have to be hard, or rocket science to stack a good amount of food. Also it’s what MY family (and by extension, most families I know) will eat. (If I was hispanic or german, the list would be different (and have more pickled stuff on it if german))

There are actually canned beans in the list (red, black, refried,bbq, drunken (borracho), and several others are on my shelves.) For preps, I prefer canned beans to dried. The water is already in the can. The cans are safe from rats and other vermin. The liquid in the can can be used as ‘sauce’ over rice. Of course, they are more expensive than dried beans, but they can be eaten cold from the can, only need to be warmed up to make them tasty, have flavor already added, and are generally easier, quicker, and thrifty with fuel.

If your family already eats chick peas, or dried beans, by all means store them in your preps! I wouldn’t want the list to be seen as EX-clusive. You should always feel free to go beyond or tweak for personal preference. For example, someone else mentioned canned potatoes. I have canned potatoes from a couple different makers with different styles of potato in them. I really like one particular can of sliced new potatoes. I’ve served them as a side dish lots of times. We don’t eat many potatoes though, and most canned versions don’t taste that good to me. I did list pouches of instant potato though. The name brand is really good, especially the varieties with added cheese and other flavors. If we had a real ‘no shit, hit the store for one last run’ event, besides all the overlooked cans, I’d grab bags of potatoes and onions. They store well (up to a year in good conditions) are cheap and versatile. But we personally don’t eat them often, so I usually only keep a couple of pounds of heritage baby potatoes in the pantry, and 10 pounds of onion… we do eat a lot of onion.

And I have to get the wife and kids out the door so I need to continue this later….

what did you do to prep this week?

nick

Monday, 14 August 2017

08:46 – It was 65.4F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0645, foggy and calm. We had another 0.33″ of rain overnight, which takes us to about 3.8″ (9.5 cm) over the last couple of days. This area averages about 4.5″ of rain per month, pretty evenly distributed by the week, which has been our experience since we’ve lived here. Shortage of water is not an issue.

We got enough regulated and unregulated chemical bags built yesterday to make another 30 biology kits, which we’ll work on today. After that, it’s back to building chemistry kits. Rinse and repeat.

Barbara walked up to the house next door yesterday. Kim and her husband, the new owners, were up there checking out progress. I’d thought that their niece, Grace, would move in right after they closed on the house. It turns out she’s living with them for the time being. The day of the closing, they’d mentioned making some improvements to the house like adding a deck, but we assumed they’d do that while Grace was living there. Turns out they’re gutting the place and doing a complete rebuild, to the extent of ripping out interior walls and creating a different floor plan. They told Barbara it should be finished in eight weeks, after which Grace will move in.


We’ve about finished up The Hollow Crown, a painfully politically-correct BBC adaptation of Shakespeare. I’ve learned many Amazing True Facts along the way. For example, I always assumed that the Duke of York who died at Agincourt was just a typical English white guy. Not so. He was black, as was Margaret of Anjou. Margaret, who was actually a 15 year old white girl at the time of her marriage, is portrayed by a 47 year old black actress, supposedly because she was the best actress for the role. Seriously? They couldn’t find a 15 year old white actress for the part? Who would have thought it? I’m surprised they didn’t make Henry V a black, Jewish woman.

And the same is true of Grantchester, a village mystery series set in 1954 rural Britain. There are diversities all over the place. Apparently, no one pointed out that in 1954 rural Britain, there weren’t any diversities wandering around the villages. It’s extremely jarring.


Speaking of cheap preps, as we were yesterday, you might want to pick up the following items next time you’re at Sam’s, Costco, or Walmart:

Magnesium sulfate, USP (Epsom Salts) – Last time I bought this stuff, I paid about $10 for two 7-pound retort bags, but you can get it in smaller containers for a couple bucks. It’s an excellent saline laxative. A tablespoon dissolved in a glass of water is normally effective within a few hours.

Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) – I buy the 91% v/v variety at Sam’s Club. It’s about $4 for a pair of one-quart bottles, which you can use as cheap but effective hand sanitizer. The 91% stuff is actually less effective at killing microorganisms than a 68% to 75% solution, so dilute the 91% stuff with tap water: add about a cup of water to a quart of the 91% stuff. At less than $8/gallon, this compares favorably in effectiveness to bulk Purell at about $36/gallon. You can widen its spectrum and make it an even more effective germ killer by adding a teaspoon of Lysol concentrate to each quart/liter of alcohol.

Friday, 31 July 2015

08:48 – I got email yesterday from another woman who wants to remain anonymous. I’ll call her Jen II, so that I can just use the Jen category. Besides which, she reminds me a lot of original Jen. They’re both determined and decisive.

Jen II isn’t LDS, but she’s prepping for her family of five and has jumped into the Mormon “Big Four” long-term food storage with both feet: 1,500 pounds of flour, oats, pasta, instant potatoes, and rice; 300 pounds of beans; 300 pounds of sugar/honey; 72 pounds of milk powder; 50 liters of vegetable oil; 50 pounds of salt; and various other dry staples. They bought most of that in a couple of runs to their nearest LDS Home Storage Center in #10 cans and foil-laminate bags, hauled it home in their pickup, and stacked it in the basement.

She’s now set for a year of feeding five people on iron rations, and could probably stretch that to 18 months with other regular foods she has stocked. Their basement is now stacked with cases of #10 cans, but she knows this is just the basic staples. She needs to (a) add lots of supplemental dried and canned foods–meats, fruits, vegetables, powdered eggs and cheese, sauces, spices, and so on, (b) get it all organized, and (c) figure out exactly what to do with it if/when worse comes to horrible. Her goal is to have what she needs to feed her own immediate family plus some other family and friends for a year or more. Fortunately, her husband is fully on board with all of this, and is happy to leave the decisions to her. Money isn’t much of issue, nor is storage space.

She and her husband are both retired professionals. They live in a small town that sounds ideal. The rest of her family consists of their adult daughter, their son-in-law, and their early-teens grandson.

My first suggestion to her was to pick up a good cookbook oriented toward cooking from long-term storage, such as MD Creekmore’s Shelf Storage Recipes, both of which are collections of recipes contributed by people who routinely cook from long-term storage. Then to go through those, pick out some recipes to try and figure out which ones she likes, and order whatever supplemental foods are needed from Augason Farms via Walmart on-line.

My time this week was occupied almost exclusively on science kits, but I did spend some time in the evenings doing prepping research.

  • I spent a lot of time researching relocation issues. We’re still looking at homes, and have decided to look at some that are farther out into the county. One or two of them are located not far from the oddly-named hamlet of Meat Camp, NC.
  • I read a couple of post-apocalyptic novels, including the first in Angery American’s Home series, .

So, what precisely did you do to prep this week? Tell me about it in the comments.