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.