Tues. May 3, 2022 – about to get even busier…

Forecast says “clear” for the next two days at least.   Monday started out very gusty, with spatters of rain while I was putting the kids in the car, but it soon cleared up.   Today should be clear all day, but I’m sure it will be humid and hot.

Because I’ll be doing some work in the attic.   HVAC guy came yesterday and did whatever poking around he needed to do to get the job actually started.  I’ve got a feeling it will be about 80% of what we want, it’s costing more than the luxury system quote from two years ago, and I think the work will be pretty haphazard.   BUT, he got the unit we needed, and the approved ductwork, and the system has been patched and babied along for two extra years past its failure point.   I NEED to get new stuff installed.  And for that to happen, I need to clear space in the attic for them to work.   That will be … difficult and a pain in my sweaty backside.

On top of that, I have the normal weekly stuff to do, and I am supposed to be taking stuff to auction today and tomorrow.   Which probably will not happen if I’m in the attic all day.

I did get a few things done yesterday.  Did a billable half day of work for my client.  AT&T has pushed all the conduit to his property, they just need to get fiber in it, and make the final several hundred foot push to the house.   It looks like they  hope to light up the rest of his neighbors too at some point.   There are lots of drops along the way to his house.

More food got put away.   The $2/pound pork loin got turned into three roasts, and one got eaten for dinner.  The others joined their piggy friends in freezer camp.   I opened a can of cajun style lima beans as a side, didn’t tell anyone what they were besides “beans” and not only did they get eaten, my wife actually called them good.   It must have been the butter and bacon crumbles.

Also got 40 pounds of flour into buckets.  20 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, a paper plate, and a couple of hand warmers to eat the O2.   Those buckets will go to the BOL.  My wife notably didn’t say anything about the 40 pounds of flour sitting in the living room until I could pack it.   I think she’s coming around to the idea of shortages.  It would be hard not to given the news and predictions from every direction.  Yet there will be people crying that ‘nobody told us’.   I’M telling you, there will be shortages, and some people are going to be very hungry, both here, and pretty much everywhere else.   Dust Bowl, Great Depression, soup kitchen levels of hungry, only without the civility of a homogeneous society.  That last point should be top of your mind too.

Ammo prices have come down slightly and availability has increased.  I’m even seeing sales on large quantities.  Some places have complete uppers for sale again too.  If you’ve been waiting, this is as good a time as any.

ATF has new rules ready to go into effect.   We may be facing whatever comes with what we’ve got.   And something bad, really bad, is coming.   The DHS created a department to police thought and word.   That’s how far we’ve come, and the direction we’re going.  They didn’t ‘float a trial balloon.’  They created it and staffed it.  Just like that.  With no lead up or indication ahead of time.  Once we’re on a war footing, even the token resistance from conservatives will be stifled in the name of the war effort.  It’s all happened before, it can happen again.

So stack it high. And hide it well.  You’ll need it.

 

nick

 

Thur. Apr. 28, 2022 – so we’re a quarter of the way through the year…

Clear and nice for the next two days according to the national forecast.   We’ll see what our local microclimate actually does, but it certainly was nice yesterday.

Too bad I spent most of the afternoon literally pretending to be a shade tree mechanic.   And laying on my back in the shade under a filthy truck.   The result of a few hours spent is ruling out the alternator and the starter/solenoid.  Most of that time was driving from store to store to get the parts checked.    My next possibility is the corroded cable at the battery clamp.  I found a 2 volt drop in the first inch  of the cable.   The weird thing is that the problem appeared suddenly.  Damage from corrosion is usually a slow and gradual problem.  JEP said “it’s almost always the cable” and he may have been right in this case too.

I spent the morning getting dinner ready (crock pot pot roast) and packing the bulk meat I bought.  Should have done it sooner, but it was still fine.   Did I mention that Costco has standing rib pork loin roasts for less than $2/pound?  I forgot that it was Easter time, and that they carried my favorite pork cut at Easter.  Cut up as pork chops, or cooked as a roast, you can’t  beat the flavor.  The pot roast is a family favorite, and couldn’t be easier.  Just add whatever sturdy veg you have in the fridge, I used turnips, carrots, potatoes, and onion, the meat (seared in cast iron first) and the Betty Crocker pot roast slow cooker seasoning packet.  6-8 hours later, add a fresh baked (shelf stable) loaf of sourdough bread to the table, and you have a feast.   Stew in the slow cooker is pretty much the same, except the meat is cubed first, and I use the “beef stew” packet…

Plan for today is more exploration and hopefully a resolution to my truck issue.  I need the truck  to do about 80% of the stuff on my list.  If I get it fixed, I’ve got all the other stuff that didn’t get done this week stacked up.   If I don’t, that stuff will slip even more.

I guess I better get moving.

And btw, the head of Goya foods is warning about famine too.

It’s real and it’s coming.   Stack it up.

n

Sun. Apr. 24, 2022 – sometimes, I just throw up my hands…

Possibility of rain today, with moderately warm temps.  Yesterday was fairly nice.   Sun, moderate temps, and not too humid.  Not many of those days left before summer really hits.

Slept in, didn’t get a whole lot done before I had to put my chef’s hat on.   Dinner was a success with the birthday girl, her friends were a  lot less enthusiastic about the lamb.  Which is a shame because it was pretty good.  I tried something different with the bread, and it worked out.  When I was in college, we’d sometimes eat at a steak restaurant attached to a wholesale butcher.  It was great food and cheap, and the meal came with “Roman Bread”.   I’ve been thinking of that bread for a while, and finally decided to try finding a recipe and making it.   The actual recipe from the restaurant was online, and it was straightforward.

It was as good as I remember, a hit with my wife, and the kids liked it.  The yeast I used wasn’t very vigorous (the packet was one year past best by date) but it’s a pretty flat bread anyway, and it rose enough.  The onions make it sweet, the rosemary makes it savory, and it has a great texture.  It’s not as simple as true flatbread or tortilla, and uses more energy and ingredients, but it’s about half way there between a loaf and flat…   I’ll be making it again, that’s for sure.   Variations might be great too, like grated cheese instead of onion, or chopped chives, or any number of other things.

The Roman Bread is a lot like fruit cobbler, in that little can go wrong, you can do variations, and prep time is minimal.


 

Someone mentioned it in comments, but I’ll repeat that the Texas preparedness tax holiday continues until Monday midnight.  As long as you order and pay before then, you get the tax back, or don’t pay it.   The list and limits are here.

 


The problem with my truck not starting may not have been the battery failing.   There was no juice, and the battery read 12.8v while connected, but a new battery failed to solve the problem.   Still no start, still not enough juice to run any accessories.   I will be troubleshooting that further today, I didn’t have time to look at it before, once I knew there was still an issue I just closed the hood and walked away.  Very weird though.

The rest of today will be me working the list.   And it gets bigger every day.

I encourage you, in the strongest possible way, to build up your food supplies.  Stack it high.

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

Sun. Jan. 30, 2022 – sleeping again, or more, or something

Cool and dry?  Or cold and damp… yesterday was nice.  Dry and just slightly too cool.

Didn’t get anything of substance done yesterday.  Slept late, watched and bid on auction lots for the lake house, and avoided my TODO list.

I’m taking today as it comes, not making any predictions about what work I won’t actually do, and maybe some will get done.  Because the world has turned into opposite land, maybe that will let me be productive.

Reading posts from March of 2019, and a bunch was going on.  Interesting to look back.  Also something to do instead of going to bed.

Do as I say, not as I do, and get some stuff done off your list.  Time is short, it ALWAYS is.  Stack stuff.

n

Sun. Dec. 19, 2021 – whew, getting chilly

Cooler to cold, damp to wet. It’s all a matter of degrees. After the rain yesterday the temperature dropped 20F and the wind picked up. 52F, damp and windy, feels pretty darn cold here in Houston. Today should be pretty cool too.

I did some pickups, mainly to meet with the auctioneers. I got a squishy commitment to take some more of my stuff to the local auction where I did very well. Then I went by my secondary, moved a couple of things around, unloaded some stuff from my truck, and came home.

Dinner was leftover crock pot carnitas, but with bread and veg, instead of tortillas and rice and beans. Worked pretty well. Pork shoulder is cheap, $1.79/pound and even less when on sale. You can prep on a budget, even putting away protein, if you shop carefully, and eat the food poor people traditionally eat.

I guess I moved enough stuff out of the house because my wife put the tree in the stand, and set it up in the “play room”/ library. There is a truckload of stuff in the foyer now, but I’ll deal with some of that today if the weather is clear. It was too wet to decorate, so we’ll do that today. Some of the other inside decor went up, and the house smells like the tree. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas to me.

Peter over at BayouRenaissanceMan has been reminding people about inflation, food shortages, and the need to build up pantries. Some commentors sound like they’re in good shape. Peter suggests people get to 30 days of food. I think that’s a great start but you better have a whole bunch more, if only to supplement whatever you can find, if things go further pear shaped. And y’all know I think they will. If the situation with fertilizer shortages causes changes in plantings, and subsequently reduces the food available next season, prices will go up further. Scarcity will increase too and this comes on the heels of the floods and reduced harvests of a couple years ago. Stockpiles are reduced already. Everyone eats, so food insecurity is a very destabilizing thing. Make sure you have options and choices. I was thinking yesterday about the government cheese of my youth. I loved that stuff and would love to have a couple of those giant bricks in my stacks. I suspect that there are a lot fewer warehouses full of .gov stockpiles than there were in the 80s…

Desperate people do desperate things. Plan ahead and prep so you don’t have to.

Stack it up.

nick

Sun. Dec. 12, 2021 – 12122021 – the return of the wanderers

Cold and damp, no rain though. That’s my best guess for today. It really got colder last night. Daytime temps were cool, but it dropped below 50F before I went to bed. My knees and hands hurt when it gets cold and damp.

Had a great time at my non-prepping hobby Christmas party. The food was awesome. Club provided meats, members brought dishes. I brought peach cobbler and sweet corn bread wedges. The corn bread didn’t rise, so fail there, but the cobbler got complements. Both from long term stores. For desserts there was a whole table of sweets, including two different pecan pies– both were deliciously sweet, the way they should be. I had two different sliced hams, smoked turkey, bbq meatballs, and some other pork. Then we did a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange. The ‘white elephant’ part is that the gift is silly, something you didn’t really want, and ideally humorous. It was also supposed to relate to the hobby. 43 people participated and for added fun, you could choose to ‘steal’ someone else’s gift instead of opening one. Then the deprived person gets to pick a new wrapped gift. Items could only be ‘stolen’ twice. Lots of fun and good-natured ribbing involved. Very normal feeling and great to see so many members.

Plan for the day is get stuff out of the house. Then finish outdoor decor. The kids and my wife should be home before I’m done with either of those. Puppy Zeus is supposed to get his incision looked at in the late afternoon, and maybe we’ll have time to get a tree. IF I get all the stuff cleared out.

Just another day in the life really. Stack up the good times as well as the good stuff.

nick

Thur. Oct. 21, 2021 – 10212021 – yes I am sending you secret messages

Cool and clear again, or maybe damp and overcast, but probably much like yesterday. I sometimes wish the forecasters would just come out and say it that way. Yesterday was saturated most of the day with highs in the low 90s in the sun. I was sweaty standing still.

Got a couple of things done. Moved some stuff, threw out some food that was old or damaged, repacked some too. I need to replace a couple of bags of salt, and one bag of flour. Salt doesn’t go “bad” but it can be affected by moisture from water or “other things”. Oh, one bag of sugar was rock hard too. Not expensive, and I have acknowledged that I’ve got ‘breakage’ due to poor conditions that others might not have. On the other hand, the rice was fine.

Took a load to the auctioneer and he’s still happy to see me and get more stuff. He’s having trouble sourcing his normal stuff, there really aren’t as many returns/overstocks now as there were months ago. He’s glad to have my stuff to sell, and I have more for him 🙂

Get your holiday shopping done early. In fact, get ALL your shopping done early. I’m even looking for a cheap Christmas tree, in case the real ones end up in short supply. If they don’t have labor to cut them, or trucks to ship them, they could be scarce or crazy expensive. Normally you can’t give away artificial trees at estate sales and thrift stores. I’ll be curious if that is different this year. As an aside, it’s the first year I’ve ever actually looked at prices. Hole-y Bat shrub Batman. Artificial trees are expensive! Modern good looking ones anyway.

So that’s it, your secret message. Stack it high, stack it early. All signs point to trouble ahead.

nick

huh, this is the 600th post I’ve tagged wuflu. Tired of this.

Wed. Oct. 20, 2021 – so much to do

Another cool and not rainy day. I was going to write “dry” but it’s humid enough that the word ‘dry’ just doesn’t fit. Although with the cooler temps, the humidity is less of an issue. And it still got scalp-scorchingly hot in the mid afternoon when the sun came out.

I actually did a lot of stuff yesterday, but because it was bracketed by chauffeuring daughter 1 around, it felt like an unproductive day. Orthodontist, vet, client, pickup, drop off, school, home, cooking something new, relax, crash, wake…

After all the worrisome behaviour, by bed time puppy Zeus was back to his normal activity level. Still not as eager to eat as usual though, and will be getting extra observation.

Solved my client’s immediate maintenance issue, but further confirmed that we’re not ready for his ‘rip and replace’ upgrade. That is going to have to move up my priority list.

And I need to kick out some more work on my industrial ‘pallet’ auction. I can’t wait too long or I’ll be in the dip between Thanksgiving and February when sales dry up for everything not Christmas related. I missed my window and it sucks because now I’m trying to fit it along side everything else.

Time management skills, I’m lacking them this month.

But what else can you do but keep on plugging away? That’s the secret ingredient for success in most things- keep showing up, keep doing the work.

It’s true for disaster preparedness too. Steady consistent progress, or equally valid, periodic repeated surges of activity, either one will advance you toward your goals.

So keep stacking. Friends, skills, stuff. You’ll need all three and more when the revolution comes.

nick

Sun. Sept. 5, 2021 – did some stuff, more to do

Hot and humid, little chance of rain. And we got through yesterday without getting rain at home. It did get hot. Morning was cool, but by the time I was outside it went from 85F to 105F in the sun. Since I was in the sun, well, it was hot.

Got the front yard cut. Started on the back but ran out of battery. If I charge it, I can do front and back. If I leave it after doing the back,the next week I can only do the front, or the back again. It’s pretty consistent. Still liking the mower btw. I love that I don’t have to wear ear pro.

Spent a bunch of time cleaning one section of my food storage shelves. The rat was moving around on them, and on the stores, so it needed to be cleaned. I started with the easiest of the three shelves. I am very happy with my idea of putting everything in low bins with lids. The food in that section was all protected from spoilage. The stuff that wasn’t in plastic? It didn’t fare as well. I lost a box of instant oatmeal in envelopes to bugs. I lost several of the big cardboard oatmeal containers to ‘moisture’. And I had some bulging cans. 4 cans of evaporated milk were bulging a bit. They were best by 2015 and have been poorly stored so I’m not put out. I expect spoilage and losses because my storage conditions are so bad. My Kraft Mac n cheese is one year past best by, and it tastes a bit “old”. Two cases. Dang. Funny how your eating patterns can change.

One of the things we’ve learned with this whole “lockdown” thing is that our eating habits changed a lot. Over the last year we pretty much stopped eating breakfast cereal. We were steady eaters of Cheerios since the kids were babies. Mac n cheese consumption is way down, and I’m more likely to make the cheese sauce from FD cheese powder and milk, with normal pasta, than from a box. I don’t know how much is just the kids getting older, or if there was some appetite fatigue, but it’s something to consider in your long term food plan.

What to do about it? Variety and versatility. I store stuff like the Kraft Mac n cheese because it’s easy and quick. The kids can grab it for themselves. But, it’s not as versatile as bare pasta and cheese powder. We still eat a lot of pasta, but much less orange cheese. To combat any potential appetite fatigue, I stock lots of weirder things that we don’t normally eat but might make an interesting change of pace. Lima beans. Butter beans. Canned asparagus spears. Artichoke hearts. Weird imported fruits. You name it, if I saw it on a shelf, I’ve probably picked up a can or two. I occasionally bust out the weird and add it to a meal just to see if it might be great (and to acclimate the family to the idea of eating unusual stuff.)

As I read around the web, I’m becoming increasingly nervous about food. Having some spoilage from the rats and heat is contributing to my concerns. If things get bad, you probably don’t have enough food. You may not have enough boots, socks, and underwear. How’s the elastic on your shorts? I just replaced a bunch of pairs that were a bit crunchy from the dryer being hot (and they are years old.) But back to food… Unlike Bob, I’m not counting calories and just filling buckets with salt, sugar, flour, rice, and beans. You can do that, and there is plenty of guidance here (look at the keywords on the right), but I think in terms of “meals.” It also keeps me from worrying about nutrition too much. Normal meals are going to be normally nutritious. If you’re not starving now, you won’t be later.

I do have lots of buckets filled with those things (except beans, I keep those in cans.) I think of the buckets as meal extenders. Bread/tortillas/pasta added to a canned meal, or rice combined with other food will extend the length of time that my canned meal plan will last. Whatever your preference, and plan, consider adding to your stack. After all, if things don’t get bad, you can donate excess to food banks or your neighbors. And consider variety and novelty when stacking. More is better. More choice is better too.

Keep stacking.

nick