Fri. Apr. 29, 2022 – Lots of catching up today

Clear and pleasant again, with some clouds.   It sure was nice yesterday, with only an intermittent threat of rain from some cloudiness, and a bit of humidity later in the day.

Finished up my shade tree mechanic LARPing.  Got the Ranger running, and picked up a replacement wiper for the rear window of my Expedition.    I c’nae believe how hard it was to find the correct wiper, or why Ford went with a completely different attachment means for that one wiper.  AdvanceAutoParts, and Autozone had me running around, but O’Reilly had the parts I needed.  I’ll check with them first next time.  I bought a second wiper as a spare and it was the last one they had.  More reinforcement for the idea that if you think you might need it, you better stack it.

I also shipped my ebay sale and couple of other things I’ve been putting off for no good reason.

D1 had a play at school last night and tonight, so we went to see that.   Every kid was miked, ever mic was too loud.  I know I’ve got hearing issues, but I couldn’t get but one word in 10.   Daughter is following in the wife and my footsteps with her work backstage.  Mixed feelings about that.  It was a great learning experience, and it put us both where we are now, but times change, and I’m not sure I’d want to be working in the industry now.

I suppose that is true for most parents.

Today I’ve got a couple of pickups, and some driving to do.  Then I’ll have more sorting and stacking at my storage unit.   Wife and D1 are headed to GS camp for the weekend after the curtain comes down on the show tonight.   D2 and I are home alone.   Might just load up the truck and head to the lake after swim practice Saturday.  There’s plenty to do up there, if I get bored with all the stuff that needs doing here…

WRT site issues here, please keep reporting them, but bear with us as Rick tries to sort it out.

And for pete’s sake, stack some food.  Don’t forget fats.  Peanut oil stores well, and can be used in place of butter in most cooking.  Lard in sealed plastic buckets should last a long time too.   With the decrease in sunflower oil exports from Ukraine, people will have to buy other oils, which will put pressure on them as well.   Get some, even if you don’t use much now.  It’s relatively cheap, stores for a long time, and is an important prep.  Salt and vinegar too, in mass quantities, mainly for food preservation, and a few jars of ‘pickling spice’ wouldn’t be a bad idea.

FWIW I like multiple smaller containers, rather than one big one.   It lasts longer if you don’t have a giant container open, you can more easily share a smaller container, and if one is spoiled the rest will still be ok.  To me, multiples are better, even if the unit cost is higher.  The most expensive prep is one you have to throw out without using.    Had a rat (might have been the possum) gnaw a bottle of peanut oil this week, made a mess on the shelf.   That was just one liter damaged, not the whole supply.  I could have used what was left in the bottle for frying I suppose if desperate, or as lamp oil, but I just tossed it and replaced it.   That might not always be an option.  So….

Stack something.

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

Sun. Apr. 17, 2022 – Happy Feast of the Resurrection

Cool and damp this morning in Houston.   Dew is heavy on the ground.  I’m hoping for sunlight and warm soon.

 

To the readers who are believers and who follow this calendar, I wish you a glorious Feast of the Resurrection.   If you have to wait a bit, please remind me when the day comes so I can offer you good wishes as well.

 

If you are a believer of an older tradition… and celebrate Passover, I wish you well.

 

And if a believer of a still older tradition, Happy Feast of Hestia/Esther.

 

Whatever your faith or lack of faith, or even if you reject the idea of faith, I think we can all celebrate being alive, which is not guaranteed nor mandated, especially in these unsettled times.

 

If you are so inclined, don’t forget to prep you spirit, as well as mind and body.

 

nick

Tues. Feb. 8, 2022 – the center cannot hold…

Cold edging to ‘cool’ later in the day.   Supposed to be sunny and clear, mid 60s at some point.  That would be nice.

Spent Monday sheparding the HVAC guy and managing my renters.  Didn’t get much done on the list.  Picked up D2 and we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon breaking down bulk meat and vac sealing it.  LOTS of opportunity to talk about economics, preps, sanitation, and cooking.  She weighed, ran the vac sealer, and marked the bags.  It was a nice hour and a half together.

I did get a couple of things put away, and made one small repair on something for my swapmeet.

I looked up the Houston area Hamfest, to see if I wanted to try and sell some stuff, or wait for the Hamfest, but it’s been canceled for this year.   That’s a real bummer.  No explanation was posted.

Today I will be heading to my client’s house.  I’ll set the new TV mounts, and get ready for Wednesday, when I think I’ll have some help  to hang the danged things.  They are just too high and too heavy for me to feel safe doing it by myself.  Getting older, and hopefully wiser.

Do what you can while you can.  Things continue to get weirder.   Stack it up.

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

Mon. Dec. 20, 2021 – getting closer

Cool and clear, but of course there is a chance of rain. It stayed cool and breezy all day Sunday.

I was outside in the cool and breeze, in shorts, long sleeve t shirt, and a zippered jacket. I like the freedom of movement when climbing ladders and moving around that I get from shorts. I added a knit hat and was comfortable all afternoon. Without it, my nose was cold and I wasn’t comfortable. If you don’t normally wear hats, and it could be cold where you are, add some to your preps. One of the things I like about getting older and giving fewer *cough* flocks… is wearing hats for fashion, and ‘cuz I like them. They also keep my head warm and the sun out of my eyes, but really it’s about looking cool…

I got enough lighting up that I’m happy with the result. There are a couple of things I could add, but I’m out of time. The tree is up, lit, and decorated. It even has some presents under it! Since we’re only a couple of days away from Christmas, that is a good thing.

Plan for today is to take some stuff to storage, buy some groceries, and head out to my client’s later in the day, or possibly delay that until tomorrow. My wife is working at the office today, leaving the kids with me. I can park them in my client’s home theatre, but it would all be easier if I can wait for my wife to be at home on Tuesday.

Sometime soon, I need to sort and wrap my own presents too. Most of them were purchased so long ago I’ve kinda forgotten what I have. Some preppers make lists, I make piles.

I should also get a plan together for Christmas dinner. I’d like to have friends over, as we haven’t seen them in a while. I’ve got a nice ham, and some beef ribeye roasts in the freezer. And maybe, I could take the time to cook the elk that has been taking up space for these last few years…last time I tried to cook it in a hurry and it wasn’t the greatest. Hmm. Cookies need baking too. And maybe I should pick up some fresh veg.

Well, that’s my next few days sorted! Plans are easy, aren’t they?

Stack some stuff. Give yourself some choices.

nick

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. 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

Tues. Aug. 17, 2021 – the decline is accelerating

Hot and humid, although the storm brought lower temps overnight. 74F when I went to bed last night. I’m thinking today will be pretty much like yesterday. We’ll have a dry morning, wet afternoon, and moist night.

Had a weird morning yesterday. Got dizzy for no apparent reason, had to lie down for a bit. Pulse ox and heartrate were fine. Weird. Gonna have to find a doctor now.

Spent a little time doing auction stuff, then called my latest auctioneer. He’s agreed to start taking stuff in on Wednesday. HOOORAAYYY. Stuff can finally start leaving here.

Spent the rest of the afternoon picking up and spending time with daughter 2. We ended up assembling a book shelf unit for her room. Mom and d1 got home early so that ended that. Next step is paint or vinyl to change the look, but that will be next time.

Made a special dinner for d1 in honor of her Girl Scout mariner certificate. It’s one of my ‘specialty of the house’ dishes. Grilled lamb rib chops. I dug deep in the freezer and got a package from 2016 and one from 2019. From $10/lb to $14/lb in only 3 years. I didn’t look yet at a current one to see how much more it’s come up. Both packages were in the original heavy Costco vac seal and both were delicious (although the older one was slightly more ‘lamb’ smelling before rinsing). Nothing wrong with leaving stuff in the freezer if it’s vac sealed and consistently frozen. I keep the chest freezer at -2F.

I also tested one packet of a case of commercially packaged coffee I got at auction. 72 “4 cup” packs of Seattles Best decaf in commercial food service packs (think hotel room coffee setup.) It was $5 for the case, and it is past its ‘best by’ but smelled and tasted just fine. I don’t drink a lot of decaf but I’ll put it on the shelf (or in the freezer if there is room). If it actually ages out, I’m only out $5.

The burn on my forearm is dark red, smooth, and sore but itchy. I broke out the silvadene cream and have been putting that on it, and covering it with a big bandaid. What’s the point of having the stuff if you don’t use it when needed? I will be adding to the stocks to replace the open tube with unopened. Re-stocking is important-

Because I’m watching the humiliation of the US on the world wide stage. Every ally has to be re-thinking their assessment of our strength. Every enemy is going to be doing the same. Afghanistan is an invader breaker, and has been forever. And now it broke us. Oh, we’re not shuffling out into the snow, but the complete miscalculation, the refusal to understand that aliens are alien, the absolutely shameful way we abandoned YET ANOTHER set of local players, is a serious blow to our power and strength worldwide. It will surely give potential allies pause, and our enemies encouragement.

Those are not good things for me and you. I expect even more disruption to our economy and to our financial system. Confidence and optimism will be battered. When that happens, markets get roiled and prices fall. I’m as out as I can be, and my feelings on the casino for suckers should be pretty clear by now, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but if you’re in the markets, why? How much higher do you expect it to go? When it drops it will drop in a big hurry. I’m not giving financial advice but I’m going to be VERY conservative at this point. Tangibles you have control over. Just saying.

Other people are starting to notice the slide. There will be a point where it’ll be too late for a lot of things, at least for a while. Prepping will help you get through that time.

When I’m feeling pessimistic, I’m really pessimistic. Seeds. Antibiotics. Lots of reference books. Water treatment and power generation. Stealth. Really low key living. And when I’m worst casing, alternate ID. 30 million illegals are getting it somewhere. The mayor of Kabul probably wishes she had some. Just saying.

Keep stacking. I think we’re already in it. When everyone else figures that out, it will get ugly quick.

nick