Category: culture

Fri. June 9, 2023 – there’s always an excuse…

Cooler, but damp and warming up later.   Probably get all the way to hot.   It certainly followed that path yesterday, but ended in “cool” when the front rolled in around 6pm.   Gusts and 10 degree temperature drops say “excitement is on the way”.   So we retreated to the cars.   Well excitement never arrived at the swim meet, but the cooler temps were appreciated.

I did my pickups yesterday.   Got D1 from the airport.  She’d been with grandma for the last week.  Got a couple more pickups done on the way home, and then got D2 to swim.   Not a lot of time in there for messing around with restacking food on the shelves.

Maybe I get it done today.   If not, most of it is under cover or in covered bins and can sit for another few days.   I say ‘maybe’ because I’ve got two pickups in the morning (stuff for the BOL), lunch with my sibling who is in town, then possibly a quick trip to my client’s to tweak some things before the weekend…  It’ll make him happy and his wife too, so IF I can make the timing work it is worth doing.

Then load the truck for the next trip up to the BOL and head out.   No non-prepping hobby meeting on Saturday because of a scheduling conflict with the venue.

Full day.   Full night.   Full life.

Over at BayouRenaissanceMan, the inevitable commentor when Peter brings up food shortages.. “But I don’t have money or room for those things.”    Might be true for a very limited subset of people, mainly those in care or institutions, but it’s REALLY unlikely.   As shown here by RBT and me both, and in innumerable other prepping sites online, you can MAKE room and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  It’s easier to find reasons not to prep than it is to prep, but the reasons don’t sound very convincing to anyone who has begun the journey.

The best time to plant a tree might be 5 years ago, and the same might be true for prepping, but there won’t be any stored food in 5 years, or any new trees if you don’t start NOW.  Stop looking for reasons not to, and look for was TO prep.   There are lots of resources out there, and  a whole bunch here, just use the keywords on the right.

Get started stacking up food and other preps.   If you already have some nice stacks, congrats!  Now do more!  Take control of your life and your future.  Take this step to ensure both.



Thur. June 8, 2023 – some thoughts about food storage

Damp and cooler, but getting hot later.   It was 94F in the shade by late afternoon yesterday.   Then it rained, just enough to mess me up.  I’m hoping for dry today.  Got lots to do.

So yesterday, of all the things that need doing, I chose to attack the food shelves that had been despoiled by the rats, and the possum, and the exploding peach cans.   Joy.   Just moving all the cans to milk crates took a while, and I haven’t cleaned them yet.   Threw out a couple dozen.   Mostly  peaches, but also some other failures due to rust or acidity.  A case of tomato paste.  A case of tomato puree.   A half dozen condensed milks.   Some random veg.   There might be more as I clean them and restock the shelves.   I know I’ll have ‘breakage’ due to my extremely bad storage conditions, so it’s just part of the cost, but it sucks to have it all at once and for it to mess up other cans too.

I moved 6 months, one meal a day for 2 adults and 2 kids to milk crates.   It’s my minimum, my version of RBT’s “iron rations.”   One can meat, one can veg, rice.   Of course I have more, breakfast and more canned and dry food, but 6 months fits in 12 milk crates.   Stacks really well too.   Plus the buckets for the rice, one bucket per month.    32 cans per crate.  Roughly the same for meat.  There is a bit more variation in the size of the meat cans.   So two milk crates and a bucket will feed you a nutritious meal a day for a month.  You and your family.   You won’t get fat, but you won’t starve either.   Add a bucket of flour or tortilla mix, and a crate of soup cans and you get two meals a day.   The cans leave a bit of room at the top of the crate that could be filled with oatmeal in bags, or repackaged pancake mix too.

It’s all very compact for storage and isn’t crazy expensive.

For box meals, retort pouch meat, and mixes I’m still using shallow tubs with lids but you could pack that into either buckets or milk crates too.   I just find it easier to treat the tubs as ‘drawers’ and have access to the contents without un-stacking a bunch of stuff.   And for day to day, I’ve got the cans in FIFO racks.  Those racks were FILTHY from the burst cans, and the rodents.  I ended up pressure washing them, using a scrub brush and clorox cleaner on the shelves, and then pressure washing again..

Lessons learned, fruit in cans is not a super long term storage item.   Fruit in the cheapest Hill Country Farms cans is REALLY not a long term item.   Rust is  the enemy of cans.   The FIFO racks are very hard to clean and keep clean.   From now on, I’ll be putting a waste paper basket trash can liner over each bucket in storage.   The lids get filthy and opening a gamma seal lid is a 20 minute ordeal of cleaning before opening to be sure you don’t drop cr@p in and contaminate your dry food.   Clear plastic liners over the buckets should help tremendously.   The shallow tubs worked.   They protected their contents from cross contamination, and predation, and when a can inside popped, they kept the mess confined to the one tub.

If I was designing a storage/pantry system from scratch, I think I would build it around buckets and milk crates.   Each milk crate holds about 32 cans with some space at the top.   Mix your veg, beans, and other cans so each crate has a variety of food.  Do the same with your canned meat or pouch meat.  Fill a bucket with 25 pounds of rice (just shy of 3 cups to the pound, btw, and 200 calories a cup.)   Stack a few months worth in the closet.  Both buckets and crates stack well.  Pull two crates and a bucket at the start of the month, and refill them to rotate back into storage before the month is over.   You could decide to skip the rice and add another crate of veg instead.   Top off the crates with breakfast food like oatmeal or pancake mix.   Add a crate of soup for lunch.   Campbells cans are a bit smaller but not enough to get more in a crate.  There is more room for breakfast or condiments though.

Compact, sturdy, organized, and moveable if needed.  Easy to rotate.  Plus you can see at a glance how much time/food you have.  Easy to share if you want to.  Hand them a bucket and two crates.


Busy day today, I don’t know if I’ll get the remaining shelves cleaned and everything put back.  I’ve got pickups, an airport run to do, swim meet this evening, and all the normal domestic bliss…  I’m pushing my client into next week when the gear arrives.  DirecTV can wait a week for their gear.

Stack some more food.   You know you like to eat.  And if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you don’t like to starve.   Having at least one secure meal a day could make the difference for you and your family.



4 milk crates, and 2 buckets per month and you are living large.

Wed. June 7, 2023 – justanother, justanother dayayay… justanother…

Another wet day, slightly cooler, may change as the day goes on.   No one knows.  Yesterday ended with light rain, some thunder, and then nothing for the rest of the night.   It was a little bit cooler, so that was nice.

I did auction stuff most of the day.   I also bought the cams for my client, along with a replacement switch, and surge suppressors for the ethernet lines to the outdoor cams.  Maybe they’ll help, maybe not, but they are relatively cheap at $12 each, so worth a try.

Today I might head out there, I might not.   D2 has a camp physical scheduled for the middle of the morning, and swim practice at 5pm, so that means I start late, and finish early.  Still might be worth getting out there.   Or I could wait another day and maybe some of the cams will be here too.   There is value in ‘showing the flag’ and I do get paid for each visit.   I do try to make the visits COUNT though.

I’m sure I can fill my day with something…

Maybe I should do some shopping.   I moved a bunch of chicken to the BOL, so I have room in the freezers here.   Pork looked like it was headed down on my last store trip.   I’m fine with picking up shoulder, loin, or ribs if they’re cheap.   I should also replace the cans that were damaged when the fruit cans ruptured.   I’d prefer to do that when they are on sale, but IDK if waiting is a good idea.   There is always the tension between buying when the stuff is available, and hoping that the price will be lower later.   Most of the cans I bought for around $1 each, and they are almost double that now.  I’m not confident that they will ever go on sale again… although the irregular and unofficial sale rotation should be hitting canned veg in a week or two at my local HEB.

Shopping regularly and having a feel for what goes on sale and when can help you stock up for less, and economize even during normal times.   Supply chain issues and a worsening economy can disrupt that though, and sometimes it best to buy it when you see it.

I  guess we’ll see.

If you see stuff you buy on sale, stack it up.


Tues. June 6, 2023 – RBT’s birthday.

Very humid but somewhat cool, due to yesterday’s rain.   Got a real gully washer at home, and on the way home as I passed under some thunderstorms.  Parts were still dry.  Houston.

I got my networking sorted out.    Dug a trench, laid in some liquidtite conduit, did it right.   Tested everything and my switch has a bad port.    Got permission to order a replacement and keep this as a spare.   It was hot, but not as hot as it could have been.   Even on the roof, it wasn’t blast furnace hot.  Installed a new antenna support pole, and the cell booster antenna.   Took down the DirecTV dish.   I am trying to not go back today unless the gate installer runs into something weird.  Maybe Wednesday.  I’ve got to pull the rest of the DirecTV gear out of the rack and the equipment closet.   I think it can wait a couple days for my stuff to come in.  Makes more sense to do as much as possible at the same visit.

Raced the rain home, but made it in time for the swimmeet.   It was good to see some of the people we used to see all the time.  Kid swam well.  It was very damp, wet even, and my joints will ache tomorrow.  That’s the way it is though.

Today I’ll do some computer work, some house work, and maybe some auction work.

And I will spend some time thinking about Robert Bruce Thompson, re-reading some of his posts, and hearing his ‘mental voice’ in my head.  Check out the keywords to the right.

Stack up the good times when you find them.   It can all change very suddenly.



Mon. June 5, 2023 – busy day.

Hot and humid, some chance of rain in Houston.   I’ll be in the Northwestern Houston area, so I’m hoping for microclimate effects.   Overcast would be nice as I’m working outside.

Wrapped up at the BOL yesterday evening and came home.

Got a lot done, including cutting up the tree that fell.   It was a big old oak, and about 16ft is still laying on the ground.  Tree guy can deal with that, my saw isn’t really big enough.  One of my neighbors volunteered to drag it to his burn pile with a tractor if I cut it up, but then he found out it was 16ft long…

I moved some seasoned firewood from the top of the hill to the bottom, and restacked it near our fire ring.   I stacked the newly cut oak where the split wood was stored.  It’s a little bit easier to steal the split and seasoned wood where it’s stacked now, but I’m not going to sweat that until/unless it starts disappearing.  I cut the new logs shorter so they’d fit better in a wood stove.   Eventually I’ll get one installed somewhere.

I also planted two more berry bushes to replace all the ones that didn’t thrive. Of six, only one was still alive.   Some leftover seed potatoes went into the ground too.  Might as well.

Wife did more flooring in the closets, and general bits and pieces.   We also spent several hours playing board games.   Kid watched movies, Clue, Blues Brothers, Jumanji (new one)- all movies she’s seen and loves.

Today I’ve got to head out to my client’s.   He’s decided that now that he has enough bandwidth for streaming he’s getting rid of Directv.    Since I put the cell booster antenna on the same mast as the Directv dish, and since that came down when the roofers were working this weekend, I’ll need to put up an new mount for the antenna.   I want to do that before it gets hot…

And then I need to fix my cabling mistake.  Oy.   What a maroon.  We do it right, ‘cuz we do it twice!

I’ve got to get work knocked out early, so I can get home in time to do my ‘volunteer’ position at the swim meet tonight.   Don’t know what a “starter” does, but I’m guessing that it was still open for ‘volunteering’ because it sucks relative to the other jobs.  I’m really hoping it’s not what I think it is.

It’s a great life if you don’t falter.

Stack it up!


Sun. June 4, 2023 – oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok, I … wait, what?

Likely to be hot and humid today with about a 60% chance of rain.   It was humid as a sauna yesterday, both in Houston and here at the BOL.  My shirt was soaked, and my shorts were wet from the waistband to the hem.

After loading up the truck, I headed to my pickup.   Got a very nice grill for $40.   Really nice.  Basically the same as my grill at home but with a lot less wear, and the upgrade to built in lights.  The auctioneer, and judging by his comment while we loaded it, the seller, both seemed to be upset it went so cheap.  Wife cooked dinner on it last night and it worked perfectly.   Very happy.

I surveyed the downed tree, decided I would get my mower back together and cut the grass first, then tackle the tree since the tree guy is coming (eventually) and he can take care of any parts I don’t do.   That worked well.

When I did get to the tree, my chainsaw was cutting like butter.  Limbed the whole thing, stacked the small and crooked stuff in the burn pile, and cut what I could for firewood.   There is still about 16ft of trunk I’ll leave for the tree guy, and the standing part.   I might try to just leave the part that is still standing.  The pole saw (mini chainsaw on a stick) attachment for the string trimmer engine worked great too.   It make getting the high limbs easy, and made cutting the low ones that were holding the trunk in place a lot safer to cut, being 10ft away in case it rotated.

Even though it fell next to my garden, the potatoes survived.   One mound is thriving, the other 3 are surviving.   Berry bushes are not.   Peach tree still has green fruit growing, so the animals haven’t stripped it yet.   I hope we get some fruit from it this year.

Had a nice fire on the dock after playing games with wife and D2.   We played the LoTR version of Monopoly, and Rummicub.   Then I went down and watched the (not very) distant lightning.  Radio was pretty good, New Zealand had a segment produced by the BBC World service about religion and politics in the US that was interesting for the 45 minutes I caught.   No Cuban stations, and the ham bands were quiet with just the built in antenna.   Just before coming in, I caught about 20 minutes of the Worldwide Country Music show and heard some old school country, and some gospel.   Nice change of pace for me.

I’m hoping we don’t get rain today.  Don’t have a lot of time today before we need to head home.   I can’t stay an extra day as we have a swim meet and I have to get back out to my client’s to re-pull the cable.   Even a short time up here, mostly spent doing hard work, was nice.

Don’t forget to stack up some good times.   They will be real important if TSHTF.


Sat. June 3, 2023 – on the road again, goin’ places that I’ve already been…

Hot and sticky today, with a chance of rain.   But I’m headed out of town, and I hope it will be just a bit cooler at the BOL.

I spent the morning yesterday doing a pickup, then headed to my client’s house to install the other end of the ‘wire replacement’ wireless link.

Which went better than it might have, but not well.   First I had to dig a bunch of holes trying to find the buried conduit.    I couldn’t back pull, nothing moved even a smidgen.   So I thought I’d find a corner in the run, open the conduit, pull the new wires in, and install a box where I broke it.  Yeah, for some reason, after I’d followed it for more than 30 ft, I still hadn’t found where it turned toward the gate control box.  I decided to just put my new enclosure on the pedestal side of the gate, and right at the gate, so I wouldn’t have to dig as much new trench.

Spent some time digging, and poking a fiberglas rod through the dirt, and got the cable run installed.  Couldn’t quite finish at the pedestal, because I needed a couple of right angle conduit fittings.  I built the enclosure out the night before, so once I had that mounted, I could terminate the cables… except that I pulled one pair, instead of cat cable.    In my defense, I didn’t even KNOW I had single pair cable in my stock, let alone the size and blue color of the cat I normally use… I’ll have to re-pull that on Monday.   I spent far too much time getting the nano set up, linked to the other end, and poking at networking issues.   Which all came down to using a ubiquiti EdgeRouter at the gate instead of a simple switch.   Once I swapped it for a Flex 4 port switch, I had wired internet at the gate.

There were other mis-steps involving PoE injectors at 48v instead of 24v, and configuring the automagic stuff in the wrong order, but it all got resolved.   I stopped at Lowe’s on the way home and got the conduit stuff I need, and I’ll bring home some liquidtite conduit and cat cable from the BOL on Sunday.  Nothing is as easy as it should be.

So today I’m doing a pickup this morning on my way to the BOL.   Wife and kid went up last night.   The location isn’t directly on the way, but it’s mostly in the right direction, and the grill is going to the BOL.   I’ll throw some other stuff in the truck to ’round out’ my pack and then I’m off like a prom dress…

I’ve been stacking up knowledge I probably won’t use again while it’s still relevant… But at least I’m stacking something.  You should too.


Fri. June 2, 2023 – lotta driving today, and some work

Hot and humid.   Later, it will be really hot in the sun, probably when I’m out working in it.  It was certainly warm yesterday, although there was a bit of a cool breeze in the shade, later in the evening.

Did stuff yesterday, mostly auction related.  Went by one of my auctioneers and picked up what she didn’t want for the next sale.   She did want some more stuff that was appropriate for the theme so I’ll get that to her next week.

Went shopping for all the stuff I need at my client’s house to build the endpoint at the gate.   I had a suitable enclosure, but I needed unistrut to mount it, and the stuff to put a power receptacle inside it.   Got all that assembled and ready to go after dinner.   I will need to pick up a couple of things on the way, mainly a mount for the receiver Nano.

Before I can do that I need to pickup from one auction.  Unfortunately it’s in Sugar Land  which is the opposite direction from my client’s house.   It’s stuff for the BOL and a couple things for D2’s new hobby.  And maybe some Christmas lights, since I was going there anyway.

After I get that done, I’ll swap trucks and head to my client’s.   Should be able to get the new enclosure installed, and run what needs to be run, configure what needs to be configured, and get home before dark.

I was going to head to the BOL tonight, but I’ve got a pickup on the way, Saturday morning.   I scored a gas BBQ grill for the BOL for <$40.   It looks like the same Jenn Air I have at home, only in much better condition, with no evidence that it’s had all the parts replaced, like mine.   I love ours and hate the weak pathetic POS we have currently at the BOL.   It just doesn’t get hot, despite 5 burners.   The JennAir gets over 550F when I want tandoori chicken.  I knew the first one was a stopgap.  I hope this one performs as well as the one I’ve had for 15 years.  ( I have replaced the grates, the burners, and the “sear plates” or heat diverters.  Some several times.)

I’ll get it on the way up, and get to the BOL a bit later than I’d have liked, but with a new couch and a new grill.  It isn’t all about pex and septic systems.  Creature comforts count too.  Especially in the “happy wife, happy life” equation.

Stack up some stuff, then stack some more.   Could be that prices on good stuff will fall, as people pull back and have trouble making the ends meet.  I had very little competition for a really nice ($1200 new) grill, and leather sofa.  Perhaps there will be other bargains.   There is always opportunity for the prepared person.


Thurs. June 1, 2023 – Summer time is here!

Hot and humid, chance of rain.   So “summer in Houston”.   Bet it’s pretty much the same for the next 2-3 months, gradually getting hotter at 8am until Fall starts again.   It did break the mold a bit today, as some weather blew in and there was a cooler edge to the wind at 5pm.   Some lightning too.  Never got worse than that though.

Did mostly auction stuff yesterday.   Took a while to get caught up.   Did some small things around the house but nowhere near what I should have done.    Did get a message from my neighbors at the BOL.   Sometime after I left a wind storm came through and knocked over most of one of the trees.   It’s in my garden, not the road or the  house, or worse, the neighbor’s house, so it can stay there until I get back up there with a chainsaw.   It’s a pretty big chunk of oak tree, so I’ll get to keep some of the firewood, and maybe my tree guy will have to revise his estimate a little lower, now that I’m cleaning up that particular tree instead of him.  It left a trunk about 15ft high, with a small portion of the rest of the trunk above that, like a sapling growing out of a stump.

I also got a message from the gate guy at  my client’s place.  He does need a hard wired ‘net connection at the gate after all.  I’ll need to finish installing the other nano as a ‘cable replacement’ and put an enclosure and small switch at the gate.   I might try to do that today, although my client is returning home from a trip today.   Tomorrow would be better for me, him, and the gate guy, but now I need to head back up to the BOL and clean up storm debris.

The phrase “it’s always something” comes to mind.  And so does the realization that I need to get off my azz and power through some of my backlog to get close to caught up.

Add to the regular list, and I’ll be even busier than I pretend to be…

You can’t stack up time, but you can stack up some things that will save you time later.   Having what you need close to hand is a force multiplier.   I just got my chainsaw running, and now I get to use it for realz… I’ll should put on the wire screen face shield and the cut-stop chaps too.  It sure would be silly to hurt myself with the proper PPE sitting on the shelf in the garage…

Stack what you need to do the jobs that are most likely to pop up, before they pop up.


Wed. May 31, 2023 – week’s half over… I’m just getting started.

Cool, damp, and warming later…  that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  It was sunny and hot at the BOL this morning.   By noon it was sweaty hot.  And damp.   Last night, Houston had distant thunder, and the smell of rain, but I didn’t notice any  actual rain before I went to bed.  I am hoping for clear today.   Stuff to do, stuff to do.

I slept a bit later than I wanted to, and had to stretch and warm up a bit before I could really move well, so I didn’t get as much done in the morning as I’d have liked.   Well, if I liked it more, I would have done it, right?   Got the lawnmower back together.  Didn’t get the mower deck installed.  I haven’t done the maintenance on it, and it might have a bad spindle that needs replacing.   Definitely needs blades, which I should have somewhere…

Got everything buttoned up and headed home.   I wonder if my sense of ‘home’ will flip, and when?  It’s awfully nice up there.  Did my pickup on the way home.

Today I need to unload and put away some stuff I brought back (and I forgot a big item, but it’s not critical.)  Then I really need to knock off a few of my list items.   I think dealing with the food storage and spoilage should probably be a priority this week.   Getting my storage organized and some stuff listed would help too.  Same ol’ same ol’.

There is a lot of repetition in prepping, a lot of iteration…   It can lead to burn out, and a lack of motivation, at least judging by my own experience.  Don’t let it stop you though.   Keep plugging away, even if it’s just small things.  I’m trying to do just that.

And stack something, even if it’s just a box of bandaids.   It adds up.


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