Sat. Oct. 16, 2021 – trying to sleep late…

Cooler and windy. Should blow any rain and overcast right the heck out of here, but – say it with me – we’ll see. Yesterday we got some rain at the house, but it was after I’d left on my errands. I went north, and missed the rain entirely. It was almost dry by the time I got back here. Had to ask the family if they got wet.

Houston micro-climates. Someone is getting rain when there is rain in the forecast. It just probably won’t be everybody.

Wind picked up around 8pm and has been blowing stuff around since.

After I did my auction pickup, some storage cases for ‘tools’, I hit a thrift I don’t usually have a chance to shop. It’s run by the LDS church, called “Deseret Industries”, and it’s really nice. They have a ton of staff, nice stuff, and it’s well organized. I hit their ‘outdoor section’ and scored. Camping stuff, hooray. Thermarest pad, two old school open frame back packs, coleman lantern for a buck, inflatable kayak and paddle for $10, some other small camping stuff, real RollerBlade knee, elbow, and wrist protectors for a couple of bucks each, times two…crazy good prices on the stuff. Indoors, the prices were fair to a bit high for most things, but still a third below ebay. They just take most of the margin out for resellers. Stuff was subsequently piled high on the shelves.

The thrift stores rely on Americans having more than they need, and being too lazy or busy to get rid of it on their own, or to recover any value from it. That isn’t the reality in most countries in the world, and it won’t be true forever here either.

We’re in a window for a lot of things, and that window may be closing. Don’t be left outside with your face pressed against the glass.

Stack it up.

nick

Thur. Oct. 7, 2021 – headlong rush…

Hot and humid, but less of both as we head into Fall. We don’t get a lot of Spring and Fall here in Houston, but what we do get is generally very nice.

It was very nice yesterday, bordering on HOT in the sun. Everywhere it wasn’t sunny was great weather though. I got a bunch of stuff sorted, and a coupe of bins dropped off at my auctioneer. Stopped by one of the other auctioneers to pick up my lots (med stuff), and he’s slammed with stuff. He won’t be taking any of my lots for a while as he deals with a massive influx of estate and storage cleanout items. The auctioneer who sold the Pokeman and men’s shoes (and a lot of other stuff) took the rest of the summer off, so I’m hoping she comes back to work soon and I can place some lots with her. I’ve got some watches and jewelry that are well suited to her buyers.

Today is going to be a lot of stuff crammed into a few hours. We fly out this afternoon, leaving for the airport from the kids’ schools. I haven’t packed, prepped the house, or done my normal stuff. That’s all probably down to not really wanting to go. It isn’t a long trip, the kids are aging out of a bunch of things and we’ll lose the ‘magical’ years soon so I don’t want to miss it, but I really don’t want to be away from home at all.

I’m not looking forward to any part of it, not the flight, nor the Parks, except seeing the kids’ eyes light up. And even that will be tempered by chinaflu, as the character meet and greets are cancelled, and when they do appear, no autographs are allowed (which made my younger one cry when she found out as she considers that the best part of the Parks.) Add my sense of dread and the look in peoples’ eyes as they seem desperate to get one last party, one last visit, one more whatever in. There is a lot of tension out there.

A few months ago, everywhere I went people would drop a sarcastic remark, kind of a ‘nudge and wink’ thing, a shared black humor… This last week has been very different. Everywhere I go people look more focused, more intense, and very much more ‘not joking’. No ‘I don’t know what’s going on but we’re in it together’ kinda vibe. Now it’s ‘I’m filling my cart.’ There’s a sort of selfishness and self-interested-ness coming out. I think people are ‘hunkering down’ mentally.

I will often drop a comment when shopping or out, just to see. I’ve been saying stuff like ‘I’m just getting my Christmas shopping started early’ and almost everyone that responds says something like “Me too, might not be stuff here for Christmas.” It’s also weird how many people are getting started on Halloween early this year. There have been celebrities in the tabloids going to parties, dressing up, and I see it in my neighborhood too. There seem to be more, and more elaborate, and earlier displays this year than any I can remember. (and I’m going to be LATE with mine since I’m gone this weekend.)

I better get busy. 2pm is going to come very quickly.

Get out and survey your area. See if you see what I’m seeing. Share with the group.

Do it while you are buying some more preps 🙂 and keep stacking.

nick

Fri. Sept. 24, 2021 – feels like it should be a significant date

Should be cool and sunny today. It was gorgeous yesterday. AbFab weather. Hooray cold front.

I spent most of the day fixing things for ebay. I did 3 different coffee makers. They sell surprisingly well, and are fairly simple. One needed internal cleaning and ‘descaling’. One needed an O ring to stop a leak. One didn’t need anything but a good scrub. I got them listed this evening.

I also cleaned and listed a couple of other things too. Cut the grass in the back yard.

Set up a fitness tracker. I don’t care about how many steps I’ve taken, but there is supposed to be some insight available about sleep patterns. That I do have an interest in. Of course I need to wear the stupid thing in bed, which might be a deal breaker. I’ll give it a try for a while anyway.

D2 had a school open house which cut my afternoon short. Nice to see the teachers, and a couple of the kids recognized me. I miss my science volunteering. It was very gratifying to see the signs for “Bleeding Control Kit” next to the signs for the AEDs in the school. Every AED cabinet has the equivalent of an IFAK in it, district wide. They rolled that out just as covid hit. I’d been advocating for it for at least a year, maybe two and they did it.

D1 has another GS sailing camp this weekend so she’ll be leaving for that late in the afternoon. I’m hoping my wife will take her, but I might be roped into the drive. We’re doing as much normal stuff as we can. Feels a bit frantic, but the world is getting ready for something.

China is flexing on Taiwan. They’ve got Hong Kong under the boot, so they can move on to the next target on the list.

At home, polls are showing regret and a growing unhappiness with Slow Joe.

Australia is going full jackboot.

The Towelie-ban is doing exactly what you’d expect them to do.

Invaders keep pouring over our border, and dispersing into the country.

Money people are still playing games with the money.

And people are angry, emotional, and lashing out.

I think it would be typical for the actual kickoff to come out of left field and surprise everyone. Something is coming. You can feel it building.

Stack. And stack some more.

nick

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

Tues. Sept. 21, 2021 – some observations…

Hot and humid. One last hurrah for summer? Global warmening come to kill us all? You be the judge! In any case, it was hot and humid yesterday too, hovering around 100F in the afternoon (and in the sun.) It was still 83F at midnight, but there was a nice breeze and the giant fusion fire in the sky was roasting someone else, so it was quite pleasant waiting for the puppy to do his business before bed.

I spent the day mostly doing cleaning around the house and organizing ebay items. I did ship one book, and picked up d2 for our special time. That was cut short by last minute shopping for birthday gifts. This is the opposite of prepping btw, but I was super slack getting ready for the birthday. My wife came home and we went out for dinner with the kids. Had a nice meal and came home. It was almost like we weren’t in a pandemic at all, or about to kick off WWIII or CWII…

While shopping, we actually went to the mall. I tried. I went to a freestanding jeweler, but they stopped carrying what d2 wanted, and I couldn’t find the sunglasses my wife asked for. The jeweler (Jared) was buzzing people in individually and had removed display areas. They looked like they had a lot fewer items on display and at least one fewer area. The “kid cove” where they used to have a tv and couch was being used for storing cardboard boxes.

We hit the Macy’s at one end of the mall, and there were more staff than shoppers. I did find the sunglasses though, so that was a plus.

We drove around to the other side of the mall to find a Pandora store, and look at a gift shop d2 finds amusing. The mall was pretty empty. Some stores had a few people in them. The Pandora store was limiting the number of people in at one time. We only went in there, and a kitschy gift shop. Stock at the gift shop was THIN. One or two ‘faces’ for each item. LOTS of space between displays. One item per hook and still lots of space. Prices are nuts. $16 for a novelty wine bottle stopper? I don’t think so. Two employees working.

The Pandora store had 3 or 4 saleswomen and a manager working, and everyone was occupied when we walked up. (Pandora has nice inexpensive jewelry and especially charms for their charm bracelets. It’s an easy default gift to get another charm.) The store was looking SHABBY. There were boxes stacked in one corner. It’s designed with much the same aesthetic as a an apple store, so the wear and tear was a bit shocking. Lots of smudges and hand print dirt in wear areas.

The other stores we walked past had a lot of empty space in them and they weren’t overflowing with stock. Either they let stock run down, or they aren’t getting refreshed. Macy’s was stocking displays while we were there, but even they looked a bit sparse and spread out.

The restaurant, Pappadeaux’s Seafood, was pretty busy for a Monday night. There were empty tables but people were in groups of 4 and up, some with 8-12 people. It was maybe 2/3 occupied tables. LOTS of staff working. Food was great, but there were no off menu specials at all, and they were steering diners to one side order (green beans). They didn’t bring their signature bread until my wife thought to ask. There were only 4 lobsters in the tank, but three sold while we were there. Prices seemed high to me, even by my road warrior/per diem standards. It’s a nice comfortable, kinda dress up place, but $78 for a steak entree is nuts. NOT a white tablecloth place. Portions are large, you get a lot for your money, but dang. Two apps, 3 adult dinners and one child, 2 fake beers, two margs, and tax and tip had us over $230. For comparison, Jack in the Box for us 4, combo meals with add on shakes, was $78 iirc, so maybe $200+ for a nice date night dinner out isn’t so much out of line after all.

Frankly I don’t see how people can afford to eat fast food at all, and certainly not as a staple. And unless someone else (like your company) is paying, IDK how your “ordinary Joe” can afford a nice dinner out. We had a $75 gift card and it was still expensive.

Not the way I’d have chosen to spend the day and evening, but it wasn’t my birthday.

Things don’t look good out there. There is “stuff” but not as much or as much variety. Prices seem high, and headed higher. I’d say ‘do your holiday shopping NOW, just in case.’

And stack all the things (that you can get.)

nick

Tues. Sept. 14, 2021 – Welcome Czar Nicholas…

Probably hurricane conditions today, although who knows? Nicholas became an official hurricane last night. We’ll see where it came ashore and what it did this morning.

Yesterday was overcast with misty drizzle interspersed with downpour…

I got wet on my ‘last run’ to the grocery store. Being the good prepper I try to be, I didn’t really need to go to the store and we’d have been fine but it was time for my normal grocery run. The bonus was getting a bunch of prime steak on serious discount, and even grabbed some pork chops on sale. It’s been a while since I had a good meat score, so I was due. And it never hurts to top up the fridge.

As of midnight, we still didn’t have any real weather at the house. I watched some youtube footage of it coming ashore in Surfside TX, and it was blowing pretty good, with some storm surge. Definitely 2-3ft flooding in Surfside.

This guy in his house is better than network coverage by a factor of 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC2Xh_dvAo4 Ryan Hall, Y’all. His Ida coverage was great. He must have an iron butt and huge bladder because he’s in the chair for a long time. His setup is stunning. Interesting to see the future of ‘citizen journalism’. One guy, education and skills, a lucky break, and good follow through, joined to a crowd funding model. Ain’t technology grand? And some people are ready to burn it all down.

Opportunities are everywhere.

Keep your eyes and mind open, your powder dry, your head on a swivel, and your stacks high 😉

nick

Sun. Sept. 12, 2021 – big storm coming, better get ready

Nice day in the forecast for today. Cooler and sunny, not crazy hot. Sat. was similar, although it did get hot in the afternoon.

Went to my meeting, had a good time. Went shopping. Came home.

Plan for today is sleep in, then either do some stuff around the house, or sort stuff in storage and get it ready to take to the auction.

There is a big storm coming. Both literally and figuratively as it turns out. The Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, and even parts further east are about to get up to 20 inches of rain if the forecasts are right. That’s several days of downpour and flooding with lots of damage.

So I’ll be topping up the day to day and getting ready to not have my pickup truck for moving stuff that can get wet.

In the figurative sense, we’ve been talking about the coming troubles for a while. I don’t see any way to avoid it at this point, and these things tend to kick off with very little warning. Use what time you have well. Hey, maybe it will be months or years. Good. Our stacks will be higher.

I quoted author Larry Correia yesterday, and I think one part of his advice bears repeating. Make yourself useful to your community. I’ve been slowly coming around to the importance of this. RBT thought he could position himself as resident wizard, but I thought that trying to do this AFTER the Fall was pretty difficult. (We had one discussion about this wrt ham radio.) He did get out into the community more at the new house than he ever mentioned at the old.

Other people in the blogosphere have been hammering on ‘tribe’ and community for a while, and on the folly of being a ‘lone wolf’. In our isolated and fragmented and mobile lives, it’s a difficult thing to do- becoming part of a group, part of a community IRL… we’ve found online substitutes but too often neglect the local, local, local aspects.

Hence part of my push for meatspace activities, real world training opportunities, group activities, and civic participation. We don’t have lodge brothers anymore. We don’t have high school friends nearby, or even poker buddies. Use what opportunities arise. Get out there and meet some people. Leverage what you have.

And stack it high and deep.

nick

Thur. Sept. 9, 2021 – cha cha changes

Slightly less hot, followed by hot, and accompanied by really freaking moist. I was really encouraged when I got up yesterday and it was 68F. First under 70F morning all summer. Then it still managed to get to over 100F in the sun here at Casa De Nick… so I’m thinking today will be a lot like yesterday. And hopefully we get a couple more days without rain so things can dry out a bit.

I did my errands yesterday, including stopping by my secondary location and putting away some of the stuff I pulled for my swapmeet. I need to take a couple more bins to my auctioneer, and move some stuff to storage today. I’ve got a pickup too, including a Creality 3d printer. It’s a filament style, open framework, and I’m hoping it both works, and is simple enough for the kids to run. My big uPrint is too complicated, large, and uses a proprietary CAD/CAM package. I wanted something a bit more approachable, and if I end up doing a ‘maker’ class at D1’s school, I could conceivably take the Creality in for class. I guess we’ll see. (been a while since I said that)

It’s interesting watching some other bloggers I read for different reasons become very interested in food storage, or some other aspect of prepping. When you look at empty shelves, and you think “Ya know, we ARE in the middle of a global pandemic, there have been a lot of riots, crime seems to be going up, and a crazy man is in the Oval Office, maybe putting some food up is a good idea, there might really be hyperinflation, or a civil war…”

Change is in the air, and not in a good way. People are starting to smell smoke and are realizing they are standing in an inch of gasoline. There are so many places the spark could come from, it seems almost inevitable that it WILL come.

I know there were some regular readers here who were caught a bit short way back in March and April of 2020. Please don’t let that happen again. Take the time and do some of the things you’ve been putting off. What can it hurt? 4 buckets of rice, <$200 worth, could help you stretch whatever you can get. In a year, or less, those buckets could save your life. What else could you get for $200 that you could say the same, that is so easy, and that will still have value, even if nothing bad happens? I think if I was starting from scratch on food, and was looking at what I could do that wasn't "crazy", didn't cost too much, would last, and was easy to store, I'd buy as much rice as I could. I'd get a pound or two of salt, a gallon of soy sauce, and a shoebox full of gravy mixes. You could get all that, 100-150 pounds of rice and the rest in a single black bin with the yellow top... or several buckets. I'd go with the buckets, but I've got bins with bags of rice in them and it stored fine for years. Add canned veg to mix into the rice, some canned meat, and canned beans as you can. There are a lot of strategies, and you can combine them, just DO IT. Get some food put away for a rainy day. Because when Claire Wolfe starts saying things I was saying a couple of months ago, I'm starting to get a bit freaked out. It means that a certain amount of the zeitgeist is changing to 'getting through this' and 'coming out the other side'. People are starting to see an event, a period, an era, what have you, and they are shifting from surviving the moment to planning for the long term. This is very different from 6 months ago. People are making plans to pull back, go underground, hide, (take active measures), etc. and survival has become the goal. NOT 'get back to the way things were', but survive until they can start again. That's a change in mindset. No more 'try to keep some bad thing from happening.' Now it's 'try to survive the bad thing. Later you can do something else, if/when you make it through.' Eventually it will be about 'what comes next' but we have to get through some stuff before it even makes sense to think much about that. Changes. Big changes. Little changes. 1939-1945. Six years but what a difference in the world. On the bright side, change brings opportunity for some. It opens doors that were firmly shut, shuts some that were long overdue for shuttering, and generally stirs the pot. Stay flexible. Keep your eyes and ears open. Act if it makes sense. And stack all the things. nick

Sun. Aug. 29, 2021 – last day of my show…

Hot and humid with rain, just like yesterday. No direct evidence of the storm yet.

Today I’m headed to a breakfast get together, and then the closing day of the meeting/show/swapmeet.

Yesterday was the second day of our regional association meeting with sellers mart (kinda swapmeet). We ended up with a bunch of no shows on pre-purchased seller tables. I don’t know what the real number is yet, but it feels like about 1/3 to 1/2 were empty. I’m guessing wuflu delta worries, or actual sickness kept them home. People were going table to table, sales were made. Everyone was happy to be back together, but there was an undercurrent. These are mostly small business owners, mostly rural, older, and white. A lot of them have been doing this show for a long time and usually treat it as a social opportunity to get together with friends they haven’t seen in a while.

I spent most of the day talking with people either at my table or theirs.

I joined about 5 conversations about the coming troubles- either world war, civil war, or economic collapse. One guy even said “gotta get in as much normal as we can before it all falls apart.” I didn’t start any of them, but did join and spoke honestly. People aren’t sure what’s coming, but they are sure it is coming and that it will be bad. No one was talking politics, Biddn, or the losses in Afghanistan. I’m not sure they could have without tears. It’s that kind of crowd.

I’ll see if I’m over reacting today, but it felt a bit like a last hoorah, or a last good bye. A lot of people were leaving early so I’m not expecting a busy day. I’ll look around with an eye towards the mood, but it felt a bit melancholy.

My kids were great all day. It was long, 7am to 6:30pm and they were troopers. The youngest was her vibrant and precocious self, charming most of the other sellers. She got me to loan her $45 to buy stuff for herself. Oldest spent the morning building a metal model from Metal Earth, then took a nap under the table. The other folks were amazed at her focus and dexterity with tweezers. (the models are super cool, and the results are impressive.)

I sold a bunch of stuff, and hope to sell some more today. I think I can find a few fresh items to put out this morning. I have so much stuff I forgot about some of it that would have been appropriate for this venue. I’ll miss a bunch of early leavers, but all I need is one buyer for each thing after all.

A quick scan of the news shows me escalating street violence, international destabilization continuing apace, local natural disasters, and all the regular stuff, turned up a few notches.

In the words of Yoda, “save you what can”. And keep stacking.

nick

Thur. Aug. 26, 2021 – month is winding down

Hot and humid. Chance of rain. Almost a surety that it will rain SOMEWHERE in Houston. It got pretty hot yesterday. I think my weather station topped out at 104F in the sun. It was still over 80F at dinner time, and just 80F at midnight. I did drive through some rain during my errands too.

Did a lot of running around yesterday. Did some thrifting too, since I’ve got a guaranteed auction coming up and he’ll take the stuff to his warehouse. There were a couple of good scores.

Today I’ll be packing up stuff for my non-prepping hobby show this weekend. So far they haven’t asked me to help load a truck today, so it’s all my stuff to get ready. I really hope some or all of it sells.

Moving the stuff is the important part, getting some money is second. Hanging out with people who share an enthusiasm is pretty cool too.

————————————————————————

I got a funny phone call yesterday. Out of the blue, someone from the local Republican party called and asked if I wanted to be a precinct chair. It turns out the precinct is basically my neighborhood, and a couple of blocks around it. The duties seem to be trying to get out the vote, shaking hands and knocking on doors. I’m actually considering it, since I encourage all y’all to get involved with local politics. Well, if not involved exactly, at least familiar with the people and the process. IDK if I would be good at it, or want the exposure, or would be acceptable to them. Everything they said about Kavanaugh could have been said about me… only the names and places were different. The 80s were a great time to be coming of age…….. Anyway, no one’s had the position in years. This tells me that the local R’s might be trying to up their ground game.

That they think they can overcome fraud with effort is funny. And I don’t actually care about most of the R’s, since they turned out to be politicians first, deep staters or quislings second, and generally not people I’d put in charge of a Prom Committee, but they at least aren’t actively pushing socialism. We can continue to pretend things are normal for a while longer. And it might lead to some good insights… or a spot in front of a pock marked wall. That last being the important bit. Hard to be the grey man when people know you as part of a political machine.

I’ll put it in the ‘meatspace baby’ pile for now and give it some thought. I don’t see much upside to doing it, and a lot of potential downside.

We’ve still got some time, use it wisely. Stack all the things!

n