Category: culture

Thur. Sept. 29, 2022 – Hurricane Ian…

Cool and less humid today, and yesterday for that matter.   NOW Fall is here.  It got warm in the afternoon, but morning was glorious.  I hope for the same today.

I did some auction stuff earlier in the day, then did a couple of pickups in the afternoon.   In hindsight, I shouldn’t even have bid in the one auction, but I forgot how far away it is.  And that they misrepresented the condition of a bike I bought from them (which I still haven’t fixed.)  I won’t make that mistake again.

The rest of the day got eaten by ducks.

Today should be a pickup or two, some ebay stuff, and getting ready to head to the BOL for two weeks of foundation work.

Of course for south Florida, and central Florida too, today is the beginning of cleanup following Ian.   Looks like they got hit pretty hard.   Several of my ‘daily read’ bloggers are in affected areas, and my mom is a bit north.   She should be ok, but hasn’t checked in yet.   My best wishes to all affected.   Hopefully your damage is minimal, and your preps were good.   Anyone who is a regular here, who is affected and has unmet needs, please let the group know.   And if you’ve got some AAR or lessons learned, please share those as well, as you move into the Recovery Phase.   There are always lessons to be learned.

One that I learned after Ike, here in Houston, you will need more water than you have.    That’s when I got serious about water storage.   The old standby  of one gallon per person per day is WOEFULLY inadequate for anything other than bare survival.   You will want  a LOT more than that for cleaning, hygiene, cooking, cleaning, and cleaning….  It doesn’t have to all be potable- flushing, washing, cleaning can all use clean but not treated water or minimally treated, in any case.   You will want lots of potable water for drinking, cooking, and kitchen cleanup too.

Don’t forget to stack the things that will allow you to get and treat more water.   Filters, bleach, containers, buckets, laundry tubs, pots, turkey fryers, propane, and transfer pumps, hoses, siphons,  along with tanks of some kind, will all help you replace what you use.   Hot water on demand is one of the signs of civilization.   The propane fueled instant hot water heater I’ve been using to shower at the BOL has been an incredible convenience.  It’s relatively inexpensive, leverages the propane infrastructure I’ve been building out, and has been incredibly useful.  A camping shower, or something improvised with a coil of hose and sunlight will work too.   As long as you have what you need to make it work…

So stack some stuff.   Water (and the means to collect, store, and treat it), food (and the means to collect, store, preserve, and cook it), shelter, medical, etc……   Get busy.  Sooner or later, you’ll need something from the stacks.

nick

Mon. Sept. 26, 2022 – home, stuff to do here as well as there…

Hot.   Humid.  But cooler to start.  Still saturated in the morning though.  The lake was a nice break from the Houston heat.   Somehow the heat there is different, maybe because I’m out working in it.  (Kidding!  Hot is hot.  I just don’t have a lake to float on with a cold beer at the end of the day in Houston.)

Spent the day breaking rocks in the hot sun.  Shoveling dirt and rocks.   Shoveling sand.   Moving rocks.  There was a whole lot of activity involving rocks.   And shovels.  And no beer at the end of the day as I needed to get in the truck and drive home.  No floating either.

I did get a bunch of broken concrete moved and put to good use filling behind my bulkhead.  It (not coincidentally) also cleaned up the work area for the foundation guys.    To get better access to where I was hiding stashing USING the broken concrete, I pulled up two of the dock’s deck boards.   And I do think that I’ll just flip all the boards over.  That will be a lot cheaper than replacing them (most of them are very damaged by the sun and water) and the undersides look almost like new…  a little pressure washing, and they’ll look new.  If I was doing it to sell the place, it would be super shady and scam-y, but since I’m doing it to myself, it’s nearly genius!   Dock repair and beautification are pretty far down the list, so it won’t be happening soon, in any case.

I also met another neighbor.   He spends most nights fishing off the HOA pier in the fall and winter.   Says he’s got a freezer full of deer (from his deer lease nearby) and a freezer full of catfish from the lake.  Didn’t have any piggy.   Interesting that most of the people up there are well used to feeding themselves off the land.

I need to get ready for a fall garden up there, even if the first try was a complete failure.   Time for some soil additives and maybe some different seeds.  And rototilling in the dried grass.  Maybe I’ll have time while the foundation guys are working.

There’s always more to do.   Always be working to improve your situation.

And stack the things!

n

 

Fri. Sept. 23, 2022 – Another Friday, another week gone by.

And still the weather is hot and humid.   Freaking sun.  Burns like the blazes.   108F in the sun at my house yesterday, and it was only partly sunny!

So I stayed inside and did paperwork for our tax accountant.   I didn’t get to the storage unit to reorganize and make more room.  I did get some stuff sorted for later auctions, and did get some cleaning done.   I also spent time watching and bidding on the dozen auctions that closed last night.

And I won a few things that will be helpful here and at the BOL.  Another freezer (to sell to a neighbor at the BOL), a metal cabinet for food storage up there, a couple other small things.    I also got a bunch of stuff related to my non-prepping hobby.   I should flip most of it in November at our local swapfest.

One of the things I’ve wanted for a long time finally came my way.   The 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica.   It’s the one I grew up with and I consider it to be about the perfect age.  New enough the science isn’t laughable, but pre-dating all the eco-warrior ’70s bullspit, and all the PC multi-culti nonsense.   My dad read through it twice.   He was very hard to beat at Trivial Pursuit  🙂   I’ve managed to buy a couple other lesser sets from around the same period, but the EB is the best.  Crazy to want it, I know.   The scenarios where it’s useful are so ‘out there’ it should  make me blush.  I don’t care.   I’ve just expanded my ‘rebuild society library’ by a factor of ten.   I’ll pass it off as nostalgia if I have to.   It was pretty close to the sum of all human knowledge at the time it was produced, at least from the ’10 Thousand foot level.’  It’s like having the internet in 24 volumes.  Well, without all the pron and cat pix.  Ever since my siblings gave mom and dad’s set away at a garage sale, I’ve wanted to replace it.  I just didn’t want it enough to pay the price it brings.  This week I got lucky and got a set for under $20.  Hooray.

FWIW, I consider hard cover books and a good library to be essential preps.   Western Civ doesn’t HAVE to die.   The whole Renaissance came about because of books.  Electronic storage and ebooks are malleable and fallible (doesn’t quite rhyme) and while paper books have their failure modes too, at least they can’t be ‘stealth edited’ or rendered unreadable by a change in file format, or hardware obsolescence.  Good collected works volumes are available for a dollar or less.   There’s no reason not to own most of the western canon.  Own them electronically too, but own them.

Stack up knowledge and learning, history and art.  Stack those deep too.

 

nick

 

Thur. Sept. 22, 2022 – 09222022 – eh not that interesting…

Another hot humid day here in the swamp.   Bayou City USA.   Houston, TX.  Jeez.  Fall was nice while it lasted.  Not.  It was 102F in the sun yesterday and it felt like it too.

So I mostly stayed in.   I didn’t feel well.  I’ve got a sore throat and felt a bit off all day, so I napped a little, and puttered.  My wuflu test was negative, so I think it’s just a cold or could be seasonal allergies.  Post nasal drip.   Bah, don’t feel like myself and I don’t like it.

Caught another possum last night.  Took him to the same spot I released the last one.   This one was bigger.   I’ll say that the Hav-a-heart traps are bigger than they look, and more finicky to set than they should be.  Very awkward to bait properly.  Not very good at triggering.   I saw the beastie in the cage on my cam, and went out with a broom to activate the trap door.  Took him a couple of miles away, and released him.  (and not like the krazy komandant in Schindler’s List)

Vermin.   Have a plan.  Get the stuff.   Get more than you think you’ll need.

There is still time to stock up.  It’s costing more every day and getting harder to find bargains.   Still worth doing, in my book.

Today I’ll be doing some auction stuff- shipping an ebay sale, picking up some stuff.  Cleaning the house.  Normal stuff.  Boring stuff. Life stuff.  These are the good old days.

Stack it up, food, tools, friends, and all the things you’ll need.

n

Wed. Sept. 21, 2022 – hard at work or hardly working?

Hot as summer yesterday.  Probably hot again today.  Humid too.   The sun was searing my brain.  REALLY hoped Fall was here.   Oh well, guess we’ll wait a bit longer.

Did pickups in the afternoon, and some family stuff in the evening.   Hit the Costco for a few things in between.  It was eerie.   530pm and the place was a ghost town.   Hamburger was more than HEB, as was chicken.  I bought chicken anyway because I like the packaging.   Bought some steaks too, as they were reasonable, looked good, and I hadn’t seen any ribeye in a while.  They had the shelf stable bread back in stock.   Coffee prices were low, or on sale, which is odd considering some of the things going on in the world.  Maybe coffee isn’t a ‘core’ expenditure and its price will fall as people cut back.  Most people I know would describe it as ‘core’ but maybe they move down scale to cheaper brands.

There were only 3 pallets of rice.   There used to be 6.   Pancake mix is up from $6 to $6.89.  But canadian maple syrup is cheaper than last year.  That has to be an exchange rate thing.  The store removed another set of cold cases.  This was a smaller open front, for organic drinks and salads, near the meat section.  Guess they are still remodeling and cutting back.  Something else caught my eye and I just figured out why.   They moved the bottled and sparkling water from next to the frozen fish, to an interior aisle.   They put beer in the aisle where the water used to be.   What caught my eye was the space.  The beer was all under the warehouse rack, and so was the water.   In the old days, the water was stocked on 6 foot high pallets in front of the pallet racking.   There is a whole lot less water on display, maybe half as much.

All this adds up to reduced SKUs, reduced inventory, and a much more open store.

Supply issues are just getting started friends.

Buy it while you can, and stack it high.

n

Mon. Sept. 19, 2022 – yeeha! let’s get to work!

Hot again.  It was so nice to have the cooler weather.  But we get a little more of summer’s heat before Fall, I guess.   And no shortage of humidity.

It was pretty hot even at the lake.   Thermometer said 102F in the shade.   The sun was intense.

I decided to break up some more concrete, and clean up some more of the already broken chunks.   Spent a few hours moving rubble and filling holes behind my bulkhead.   Cut the grass that I had been leaving long to reveal the holes, since the foundation guy will be coming out later, and I figured he’d have a better idea of what was involved in stabilizing the bulkhead if he could see it.

Cutting the grass was interesting.   My electric string trimmer wasn’t making much progress, so I got out a manual tool.  Not really a sling blade, but made for swinging at long grass and plants to cut them off at the ground.  It worked ok, but there wasn’t any really good way to hold the handle of the thing to swing it.  And it was a lot of work.   I did about 20ft and was done.   I’ll bring up my gas powered trimmer for the rest of the tall grass.  Labor saving devices rock.   I’ll miss them when the fuel runs out and the machines don’t run anymore 😉

Did some other small electrical tasks.  Changed a light fixture in the kitchen (no box of course, no wire nuts, and the lamps were too hot and scorched the electrical tape until it was crunchy… scorched the wood of the soffit above the light too.  The new LED fixture doesn’t get hot, and I’ll install a box when we redo the kitchen.  Wire nuts are going to have to do for now.   Finished the circuit for the outlet in the master bath.   Pulled the romex with inches to spare, but needed to connect the outlets.  I have a quad above the vanity, and a duplex under the vanity.  That way someone can plug in a hairdryer underneath and store it in a drawer or the middle cabinet and the cord won’t get in the way, or need to be constantly plugged and unplugged.  And it still leaves 4 outlets above the vanity for phone chargers or curling irons, or whatever…. seems like there are never enough outlets in the bathroom.

I’m surprised the previous owner never had a house fire.   I’ve found so much overheated and scorched stuff, including circuit breakers, walls, and the chimney cap, that it’s clear he overloaded stuff and ran things way too hot.   I guess it shows how much tolerance is built into stuff.

My neighbor has started moving some of my leftover dirt to low spots in his yard.   He asked what I was going to do with the huge pile, and so I gave him half…   He had previously offered the use of his tractor, and he let me run an extension cord for the freezers when the electrical work was happening.   Besides being just good neighbors, I figure it’s time to start weaving ourselves into the community up there.   Webs of favors done and owed seem like  a good way to get started.   Because we’ve been so busy, we’ve declined some social offers.   I now think that was a bad choice, and now we need to work harder at joining in.    That’s one of the reasons I am willing to stop work and talk for however long someone wants to talk when they stop by.

Meatspace baby! and Local, Local, Local….  when every person I talk to has been in his house for 40 years, or has been coming to the lake and surrounding area that long, and has generations buried in local cemeteries, we’ll always be the ‘new family in George’s house’, but we can at least work at it.

Today I’ll be doing some more pickups, starting bright and early with the lot I forgot on Saturday.   Should have me out and about most of the day, especially if I get a chance to do some organizing in my storage unit.

Spend some time working on your network.  Stack up a few good relationships.

nick

Sat. Sept. 17, 2022 – on the road again, goin’ places that I’ve already been…

Hot later, but cool now.   Then cooler.  Finally, there’ll be a lake breeze in my evening.

But that will be later.

Spent some time yesterday doing pickups.  Then did some auction stuff including mailing an ebay sale.  Not much money in it, but it was an item leaving…

Today I’ve got a big pickup from an estate sale.   Lots of stuff for the BOL.  D1 elected to stay home last night and go up with me today, so I’ve got company for the ride anyway.  If surly proto-teen counts as company.  Wife and D2 went up last night.


One of my stops was an auctioneer that I buy from but also sell with.   He is gradually becoming more and more radicalized by SloJoe and the Ho.  He was incensed by the nazty imagery and the speech calling Trump supporters domestic terrorists.   Keep it up Joe, you’re doing a great job, if you want people in the streets and rivers of blood.   That’s about all I am going to say about that, other than if this guy is that mad, some people, some large number of people, are REALLY angry.  People that have trusted the system, that haven’t been immersed in this daily for years, are feeling betrayed and REALLY REALLY angry.  It’s happening very quickly for them.  They can’t feed their families, they can’t drive the cars they want to drive, they can’t do the things they want to do.  And they are finding someone to blame.   It isn’t going to be pretty.

Take care of you and yours.  Be prepared to join in or keep your head down.   Hard choices may be sooner than we think.

Preps will always help.  There is a lot of trouble you can avoid by just not being there.

Stack it higher than you think you’ll need.

n

 

Thur. Sept. 15, 2022 – how did it get to be the middle of September already?

Less hot, still humid.   Definitely “Fall” weather coming, but still plenty hot in the afternoon.  I barely broke a sweat cutting the grass yesterday.  That was  a  nice change.

Spent the day catching up on auction stuff.  It’s funny how it goes in waves.  Sometimes I see a ton of stuff I need/want.  Sometimes there is little.   Sometimes you see an item in a several unrelated auctions, sometimes you go years without seeing a particular thing.   There are a few things I’d still like to get more of.

Generators.  Solar panels, charge controllers, inverters, and batteries.  Water treatment.  Unfortunately, EVERYONE wants those things at the moment.  Same for wind generators, building materials, and construction equipment.  There’s always something more to stack.   Especially when you have as many projects going on as I do.

Plan today is pickups.   I only got a few items but they are at different auctioneers.  So I’ll be making a big loop today.  Organizing storage would be good too.

Wife is still work from home, but both kids should be back in class today.  That should cut down on my distractions.  Suddenly time is flying by again.   I’ve got foundation guys starting in about two weeks, if everything stays on schedule.   I should be meeting with them on site to do their final walk thru before starting any day now, but I haven’t heard from them.  Add that to my list for today, I guess.

Speaking of lists, make some.  Think hard about what you still need to get to help you through bad times.   Make an actual list.   Then work on getting those items or skills.  Small engine repair?  3d Printer?  Gardening class?  Roto-tiller?  Couple of acres in the country?  Canning jars and lids?  Seeds?   Fertilizer?  Goats?   You know your needs better than I do.   Do what makes sense for you and yours.

And stack the stuff high.

nick

Tues. Sept. 13, 2022 – progress is being made

Not so hot, and only kinda humid. At least here at the lake. Probably warmer in Houston. It was 68F when I came up from the dock last night. The outdoor shower was a bit chilly once the water was off.

Spent yesterday finishing up the main gas line, the manifold, and lines to the kitchen and the hot water heater. I can get the furnace and dryer later. I don’t have a long enough line for the furnace (store was out) and I may not have enough for the dryer, even though it’s pretty close to the manifold. We currently have an electric dryer, but almost every home I’ve lived in had both connections, so that’s what I’ll do here.

Before that we got approved for the septic install. Shouldn’t have any issues for a few years if things all stay together. Depending on cost, I might stock a spare aerator and drip line pump. Should be 3-4 years before the tank needs pumping.

It’s interesting that almost everyone I talk to up here is harvesting protein from the surrounding area. A country boy will survive, indeed. I’ve got a lot to learn.

My septic guy said he cut his one acre garden back to only a half acre this year. He’s also got an orchard with pretty much every fruit tree that will grow in Texas. He said he’s “not one of those extreme preppers” but he’s got more food independence than most hard core preppers. He’s also got more land. Most of the people up here have several plots of land nearby. They are hunting it, or growing stuff on it, too.

Spun the dial on the radio but the bands weren’t great before about 1030pm. They were a lot better after 11pm. Still, I was able to listen to New Zealand without issues.

Today’s plan is to do some plumbing, then head back to Houston.  I’ll stop and do a couple of pickups on the way.


 

Get out of big cities. If you can’t, make a plan for where you can go if you have to, and what you’ll bring with you. If it all drops in the pot, you’ll be more welcome wherever you end up if you bring resources and skills along with mouths to feed.

Stack it up, knowledge, skills. stuff.

nick

 

Fri. Sept. 9, 2022 – work progresses, progress works

Cool and humid turning to hot and humid, with a possible bit of rain.   Which forecast pretty well describes yesterday’s actual weather.  It got to just around 100F in the afternoon.   It was certainly hot in the attic.

Shortly after  getting started for the day (with stretches and limbering up) I crawled up into the attic to finally run the new gas line to the kitchen.   Spent some time slithering on my belly like a reptile, and finally got in place, drilled a hole, and failed to get into the wall cavity.   Approaching the problem from outside, by cutting a hole in the soffit and reaching in from the other side confirmed that of all the places I could drill through the top plate of the wall, I’d  hit a freaking stud.  Couldn’t do it on purpose.   I was able to hog out the hole a bit, come through the side of the stud, and make  a path for the pipe.  Except that the fiberglas insulation in the cavity kept the pipe from moving.   I gave up.  Decided to run the pipe down inside a cabinet, and move it when I had the wall open during the [future] kitchen remodel.

Got the pipe run in, but ran short of connectors, valves, and gas appliance hookup kits.   The rest of the install will have to wait until next time.

Helped the septic guy trench for the kitchen drain, then he got everything on the uphill side backfilled and graded.   There is obviously a septic tank in my front yard, but some plants will screen it eventually.   Meanwhile he moved on to the drip line, and we both laid out the pattern.    He’s hoping to finish the install today, with possible cleanup on Sat.

I’ll be home with my non-prepping hobby meeting, and my littlest Girl Scout. My wife and D1 will be doing sailing stuff.    It’s been a long hard working week, and I’ll be glad to be home.

Spent some time chatting with the neighbors about politics and the future.   They are very like minded and have a lot of skills and success harvesting all the local game.  I volunteered to help break down the next big thing they brought home.  I hope they take me up on it, as I’m anxious to learn.

Keep stacking skills and people.   They will make the difference.

nick

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