Fri. Nov. 27, 2020 – just another day to work

Cool, overcast, possible rain later.

Well, Thanksgiving Day has come and gone.  We here at Casa de Nick have enjoyed another feast, with most of the traditional foods we are used to having.  We missed having friends and family over, but it did make for a more calm and relaxing day.

I actually managed to get some other stuff done too.  I went through a bunch of stuff and filled a couple of bins for my local auction.  I have more to go through, and the ebay bin will need to be listed, but it looks like progress…  And I repaired an item that should sell for hundreds of bucks on ebay.

My wife continued painting in the kitchen in addition to preparing some really good food.  If I wasn’t going to my rent house to do plumbing repairs today, I’d be in the attic getting the range hood installed.   I guess that will wait until Saturday.

I’ve never been interested in “Friday of Color” sales.  I can often find better pricing, or similar pricing but on better versions of the items and avoid the stampedes.  I did look at a few of the cyber- offers.  An ammunition reseller had Pelican cases marked down.  That was it.  They didn’t even have any ammo for sale.  Some other places online had weirdo import guns, and small manufactures I’ve never seen before, but no big names.  A few, very few, had name brand models, at high prices.  Selection and quantity were very limited.

Fry’s offers were about where MicroCenter is normally.  MicroCenter was competitive with Costco.  Costco expanded the tech they have for sale dramatically.   As an aside, a decade after leaving the field of large format, high resolution CURVED displays, the new hotness is curved monitors on desks.  I guess once you’ve sold everyone two monitors, and with 3D still a bust, curved looks like a growth space.   After a decade of putting in curved displays, we determined that they are essentially single user devices.  They work poorly for large groups unless the display is HUGE and the intent is awe, rather than work.  Large curved TVs had the same issues we saw with our much larger systems and didn’t fly off the shelves.   Desktop users might be the actual sweet spot for wide curved displays.  As long as you don’t need two…or three.*

It will be interesting to see if the shoppers ignore social distancing and masks in the rush to get cheap crap, like the holiday travelers did.

I’m not one to panic, but I do take the wuflu seriously.  It didn’t kill us like it killed chinese, but I’ll put some of that down to unknown factors, and some down to masks and distancing.  It’s hard to catch something if you aren’t around anyone who has it.  The number of people traveling this week pretty much ensures that we will see a large spike in cases, on top of the current increases, just in time for Christmas travel, which will either not happen if things are REALLY bad, or will put the nail in the coffin of containment and mitigation.  You can argue severity, transmissibility, lethality, and the legality and effectiveness of the actions taken by political figures, but you can’t argue the ACTUALITY that the disease exists, is spread person to person, and makes some percentage very sick, and kills a smaller percentage of those.  With very large numbers exposed, we WILL see large numbers of sick, and larger numbers of both very sick, and lethally sick people than we have been seeing.

That will cause a number of responses, both social and political.  I can’t predict which way it will go.  I expect political ‘leaders’ to try more, harder.  If you are in an area with already repressive government – I think you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Those of us in less restrictive areas are going to see increasing restrictions.  Or despite everything we’ll lose control and it will sweep through like a wildfire, in which case you’ll stay isolated voluntarily.

Either case or anything in between can be made better on an individual level by avoiding people.  Get ready to increase your personal protective behaviors.  This isn’t going to be a time to be out shopping or ‘living your best life’.    Get that stuff out of the way NOW, right now, before the wave hits.  And stack it high, because a surging hospitalization rate is actually likely to be only ONE of our worries as the next month or two plays out.

I know it’s doom and gloom.  But we ARE living with social unrest (rioting/insurrection), a global pandemic, and an uncertain election and transfer of power, which could turn into full on fighting in the streets.  France fell in 2 weeks to the Germans.  Just last month, suddenly Armenia and Azerbaijan were lobbing mortars and bombs into each other’s cities.  Venezuela fell to failed state in less than two years.  It can happen very quickly.  Be ready to live with it and through it.

Keep stacking.  Be thankful for every day without those issues.



Wed. Nov. 25, 2020 – and the beat goes on

Cooler, damper, maybe some rain.

It was overcast most of Tuesday, with some very light sprinkles to keep me from doing much outside.  Did a bit inside, chronicled in the comments yesterday.

My wife got one coat of mud on the repair, so maybe she’ll get another on today, and maybe we’ll get the hood hung.  At least getting the ceiling penetration done and the mounting bracketry in  place would let the painting progress.  I bet we get there, someone is strongly motivated.

And there is turkey prep that needs to happen.  Every year we try some new method, and every year I hear “this is how we’re doing it from now on, this is great”, and then the next year we start afresh.  Alton somebody’s method this year.  Sides, french meat stuffing and pie, and dessert all need to get started today too.  We’re not doing a lot of sides, because we’re not having anyone over, but we do need the traditional stuff…

And I have to go to the rent house and do some plumbing work in the tub.  The tenants are away this week, so I feel ok going over.  I’ll wear my mask and gloves.  I am feeling better.  Not fully 100% but better.  Still moving slow.

Kids have been playing Skyrim, both are working their way through the assassins guild and the thieves guild quests.  Kinda fun to watch how each one approaches the moral dilemmas.  Both have adopted orphan kids and gotten married in game too.    Weirdos.   The most recent version also lets you design and build houses too.  You have to quarry stone, forge nails, cut wood…  MORE freaking grinding, but the kids love it.  Minecraft is ALL grinding, so I guess it’s what they think gaming IS.    Funny that my favorite movies are 30 years old or more, and my favorite computer and console games are 10-15 years old.    Older than my kids.  I’ve had my gmail account for 21 years it told me the other day.  That’s my “new” account.

Time flies.

And time is getting short.  Get your stuff in one bag and keep stacking.



Sun. Nov. 15, 2020 – tomorrow is usually mostly like today. until it isn’t.

Warmer, damp.  Overcast.  But hopefully no rain.

Saturday was overcast and muggy all day.  I was out running around, and my wife was taking down the pool. . . she was running fans to try to dry it out but it wasn’t working.  It was MUGGY.  91%RH at 10am.  The RH did go down as the temperature went into the 80s.   I got a few light sprinkles in various parts of town.  Barely enough to use the wipers though.

I spent some time throwing stuff out at my secondary.  I’m making room for other stuff.  And I’m discovering that I saved a lot of empty boxes, just because I could.  I was using them back in the day, but haven’t in a long time.  B’bye…. can’t afford that now.

Gotta make more room for TP and paper towel stacks.

Today the plan is to head over there and put the forklift to work, attacking from the other end.  If it doesn’t rain that is.

I was reminded of Selco, and by Peter Grant’s post at his site.  Selco is one of the legends of the preppersphere.  He’s also very no nonsense and willing to tell uncomfortable truths to people.  Read what he’s written on the blog, buy the books.   Peter’s post reminded me of how quickly things can deteriorate.  One thing I really don’t want to see in the US is fighting in the streets.  We have been seeing RIOTING in the streets.  Last night at the Million MAGA March in DC it came much closer to FIGHTING.

Real fighting- snipers, roadblocks, burning cars, raping and murder, arson (some parts of Chicago on any given weekend)- hasn’t started yet.  While the left has been running riot, the right has been standing around.  While the left has been working out tactics and support, the right has been mostly posturing.  While the left has been getting their financing in order, the right has been frozen out of crowdfunding, and doesn’t have a deep pockets patron.   I have a feeling the right is going to learn some very hard lessons when the fighting actually kicks off.

I read somewhere that no insurgency has ever  survived long without outside support.  The lefty insurgency has that in spades.  If the right is forced into becoming an insurgency, who do they have?  And what will it cost to get help?

What would victory look like?  What would defeat look like?  Neither looks as good as a week long vacation at Disneyland, but at the moment, one or the other looks more likely.

Keep stacking.


Sat. Nov. 14, 2020 – tired. But stuff still needs doin’

Overcast, cool, but saturated.

Like yesterday.

I was all over town yesterday and even got a few sprinkles, but mostly it was just overcast.

I got a few things done.  Moved about half the insulation batts to the attic.  I’ll move the other half today.  Got a couple more things organized or moved around.  But really not much.

Harvested another orange.  I’ll eat that today and report.  Some of the ones on the tree are huge.  I don’t know if that is normal or an indication of an issue.  I have a couple of bean plants that survived after all.  We’ll see if they grow.  Nothing else seems to be.

The drama continues, with a “President Elect” that isn’t yet, and a disaster in the making.  I’m beginning to lose hope.  I think the fix is in.  TPTB can’t allow any fraud to be acknowledged at this point, there is too much water under that bridge…  so we’re going to get shafted.  And then the shooting starts.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m treating this as a disaster that is already here, and not obsessively ‘following the storm track’.  I’m ‘cutting up the downed branches’ and ‘raking up debris’, and checking the stock of blue tarps.

Stack it higher.  Work on skills.  Make some friends.  Build your team.

‘cuz it ain’t gonna be pretty, and we’ll need every advantage we can get.


Sat. Oct. 31, 2020 – Full moon, Halloween, and end of DST for the year. Oh my.

Cool and drier than yesterday.  I hope.

Yesterday was very nice.  Blue sky, sunlight, light breeze.  Weather says clear for two more days.  Hooray.  Last year we got rained out.  This year, we’re going ahead full bore, and so are the neighbors.  It will be interesting to see how many little grifters we get.  In past years it’s been between 100 and 150 approximately.   Mine are going out to hit up the neighbors for the treats and I hope we see a bunch.  I think we can hand out candy without spreading the wuflu.

In most years I like to add a new thing to my yard display.  I build them very quickly and cheaply so they don’t last too many years anyway, so I retire stuff too, or just put it away for a while.  For years I’ve wanted to do a flaming Eye of Sauron.  I found some hemispherical lamp parts to use as the eye, I’ve got projectors, and I found a great animated loop on youtube.  I’ve just never had time to put it all together.  This year I just pointed the projector at the window and Lo! it works pretty well!  I’ll save the white hemisphere screens for some other project.  Other than taping up the projector body, this setup took about 15 minutes.  Win!

The other thing I’m adding this year is a candy machine to dispense the goods.  I got my conveyor belt all wired and running and back together so all I have to do today is add  the lighting and dress it up.  That will probably take longer than I’d like.

I’ve got all the more delicate stuff to put out today too.  A couple of skeletal pirates, some other ghosts and bones, fog machines, colored lights, fun stuff that wouldn’t really survive being wet for several days.  Most of it is stuff I take in at the end of the night too, so it doesn’t disappear.

If everything goes well and I have the time, I might even get to making a third soft sculpture animated witch for my little vignette.  They are basically just a head and two arms made from pantyhose stuffed with fluff, black hats, and a piece of black cloth as a dress.  They are supported by a mic stand up the backside.  One stirs a cauldron, one turns a spit with a stuffed pig on it, and if I add a third, she’ll be tasting the cauldron with a spoon.  There is an arrangement of sticks and flicker bulbs to look like cooking fires.  They look great and took very little time or work.  I use BBQ grill rotisserie motors to power them.

I think it’s worth the effort.  Providing a sense of ‘normal’ for the kids during this prolonged disaster is hard enough without skipping holidays.  They’re not dumb.  They know we’re working under restrictions.  Most of them have to do with school after all.  But they want things to go back to the way they were SO badly.  In an adult that wish should be just that, with the acknowledgement that things won’t ever be the way they were- they never go back.  In a kid, I’m inclined to do whatever I can, at least for a while to smooth out their transition.  Plus, I like candy.  And I like putting on the display.

I’ve been stacking the stuff for my Halloween and Christmas displays as long as I’ve been stacking the food we’re eating.  Don’t forget about things like Birthdays and Holidays in your preps.   That little bit of extra thought goes a long way come the day.


Fri. Oct. 30, 2020 – Tired. Very tired. But awake and engaged!

Cool and maybe sunny?  Windy and damp to a high degree of certainty.  50F when I went to bed.

Most of yesterday was sunny and windy in the 50s and 60s F.  I half froze cleaning the leaves out of the pool 🙂

I got a bunch of little things done yesterday.  Nothing worth writing home about, or indeed, writing here about.

I was tired and falling asleep in my chair all day. I got to bed late and didn’t sleep well.   I am hoping today will be better.

Still planning to do mostly Halloween prep.   I’ve got a few more things to put out, and the new stuff to pull together.  Child two needs additional work on her CV costume.  And all the normal stuff needs doin’…

So I better get going.


(use this time wisely, and keep stacking)

Wed. Oct. 28, 2020 – getting closer to Halloween

Cool.  Wet.  Dreary.  Like yesterday.

It never got much warmer than 70F and it started in with a misty drizzle around 4pm.  Generally yucky all day.

I made my pickup on the other side of town.  A couple of preps this time.  There were two deep cycle batteries, very cheap, in unknown condition; a commercial inverter, a couple of gallons of vegetable oil, some PPEs for chainsawing, and some other small items.  I’ll get the batteries on my charger/conditioner today and see how they look.  The inverter needs a good exam too, but it was priced right.

I spent much of the rest of the day fighting to get my security cam software running on linux.  It LOOKED like a straightforward process, but turned out to be a big pain in my backside.  Most of the story is in yesterday’s comments.  Long story short, it’s currently working, and seems much more solid than the windows version.  Unless you have some unusual cameras you just have to use, I’m not recommending iSpy and a roll your own approach at the moment.  I saved about $1000 off the price of a commercial NVR of the same capacity, and I did get to use a mix of cams I already had, but there have been some challenges along the way.  If you don’t want to mess around with it, I can recommend some ‘pro-sumer’ level gear to you.

I find that my biggest use of the cams is to look outside from my desk and see “what’s making that noise out front?”  Most of my clients have expressed the same idea, they use it to look around when they see something.  Breakins and other camera worthy things are thankfully rare.  Checking on the pool, or which diesel truck is idling out front is much more common.  Of course if there is an incident, having the video is a great help.

Today I’m home and working on the same things, plus getting youngest child going on her costume, and working on at least one of my new Halloween displays.  It’s not prepping, or dealing with all the other stuff, but keeping up some normality is important, especially for the kids (and not just mine, but the ones coming to Trick or Treat too.)

These are likely to be the ‘good old times’ if even half the stuff coming down the pike gets here.  On it’s face it sounds extreme- to think that we better make this special or that special, in case we don’t get the chance next time.  But nothing in this world is certain, except that no one gets out alive.  And we BETTER make it special, because whether from civil war, disease, economic collapse, or simple poor health or a traffic accident, we might not get another chance.

Keep stacking.


Mon. Oct. 12, 2020 – Columbus Day.

Hot and humid.  Because why not?

Happy Columbus Day.  Without whom we might still be serfs in Europe.  And because FYTW.

The air was saturated all day Sunday, to the point that water in the driveway didn’t dry.

I worked on little things all day.  Got ready for the roofers.  Did some stuff in the house to make my wife happier.   Did a little bit of stuff in the garage.  Set another rat trap for whatever is roaming my food shelves.  There was gnawing on a bucket overnight so the visitor is still coming.  Nothing in the glue traps, so I moved them around a bit.  I’ll add more if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in a day or two.  I may add more anyway.

Spent an hour in the pool with the family.  It was a good day.

I’m starting to see stuff online that is adding to my concerns about the insurgency.  People are noticing and identifying the Command and Control structure for the socialists driving the protests and riots.  Well, not the structure, but that there is one.  Things are starting to show up in the live streams, and during the incidents that are clear indicators to people who know what to look for.   There is an organization at work.   They are training.  They are supplying.  They are escalating.  They are exploring tactics.   The latest incident is the “security guard” shooting a ‘patriot’ protester in the face and killing him.

There is evidence that the security guard/ bodyguard is more than he seems, or at least a fellow traveler.   There is some video that looks suspiciously like the event was instigated and controlled and provoked.  What happens with the guy next should be revelatory.  Spicy times are here for some people and in some places.  Don’t be there applies.

What would your life look like if your movements were constrained by real, well considered fear/concern over being physically attacked in public if you just happened to be in the wrong place?  The baying mob can make your supermarket a no-go zone.  Or your bank.  Or the mall where your kid works.  Or your block.  What if they decide your day care or private school has too much ‘privilege’ and mobs it?  Can’t happen?  There are places where the private school kids don’t wear uniforms anymore because it marks them for kidnapping.  There are places where having a sticker for your kids’ school on your vehicle can set you up for all sorts of bad things.

Do you have a company parking sticker or hang tag on your vehicle?  Does your neighborhood have parking stickers?  Do you have a school or team sticker on your car?  What about your license plate trim ring?  A school sign in your yard?  Any political slogans?  Vanity plates that are easy to remember?  How easy would it be to dox you from a picture of you or your car?  There are people on the right making note of campaign signs in people’s yards, I’m certain the left is doing so too.

I don’t want to believe that is the direction we’re headed, but I see escalation wherever I look.  We all know the end state of marxist/socialist government- people kneeling next to an open grave.  As I pointed out at dinner to my kids, it has happened within living memory and on this planet.  100 Million dead.  There are wealthy and powerful forces at work here trying it again.

Yes, resist.  No, don’t stick out.  The best partisan is the guy no one would ever suspect.  It may come to that.  I hope not, but because hope isn’t a strategy, I’ll keep working to improve my situation, and to keep stacking.



added- note too that whenever there is an incident like this now, someone finds the pics that link X person to other protests, other gatherings.  Often it’s their own social media that provides the link.  The cops and three letter agencies are using social media as the world’s most pervasive intelligence gathering tool, even our locals mention it on the scanner.   Don’t feed the beast.  And don’t be complacent.  If your smartphone, vizio tv, or alexa can hear you talk about vacations and you start to see targeted ads, it can certainly hear political speech too.  Is anyone doing that today?  Will they be in 6 months?  6 years?  The recordings never go away.

Sun. Oct. 4, 2020 – time to get the Halloween decor out

Cool and sunny.  Nice.  I hope.

Was a nice day Saturday.  Sunny but not too hot.  It did get to 90F in the sun at some point, but there was a breeze.  Kids and wife even got in the pool although they thought it was chilly in the beginning.

I did get some things done and chipped away at the list.  I’ve got so much more to do.

That’s my plan for today.  Sleep in, make breakfast, work.

Keep chipping away, and keep stacking.



Wed. Aug. 26, 2020 – well, better get ready

Hot and humid.  Sweaty like a fat guy’s thighs.

I did move some stuff from the house to storage yesterday.  Not enough.  Not nearly enough.  I’ve got so much loose stuff laying around that I can only hope we don’t actually get high winds, or whale oil beef hooked.

Both of my auction contacts pushed me off on taking them loads of stuff.  Jeez.  I can’t get rid of this stuff.

I did spend some time in meatspace chatting with my buddy and his wife at the gu–  toy store.   He’s gonna consign a couple of things for me.  He’s still doing a brisk business in transfers, but what happens when ALL the inventory is gone and no one can buy anything that needs transferring, and there is no new inventory?  Other people have commented elsewhere that in the short and medium run, gu— toy stores are in economic trouble, despite high demand and prices.

There was a steady stream of people looking for ammo, and not finding it.  I’ll drop a small box by today if I get a chance to sweeten the deal on one of my items.

School is cancelled for today and tomorrow, with Friday still up in the air.  It all depends on Laura, and what she leaves in her wake here in Texas.  I’m hoping for a non-event.  Prepping for a big one, but hoping for small.

And I’m watching the insurgency spread.

At some point in the not too distance past, the move toward ‘officer safety’ started.  Cops began training to avoid going ‘hands on’ to prevent them from being injured*.  At the same time, someone decided that it didn’t look good for cops to be hitting The Usual Suspects(tm) with their fists or ESPECIALLY with sticks.   So someone made a change to policy, and the end state of that is cops are trained to shoot rather than grapple or fight.  Guns are stand off weapons.  Nightsticks, batons, etc, are close in weapons.  The cops can now keep their distance, but changes in doctrine let to changes in tactics.   Policy changes led to us being where we are today.  The same people that don’t want to see a cop with a stick hitting a suspect now cry out when the cop uses the tools and tactics he’s been trained to use, and shoots instead of strikes.  How’s that working out?  Ripples turning into waves….

Speaking of that, John Wilder throws out a number in his recent post, saying ” the dollar losing 7% of its value in three months”.   Without knowing where he got it, I was caught off guard because it was the first time I saw it put so starkly.   It’s what you’d expect when .gov makes the money printers go “brrrrrrr”.  It’s what you see when you’re paying more for everything, especially metals like gold and silver.  But upon reflection 7% seems way too small.  TP is almost double.  Gold went from $1500/oz to almost $2000.  Silver went from $17 to 26 (with higher spots in the last week).  Ammo and gun prices are sky high.  Granted that a lot of the increase in consumer goods pricing is due to scarcity, the metal pricing is more purely inflation for monetary reasons.  Either way, it looks like the dollar is buying a LOT LESS than 93% of what it did in March or June.  Taking a step back, that ripple looks like it could be a really big wave if it gets going.   Ask yourself why it isn’t front page news.  And why no one is framing that decline in purchasing power in terms of inflation.  Venezuela here we come.  Everyone will be shocked when they realize we’re suddenly there “without warning”.  Consider this (and the last couple of years) your fair warning. **

Everything’s better with bacon.  And butter.  And a full pantry.  Keep stacking.



* also about the same time, physical fitness standards were relaxed, and the recruiting pool was broadened.  A whole lot of cops were produced that couldn’t go hands on if they wanted to.

**I’m no financial guru and nothing I say is “financial advice” but I’m certainly taking a hard look at what my condition would be if all my cash and cash equivalents bought me half as much stuff, or one quarter as much, next year.   It might be a good idea to turn some of that cash into something that holds value a bit better, especially if there are bargains to be had.  Assuming I had any cash tucked away…