Mon. May 23, 2022 – what the everlovin’ what?

Hot and humid again, like most summer days in Houston. Yesterday started cool after the rain, but warmed up later.

The title is in reference to every tool I use to make these posts changing completely last night. Ugly and confusing doesn’t begin to describe what I’m looking at. BLANK PAGE doesn’t really guide one through the process. wordpress apparently just decided to kill the option of the old way of interacting with their software. I freaking hate arrogant developers. YOUR WAY IS NOT MY WAY AND IT IS NOT BETTER.


I got a late start yesterday, because of SLEEP. But then I did go out and pick up some preps. I had some misadventure narrowly averted with my fridge/freezer. I’m not the type of person to throw up my hands and accept that my fridge full of food is about to be warmer without trying some things myself. That isn’t nature, btw, it’s learned. Troubleshooting, and the willingness to try stuff are vital skills when things are going pear shaped. There will be a LOT of pear shaped things coming at us in the next few years, because there have been a lot of pear shaped things coming at us for the LAST two years. If you aren’t in the habit of fixing your own stuff, or at least narrowing down the range of problems, you should definitely start working on that. There are good books about fixing household stuff, and there is a massive amount of info on youtube about almost any repair you could make. If it’s already broken, you might as well try, and you will learn things.


Did a quick shopping trip to the local “small” HEB, but I won’t do my usual rundown on empty shelves. There were plenty, but it was late on a Sunday. The only one I’m sure was an actual shortage was Mexican sparkling water, which had a “limit two” sign on it specifically saying they were short stocked.

Chicken legs and thighs were up 10%, hamburger was up, and selection and quality of beef cuts were still down from “normal”. There were not a lot of sale items either.

Get it while you can.

And stack it up.

nick

Sat. May 14, 2022 – and we’re off…. no not really

Hot and humid, although it didn’t seem as hot yesterday as the day before.

Picked up a pickup load of stuff for the house, took it to storage, swapped it out for the thing I’m hoping to flip today.  For today is my non-prepping hobby quarterly swapmeet/ sale day.    Really only a half day, and most deals will happen in the first 10 minutes anyway.

My hope is to flip the big thing, and then after the meeting, load the  truck for the lakehouse and head out.  My wife was planning to  take the kids up last night and get started painting another room, or putting floor down, I’m not entirely clear which.  However, they ended up staying late at a birthday party so they’ll be heading up sometime this morning.   I’ll already be gone to my meeting.


Work at the BOL will be whatever I can do, but emphasis will still be on getting the garden stood up.

I don’t have to set the fence yet, I decided I can do a tunnel of hardware cloth over at least a couple of rows of low plants to start.   I have this fear that the heavy equipment for the foundation work will need to go through the garden to get to the down slope area.  That would suck.  It’s not going to stop me from trying to get something to grow, but time is slipping away.

At home I’ve got blueberries ripening on the bushes.   The seedlings I planted haven’t died yet.   The grape vines are trying to make a comeback, and the herbs are doing well.  It won’t feed the family, but it’s something.  There were almost no fruit trees at the Lowes and Home Depot yesterday.  I was hoping for an apple tree, but there was one persimmon, a couple of meyer lemons, and some peach trees.  Very limited.

Shortages are getting attention from a wider array of folks.   Predictably they are clamoring for .gov to “dooooo sooommmeeethhhiing “.   I don’t really know what they expect Slow Joe to do, pull some baby powder out of his diaper?  If they do try something, I expect it to make the situation worse.

You are on your own.  Plan accordingly.

And stack some stuff.

n

Thur. May 12, 2022 – change, flexibility, and decisiveness

Hot and humid, another sunny day.  It got pretty dang hot yesterday.  I was sweating and pretty dehydrated after working at my storage unit for over an hour.  I had some water with me this time, and that helped.

I took a pickup truck load to the auctioneer, and picked up a lot to flip to my “non-prepping hobby” guys ( I hope) on Saturday.  I will be picking up a few things for the BOL today, and heading up there Saturday afternoon.   I was just too tired and had too much to do here to head up yesterday.

The post title is about what we are facing and what I think you need to get through it, besides massive stacks of course.  There was a shortage of used vehicles, and I bought a truck.   There is a shortage of rural properties, and I bought a nice one.   There are ongoing shortages of food, cleaning supplies, parts, construction materials, and skilled labor.   I’ve had a chance to buy some, and am still waiting for that chance for others.

What let me get what I wanted was knowing what a good deal looked like, having the resources available to act immediately, acting immediately, and a willingness to compromise on what I was getting.

We’re still in a period where you can get what you want, maybe even precisely what you want IF you can search for it, and wait for it to become available.  And if you can afford it… but that is rapidly becoming less common, and NOT being able to just walk in and get what you want, right here and right now, is becoming the norm.

We have a culture of abundance.   We are entering a phase where some things, many things, are no longer abundant.  That is a pretty big change and one that some people are going to have a hard time accepting.   It’s going to be critical for your own success at seeing this through to the other side to recognize the change in our reality, and to develop new ways to deal with that fact.

It may mean carrying more inventory than you are used to, either at work or in your domestic arrangements.  A full and deep pantry is going to ease a lot of misery around shortages of foods.   Adequate spares for your critical systems need to be on hand, and not in someone else’s control.  You may need to plan ahead, order early, and you may need to pay immediately, rather than on the terms you are used to.  That means having access to more cash or bigger credit lines than you might have had last year.  And it means accepting less than you would really like, because that’s what IS available.

That last point is going to be really hard for some people.   The personality that likes to research thoroughly before a purchase, that likes to mull over a decision, is going to suffer if they don’t change.  Do the research, make the decision, but then act decisively when the opportunity presents itself.  Be open to alternatives.

And be open to alternative sources.   The secondary economy is booming.  Resellers are making hay.  Used, damaged, fixable, or cleanable may be your best choice.  Traditional retail and traditional supply lines will not be able to supply all your needs.  Start exploring your other options now, while there is still time to climb the learning curve.

Finally consider the changes in culture.  Respect for the law and for law enforcement is crumbling.   Violence is increasing and occurring in areas that were formerly safe. Some people LIKE chaos and strife, it breaks down social norms and increases their freedom to do what they like doing.   Some of them like hurting other people, taking their stuff, and destroying whatever strikes their fancy.  Some people will go along to get along.  It won’t matter to you if they guys running the roadblock are doing it for love or to feed their family, you lose either way.

It’s going to get tough, but we can get through this.

Stacks of stuff will help.

nick

Tues. May 3, 2022 – about to get even busier…

Forecast says “clear” for the next two days at least.   Monday started out very gusty, with spatters of rain while I was putting the kids in the car, but it soon cleared up.   Today should be clear all day, but I’m sure it will be humid and hot.

Because I’ll be doing some work in the attic.   HVAC guy came yesterday and did whatever poking around he needed to do to get the job actually started.  I’ve got a feeling it will be about 80% of what we want, it’s costing more than the luxury system quote from two years ago, and I think the work will be pretty haphazard.   BUT, he got the unit we needed, and the approved ductwork, and the system has been patched and babied along for two extra years past its failure point.   I NEED to get new stuff installed.  And for that to happen, I need to clear space in the attic for them to work.   That will be … difficult and a pain in my sweaty backside.

On top of that, I have the normal weekly stuff to do, and I am supposed to be taking stuff to auction today and tomorrow.   Which probably will not happen if I’m in the attic all day.

I did get a few things done yesterday.  Did a billable half day of work for my client.  AT&T has pushed all the conduit to his property, they just need to get fiber in it, and make the final several hundred foot push to the house.   It looks like they  hope to light up the rest of his neighbors too at some point.   There are lots of drops along the way to his house.

More food got put away.   The $2/pound pork loin got turned into three roasts, and one got eaten for dinner.  The others joined their piggy friends in freezer camp.   I opened a can of cajun style lima beans as a side, didn’t tell anyone what they were besides “beans” and not only did they get eaten, my wife actually called them good.   It must have been the butter and bacon crumbles.

Also got 40 pounds of flour into buckets.  20 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, a paper plate, and a couple of hand warmers to eat the O2.   Those buckets will go to the BOL.  My wife notably didn’t say anything about the 40 pounds of flour sitting in the living room until I could pack it.   I think she’s coming around to the idea of shortages.  It would be hard not to given the news and predictions from every direction.  Yet there will be people crying that ‘nobody told us’.   I’M telling you, there will be shortages, and some people are going to be very hungry, both here, and pretty much everywhere else.   Dust Bowl, Great Depression, soup kitchen levels of hungry, only without the civility of a homogeneous society.  That last point should be top of your mind too.

Ammo prices have come down slightly and availability has increased.  I’m even seeing sales on large quantities.  Some places have complete uppers for sale again too.  If you’ve been waiting, this is as good a time as any.

ATF has new rules ready to go into effect.   We may be facing whatever comes with what we’ve got.   And something bad, really bad, is coming.   The DHS created a department to police thought and word.   That’s how far we’ve come, and the direction we’re going.  They didn’t ‘float a trial balloon.’  They created it and staffed it.  Just like that.  With no lead up or indication ahead of time.  Once we’re on a war footing, even the token resistance from conservatives will be stifled in the name of the war effort.  It’s all happened before, it can happen again.

So stack it high. And hide it well.  You’ll need it.

 

nick

 

Mon. May 2, 2022 – so there I was, no sh!t…..

Pretty much the same as yesterday, lots of humidity, some small amount of moisture from the sky, and some sun to keep things a bit too hot… that’s my forecast anyway.  It would be nice if the rain held off.

Stayed in Houston this weekend despite having been away from the BOL too long, and having stuff up there that needs to be done.

So I was motivated to work my list here at home.

Got the wall closed up where the water heater used to be.  It’s just temporary, because we’ll need to get back in there when the house gets re-piped with pex.  And in theory, there will be a cabinet in front of the wall patch so you can’t even see it.  It will probably be the same as now in 5 years, if I’m honest about it.

Got the bird netting up over my blueberry <s>bushes</s>  sticks.  I’ve got berries on a couple of the plants already, so it was time.   That net is so nasty to work with, it gets stuck on literally everything and you can barely see or feel it.  We don’t think of netting as a weapon, but the Romans used nets in the Colosseum.   I think there might be a use for stronger netting inside a fence, for example, as a defensive measure.   You’re gonna get tangled up but good, especially if you don’t expect it to be there.

Got one raised bed cleaned up, two bags of dirt added, and zukes and peas planted.   Got another cleaned up, added the two bags of dirt, but they were wet and mucky so I’ll wait to plant until today or tomorrow when it’s dried out a bit.   I removed and potted several ‘volunteer’ trees from the bed.   I’m pretty sure they are the ornamental chinese cherry we have along the fence, and if they survive, I’ll find somewhere to put them.

I’ve got one more raised bed to clean up and plant, and I’ll save a couple of ‘volunteer’ oak saplings from that bed too.   I’ve got space for trees at the BOL.

Did some weeding, pruned the apple tree.   The peach needs some pruning too.   I cut all the dead branches out of the potted grapefruit and got rid of the dead lime.  There is room for another raised bed on the side of the house now that the orange and grapefruit trees are gone.  I’ll have to think a bit about that.  I have some plastic tubs that would make good beds but they look bad.  It’s basically next to the neighbor’s driveway and right outside their kitchen window so I have to consider the appearance out of neighborliness.

Wife and child returned from camp, much dirty laundry was piled on the machines.  Both of them had a good time.


This week will be more catch-up locally, and pickup of some more stuff for the BOL.  It’s mostly lighting this time, but also a gas powered chainsaw.   There are some big limbs and trees that need to come down at the BOL.   I have a dozen non-running saws, and it’s time to just buy a new one that doesn’t need fixing.   I have enough projects.

Speaking of projects, I picked up a 12v fan for a car radiator for $6.   I have been picking up 12v stuff when it’s cheap and useful.  It will go in the pile of “solar system” stuff.   Seems like a good idea to have some things that run on 12v natively if we ever end up on the solar for any length of time.

Along those lines, I’ve been rotating my charger and topping up all my random 12v batteries this weekend.  I have a matched set of three that stay connected to a smart charger/maintainer, but I also have a bunch that I’ve been lax about charging.  They are big industrial lead acid batteries that I got at auction a year or more ago.  They’ll be part of the solar project if I can find a reliable charge controller for the right price.  I’ll keep rotating through them all of this week.

There’s always more to do.

The title is a classic form of story telling, common to soldiers, cops, and others who were in the right place to get a good tale…  I’m sure there must be some good stories out there… this being the anniversary week of the Rodney King Riots in LA.   They were one of the formative events in my prepping journey.  Watching the city burn from your front porch while the smoke blows in through the door will focus your attention on safety and security issues like very few other things could.  Lots of people were ready, I was not.  I didn’t have enough guns or ammo, something I never really want to feel again.

Stack something today.  One or all of the ‘three Bs’, a skill, or a contact, doesn’t matter, just DO it.

n

 

Thur. Apr. 28, 2022 – so we’re a quarter of the way through the year…

Clear and nice for the next two days according to the national forecast.   We’ll see what our local microclimate actually does, but it certainly was nice yesterday.

Too bad I spent most of the afternoon literally pretending to be a shade tree mechanic.   And laying on my back in the shade under a filthy truck.   The result of a few hours spent is ruling out the alternator and the starter/solenoid.  Most of that time was driving from store to store to get the parts checked.    My next possibility is the corroded cable at the battery clamp.  I found a 2 volt drop in the first inch  of the cable.   The weird thing is that the problem appeared suddenly.  Damage from corrosion is usually a slow and gradual problem.  JEP said “it’s almost always the cable” and he may have been right in this case too.

I spent the morning getting dinner ready (crock pot pot roast) and packing the bulk meat I bought.  Should have done it sooner, but it was still fine.   Did I mention that Costco has standing rib pork loin roasts for less than $2/pound?  I forgot that it was Easter time, and that they carried my favorite pork cut at Easter.  Cut up as pork chops, or cooked as a roast, you can’t  beat the flavor.  The pot roast is a family favorite, and couldn’t be easier.  Just add whatever sturdy veg you have in the fridge, I used turnips, carrots, potatoes, and onion, the meat (seared in cast iron first) and the Betty Crocker pot roast slow cooker seasoning packet.  6-8 hours later, add a fresh baked (shelf stable) loaf of sourdough bread to the table, and you have a feast.   Stew in the slow cooker is pretty much the same, except the meat is cubed first, and I use the “beef stew” packet…

Plan for today is more exploration and hopefully a resolution to my truck issue.  I need the truck  to do about 80% of the stuff on my list.  If I get it fixed, I’ve got all the other stuff that didn’t get done this week stacked up.   If I don’t, that stuff will slip even more.

I guess I better get moving.

And btw, the head of Goya foods is warning about famine too.

It’s real and it’s coming.   Stack it up.

n

Wed. Apr. 27, 2022 – “We loin as we go.”

Cool and damp, but maybe clear?  Maybe not clear but not raining either.  Yesterday started overcast and ended sunny, so it’s possible either way.  I’m hoping for clear so I can do the stuff I haven’t been able to do.

Truck problems persist.  Something is badly wrong, and I’m hoping it’s the alternator.  That is on top, easy to get to, and relatively cheap.  I need the pickup running for so many reasons, but mainly to move stuff around.

I did some errands, and some troubleshooting, and messed around.   More of those same things on the schedule for today.

No further progress on the BOL work.   Frustrating to be dependent on others.   Yeah I know, I’ve been reading about the issues, and they’re not just happening to other people.  They are real, not theoretical, and they suck when they happen to you.

Busy week and weekend coming up here at the Casa De Nick.   Swim team is starting up with nightly practice, Girl Scout weekends are on the calendar, and all the normal stuff is happening too, AND the work at the BOL needs to keep moving forward.  It’s a bit challenging.

 

But, hey, no one said it would be easy.  Or cheap.

 

And in the wider world, the chip shortage will continue for at least another year, according to industry sources.  Standing up new fabs takes time, and it takes some of the chips that are in short supply.   Electronic Design magazine has several articles on the issue in this month’s issue, and there is some fascinating stuff there.  Like that it takes about 6 months for a chip to move through the build process, or that 70 countries are involved in a typical chip, either through materials, or processes, or design and execution.  I’ll link the article in the comments if I can find it online.  As a note too, based on my habit of watching how thick or thin the trade mags are, we’re in trouble in the electronics design and manufacturing sector as the magazine is down to ~30 pages.  The more general Machine Design magazine is 32 pages this month.  MD used to be hundreds of pages 10 years ago but has really slimmed down since wuflu has been ravaging the world economy.   ALL my trade mags are thin, some are VERY  thin.

If you need it, or will need it, get it.  Don’t wait, as it probably won’t be available later.  If there is something you must have to live, or do business, or conduct your daily activities, make sure you have a spare, and repair and maintenance parts.  Seriously, I’m behind the curve on some things and it sucks.   We might be very close to the point where suddenly everyone is buying anything just to grab onto something they hope to use or trade or sell later.   That truly will be ‘panic buying’ and it will kick off a major slide downward on the slippery slope.   Get your ducks lined up.

And stack all the things.

nick

 

bonus points to anyone who identifies the movie quote in the day’s title…

Tues. Apr. 26, 2022 – everyone should know how to tell at least one good joke, and a couple of bad ones…

Cooler and wet today as a followup to yesterday.   It did finally rain yesterday.   It was about 3pm when it finally hit my neighborhood.  Temps dropped 10 degrees and the wind picked up.   We had some pretty hard rainfall, and the gutters filled up.   My gauge says only 0.43 inches, but it certainly seemed like more.

It was raining cats and dogs by the lake, so countrygirl begged off delivering my crazy thick and heavy fence pipes.  I’m ok with that.   Whenever they get there, I’m not ready for them anyway.   I did spend some time looking over the old victory garden stuff to see if it would help me plan my garden.   I have an approach, if not an actual plan… and maybe it will refine itself over time.  Still no word from septic or structure guys.   At home, we can’t seem to get an HVAC guy to replace our system now.  Waited too long maybe, because they aren’t calling back.  We’ve got a short window before it gets really hot up in the attic again, so I’d think they would be anxious to get as much done before then as they could.  Maybe they are, and I’m just not on their list.

I also did not get anything done with my pickup not starting.

I did play a couple of games of backgammon with D2 before having to pick up D1 from school.  She’s got afterschool activities going on, so I get to be the taxi.  Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of driving my dad did to pick me up from MY afterschool activities.  My high school wasn’t close to our house at all, and there was a lot of snow and ice involved during the winter.  It explains why I got a license and a car at 16.  Also why I had so many tickets and wrecks.


Today will be some prepping, as I’ve got meat to repack and freeze.  Then some auction stuff if it’s dry enough for me to pull stuff out of the storage unit, and if the pickup truck is running to take the stuff to the auctioneer.  Then some pickups that are all things for the BOL.   Busy day in other words, although some may slip if it’s wet.

I’m trying to stack all the things.   For some reason, a bunch of auguson farms 30 day buckets have been in the auctions here.  I’ve gotten 2 so far.   They are not worth the money as they are very low calorie per day, and pretty much all plant based, and mostly carbs and sugar from what I can see.  Still, at the price I paid, they are a decent addition to my long term stores.  In other words, half retail or less.

Stack it up, it’s changing fast.  And not for the better.

n

 

Mon. Apr. 25, 2022 – birthday and anniversary this week

National forecast says we might be getting some rain today and tomorrow… which I’m hoping against.  I’ve got stuff to do that needs dry weather.   It was 76F and 91%RH when I went to bed.

I did some stuff Sunday.  Mostly fled the house and the squealing of tiny proto females.   Did two pickups, both mainly for my non-prepping hobby.   Did daddy daughter stuff, then wasted time on the internet with my friends. Oh, and during that time the dog ate an unknown quantity of Easter chocolate and caused some concern and an attempt at making him vomit it up.  The little poop factory eats aluminum soda cans, a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide didn’t phase him.  He’s still alive so I guess he didn’t eat too much of the chocolate.

Today’s plan is to figure out what’s gone wrong with my pickup truck, get some bins of stuff ready for auction, and do a pickup or two of BOL stuff.  Rain complicates all of that tremendously so I’m hoping it misses us.

I’ve got so much going on this week, swim team practices start, D2 has a birthday, I have a wedding anniversary, and all the normal things too.  It’s crazy.


Some comments at the end of the day yesterday regarding supply chain, food, and corn.  If you haven’t caught up, take a minute and read them and consider how they’ll affect you if it happens that way.

Beyond local and national farm issues, the brutal lockdown in China is backing up shipping and supply chain like crazy.  The effects will start showing up in a couple of weeks and it will take months to un-flock this clustered mess.  Expect anything coming from or through China, and particularly Shanghai to be delayed or unavailable, possibly for months.

The situation is worsening folks, in just about any way you look at it.  I know, I know.   Sky is falling yet again.  Yep.  Look at the material and make your own conclusions.  If you decide it’s overblown, then at least you’ve considered it, and didn’t just keep running forward with your eyes closed.

If like me and others, you see all the signs pointing to things getting worse, not better, ACT on that.  Take actions that work for you and your family and for your financial situation.  I’m still in “don’t do anything irrevocable” mode, but we did turn a whole pile of cash into a whole pile of bricks and dirt because my wife agrees that inflation is eating our savings like a fat man at a buffet.

Interest rates are rising.  They’ve already risen.   If you are selling a house, do the deal.  If rates rise too much the housing bubble will pop again.  If you are buying a place to live, and it’s within your means, know that you might end up underwater on your loan for a while, and that might limit you for a few years or longer.  I wouldn’t be buying any place as an “investment” and I wouldn’t be entering into an adjustable rate mortgage at the moment either… nor would I ‘stretch’ to make a purchase that is outside what I can safely afford.  If I was renting, I’d be looking at long term leases to lock in monthly payments.  If I was the owner, I’d be looking at short term leases as much as possible.

Also consider what these changes and trends mean for fixed incomes and government assistance programs and the people dependent on them.   Food shortages almost always lead to riots.     In other words, I expect violence and lawlessness to increase.  It will be variable by area, but everyone will be affected.   And people will be fleeing to your safe semi-rural area when the cities get worse.  They’ve already started.

Time to really get busy getting ready.   Suck it up and stack it up.

n

Fri. Apr. 22, 2022 – whelp, I got nothin’

Clear and moderately warm in Houston today.  I hope anyway.  I have a bunch of running around to do and most of it involves the pickup truck.   Which I couldn’t use yesterday due to a dead battery.

I’ll be dealing with that this a.m.   Don’t know yet if it’s just run down or if it’s dead.   I did notice it when I put fluids in all the vehicles, and thought “naw, it’s fine, I replaced it recently”… but now I’m not sure.   Haven’t had a look yet.

With a start like that, or rather a lack of a start, I only got some stuff done.   I put off going to Home Depot.  It occurred to me that I could use Amex points for HD gift cards and buy my garden stuff with those.   That is what I’ve BEEN doing, but didn’t actually think about it this year.   So I ordered some cards, which are normally in my email inbox in minutes, but for some reason now say that they can take up to three days.   They weren’t there yet when I went to bed.   Seems odd that it takes any real time at all, let alone days.

Lot of weird stuff going on in the world at the moment.  Par for the course at this point.

Speaking of stuff, according to my wife, NPR quoted NYTimes about the coming food shortages due to Ukraine not planting as much, and not exporting.  Of course it’s all Russia’s fault, but they sure were late getting to the party.   The flip side is that even lefties are now clued in, so expect the self fulfilling prophesy.   Get yours while you can.

Violence continues to increase.   Boston seems to be the latest city to lose control of their feral youths, but NYFC continues to lead the way.  The west coast is well represented with violent crimes and attacks on innocents too.

Services are continuing to break down all over the place.

It sucks, but it’s coming.   Get yourself ready, and stack up what you need.

nick