Category: decline and fall

Sun. Jun. 23, 2024 – well, still not done, still hot out…

Hot. Very hot. Yes, and sunny too. My brains are baking in my skull when the sun hits it. Not much breeze either, and a lot of humidity. Summer in Houston, oh joy. And that was just yesterday. Today should be more of the same, but without the rain in the night.

I did get some stuff done. I picked up the chest freezer. Cleaned it, got it plugged in, and even moved some stuff into it. Of course it’s sitting in the driveway, not in the garage. I got about half the stuff out of the way. I’ll get the other half today. Did I mention it was hot and sunny? That slowed me down dramatically. I need to finish clearing a path to get the old fridge out, and the freezer in.

After that, I’ll move some drawers and shelves out of the way and move some metal cabinets in. They will be my new pantry. I’m tired of rats cr@pping on my canned goods. The drawers hold mostly supplies that I don’t need easy access to, so I should have moved them a long time ago. The shelves were my second tier of food storage after the kitchen pantry… some will remain, but the rest of the stuff will go into cabinets. It will stay a lot cleaner that way. Dunno what I’ll do with the drawers. They are still in good condition, and the stuff in them still needs to be stored, but I don’t have any place in mind yet.

Or my cunning plan could go to heck in a wicker basket. My wife might want me to go with her when she takes the kids to GS camp. There is a guy that has a boat for sale… and I am not involving myself in that transaction. She really wants a boat. I’ve already got enough stuff on my plate. I was willing to find one through my sources, but the universe wasn’t cooperating. We bid on one this week that looked great but it had a reserve higher than anyone was interested in bidding. Ditto for the three person SeaDoo. So she hit the internet and found one that looks nice and is in the right range of features, size, age, and cost. It’s got crazy low hours and was kept inside. Classic story of boat ownership- buy it, pay to store it for years, use it very rarely. I’d like to think that we’d put a couple of hours a month on a boat at least…not a couple per year.

This falls under the part of the rules where the BOL has to function as part of our lives, even if the big bad never happens. I’d like a boat too, I just don’t want to spend the money. It should be a good thing for the kids, and give them more to do while we’re up there.

In the mean time… I’ll keep plugging away at this pile of stuff here, there and everywhere. Change is progress, right? Sometimes you have to re-stack your stuff to remember what you have.

And then stack some more.

nick

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Sat. Jun. 22, 2024 – Hmmm, stuff to do, and more stuff to do…

Hot, sooner or later it’ll be hot. Damp to wet… depending on whether it rains again or not. And I’ll be in it. Like yesterday.

I did my pickups while waiting for the grey truck of joy to deliver my fridge part. Across town it was raining. I could see the cell, and people coming out of it with their headlights on… but I didn’t drive through it. I also went to an “in person” estate sale. Some vintage vinyl and a broken turntable called to me. Picked up 5 albums by Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Picked up a boxed set of Artie Shaw, and a box set of “Masters of Swing”… they were Readers Digest editions, on heavy vinyl and pristine… maybe never played. The Prima got some play, but I don’t have them on vinyl or CD and he’s one of my favorites.

Funny what some record collections look like. This one was 7 or 8 milk crates filled mostly with jazz, and pop vocal from the late 50s, and 60s, with some church and Christmas mixed in. Then there was Bootsie Collins and His Rubber Band just sitting there… I’d have grabbed it but the disk wasn’t in the jacket after all. What the heck was Bootsie doing in with the Feranti and Teisher, Lawrence Welk, Liberace, Babs, and Big band? Or the extensive collection of Evie? There were a few other discs I’d have grabbed at $1 each, but they wanted $4 each platter, including the boxed sets. I didn’t get the turntable as it needed work. I could have doubled my money on ebay just selling it for parts or repair, but I don’t need another project, and I haven’t done any listing in a while. And $450 was too much cash to tie up.

Hit the Costco for TP and paper towel. Bought a few more things besides. Charmin on sale was $26. It used to be $18 before SloJoe took control of the checkbook. The only things that don’t seem to be crazy high are Canadian Maple syrup, and Australian lamb. They are the same or slightly less than they used to be, unless my memory is completely messed up.

Today will be one auction pickup, and a visit to my auctioneer to get back my chest freezer. Then comes the horror show of moving all the crep in the driveway and the garage to get the old fridge out. I might as well do the changeover to my food storage shelves and cabinets at the same time. I need to move them anyway… Oy, what a hot sweaty job that is going to be.

It’s the fractal thing again, before I can do one thing, I have to do the other 10,000 things.

Not gonna lie, would rather do just about anything else. But that’s what being an adult is, doing what needs doing even if you don’t want to.

Stack some stuff. Fix some stuff. Rearrange some stuff. Maybe even get rid of some stuff. Find a place for your stuff…

nick

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Fri. Jun. 21, 2024 – one more week gone, no TEOTWAWKI, hooray.

Hot and humid. ‘cuz Houston. Yesterday didn’t start that hot, but it was dripping humidity. Of course in the garage it was a sauna. Today should be similar. I’m hoping that there isn’t any actual rain though.

Spent most of yesterday moving stuff in the garage to get to the freezers and the back of the ailing one. Moved most of the stuff to other places. Moved the freezer contents to the fridge and the other freezers. Ordered the part I hope will fix the problem. Just getting the freezer out and a new one in would be a major task, so replacing a part would be preferable. I’m really glad we came home from the BOL when we did. I should have been more aggressive diagnosing the problem too, I was fooled because I wanted to be fooled.

If the part doesn’t do the trick for the freezer, I’ll stop by the auctioneer I use to sell stuff, and pick up the chest freezer I’d dropped off for him to sell. That will add one more stop to the trips…

Otherwise, today will be doing some repairs, doing some sorting, and then doing a couple of pickups. I got a bunch of stuff from an auctioneer I always watch but who usually starts his items too high, so I don’t buy much from him. This time he not only had stuff I wanted, it was reasonably priced. I might have been the only one bidding in the whole auction, I was the only one bidding on my items. And I got some stuff from my normal super cheap but full of shenanigans auctioneer.

I would like to get some of the stuff together for a trip to the BOL next week. Wife and kids are all out of town, so I am thinking of heading up for a concentrated burst of work. I might even rent earthmoving equipment. Still thinking about that though. I’ve got plenty to do and the dirt will sit there just fine for a while longer if needed.

It would be nice to get to a range for an hour sometime this month. I’m feeling like it’s been too long. Not a good feeling.

There are only so many hours in the week though, and I’ve been using mine to go backwards lately. Kinda depressing really. It’s bound to happen, just isn’t fun. At least I didn’t come home to a dead freezer full of rotten meat.

The stacks did take a small hit. I’ll have to work a bit harder now. Keep stacking and keep the faith.

nick

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Thur. Jun. 20, 2024 – why?

Hot and wet. Or cool and wet. But certainly wet. It rained all day yesterday with varying intensity in varying places throughout the Houston metro area… and it was cooler, mid 70s for the most part. I think today will be similar, but maybe less rain.

I did my auction pickups in the afternoon. Dropped a tool by my buddy’s house. Drove all over town. Then did auction bidding in the evening. W has me on the hunt for stuff and I’m trying…

Today I’ll be monitoring the garage fridge, and dealing with that if needed. First step would be clearing a path to the third freezer and seeing if there is room in it… Next would be cooking, or looking to score another freezer… I very much hope that won’t be necessary.

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Some discussion yesterday led me down a path that I think has some interest.

Why? Why have the BOL? What’s the plan, and why do I think it will work? Why will it be needed? Why make the choices I’ve made?

Well, my first rule for my prepping is that it can’t be irrevocable, or hurt my family. No moving to Idaho and going off grid to slowly starve until my kids leave. No selling everything or raiding the retirement accounts. I plan with the idea everything will continue as it is in my lifetime, while at the same time, planning for severe disruptions, both short and long term, both local and much larger. Funnily enough, both things can be true.

I plan for local or regional disasters, and for larger events with bigger impacts, and longer timelines. Hurricanes, floods, crime, civil unrest, those are disasters but are limited in scope and affect. I also plan for civil war, general world war, global pandemic, and economic collapse (probably brought about by inflation, maybe triggered or exacerbated by one of the other bad things.)

I think these things are the most likely, and we have had several since I started prepping. Got through them without too much trouble too. (I have considered stuff like an alien revelation, but I think it unlikely, and if it happens it will likely trigger all the stuff I’m prepping for anyway.) Unfortunately hard times will make all the other stuff harder too. War leads to privation, destruction, death, and disruption to the world socially and economically. Fortunately prepping for one goes a long way toward covering you for the others.

Humans have a tendency to think things will continue pretty much as they are. We evolved in a world where that was pretty true. Think of the building of the cathedrals in the west, or the ancient civilizations in the east. But. History shows that every so often, everything changes. Where are Ozymandias’ might works? Where is the Great Library? Or the Byzantine Empire? The sun never set on the British empire until it did. All roads lead to Rome… until they didn’t. And yet there are still Brits (now mostly naming their sons Mohammed) and there are still Romans in Rome.

I think we’re headed into one of those periods where everything changes. The world will look very different in 5, 10, or 20 years. I intend to do everything I can to get through this period of change and destruction and position my family to prosper during the next phase.

So I prep. I prep for the obvious local natural and man made disasters. But I also prep for the bigger, and maybe less obvious risks too. And I do that mainly by preparing to live in a resource constrained environment. There will be less of everything. Everything will be harder to do and take longer. Everything will be grosser and meaner in every meaning of those words. Safety nets will be non-existent or dramatically reduced. No one will be coming to rescue you.

I’m doing what I can to make my family independent of the systems that are failing. I’m taking responsibility for more aspects of our lives. I am hoping that my preps allow us to degrade gracefully rather than catastrophically. I’m hoping to preserve something for after, but at a minimum I’m ready to persevere.

Part of that is finding a community that I think is more resilient, more suited to living in a poorer and rougher world. It’s very difficult as an outsider to enter a community like that. They’ve been circling the wagons, us against them, for a LONG time. I’ll note that I chose a rural community. Other people will choose a more urban community, like a neighborhood, or a ghetto. There have been articles about welfare families being moved out of their projects and into the suburbs where they no longer have the community support they had. It’s a different world, and one I wouldn’t want to live in, but for the people who live there it’s home and they miss it when it’s gone.

All of prepping should be about creating options. You don’t need to rob and steal if you have food. You don’t need to risk food or waterborne illness if you have hygiene and cooking supplies. You can fit in with a crowd if you have the right clothes and the right attitudes. You don’t need to be raped or murdered if you have the tools to defend yourself. You don’t need to get on the FEMA bus. You don’t need to become a refugee.

The BOL gives me options. I can leave the metro area if it becomes necessary. I have resources stacked there if I lose access to my resources here. I have at least one friend, and several acquaintances… there are people who are happy to see me.

I’m learning as I go too, as having a BOL was entirely theoretical until we bought it. Now I’m discovering the unknown unknowns, as well as the known unknowns…

There is a LOT to learn. There is a lot to do. I’m getting older and slower, and weaker, but I’m on a mission. I’ve got plans, goals, ideas, not too many dreams, but enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life…

And it all starts with stacking.

nick

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Wed. Jun. 19, 2024 – well, waddayaknow… still got work to do

Hot and humid, chance of rain. Some places got rain yesterday, and some might get some today. It’s pretty rare that the whole of Houston gets rain at the same time. I’m pretty sure it will all be hot though.

Woke up yesterday at the BOL, did my wrap out, and headed home. Got chased by a storm front, and then when I got to the east side of Houston, I got chased west by a different front. Black sky and high wind, with a 10-20 degree temperature drops is a pretty good indicator that some serious weather is coming. In this case, I either outran it, or it was a no show…

Didn’t get a lot done, with all the driving around.

Today I’ve got pickups, and other stuff to do. I have a friend who asked to borrow a tool, so I’ll try to get that to him, and I’ll try to see my local auctioneer about putting more stuff in the auction. I’ve been out of my normal routine for most of the last month and I’m feeling it.

There is a sort of rhythm to prepping for the normal stuff, mixed with the rhythm of the school year. That got disrupted by the early storms. I need to get back on track.

Today probably isn’t the day for that, but it is a day to start moving in that direction.

Baby steps and small preps.

Get started stacking.

nick

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Tues. Jun. 18, 2024 – starting at the BOL but ending at home

Hot again, with a chance of rain. It was crazy hot in the sun yesterday. I took my time, and went inside to cool down for an hour after working for a while. It was nice when the sun went down. Today should be the same if it doesn’t rain here. Houston had rain, areas around here had rain, but we didn’t get any and might not today either.

I got a late start, but I attacked several of the tree issues. I used a rope saw (chainsaw blade in the middle of two ropes) to cut down the huge dead branch of the tree closest to the house. It’s been worrying me for 2 years. It came down WAY too easy. Spent the rest of the day cutting that up and doing some trimming and cutting in other trees around the house. I got most of the ‘widow makers’ down, but there are couple hanging on, but not over the stairs to the yard.

I used the lawn mower with a trailer to move the logs and branches. Stacked some, burned a lot. Threw about a third of the “dry stuff” burn pile on the fire too. Big pile of coals, and there will be bushels of ash. Maybe I’ll add the ash to the garden plot. Can’t hurt, right?

Today I’ll do my wrap up in the morning and try to be homeward bound by noon or earlier. I’ve got pickups in Houston at 2pm. Wife will work remotely, then head home with the kids when she’s done. Starlink is working out well for her. I’d stay if it wasn’t for the pickups. One of the lots was 500 count of needful things, and several of the lots will be good additions to the BOL.

Chatted with my buddy and he’s continuing to pick and pack the purple hull peas. I think he said we were up to 17 quarts and they still have blooms, so we’ll get more. The experience is eye opening wrt the amount of space a real food garden takes without a lot of tricks. I’ll have to put some more thought into our fall garden. It would be nice to have something grow besides peas. (he loves them)

I think I need to buy some fresher seeds too.

There’s always something, and many of the things have steep learning curves. Hunting, fishing, and gardening are among the steepest, and considering the importance of food, it’s past time to start climbing the curve if you aren’t already on it. Since I suck at all three, I’ll keep stacking food.

Stack some for you and your dependents…

nick

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Mon. Jun. 17, 2024 – at the BOL where there is work to do

Hot again, with a chance of rain. It was hot and clear yesterday, but cooler in the shade with a nice cooling breeze off the lake. We are very fortunate to be on the downwind side of the lake, and the breeze comes into our cove and up the hill past the house. That side is cool in the shade. The other side of the house doesn’t get that breeze and is stifling.

I had a nice breakfast with the family, then got to work. I knocked out a couple of easy and quick things to get started. One was adding a screen to the garage door opening. It’s not a complete seal, but if it blocks 90% of the bugs it’s totally worth it. It attaches with velcro to the bottom of the door, and has straps to the side rails. There is a seam held together with magnets in the middle that works very well.

I unloaded the truck, moved some things around, but I have some more to do today. The youngest child ran the pressure washer most of the afternoon, cleaning the driveway, a rug, and the side patio. She likes it, it’s “so satisfying” to see the dirt blown away. She was in shade for most of the work, and the mist is very cooling. Eldest child was mostly doing cleaning inside but also brushed all the spider webs off the outside of the house.

I spent the late afternoon and early evening running the string trimmer doing all the edging and cleanup that I’ve been in too big of a hurry to do the last three times I cut the lawn. The clean edges make a huge difference in the appearance of the property.

Spent some time floating in the lake to cool down and even did some fishing around dusk. Didn’t catch anything though.

Today my wife will be working remotely using the Starlink, while I do more cleaning and organizing. I think I’ll concentrate on the garage and shed. They may go home tonight, and I might stay until Tuesday morning. Mostly it will depend on if the weather is nice. Wife wants to stay up if it’s nice. The forecast has a chance of rain, but we’ll see. This area is outside the local forecast areas, and the lake and geography means we don’t get the same weather as surrounding towns anyway.

I’ve got a generator carb to clean before I put it away, and lots of tree limb stuff to do if I run out of motivation or parts, or decide to switch it up and work on other parts of the list.

Stacks provided a lovely Father’s Day dinner, kerosene for the lantern, cleaning supplies for the rug, and gas for the pressure washer and trimmer… They’ll help you too. Stack it up…

nick

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Sat. Jun. 15, 2024 – non-prepping hobby, makeup day

Hot and humid. Sunny. Brain broiler. Like yesterday. Nothing much more to say. It is better in the shade with a breeze, and it’s ok at night.

Did a bunch of pickups including a couple I was going to put off to today or grab on Monday, but I’ll be heading to the BOL after my meeting, and I won’t be back on Monday.

Drove about 100 miles yesterday. There are lots of parts of town that still have tree branches and other debris in the streets, in the right of ways, and on medians… They are more “urban” parts and tend to have lots of illegal dumping too, and trash. Dunno what comes first, the trashy conditions, or the city’s delays in pickup. I’m betting it’s a feedback loop though. Picked up some good stuff for the BOL and for home and the kids. (Taylor Swift “Red” on vinyl had them fighting for who got it first…)

Today I’ve got my non-prepping hobby in the morning, then I’m swapping trucks and heading to the BOL. I might hit the Lowe’s on my way to grab a few things. I’m sure I have projects to do if I don’t bring up the supplies for the other projects.

I stopped at my secondary location and grabbed a roll around A/C unit and hoses to try in the garage at the BOL. Grabbed a MrHeater propane 30K BTU heater too. I’ve already got at least 2 at the BOL, but I’m a lot more likely to sell a propane heater up there, and the Natgas heaters down here. Heck, the Tractor Supply store carries them, so I know there is a market. Buy heaters in the summer and coolers in winter…

They’ll got on the stacks up there, tentatively earmarked for sale. And if I need them, they will be there.

Stacks. So comforting.

nick

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Fri. Jun. 14, 2024 – so you wanna run with the big dogs…

Hot and humid, because it’s Houston in the summertime… and it gets hot in the swamp. We had a brief bit of relief with some quick showers yesterday, but it was mainly hot and humid. I decided NOT to do outdoor work, and especially not to do work from the roof of the house.

I should have gotten the pole saws out and cleaned up the damage to the big tree. I want to get the branches onto the pile of stuff the city contractor left behind, so that when that gets picked up, my debris will be too. But. HOT.

Did my kid driving duties in the afternoon, and auction stuff in the morning. Got a second coat of drywall mud on the ceiling repairs. Haven’t seen any more rats, alive or dead. I’m sure they are still up there.

I did win some more bait boxes in the auction. These are “professional style” so maybe they’ll work better. They’ll be novel, and the rats won’t be used to them so maybe it will make a difference.

Today I’ve got one pickup in the afternoon, and might try to get another on the other side of town… There is some lighting for the BOL in that auction, and I’ve decided to go up for the weekend after all. I’ll do my non-prepping hobby on Saturday and then go up, W and the DDs will head up tonight. We’ll stay through Monday so I have an extra day. Father’s Day will happen up there…

It will give me some more time to work up there, and with the extra day, maybe I’ll get some time to just chill and try to catch some fish. That would be nice. Might even get a chance to do some floating in the lake.

W asked what I wanted to do for Father’s Day and I couldn’t think of anything. Doing nothing might be nice.

While I slack off, you should be stacking like your life depends on it. Because it might.

nick

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Thur. Jun. 13, 2024 – Friday the 13th falls on a Thursday this month…

Another hot day, with maybe some rain in it too. Summer in Houston… hot and humid. Yesterday it was well into the 90s, then rained. Cooled it down into the low 80s which feels pretty cool in the middle of Houston summer. After living in Chicago, Phoenix, LA, and San Diego, the hardest thing to get used to in Houston was the humidity. And I can’t really say I’m ‘used’ to it.

Slept in then did kid stuff most of yesterday. Squeezed a couple of pickups in the middle, they were only 5 minutes apart. Finished a book. Did some domestic bliss. Not a super productive day.

Today should be a little bit better. I don’t have any pickups, an kid duties are limited. Should be able to tackle some of the list. Get me a book I’ve been waiting for and my productivity goes to shite.

Can’t be all work and no play, I guess. At least that’s what an unmotivated slacker would say…

And I don’t know why the self sabotage is happening. The need to get caught up is more pressing now than a year ago. I guess it could be disaster fatigue. I did spend most of the last month doing storm cleanup.

That’s part of why we passed on buying another lot at the BOL. It’s probably the best non-lakefront lot in the subdivision, and they offered it to us first, but W really doesn’t want another property that needs work and maintenance (it has a heavily modified trailer home on it, that needs a bunch of work.)

I’ve got tons of stuff I’m not keeping up with already.

So today I need to focus, get some stuff off the list.

So that I can stack…

nick

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