Wed. Oct. 20, 2021 – so much to do

Another cool and not rainy day. I was going to write “dry” but it’s humid enough that the word ‘dry’ just doesn’t fit. Although with the cooler temps, the humidity is less of an issue. And it still got scalp-scorchingly hot in the mid afternoon when the sun came out.

I actually did a lot of stuff yesterday, but because it was bracketed by chauffeuring daughter 1 around, it felt like an unproductive day. Orthodontist, vet, client, pickup, drop off, school, home, cooking something new, relax, crash, wake…

After all the worrisome behaviour, by bed time puppy Zeus was back to his normal activity level. Still not as eager to eat as usual though, and will be getting extra observation.

Solved my client’s immediate maintenance issue, but further confirmed that we’re not ready for his ‘rip and replace’ upgrade. That is going to have to move up my priority list.

And I need to kick out some more work on my industrial ‘pallet’ auction. I can’t wait too long or I’ll be in the dip between Thanksgiving and February when sales dry up for everything not Christmas related. I missed my window and it sucks because now I’m trying to fit it along side everything else.

Time management skills, I’m lacking them this month.

But what else can you do but keep on plugging away? That’s the secret ingredient for success in most things- keep showing up, keep doing the work.

It’s true for disaster preparedness too. Steady consistent progress, or equally valid, periodic repeated surges of activity, either one will advance you toward your goals.

So keep stacking. Friends, skills, stuff. You’ll need all three and more when the revolution comes.


Tues. Oct. 19, 2021 – gaps in shelves, gaps in preps

Cool, dry, sunny and nice. Like Monday was. This is the great Fall weather we look forward to. I hope we get a bunch more of it.

Spent the day yesterday messing around. My productivity is poor. I did get one sold item packed and shipped. Got a few items listed. Picked up D2 for our afternoon together, and hoped to get just a couple things at the store on the way home, and then work on our shelf painting project.

The store turned into a full grocery run. I went to the “big” HEB in the area. I haven’t been there in a while, and I figured they’d have more choices and stock, and they have some items our “little” store doesn’t carry that I needed. I was wrong.

They did have more choices for some stuff. They carry a large selection of non-alcohol beers and it got even larger. The whole display is 6ft x 6ft, but they cram a lot of choice, if not a lot of actual bottles, into that area. I stocked up on beer that I haven’t had in months. I was also able to get the diet ginger beer I love, and they had 4 six packs on the shelf (in the ‘mixer’ section). It’s imported and always low stock. So that was good and accomplished about 80% of what I went in for.

The other stuff was either targets of opportunity, or “while I’m here I might as well grab another gallon of milk” stuff, except for soda for the kids (and me, diet Dr Pepper is a vice.) Thinking that the big store would have more stock, I was very surprised by the limited choice in the soda aisle. Soup was the same. Few varieties of Campbells, a few varieties of HEB brand, and that was it. The little store had more choices, more brands, and more stock for soda and soup.

There were empty shelves all over the store. Most aisles had at least one section with a couple of empty shelves, about 6ft at a time. I had the noisy and inquisitive child with me so I didn’t deep dive into it, but it was more than normal daily restocking issues. That store is some sort of test bed for corporate. They are always messing with the layout and moving things around. There are always groups of corporate weinies standing in clumps in the aisle armwaving and ‘directing’ something. I was still surprised that they rearranged most of the store, outside of the edges and freezers. The location of 70% of the SKUs must have changed. It was therefore hard to compare with previous trips whether aisles were wider, or number of ‘faces’ for each type of item had changed.

I guess the moral of the story is, we are still seeing shortages of food. There was a store full of food to eat, but there were missing items, and missing categories of items. I can see that expanding very easily. My freezers are full. My wife thinks we have too much food. She doesn’t think the US will ever be generally short of food, SOME kind of food will be available, but she does expect that you might not be able to get exactly what you want when you want it. When I pressed her for WHY she thinks that, she didn’t have a good reason, except essentially, “Murika Yea!” I’ve got LOTS of reasons and arguments to support my point of view on the subject. She just can’t imagine America short of food. My feeling is, it’s happened before, it can happen again. It’s happened elsewhere, it can happen here. I hope I’m wrong. Honestly, I do.

But I’m still gonna stack…


Mon. Oct. 18, 2021 – another week, let’s go!

Cool and drier today than the past few weeks. Yesterday was very nice, starting at 50F but getting to 80F in the sun. It got cool enough in the evening that my wife and kids turned on the heat. Today should be the same.

Even though I got up at 830 I still got a slow start to the day. Did some auction stuff, did some internet time wasting (reading several people about the shipping situation, shortages, etc) I mean “intelligence gathering”, and did a bit of house cleaning. Went up in the attic and started moving stuff around and getting the Halloween decor down. The main reason to go up there was to look for the rat in the trap that was banging around last night, but since I couldn’t find him, I did stuff I’ve been putting off.

Hooked up an antenna, put some of the luggage from our trip away, swapped out a monitor for my wife since she was WFH last week, etc. Small stuff, but helps on the homefront.

I did get a little bit of decor up outdoors, but then had to head to a meeting of the Board of our Rec Association, ie. pool. Meatspace. Neighbors. Community. I avoided getting drafted onto the new Board, and cast my vote for the slate of suckers that volunteered. If you’ve never served on a Board for something like that, or for a volunteer group, or some hobby association, you’ve got no idea of the mess and work involved. I’ll do far more than my part to keep the place running, but I don’t want to be on the Board…

And then home. Made dinner from Costco heat and eat (some sort of curry and chicken) and put the kids to bed. A totally normal weekend.

Which is completely NOT normal for me. Nice break though, and I am doing stuff to connect to my local community.

And that community is waking up to the stuff going on in the world. I passed NINE Help Wanted signs that I noticed on small businesses along 1 mile of main street on my way to the meeting. About half were for food service. We’re totally open here, and people are even starting NEW restaurants in the neighborhood. There are a lot of unfilled jobs and I don’t really think it’s people staying home and collecting benefits. I personally don’t know anyone doing that. It might just be the circles we move in, as, for example, we really don’t know anyone who smokes dope on a regular basis anymore and I can’t recall the last time anyone asked me if I ‘party’. Could just be selection bias is what I’m saying.

One of the guys at the meeting had some choice comments about the benefits of living in a red state vs blue when we spoke after the meeting. It was not a guy I’ve ever had that conversation with. Then there was the lady I wrote about at the Costco, putting away canned goods even though she doesn’t eat canned food. Everyone I bump into seems to see the writing on the wall and is getting ready. There are a few exceptions. And this is a hurricane/flood/freeze-flood/disaster area so that probably skews the curve a bit too. But in general, people seem to be noticing that we are not in ‘usual’ times.

So I get thrown for a bit of a loop when I come across something as ordinary as Disney continuing to make movies and shows, with a public calendar that stretches out for years. Or when I read a trade mag that has articles about the bright future of one technology or another. I teased that I’d write a bit more science-y something, so here it is.

There are some VERY WEIRD things going on in life sciences and quantum mechanics.

The article looks at some new research aimed at explaining things like ‘why anesthesia works’ and ‘how does consciousness happen’. And particularly whether those are the result of quantum effects from the shape and composition of various molecules. They are just getting started because they are just developing the tools. Along the way, the article also covers some other things they’ve been doing in the quantum realm and it’s more than I thought.

Worth a read, not too long, and certainly accessible to anyone here. Some folks are just barrelling along into the future, assuming it will be there and will welcome them. I am surprised that I find the behavior a bit shocking. Good to look up once in a while.

And then get back to stacking all the things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stack it up.


Fri. Oct. 15, 2021 – the decline of Western civ continues

Hot and humid, maybe cooler and wet. Yesterday was rainy all day, so technically cooler than hotter, and wetter than notter…

Did some auction stuff through most of the day because of the rain. The lost item appeared at the buyer’s door today. After I refunded him, and after he’d bought a replacement from someone else. Didn’t make sense to ship it back and he didn’t think to refuse delivery. It never did show up in the USPS system. That’s 11 days to get from Houston to Virginia without Christmas rush…that ain’t great.

Sold another couple of items on a ‘make an offer’. Usually if I can do 2 or more I can combine shipping and pass on the reduction in cost, but UPS and the Post Office both raised rates and I couldn’t quite make it work until I countered. Surprisingly he went for it. My experience has been that 99% of the time, the offer is the max they want to pay, a counter almost always fails.

I’m surprised by the sale, as I usually get shut out when my store has been on vacation hold…glad of it though.

Got out to Costco in the late afternoon and put some observations in yesterday’s comments. A year and a half later, we are still seeing shortages of stuff like paper products. Had an interesting chat with a lady in the TP area. She’s very aware of shortages, “saw it reported”, is stacking extra food (“I never liked canned food but I’m buying it because you never know”) and when I mentioned planting a garden, she wholeheartedly agreed because “there might not be any food”. Nice lady, and well outside of my demographic… so it’s not just white middle aged men prepping.

I’ll have to get some Charmin blue out of my storage if I can’t buy any at Costco.

I’m buying masks at auction too. People are too quick to unload and there are some real bargains on PPE at the moment. This is the first of the plagues, not the last, and I need to restock stuff I’ve used now that it’s available again.

Some gub stuff and tactical gear in the estate auctions this week too, but it went for too much money. Lots of bidders looking for that sort of thing.

I rounded out the afternoon by swinging by one of my favorite ‘high end’ thrift stores. It’s an independent run by a collection of churches in a very affluent neighborhood. Not much for resale, but lots for personal use. VERY STRANGE to see shortages in a thrift store, but there were. This store can be counted on to have the same sort of stuff from week to week, and there were departments that were WAY under normal levels of stock. Kids toys was almost bare. On the other hand, someone raised prices in electronics and small appliances so there was a LOT of stock in that area.

Stuff is weird all over.

Secondary market is getting patchy too.

Time and past time to be stackin’. Get to it.


Thur. Oct. 14, 2021 – falling behind, ever farther behind….

Hot and humid, but maybe a bit less so today than last week. Or even yesterday. I would like the rain to hold off though so I can use my pickup truck to move some things.

Did my errands yesterday. Flipped one auction item to the auctioneer for cash while doing the pickup… didn’t make what I hoped to make but did keep the auctioneer thinking favorably of me. And I’ll eventually get more stuff in his auctions. Meatspace baby. Relationships. Trust. Mutual self interest. These things need building up as much as your stacks of buckets and cans do.

Daughter had a little mishap after dinner that I’ve described in yesterday’s comments. It brings up some interesting discussion points regarding medical preps. Do you keep stuff that you don’t actually know how to use? Or do you fear ‘getting yourself into trouble’ with it? I’m firmly on the side that stacks material that is far outside your competence to use, especially with medical preps. Having a Doctor in your group, or just access to a doctor, maybe by radio or cell phone will do you no good if you don’t also have the stuff that he can direct you to use. Worst case is me using the stuff to ‘wing it’ if it all goes pear shaped. Slightly less worst case is me learning from the reference material how to do better than just winging it. Having the stuff and learning how to use it, or being advised on its use, or even trading it later to someone else is all better than not having it when it is needed.

Don’t be afraid to stack something you aren’t able to use. You might learn, someone else might use it on your behalf, or you might just exchange it for something you need more later on.

Stack ALL the things*


*start with the basics, then get more advanced in every area. Don’t skip something that becomes available out of order though. You might not get a second time.

Wed. Oct. 13, 2021 – getting back to normal

Hot and humid later, but a cool and humid morning. I expect several days or more of this, drifting cooler each day. Eventually it will be winter. Until then, I’m enjoying the cooler temps while they are here. BTW, it was 95F in the sun yesterday afternoon, so I’m not sure some of you would recognize this as “Fall” quite yet.

Spent most of yesterday getting caught up with stuff. I’ve got an ebay shipment lost somewhere. The post office didn’t scan it in when I dropped it off, so it will either arrive or not. At this point it’s fairly late, even by USPO standards but there was a holiday in there. I told the guy to give it one more day and I’ll refund him. Since it wasn’t scanned in, the PO can’t track it or find it. The best I can do is file for money back on the shipping label postage. The buyer has been very cool about it so far. Looks like I have to go back to getting receipts for every package.

I’ve got to get some more listing done and try to counteract the hit my sales take when I shut down my ebay store. It sucks to be dependent on them for sales, but that is where I’ve spent my effort for these last few years. I still haven’t checked out FB Marketplace, and I’m reluctant to do so because it’s Facebook. I should be able to take more to my local guy, and get the pallets listed this week since my wife is WFH and can get the kids managed in the afternoon. Both of those things will help too.

It sure feels like time is getting short before something big breaks loose. Biddn and Kamel faking videos. Pilots and ATC both possibly staging walkouts. Hospital staff and teachers sure went from heroes to zeros quickly didn’t they? .Mil and the police forces are going to start shedding people too. Someone pointed out that much of the historical unrest surrounding the Depression was fueled by having a whole bunch of p!ssed off veterans at home. Hmm. History sure does rhyme.

Or it could be that we just simmer along like Venezuela did. No sharp changes, but after two years they were in ruin. Maybe TPTB continue to lie and we continue to pretend to believe them, all the while, everything gets worse. One of the things that amazes me is the number of online commentors that profess to recognize that this or that bad thing is here/coming/or just a heartbeat away, but who don’t seem to have processed that reality. They seem to think they can just continue talking sh!t on the internet while the world burns, without having made any plans or preparations. They are USED to moaning and complaining, and they think that will go on forever.

If you think CWII is only a spark away, WHAT DOES THAT REALLY MEAN? No trucks, or severely reduced, even from today’s levels. No food, no stuff, starvation, and desperation. Bank holidays and insolvencies. Street violence, and street justice. Killings. Seizures of people and assets. Texas rebels and all Texans’ out of state accounts get frozen…. no money for you! Maybe the big red switch gets pulled and all of the internet goes dark for a while, and when it comes back up the Great Firewall of China looks like a toddler’s attempt. No more alt-news. No more high speed. Packet shaping and speed limiting for all! If you claim this might happen and you aren’t prepping for it, I will not take you seriously.

Ditto for the other scenarios for what might be coming.

If you think some bad thing is coming, get ready. If you are sure it won’t, get ready for good times. Doing nothing won’t help or save you.

Stack it up while you can.


(more Disney report later)

Thur. Oct. 7, 2021 – headlong rush…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mon. Oct. 4, 2021 – nose to grindstone

Hot and humid. Rain later. Maybe. For some people. It got pretty hot yesterday despite being somewhat cloudy and overcast for part of the day. It was so humid I had sweat rolling down my back at 6pm in the shade, standing still and cleaning my shelves. Oh yeah it was humid.

Has some back issues in the morning so I took it easy. Then I decided to finish cutting the grass (battery died with about 10 x 10 ft left.) Did that. Wanted to get set up for craft time with daughter two and that triggered the rest of the day’s work.

Which I detailed yesterday in the comments. Mostly it was a cautionary tale about food storage and expired puffy cans. CHECK YOUR STACKS. Time and heat are the enemy. Stuff just isn’t lasting as long as it should. WELL past best by date, but still I expect more. I will probably do some more work on cleanup and replacing stuff on the shelves today, depending on weather.

The rest of the day I’m hoping to get to my storage unit to load some stuff up, and drop it off. And to get some stuff done on my daughter’s projects would be nice. Stuff is slipping.

I’ve got to fit in a Costco run too.

This week is short and busy, with the school theater pickup tomorrow, and going to WDW at the end of the week, and I’m hoping for the ransomware delayed auction pickups to actually happen too. Days are FULL.

And time is short. China is flexing on Taiwan. Bad things will happen to the US and world economy if China moves on them. Violence and division here at home are ramping up too. Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel.

Check your preps. Fill your gaps. Fix what’s broken. And stack it high.


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— Harold Combs — welfare check — haven’t heard from you since you talked about going walkabout….
Let us know how it’s going…..

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Sun. Oct. 3, 2021 – maybe today will be a busy day

Humid. Very humid. Slightly less hot than summer, but humid. I don’t think it got above 80F yesterday but it was so humid I was dripping sweat just standing in the garage.

I slept late. I actually got up early but my back hurt, and I’d been up way too late, so I thought I’d lie down for another hour. Two hours later, I got up again. Back pain is weird, it’s more spread out than normal, is closer to the skin in some way, and sharper. Usually it’s very much down in the bones, and the tissues close to them. Weird.

Fed the kids breakfast (hash browns fried in bacon fat) and spent the day doing things that needed doing, but not getting out or to my secondary to work there. I’ll try again today. The auction pickups that would normally get me out the door didn’t happen because the auction host company has been down for 2 days so far as victim of a ransomware attack. All of their auction customers nationwide are affected, and so are THEIR customers. Lots of disruption to what are usually small, local businesses.

Cut the grass, restocked the house, did some ebay and auction stuff. Poked at the computer and kibitzed about the changes here as our unsung hero Rick bangs on the machinery trying to bend it to his will. He’s had some successes. The goal is increased reliability, which is worth some disruption. Chasing the internal server 500 errors was getting to be a big frustration for him and all of the commentors alike. We will likely continue seeing tweaks and changes for a while. Be kind. Assume positive intent. Remember it’s an unpaid and unloved job that he’s doing, and it’s not one I’m competent to do, nor do I have any desire to do it. It would be nice to have some backup for Rick so if you have the skills or interest, leave a note.

It would be nice to have some backup for ME, so if you have a comment that is going to be long and self contained, consider emailing it to me for use as a guest post. No promises, guarantees, warranties, or predictions, at my sole discretion. If I don’t want to use it as a separate post, you can still post the comment… and if you have something to say or contribute but would rather not say it yourself, email me and I’ll use it like Bob did when one of the prepper couples would email him. I’d love an update from anyone Bob featured that way too. Email is my first name at aol dot com.

Comms, networks, information, all important, and all bear some additional thought. Might be that dial up BBSs come back in vogue. Takes more legally to mess with actual phone lines… but of course WROL that’s not much of a consideration. Might be worth looking at data over ham radio to mailing lists or BBSs… possibly some combination with the ip based linking and conference repeaters…hmm. Shortwave with a data stream embedded? Weather fax single sheets like the broadsheets of old? SSTV on ham freqs? Time, probably past time, to start thinking about long term and worst cases, at least as thought experiments. Alex Jones is certainly glad he has his show on shortwave radio, after being shut out of all other media. Just saying.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking.