Mon. Sept. 21, 2020 – back home, back at it…

Less hot and humid, but hurricane coming?  Who knows anymore.

Spent the weekend on a small lake about 2 1/2 hours north of Houston.  Kind out in the country.  Still within one tank of gas, so not ideal for avoiding mutant biker zombies, but judging by the number of Trump flags, the zombies might find it a tad inhospitable come the day.

And now we are really actually ramping up to find somewhere to GTFO to…  ‘cuz my wife is a pretty smart cookie and while we sometimes take different routes, we usually end up in the same place.   And that place says, having somewhere to go that isn’t in a potential riot zone is a Good Idea ™.

Lots of people out there preaching that it’s long past time to get out of the cities.  The argument is getting more compelling by the day, and there are a lot of people out there, and a lot of them are paying attention.    The little lake we were on had more than 5 houses for sale last month.  This month, there is one left.  It’s been on the market for over a year with no takers.  As we left yesterday, there was another couple looking at it.

A short while ago I shared the thought that if the economy got worse, people would have to start selling off their toys.  I’m seeing that in the auctions.  LOTS of collections coming up for sale.  I thought that people under money stress would sell vacation homes, and that there might be a decrease in prices, and THAT’S when I’d swoop in.  What I didn’t consider is that there are a lot of people paying attention.  It looks like they are quietly acting like preppers, even if that whole idea is foreign to them.  Or maybe, because of hurricanes, BLM, and a whole lot of stuff coming to a head, it’s REALLY FREAKING OBVIOUS to anyone right of center on the bell curve– getting out of the cities is a REALLY GOOD IDEA all of a sudden.

The upshot is, I’m feeling like we already missed the boat.  I feel like I’m looking at the last package of TP on the shelf and I REALLY don’t like that feeling.   Inventory is shrinking before my eyes.

Sometimes this whole blogging and prepping thing can get to feeling pretty insular.  You all feel like a small circle of friends, especially the group of frequent commentors.  I get a little boost when someone who doesn’t comment frequently shares something and I remember that this thing is bigger than it feels, that there are a lot of you still coming by and hanging out.  (Thanks by the way, I am humbled and grateful that people still keep coming by, I credit that to the larger community that exists here in the readership and comments.)

Anyway, the pace of whatever is coming seems to be picking up.  There is a sense I’m getting that the herd is starting to stir and get restless.  I keep asking people to rebut the idea that we’re headed for worse, but no one does.  That adds to my sense of unease.   No one on either side of the political spectrum is saying “you’re nuts, better times are right around the corner.”  It seems to me that there is a large element of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ to this sort of thing.  Once the momentum builds to a certain point, people are just going to say “F it, let’s go” and then the dark age starts.

I don’t know what the timeline will be.   I’m not thinking deeply enough about second and third order effects.  I don’t want to see the country continue down the current path.  And I don’t have enough of anything for what’s coming.

Start stacking.  Keep stacking.  Move your stack somewhere safer.  Do more.  It feels like time is getting short.

nick

Wed. Sept. 16, 2020 – nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,….

Hot and humid.  Storm and rain possible.

Yesterday it never did rain on me, and it got stinking hot in the afternoon sun.  So I mostly hid from sun and work.

Pickup went well.  Everything needs some little thing to be complete, but given the money saved, I’m happy enough.  Really F’d up though, the way people are stealing through returns fraud.  One of the things I picked up was a Glock G19 factory magazine.   Got it today and someone stole the guts out of it.  They split open the cardboard  of the blister pack, stole the spring, follower, and base plate and re-sealed the cardboard.  It was a bit wrinkled but looked fine, like the packaging was crumpled.  Then they returned it to wherever they bought it, and it ended up in the auction.  Looked like an unopened package to me and everyone else.  I’ve got a couple of items now, I’ll take them with me next time I go to that auctioneer and see what he’s willing to do, if anything.  Technically it’s all sold as is, where is, with buyer responsible for doing an in person inspection before bidding.  Usually though, if not as described, the house will take it back.

One of my security trade magazines noted that retail “shrink”, ie theft by insiders and shoplifting, was up dramatically.   I’m guessing that as things get tougher for more people, theft and fraud will go up dramatically in all sectors.

Speaking of trade mags, one of the things I watch as an indicator of the health of the broader economy is the thickness of trade magazines.  If it’s a reliable indicator of supplier sentiment (you don’t spend money on ads when you’re broke, so the trade mags can’t afford to print the same number of pages) then we are majorly F’d.  Machine Design is down to less than 40 pages, and is just center stapled instead of bound.  Electrical Design is the same.  EC&M is as thin as I’ve ever seen it.  Some mags for the material handling, pipeline, and plant equipment industries are thinner than that.  Even Military & Aerospace is thin, but it’s still bound, not just stapled.  The mags are all thinner than I remember them being at any other time, even in the aftermath of 2008.  The publishers also tend to send out more mags and to more marginal recipients (like me) when times are tough.  They are trying to pump up their circulation numbers and capture more of the reduced business… I started getting some mags I’d never seen before just a few months ago, and re- started getting mags I’d stopped getting when times were great.  All in all, not good indicators of the state of American businesses.

And all the more reason to stock up if you can.  Manufacturers and suppliers are going to fail.  Their warehouses and existing stock will be blown out at auction, and then there won’t be any more.  In the last month, I’ve seen two large local wholesaler/distributors come through my auctions, a ship chandler, and a general industrial distributor.  There are two Chuck E Cheez stores being liquidated this week.  One auction has the contents of several CVS stores- which is especially telling, as that stock would normally just be redistributed to other stores, they must not want it.  Heck, a month ago, a major jewelry store chain had the contents of two stores seized and sold off to pay their school district tax bill here in town.

Everywhere I look I see signs of real trouble headed our way, outside of the trouble in the news.  Certainly there are going to be bright spots.  The rush to get out of the cities is producing some local boom times in some areas.  UHaul is probably making money.   Bankruptcy auctions are picking up.  Auto parts stores and used car lots will probably do well.  Optional services like housecleaning and yard maintenance will likely do poorly.  Repair should do well in general.    A lot of cleaning, repair, and remodeling already happened though.   And the secondary economy/grey market/resale is booming as people look for bargains, and sellers are unloading excess or closing out stock.

It’s gonna be important to keep your economic head on a swivel too, so to speak…

And keep stacking.  That will likely help, no matter what.

nick

Tues. Sept. 15, 2020 – still hacking away at the list

Hot and humid.  We’ll see about the rain, but with a hurricane in the Gulf we should get some.

I’ve got a pickup today that I really don’t want to do in the rain.  Every thing that has to ride in the bed of the truck will be ok if it gets wet, but it’s just a bigger mess to deal with.  I guess it beats 105F and sunny….

Yesterday I had lunch with frequent commentor and friend of the blog Ray and his wife.  It was a bit weird ‘de-cloaking’ from the semi-anonymity of the web, but I had a great time meeting them.

It was the first time I’ve been in a restaurant since March.  People seemed to be coping and accommodating themselves to the current situation.  No way would I call the pace of business in the place “brisk” but there were customers, and it was only a Monday afternoon.  For a place that mostly did a business lunch trade, I’d say that was ok for conditions.

Still overall, traffic is light, business volume is clearly down.  If the rest of the country is even worse off than Texas, the ‘new normal’ is going to settle out into a deep depression-absent a world war to encourage production and then destruction of all that production…

Or hey, after a Trump landslide, when he has the mandate of the people, maybe we’ll see a glorious renaissance and explosion of growth…  or get plunged into a civil war for the very nature of our country…  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to guess which one I think is more likely.

Food, water, shelter, security, skills, companions, resources.  You need more.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

Mon. Sept. 14, 2020 – another week, another list of things to do

Hot and humid, but definitely less so.  Couple storms headed vaguely our way should make things interesting.   I do think that we are on the downhill slide toward fall though.

And since fall is coming, it’s time to get the fall garden in.

Yesterday I got the beds ready.  The one with the cabbage had no surviving crops, so that just got turned and fertilized.   The one under the grape vines still has a couple of broccoli plants which I left in place but I turned and fertilized the rest.  The attached herb garden got turned and broadcast seeded with a handful of mixed herbs.  I don’t think we’ll see anything from it, but it was worth a shot.  Of the two remaining beds, one has a single volunteer melon growing, so I left that but turned the rest.  The other has brusselsprouts and a pepper plant.  I can sneak some carrots and maybe some peas in around them.

The rain started up while I was working on the beds, so I packed it in.

I’ve still got to get the window boxes turned and planted.  Some of them are a solid mass of roots holding the soil in blocks the same shape as the boxes.  I guess that’s why nothing grew last time.  The first year I got some good beets.  I’d like to get some turnips and radishes.  I’ve still got one or two of the onions surviving in one of the boxes.

I’ve also got some tubs that I’d like to use on  the driveway as container gardens.  We’ll see if I get that far.

I still have to decide which beds get what seed too.


I did get the Honda gennie running well enough for now.   It will run on idle or full throttle with only minor hiccups.  Fueled it up and put it aside. That’s two running generators.  I’ve got to get the whole house running next.


The insurrection is heating up.  Cops targeted in LA and a crowd emboldened to the point that they are mocking the cops outside the hospital.   That is pretty damn bold.  Those people do not fear any consequences.  I wonder how long it will be before the death squads are visiting in the middle of the night, and which side will start first…


Prepare yourself for hard times, in mind, body, and spirit.  They are coming.  How hard remains to be seen, but they will come.  If you see a path where they don’t, please share, ‘cuz I don’t see us going back to ‘normal’ without passing through the fire.


Whatever you think you’ll need, I’m suggesting you get it now, rather than later.  And stack it high.

nick

Thur. Sept. 10, 2020 – getting close to the day

Hot and humid, hopefully less so than yesterday.

Yesterday,  when it was hot and humid.  Until the rain came, then it was hot and UNBEARABLY humid.  Bah.

I got the grass cut.  I did my errands.  That was it.  Rain killed the rest of the plan.

Today, I was going to do a “ok you just realized you don’t have enough stuff stacked, what do you do?” post but I fell asleep.  I’ll do it in comments.

Cuz y’all need to keep stacking.

 

nick

Wed. Sept. 9, 2020 – still stuff to do

Hot and humid, but less so.  I really do think we may be over the hump.

I mostly spent yesterday afternoon driving.  I picked up a couple of things I probably could have easily done without.  I’m backsliding.

It was too wet to cut the grass or work outside.  We got little showers throughout the day.    I spent the morning sleeping.   Too beat to consider almost 3 hours of driving around.  Not a productive use of my time.

Today I’ve got pickups, and some of the stuff is preps so there is that.  I got mortar, cement, other project stuff, and various sundries.  The guns and ammo went for too much, but they did have some.  556 brought 70c/rd before adding fees and taxes.  One box of 100, name brand FMJ 9mm went for $53 plus about 25% for tax and fees.     All the rifles went for big money, and the pistols went for more than gunbroker prices.  There were a couple of accessories to be had cheaply though.    I should be able to get the auctioneer to commit to my consignment arriving tomorrow.  I’ll get that loaded up later in the afternoon if he will commit.

And if the rain stays away, I’ll get the grass cut.  Fingers crossed.

My ag extension planting guide says it’s time for fall beans and peas, and almost time for fall root veg.  I’ll get some beans and peas in, and get the beds ready for the roots.  Dark green leafies are due too, but I don’t know if I’ll try them again this fall.  Geez I feel like Charlie Brown and the football with this gardening business.

But hey, social unrest, civil war, crime, disease, economic collapse, famine- all possible; some almost guaranteed.   Time’s a wasting.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

Tues. Sept. 8, 2020 – now that we’re past the socialist day, time to get to work

Cooler today?  Maybe, but I bet it’s just as humid.  And two storms shaping up for later.  Rain in the national forecast, but sure to be “locally heavy” here in Houston.

Didn’t make much forward progress yesterday.  My sciatica has responded well to stretching, and I’m feeling almost normal there, so of course I woke up with a serious crimp in my neck.   That kept me from going gangbusters all day.  Kids watched movies.  Wife cleaned house.  I drained the pool cover, twice.  Tried to cut the grass but the gas I put in the mower was about 1/3 water, and then the rain came.  High wind, heavy downpour, then it all just ended.   Drained the mower, refilled with clean gas (one storage can was contaminated and I didn’t notice) and started it right up, but by then it was too late to mow and the grass was too wet.

I did fix a couple of toys.  Super glue is my friend.  I also did a tiny bit of clean up in the garage.  Pulled some things out of the pile to address domestic bliss.  Child two wanted a wallet for her cash money.  Daddy do you have any spare wallets?  Why yes child I do.  (wife looking on in completely inscrutable fashion, is she pleased? Pissed? Astounded?  No idea, but I solved child’s problem in minutes.) The other thing was some particular cables for whatever my wife is doing with the kids’ computers.

I’ve been picking up leather objects when they are so cheap as to be free, so I’d have some leather for crafting and a couple of projects I want to try.  I’ve got a nice bin full of different leather stuff, old purses, bags,  wallets, portfolios, belts,  etc. from the Goodwill or estates.  The wallet was Coach, had a great patina, and cleaned up in a few minutes.  Really it was too nice to cut up anyway.  You can get a lot of leather from a coat, or a computer bag… and where else would you go to get some small pieces of leather?

 


 

It’ll be interesting to see if the insurgents took their socialist holiday off of rioting… but I bet not.  I’ve only seen a couple of reports of violence over the weekend but most reporters probably took the long weekend off.

I don’t think the genie will be going back into the bottle,  there is too much fun in breaking stuff, and too few consequences.

It’s a lot harder to build than break and once broken, there’s a lot of stuff that won’t ever be put back together.  There’s a lot of stuff that is only still here because of inertia that can’t be put back.  Social trust being one of those things.   BLM is doing a good job of ‘scaring the straights’.  I don’t think they’re going to like it when fear turns to anger.  And a whole bunch of otherwise good folks are going to be hurt when that happens, because it’s easy to see skin color.  On the other hand, it’s a bit like muslim terrorists, if you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush, you better stand up and get loud.

I don’t see much in the way of reconciliation until after the bloodbath.

So keep stacking, and stay away from crowds.

nick

 

 

Sun. Sept. 6, 2020 – more of the same

Hot and humid  but definitely less so than a week ago.

Hot and humid yesterday too, especially with the rain or sprinkles depending on where I was.

I did my pickup, all household stuff, and took 3 packs of paper towels to my secondary location.  While I was there, I took a pickup load of stuff to the dumpster.  If I do some every time I go there, I’ll eventually make a dent.  Taking the paper products back there frees up some shelf space at home.  That will get my auction items, until I can take them to the sale.  Off the patio, out of the house– and into the driveway.  Not ideal, but an improvement.

Today if the rain holds off I’ll cut the grass and do some more stuff in the garage.  I’ve got parts to put on the Honda gennie too.  I ordered the new petcock and fuel filter, and I could wait and do it all at once, but if I do it a bit at a time, I’m making progress, and getting stuff out of the house (and onto the gennie.)

I didn’t see a ton of news about the protests scheduled for last night.  I caught the end of something on the scanner about a guy shot 14 times by the Sheriff’s office, but no context.  There were supposed to  be protests in downtown Houston.  Didn’t notice if they happened.

Of course Portland is still a war zone.  There was a bit more fire in the pix from the 100th day of rioting.  Almost a third of this year the insurgents have been practicing terror and gearing up their cadre.  They’re building their organization, practicing tactics, and hardening their troops.  What is the right doing?

I feel the need for a grocery order.

Stack it high.

 

nick

Sat. Sept. 5, 2020 – In which I go out on a limb…

Hot and humid, but maybe less so than last week.

I basically wasted the whole day yesterday.  Some very minor stuff got done, but I spent a bunch of time sleeping at my desk.

Today I’ve got yardwork and all the stuff I didn’t do yesterday.  Joy.

 

I’ve stopped checking covid medical news daily, or even weekly. If something catches my eye, I’ll scan it, but for the most part, now that the disaster is here, I’ve switched from “getting ready” to “deal with it” mode.

My wife is keeping an eye on the medical news for both of us.

Funny thing is happening. I’m seeing articles confirming stuff from WAY back at the beginning of this. Like this article

Coronavirus can spread throughout apartment blocks by flushing the toilet: Three Chinese families on different floors all became infected after virus spread through plumbing

Or the stuff about HCQ with azithromycin and zinc- there was a guy in the comments at Aesop’s blog VERY early on with a lot of info about this.

The reports of heart and lung damage that were dismissed early on, are now backed up with evidence from infections here.

The idea you could get it again was there as early as Feb/Mar with reports from China, and yet this is just now news?*

My observation is that there was plenty of good info very early, at least in some circles, and that much of what got reported after that was trying to downplay (or wishfully deny) what was known; or it was interpreted thru a political viewpoint. That is also why I’ve stepped back from following every report obsessively, once politics got involved everything became distorted. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. There is a virus, it is here, it is killing some people, and I don’t want to get it.

 

Some things are still true:

If you are old or sick you are more likely to have a bad outcome. If you need to be hospitalized your chances of dying are high. (Just on its face this makes sense- you only hospitalize serious cases.)

There are long term effects, and some of them are serious. Since we didn’t have long term survivors we didn’t (and don’t) have a good handle on what those are. The ones we are seeing are potentially life changing.

Random interactions don’t seem to have high transmission, but if you are unlucky enough to come in contact with a ‘super spreader’ your chances of getting sick and having it bad are much higher. There are a lot of ‘super spreaders’ but they seem to be widely dispersed.

Enclosed spaces and groups are a bad idea.  Wherever we see groups together for any length of time, we see cases.  Oddly to me, about 15% of the group seems to get sick, where I’ve seen good numbers.

This is going to be with us for a long time, basically until everyone who can get it does.

<strong>Consequently, the only official high level strategy goal that matters was and is to manage the number of concurrent cases to try to keep from overwhelming and destroying the health care system.</strong>** Everything else is opportunism or revisionism.

Finally, it bears repeating that there is no one “coronavirus”. There are dozens of different strains spreading and they have different aspects and different outcomes. Just because Johnny got strain x and had no real problems doesn’t mean that if he’d gotten strain y he’d have had the same experience. And it doesn’t mean that if Jane gets strain x she’ll be fine.

We are going to be living with this for a long time. Accept that, get used to that, adjust to that, and get ready for what’s next. The social and economic effects are just getting started. No matter how you feel about the medical effects on you personally or on the country and the world, the social and economic changes WILL affect you. That’s the next storm I see coming, and it’s what I’m preparing for. I sincerely hope I’ll be OVER-prepared, just as it turned out that I am over-prepared for the covid pandemic.  Not only am I replacing used or spoiled material,  I’m adding to the pile, including materiel.  I kindly suggest that you too keep stacking- skills, knowledge, connections, and stuff.

nick

*yeah, no one trusts the chinese, and scientists don’t trust anecdotal evidence, and now finally they have cases in the Western world that absolutely can’t be arm-waved away, or ‘what about’-ed to death.

**This goes all the way back to the initial briefings by CDC and their pandemic flu planning. And it worked. NYFC lost control, didn’t take the necessary steps, and did have bodies pile up outside of overwhelmed hospitals. That could have been everywhere (although worldwide it seems to be worse where the population density is higher than the average US density), and it could have continued longer. The ONLY realistic goal has been to try manage the number of active cases.

 

Wed. Sept. 2, 2020 – jeez, Wednesday? already?

Hot and humid.  Yep.  Again.

Didn’t see the high yesterday, but it was hot.  High 90s in the shade for sure.

I took a few minutes and got a coat of Thompsons colored water seal on the teak table.  I was sweating by the time I was done, despite being in the shade, and hardly exerting myself wiping the oil on…

After that I did a couple of pickups.  Talked to my auctioneer and he put me off until Friday.  He’s busy.  Picked up a hundred 12ga rounds at one auction, and some dental tools.  I intend to use the tools for working with clay not teeth 🙂   I also swung by my secondary location, and picked up some stuff.  Both kids want second monitors for their school laptops.  The teacher sends links to content during the video call, and there isn’t room onscreen for everything.   I’ve got lots of monitors, so it was no biggie, but I’m betting most of the other kids don’t have a <s>hoarder</s> prepper for a dad.   I grabbed #1 daughter a keyboard too.  I didn’t have a USB port replicator or dock, since their lappys are all USB C.  That’s too new for me.  Once again though, backups for the win!

I also picked up a black and white laser printer for me.   My HP P1005 finally stopped working.  I had a pallet of old laser printers I paid $5 for some years ago.   My intention was to swap printers instead of toner.  I liked my P1005 though, and bought one $10 toner for it.  I’ve got 2 HP lasers left.  I hope the one I brought home works still.  I’ll find out later today.  I must have scrapped out the rest of the pile at some point.  I don’t remember.  I probably kept the toner carts though…

Yeah, there is a cost to keeping all the cr– ,  er… stuff.  I get that.  But it’s immensely satisfying to just grab something that will get the job done, without any drama or time used.  If we were further down the slope of the collapse, I can imagine situations where what you’ve got is all you can safely get…  a big chunk of the world works that way now.  Thank Gnu we’re not there yet.  It’s Wednesday and already I’ve pulled a couple monitors, cables, a monitor stand, a printer, keyboard, can of spray sticky, some decorative fabric, and a variety of other stuff off the pile and put them to use.  That’s cool.

Speaking of cool, I received the fridge monitor someone recommended, I’ll be installing that today.  Thanks for the tip.  So far, touch wood, everything has  been fine in the fridge zone… trust, but verify.

I also got most of my gennie parts, so that’s on the list today too.

I’ve got a vet appointment for my little guy this AM.  He’s due for heartworm and some other shots, and we want to talk to the Dr about his fairly sudden hearing loss.  It seems like it happened in a matter of weeks that we noticed something, and now he’s almost entirely deaf.  Maybe there’s some reason besides old age, and we can help.

Grid’s up, and bodies aren’t stacked in the street.  USE the time you have, and stack it high.

 

nick