Category: decline and fall

Sat. Jan. 28, 2023 – and I’m at the BOL, and it’s chilly

Chilly and damp.   Was 46F when I got here yesterday, and just slightly warmer when I went to bed.  Should be the same until the sun warms the earth…

I got all the pickups done that I couldn’t reschedule or move into next week.   Nice hunting tool.   Kayak is a bit more worn than it looked in the pix, but not so bad I’m unhappy.  Other stuff is what I expected.

Hit the lowes for plumbing parts before heading up.   Spent some time last night walking through the project and discovered I need a couple more parts.   Natch.    Will have to head into  town and get them.

Got caught up with my fishing neighbor.

Played a game of Rumikub with D2 and the wife.   Read a bit.  Nice day.

Oh, and I smashed what was left of my terminal clamp into a solid bar, jammed that into a new clamp and installed the new, fat, terminal clamp in the Ranger.   Worked great.   Stacks came through.

Today I’ll be working on plumbing, and may move an electrical outlet or two.   May take a break and do something else on the list, like moving broken concrete.  Dunno, might rain according to the wife…   Flexible, that’s me.

Brought up a couple of things to add to the stacks here.   Add to yours whenever you can.   There are no indications that things are getting better.

 

nick

Fri. Jan. 27, 2023 – busy day, lot’s to do…

Cold and clear, but damp.  Was cold Thursday morning, and cool most of the day.  I did take my jacket off in the afternoon.  It was 38F when I went to bed.   It’ll probably be around that to start today.

Got very little done on my list yesterday.   Did have a lovely  lunch with a reader.  Long chat took up most of my afternoon, and that was an excellent way to spend the day.   It does mean I have a few more things to do today though.

Like a whole bunch of pickups scattered all over the place.   I’m going to delay one to Monday for sure, ask about delaying another that is way down south, and hopefully just get one in the neighborhood, and two that are on the west side.  I’ve got a list of stuff I need to get at lowes too, which I probably should have gotten yesterday.

Plan is to head up to the BOL later today, catching a pickup in Conroe on the way.   That’s gonna take actually leaving the house, and running around all day.  Wife and kids will follow after school/work.

Then the work begins!   I still have plumbing to do to get the laundry machine drain and supply connected, and as long as the wall is open, I need to get the gas line in too for the dryer.  Even if I don’t connect it to the manifold yet, getting it into the wall is important.   Wife and kids will be painting.  And if I run out of plumbing, I can hang doors, or change out light fixtures, or any of the other things on the list…

The day starts with getting the wife and kids out the door.  So that’s first.  Then I’ll start my running around.

I’m stacking things.   Mostly at the BOL, but I am stacking… you should too.

nick

Thur. Jan. 26, 2023 – another day, another dollar

Cold, and damp.   37F when I went to bed, and probably starting the day from there too.   It did clear up yesterday although it stayed chilly.  And once the sun went down, it got pretty dang cold.

I did get a couple of pickups done.   Went by my secondary and moved some stuff around to make room for some other stuff.   Just a quick stop, as I couldn’t shut off my truck and be sure I could get it started again.    Rust never sleeps, and neither do other forms of corrosion.   A vise grip pliers from my mini car toolkit saved the day later on.  Details in yesterday’s comments.

Mini toolkit- 6″ vise grip, phillips screwdriver.  Flat screwdriver, medium sized.  6 in one screwdriver.  Slip joint pliers.  Diagonal cutters or wire stripper- minimalist.  6″ adjustable wrench.   Roll them up in a shop towel to keep them quiet, or put them in an old snack mix can…   That little kit helps me all the time, although it mostly helps me disassemble stuff for transport and not to repair my truck.  The ‘snack mix can’ is a heavy duty steel can for japanese bar mix that I happen to have saved a dozen of.   You could use soup cans, especially if you could find a set that slightly nest… and wrap a couple of feet of duct tape around the can.  If you don’t carry a knife (and why not?) add a thin stanley knife or a wallpaper knife with break off blade tips.  The idea is it all fits in a can to keep it neat.

Admittedly, if I’d looked under the hood sometime in the last few months, I might have seen and headed off the whole problem.   Stitch in time, and all that.  But I didn’t.  I do have replacement terminal clamps in the stacks, which should save a trip to the store.  Might try putting the treated felt washer on it this time.

It’s always something.  In this case, having an understanding of the systems involved, having done the previous repair, and having a tool with me that could be pressed into service,  all helped turn a potential issue into a non-issue.  I wasn’t prepared for this exact problem but I was prepared for some sort of problem.

And that is the best you can hope for, that your preps help solve the problem.

Knowledge, and stuff, stack them up.

n

 

Wed. Jan. 25, 2023 – and the wind cried, Mary…

Warmish, damp.   Maybe clear after the rain yesterday.  Who knows?   The shadow knows.  Weather liars certainly don’t.

Yesterday’s predicted high wind and storm missed me here in Northwest Houston.   Southeast Houston didn’t get so lucky.  I got about 1.5″ of rain in a couple of hours, with misty drizzle the rest of the time.  Some thunder and lightning.   They got high winds and tornadoes.

Looking at the pictures, you can clearly see why you should have preps stored offsite.   It was years ago, looking at pictures of the aftermath of several tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma, that I got serious about putting some resources elsewhere.   I haven’t kept up with clothes as the kids have grown, nor feminine products, but we’ve got food, heat, cooling, light, power, etc. and some place to stay if needed.   Adding the BOL has really helped my peace of mind that we now have somewhere to go, and stuff waiting for us there.

If you don’t have a BOL, and most people don’t, talk seriously with friends or relations.   Put a plan in place ahead of time.   In California they used to suggest NOT keeping your earthquake kit in the house.   Instead they suggested bins in a light shed, or out behind the house.   The idea being the kit wouldn’t be buried under collapsed house when you needed it most.  Think hard about doing something similar, no matter where you are.

Another option would be a small storage unit.  Ideally it would be out of town, not too far away, but on your most likely evac route.   Should have 24hr access even without power.  A few bins of canned food, some water, some clothes, some hygiene products, a couple of toys for the kids, an encrypted thumb drive with critical paperwork stored on it- doesn’t take up that much room, but could go a long way toward keeping you alive, comfortable, and sane if something should happen to your home.  Doesn’t have to be like a prepper novel… just enough to keep body and soul together for a few days while you figure out the next step.

Prepping is fractal in nature.   That is, for every task, there are dozens of prerequisite tasks, and follow up tasks, the deeper you go, the more tasks reveal themselves.   Like a mandelbrot set though, they keep repeating their basic nature.   Get some stuff.   Learn some thing.    Learn about more stuff to get, more stuff to learn.  Rinse and repeat.  It’s a journey, not a destination.  You can put as much or as little into it as you are comfortable doing, but do SOMETHING.

Stacking is easy.  And useful.

nick

–as usual, if anyone is in the affected areas and needs something we can help with, let us know.

Tues. Jan. 24, 2023 – same old, but more…

Cold again, and clear, but windy.   It was pretty chilly yesterday whenever the sun wasn’t hitting me.  And it got very unpleasant around 7pm.   It’s not quite as bone chilling at midnight, but cold enough to promise cold for today.

I did a small repair to my Ranger.  Swapped some parts from the parts truck to the driver.  The plasticized “rubber” over the cruise control buttons fails and crumbles.   I’ve replaced them with NOS once, and now with the ones that have been sitting in the donor vehicle for the last few years.   They are already failing, but I soaked them with silicone spray.   It seems to help, for a while.

Did some ‘domestic bliss’ (cleaning up around the house, laundry, shopping, etc.)

Got the CO2 pistol out and did some target shooting in the yard.   It’ll put holes in stuff, and dent sheet metal.   I remember meaning to do a lot more work with the airguns, but then we bought a BOL…   was nice to do some trigger pull work.

Collards made it through the freeze and cold spell, nothing else did though.   Time to start planning for gardens, here and at the BOL.

Bid on some pavers for the BOL.  Didn’t win them.  They would have made a good short term solution for hardscape around the house after I remove all the broken concrete.   They went for more than I was willing to pay.  Something else will come up.

Today is a trash run, and auction pickups.  If I can, I’ll drop some stuff off at my auctioneer.  That will clear some space at the house and in the storage unit.  That would be a Good Thing ™.

I’ll be stacking some stuff, and organizing, and generally getting ready.   All y’all should be doing the same.

nick

Mon. Jan. 23, 2023 – 01232023 – or 7051 in decimal or really nothing at all…

Cold.  Not as damp as normal.   39F when I went to bed.   That’s pretty chilly by our standards.   I expect it to be  clear and cold all day.

As it was yesterday, when I looked out the windows.  That was about the extent of my activity.  Once D1 got home, we all pretty much sat in the living room and watched ‘Alone’.  Second season, just as compelling as the first.   About half the participants were involved in survival training, bushcraft, or primitive living skills, and they all went home early, with one exception.   Classroom skills, and hobby activities do not translate into survival in the bush, alone, for weeks or months.   Mental toughness, flexibility, stubbornness, and spiritual and mental depth seem to be far more important than specific skills.

There are lessons there for anyone, but especially for anyone who thinks that if SHTF they’ll live off the land, or bug out to a national forest and bushcraft a new life.  Nope, chances are really good that those people will be cannibal, criminal, or dead within two weeks.

Other than the time sink, I recommend streaming the Alone series.  You will learn something.

Today it’s back to reality, back to life.  Lots to do, especially after spending a couple days on vacation.

So I better get busy this morning.

Keep stacking, and keep the faith.   Food makes all the difference in the world.

n

Sun. Jan. 22, 2023 – 01222023 – meaningless fun with numbers!

Cold and damp again.   Never really got any warmer yesterday, and stayed overcast.   Got a bit cooler when night fell, and was 50F when I went to bed.  Clear would be nice even if it was chilly today.

Spent the day with the wife and kids watching tv.   Had fun.

Didn’t do anything else.   Had fun.

I’ll probably pay for it later, but had fun.

We’ll see what happens today, but I’m betting on NOT a full day and night of TV viewing, at least not for me.  Too much stuff to do.  Still, had fun.

Sometimes that what needs stacking.

nick

Sat. Jan. 21, 2023 – sleeping in- it’s not just for teens

Cool and damp.   It was 54F when I got up yesterday, it was 54F when I ate lunch, and 54F when I went to bed.  I’ve got a feeling it might be 54F today…    National forecast says ‘clear’.   Yesterday had Houston on the edge of a system and we did get clouds and some rain.  Not much, but enough to get the cars dirty and the streets wet.

Lots of accidents on the roads too, far more than I’m used to seeing.   Oh, and a full on ladder in the number 2 lane of the toll road.   People, secure your freaking ladders in your truck beds.   They’re not free, and the life you save might be worth a whole lot more to society than your ignorant self.  No one ever died because someone put an extra strap on a load.

Did my pickups.   More antennas.   Hamfest is coming up in March, so I’m starting to look at what I have and what I want to sell this year.   “Most of it” is the answer I’m getting.  Also got some first aid supplies, and some cleaning stuff, and  a finger brake or pan brake.  That’s a tool for folding metal.  I have always wanted a small one, and now I have one.

Bought a couple of things in the auction too.   Nice looking hunting tool in 30-06. ‘nuther kayak.  Must be off season for kayaks, several have come up and sold for reasonable prices.   Hard to say no to $90 for what was originally a $1k boat.  I managed to though.  Couldn’t say no to $80 for a $650 boat.   We still can’t all kayak at the same time, but we’ll get there.   I should use my vinyl cutter to make labels for the kayaks with our name on them.   Hmm, another project.  Maybe later.

Chatted with another buyer while waiting for my stuff.   Real nice guy, we had a lot in common.  We are bidding on the same type of stuff though, which isn’t awesome.  He was headed to his next pickup at an auctioneer that was my third pickup of the day.   Small world, but perhaps not too unlikely given that we both bid on auction stuff.   There is definitely a culture for those of us who have been doing it for a long time.

I can’t emphasis enough that I think everyone should be out there looking for alternative markets, be it thrifts, estate sales, in person or online auctions, flea markets, swapmeets, or whatever is going on in your area.   Maybe it’s a farmer’s market, or a monthly craft show, but there is bound to be something going on.   The money you save is well worth the time invested, as is access to stuff that might not be in stores, or might be of better quality that what is currently available.   A whole lot of commerce is moving into the secondary economy (as I’ve taken to calling it) or ‘p2p sales’ or the ‘informal’ economy.   It’s a sign of a failing state, but it’s a fact of life too, and the only way for people to get what they need when the official marketplaces are dried up, or inaccessible.  It takes practice and awareness to be successful in it, just like all things, so get started.

It’s the weekend.   I’m sleeping in as it’s the first one in a while with no extra things on my plate.  Then I’ll start working the list again.   And going to the grocery store- because I didn’t get there yesterday.  It’s not like we’re out of anything, but we don’t have the next carton of eggs in the fridge or the next jug of milk and that makes me nervous.   Plus, I’m out of beef jerky and soda.

Stack some stuff.   Stack it high, then find something you missed and stack that.   And go to a garage sale this weekend.   Never know what you will find.

 

nick

Thur. Jan. 19, 2023 – time to continue making progress…

Cold and damp.   50F late last night and I’m thinking that will continue into this morning.  It is supposed to be clear for a couple of days, so probably a front moving in, dropping the temps and moving out the clouds.   I’m no weather liar, but that’s the story I’m running with today.

I did make a bit of progress yesterday.   I installed a new faucet and drain in the bathroom.  I’ve got another to do, and then I need to diagnose what is  wrong with the shower mixer.  Oh, and re-tape and spackle the ceiling where water leaking caused damage.  Wife can paint the ceiling at that point, whenever she gets around to it.

I also got a couple of things listed on Craigslist.   It’s still around, and good for selling some stuff.   I never did get motivated to do FB marketplace.   If I have something to sell very locally, I’ll ask my wife to ping her sell/swap groups in the neighborhood.   I might try to move a freezer that way if I can’t come up with a buyer myself.  I got a couple of things listed on ebay too while I was at it.  Also sorted some stuff.

All in all, progress was made.

Which is good.   Now for a whole metric buttload more….

 

Stack progress and successes one atop the other, as well as food…

nick

Wed. Jan. 18, 2023 – well, that could have gone better.

Warmish, and certainly damp.   Although the national forecast shows clear for a while, I expect some minor precip at some point today or tomorrow, if only because it feels like it.  It was not bad at all yesterday, with highs in the sun in the low 80s.   Felt like spring.

I did get out of the house and made my trash run.   Went by my storage unit too.   Didn’t get half what I wanted to get done, done.  {wow, that’s an awkward construction}

It’s much easier to not do things than to do them.  Especially when you are tired, or bored, or melancholic… or you have unbalanced humours and too much black bile in your spleen.   Or it could be the siren song of teh intarwebs.  Whatever.   Slacked off again and got too little done.   The bill for that WILL come due, and be higher because of it.

It’s hard to maintain momentum and forward progress.  My whole working life was very project oriented, and the nature of the work was very ‘bursty’.   Work hard for a while, then have time off.   Even working full time for BigCorp I was traveling to customer sites where I’d work, or the office in Canadia, or fighting to get my expense and travel report in on time…. all of which took bursts of hard work, focus, and sometimes dogged determination to just get through it.  But then there would be some time where nothing was required of me or the level was so low I could phone it in.   Sprints rather than marathons (although the sprints could last as long as a marathon), quick anaerobic strength moves, not aerobic workouts.

Lately though, and coming after 3 years of not normal, it’s been a never ending slog.   Anyone else noticed we don’t do the ‘what have you done to prep this week’ topic any more?  Because we’ve been living the disaster for the last three years.   But this one is really fading to black, despite the spasms and paroxysms of the powers that be.   Problem is, no formal end.   No closure.   No doing the expense report, AAR, “lessons learned” meeting.  No putting the files away and cleaning up the workspace… and moving on.

But there is another disaster coming.  There is ALWAYS going to be another disaster coming.  To riff off of JimB, the end will be ‘nearerer’ again sooner or later.  Flooding and mudslides in Cali, and an earthquake, barely ping our awareness.   Tornadoes and freak storms in the mid-South hardly register.  Maybe we’re all fatigued, disaster fatigued.   That would be bad by the way, because we wouldn’t be thinking straight, we’d be mentally pliable and subject to manipulation.   We’d be looking for someone to make it end.  And that ain’t good.

I’m not sure what the answer is.   Kinda making this up as I go along today, but I think some of us (me) need to reset our baseline expectations.  Accept that what we’ve got now IS normal, and move on to living in it, and getting ready for whatever comes next.  Just about everything is harder now, takes longer, and costs more than 3 years ago.   But humans are nothing if not adaptable, and adept at telling ourselves stories that justify or excuse or motivate.   In a sense we will our personal reality into shape around us.   We enter and leave relationships, surround ourselves with people and things, spend our lives doing stuff, and shape our experience of the world.

The world goes on doing its thing regardless of what we’re doing.   The elephants will dance while we mice hope we can avoid being stepped on.  And one day we realize that the dancing changed the shape of the world around us.   There are still mice in the world though even after the elephants have trampled everything flat.

And mice gotta eat, so stack some food.   Stack the means to get more.    Stack dancing shoes, if you think that will help.   Stack books on living with elephants while avoiding their big stompy feet.   And get ready to get through the NEXT disaster.

nick

 

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