Thur. Oct. 21, 2021 – 10212021 – yes I am sending you secret messages

Cool and clear again, or maybe damp and overcast, but probably much like yesterday. I sometimes wish the forecasters would just come out and say it that way. Yesterday was saturated most of the day with highs in the low 90s in the sun. I was sweaty standing still.

Got a couple of things done. Moved some stuff, threw out some food that was old or damaged, repacked some too. I need to replace a couple of bags of salt, and one bag of flour. Salt doesn’t go “bad” but it can be affected by moisture from water or “other things”. Oh, one bag of sugar was rock hard too. Not expensive, and I have acknowledged that I’ve got ‘breakage’ due to poor conditions that others might not have. On the other hand, the rice was fine.

Took a load to the auctioneer and he’s still happy to see me and get more stuff. He’s having trouble sourcing his normal stuff, there really aren’t as many returns/overstocks now as there were months ago. He’s glad to have my stuff to sell, and I have more for him 🙂

Get your holiday shopping done early. In fact, get ALL your shopping done early. I’m even looking for a cheap Christmas tree, in case the real ones end up in short supply. If they don’t have labor to cut them, or trucks to ship them, they could be scarce or crazy expensive. Normally you can’t give away artificial trees at estate sales and thrift stores. I’ll be curious if that is different this year. As an aside, it’s the first year I’ve ever actually looked at prices. Hole-y Bat shrub Batman. Artificial trees are expensive! Modern good looking ones anyway.

So that’s it, your secret message. Stack it high, stack it early. All signs point to trouble ahead.

nick

huh, this is the 600th post I’ve tagged wuflu. Tired of this.

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.

nick

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.

nick

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.

nick

(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.

nick

Tues. Oct. 5, 2021 – lots happening today

Hot and slightly less humid, chance of rain, although yesterday was really awesome weather. A bit on the hot side in the 90s but nice in the shade. Clear blue sky with only occasional dark clouds. I’ve got a lot to do so I could use the same, maybe cooler, today.

I got some stuff done yesterday, although like usual, not all that I wanted to. I did get paint on the shelves with d2. We’re not done, but we’ve got primer on them. I’m think I’m going to regret using regular primer and not something specifically for plastic though. Paint is barely sticking.

Couldn’t find whatever is dead in my driveway. Didn’t find the third kitten today either, so I have my suspicion about WHAT is making the stink, just can’t find what it’s under.

After dropping the two ebay sales at the Post Office, I got two more sales and one lowball offer. Four items sold in one day. It’s like old times all of a sudden. Unfortunately the sale price is averaging $30-40 with about 50% markup. That might be WHY the items are selling, smalls do better than big items when times are tough. I’m going to test that by listing a pair of Martin Logan Motion SLM flat panel speakers. I should be able to get $400-500 for the pair. I still need to test them, they are ‘barn fresh’. I paid up for them, about $200, which I should be able to get back “AS-IS for parts” if there is an issue. If they do well, I’ve got some other expensive stuff to list, along with the staple smalls. The expensive stuff takes a lot longer to list as more testing is involved and there is more risk too. At least these speakers are light and small-ish.

I need to find what is selling and then pile on to that. Dump everything else locally, and concentrate on the easy money first.

I learned something new yesterday. D2 finally told me what she wants to be for Halloween, so we went by the Goodwill store on the way home from school to start looking for pieces to repurpose or use. While there I had a chat with one of the employees. She works at a variety of the stores, including the outlets. She doesn’t work directly for Goodwill, she works through an agency, which means she can shop there when she’s off the clock. So she does a bit of thrifting/reselling on the side. Had some good scores too. Anyway, she told me that stuff that piles up in the stores doesn’t go directly to the outlets when they clear it out. At least here in Houston, it goes to other stores that need stock. It could go to several stores before it ends up at the bins. Some stuff does go directly to the bins though. There is some airport lost property that goes directly to the outlet near the airport. And there is stuff that goes directly from the donate intake to the bins, when they get behind in processing it.

FWIW, the prices in the store were just under ebay prices. I asked her “Got a new store manager?” as my opening. She said yes, and I commented that I could tell by the increase in prices. That’s what kicked off our conversation. Prices go up when the new guy wants to capture more money after seeing all the resellers in the store. Then resellers stop buying. (They buy far more than an off the street customer does typically, especially in things like books, electronics, and small appliances that aren’t fast movers.) Stuff piles up. Stuff gets wholesaled out to the other stores or the outlet. Manager learns the lesson they all learn and lowers prices to MOVE the merch. There’s no shortage of stock for the Goodwill stores at the moment, so if they don’t move the merch they drown in an endless river of stuff.

I might have the same problem.

And that’s what I’m working on. Get rid of the sales stuff, buy more of the survival stuff.

Today is full. Orthodontist with D1 this morning, followed by the theater set pickup, then an auction pickup, and more auction dropoff, shipping dropoff, and all my normal stuff. Oh, and I need to get ready for WDW this weekend.

Stack it high (but be sure you’re stacking useful stuff, not just any old stuff.)

nick

Thur. Sept. 30, 2021 – hard at work or hardly working, how could you tell?

Maybe some rain early, then sun and heat. Like yesterday. By the end of the day it was pretty nice. I’m hoping for more of that today.

I did my pickups, did some ebay listings. Even sold a book late at night. Moved some stuff out of the house to the patio. Naturally, I get a question about when THAT is moving. Oy vey, a simple “hey, I noticed that stuff is moving out. That’s great” wouldn’t be out of line would it? Moving goalposts, I got ’em.

Today should be more of the same. Start with cleanups and listing, get the shipping ready, move some stuff. I have to get to my secondary and move some stuff there, so I will get out of the house in the afternoon.

It’s really amazing how much inertia I’ve built up in my life over the last few years. I need to get it moving in a better direction, but it is a LARGE amount of inertia.

Many people also have a lot of inertia in their lives. That and normalcy bias often keep them from prepping. It’s normal to think things will be pretty much the same, they usually are. It’s also normal that bad things happen all the time, all over the place. We tend to see the first and discount the second.

It’s normal to have systems, habits, and a routine- that’s what humans do. And while those routines [mostly/probably/hopefully] work well when the situation is normal, they can be very counter productive when the situation changes away from normal. We will often cling to habits past the point where they become counter productive. I’ve mentioned it before when I get into the habit of buying or looking out for a particular thing, until I realize suddenly that I have many more of them than I need.

Don’t let your inertia or normalcy bias keep you from prepping for whatever is coming. We are living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. ANYTHING can and does happen. Any preps are better than no preps. You still have time.

Stack all the things!

nick

Tues. Sept. 28, 2021 – not as productive as I’d hoped

Hot and humid again. Not quite “still” but again. Some overcast and I’m sure there was rain somewhere but my house stayed dry. Got pretty warm by late afternoon, and it was still 80F at bedtime. Today I expect some more patchy rain, some heat and humidity, and I’ll be out driving around in it.

Didn’t get as much done yesterday as I’d hoped. It’s a short work day because of picking up youngest daughter. She had a test she had to take online when she got home too, so we didn’t even get to do any work on our project. (She didn’t finish, and needed to be online proctored to finish. She’s up one grade and virtual for math rather than traveling to the middle school for the one class. For some reason on the teacher’s side, she needed more time outside of the day.) So that sucked but I did get more ebay stuff done.

I went through about 200 45 rpm records. They were jukebox records and they are almost all stuff I’d listen to at a bar. There were a couple dozen or more in the $1-3 range, most were in the $5-8 range, and a few were more than $10 sold on ebay. I’m sending them to local auction, and I’ll let him lot them. I didn’t want to miss a diamond, and I sorted them so he knows how much effort to put into each lot.

Cleaned a couple more small appliances. Listed a few items as I was going through the stuff. The phone app does make it easy to list. I have to catch myself just ID’ing stuff and putting it aside, and instead just take the pics and list it.

Today I’ve got a couple of pickups that I didn’t get to yesterday, and I’m dropping off at my local auction too. Getting stuff off the patio gets me more room for storing preps and stuff like gennies out of the direct weather. It helps me with domestic bliss, and with getting the cash I picked the stuff up for in the first place. Inventory for sales does me no good. I’m not stocking a store. I need the stuff listed and available for sale. Sounds pretty basic, but at some point I lost sight of that for a lot of the stuff. It’s a bit humbling to see stuff I put aside so long ago and didn’t do anything with it.

Time is getting short. Rhetoric on both sides is getting more threatening. Something bad will happen and there is no telling when.

Stack stuff, but make it good and useful stuff. And then stack it high.

nick

Mon. Sept. 27, 2021 – another sad anniversary

This date marks three years since Dave Hardy, aka OFD, and long time friend of the blog passed away. He was old school church folk, so if the spirit moves you, say a prayer for the repose of his soul, and the health and safety of his loved ones. If it’s spirits that move you, raise a glass to Absent Friends.

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The weather in Houston this week is supposed to be reverting to normal, with more rain and more heat on the way. I guess we’ll see. Yesterday was still gorgeous. I did get some stuff done outside, but not as much as I could have. I moved stuff, found some more to send to auction, and cleaned up. It was pretty dang hot by the time I got out there which limited me.

One thing I did get done was to apply the Home Defense Max to the perimeter of the house. We’ll be seeing live and dead bugs for a week as it does its magic. I got a couple extra gallons stacked up for later too. I need to reapply about every 6 months, when I get tired of hearing the shrieks from the others in the house.

Pest control. It’s gonna be a thing when stuff goes pear shaped.

Plan for today is more ebay stuff, grocery shopping, including Costco, and more cleaning. If the weather holds, there will be painting with my youngest to move our daddy/daughter project along. If it is raining, we’ll do something else. I really hope it doesn’t rain.

Oh, and I’ve got a couple of pickups to do. Mostly household stuff, but also one or two needful things to add to the stack, and one cheap item for resale.

We’ll see what the grocery stores look like today.

Use this time, stack the things.

nick

Sun. Sept. 26, 2021 – another sunny day

Forecast calls for another great day just like yesterday. It started at 68F and got into the high 90s, and then below 70F again at night. It was sunny and clear with the most cloudless sky I’ve seen in a long time. I’m hoping for today to be the same, if maybe a little bit cooler. Then I can really get some work done!

I did get some stuff done, although I didn’t start the day with pressure washing in mind. I started attacking a pile in the driveway so I could get to part of the house and spray for insects. Dead leaves, damp earth, and darkness do provide habitat for the local fauna… had to relocate two toads and a pair of earthworms. Once I had the stuff out of the way and saw the filth, I had to do some additional cleanup. And when it got hot, I decided to keep cleaning. As a plus, the area I started with will need to be clear when the plumber puts in the whole house instant hot water heater, if we can find anyone to do the work. At least I have a jump on that.

I’ll have to get stuff rearranged and put back today, ahead of any rain in next week’s forecast. It won’t hurt to find some more stuff for auction either.

All the stuff under tarps and plastic sheet needs new protective sheet. The sun breaks down all the plastics these days. Save the oceans I guess. I found one bucket, two translucent gallon jugs, some poly rope, and the plastic sheet were all either brittle or turning to dust. If you leave it in the sun, it will be destroyed. If you need it, you better have some put away for later.

Buckets, jugs, rope, plastic sheet and tarps, these are prepper staples. It might be a good idea, if your planning horizon is long, to have some that AREN’T plastic. The poly sheeting might be hard to substitute, but the other stuff has good material choices available. Canvas or nylon fabric might substitute. Cloth painter’s drop cloths are very sturdy. The stuff they make billboards out of is available as surplus online from billboard companies. It’s very durable and designed to resist the sun. It might be that a return to old materials like tar paper is called for. It’s certainly cheap enough to have a couple of rolls stuffed in an attic space or between ceiling joists.

If I had the room, I’d put a pallet of 3/4″ plywood, a pallet of 8ft 2x4s, and a couple hundred square feet of roofing shingles in a barn… Add a couple of boxes of appropriate fasteners too. If I lived on that sort of a property, a few rolls of chicken wire fencing would probably already be in the pile. Some stone, chicken wire, and actual pallets and you could improvise Hesco barriers. I’ve seen pics of small scale versions of the Hesco barrier used to define seating areas at a restaurant, and I’ve seen stone delivered to the jobsite packaged that way. Improvised bastions, delivered to your door! Of course, that’s something you are more likely to see in prepper fiction than real life.

One of the things you might be called upon to provide for yourself is shelter, and having the stuff to maintain your current situation is a good thing. It might also mean you can build small animal cages, window covers, or other useful things around your home.

Think about long term and worst case. Even if after considering it, you decide it’s not something you are worried about at this point, the exercise of ‘wargaming’ it will be good for you.

There are more things you can do when you have the supplies, than you can do without them. Stack up what you might need.

nick