Thur. April 9, 2020 – hopefully a nice day

 

Warm and damp.

Yesterday was hot and steamy. Started out reasonably enough but soon was hot. And steamy. Did I mention steamy? And hot?

Morning was still overcast and rain was forecast so I didn’t do much outside until after lunch. Then it was yard work, garden, and trees.

If the trees weren’t going to shade the garden, I’d have left them, but I need the sun on the raised beds. And with hurricane season only a short time away, I went ahead and trimmed near the utility lines, since I had the saw and ladder out.

I’m debating whether to do the tree trimming on the oak in the front yard or not. I usually trim back the branches over the house, and every couple of years I get out the rope saw and take down some dead wood high up in the tree. There are other things that are a priority but if I’m in the zone and have the tools out anyway….

I need to get back to my driveway/garage storage and organize party. I need to get whatever seeds I hope to plant this year in the ground. I usually plant seedlings from Lowes or HD, but I’m not going shopping ATM. I’ve got seeds. I’m a bit surprised at some of the stories I’m seeing of seeds being sold out, both in the stores and online. I guess maybe I’m not the only one hoping to get a garden in this year. Whatever the motivation, I’m glad that others are planting. The learning curve is steep.

Chickens are sold out too. Hmm.

Too many people are too invested in particular outcomes for me to believe 99% of the reporting on wuflu right now. I’m just going to stay the course, watch for primary sources of indirect and secondary indicators, and act as if my life depended on it.

The wuflu won’t be the end of everything, nor will the economic impacts, nor will the cultural impacts. As a nation we’ve been through worse versions of all those things. WE may not survive, and WE may not return to a world we expect, but PEOPLE will. And they will muddle through or prosper or not. I intend to make it through. What’s on the other side I can’t predict, as I think this is one of those times when everything changes. I thought that last year, and haven’t changed my mind. War, pestilence, and plague. They were overdue.

I don’t know how long it will take but think about the changes in one lifetime, from 1900 to 1965. Who would have predicted the destruction of the British Empire, the rise of America, the Cold War, and Communism? Or look at 1965 to 2020. Who would have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, the changes wrought by PCs and the internet? The massive financialization of everything? Or the destruction of western culture?

Things change, this is just the pebble that started the boulder rolling down hill. Something would have. It was time.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

 

Wed. April 8, 2020 – little of this, little of that

Cool to start, but warming, and still wet.

National forecast shows us on the edge of a system. Usually that means we don’t get it. We’ll see.

Had about 0.16 in of rain yesterday according to my weather station. It must have been in the morning, or when I was doing other things. LOTS of water in the buckets and stuff in the driveway, but that was from the last couple of days.

I put some wire mesh over my onions to keep the squirrels off. If it works tomorrow, I’ll put some over all the onions.

My potatoes are poking through the dirt in all three of my bags. Hooray! I’ll be adding soil when the shoots get a couple inches bigger. I hope this bag approach to a potato tower works. At dinner my daughter asked, “But don’t we already have a whole lot of potatoes?” “Yep, 120 pounds (wife’s eyebrows go up!) but I’ve got a longer planning horizon than most people…” Silence as that sank in. I don’t know what the fall will bring, but I know I won’t have potatoes if I don’t plant them now…

Grape vine continues to leaf and grow new canes. Blueberry plants (hard to call the scrawny things ‘bushes’) mostly have developing berries or still flowers. Meyer Lemon, lime, and orange all have developing fruit. Nothing from the window box root veggies yet though. I need to see what else I can get in the ground. The herb mix I seeded hasn’t produced anything either yet. Potted tomatoes are getting ripe. I may get two whole (small) tomatoes this year. New pepper plants and old are producing. Collards and cabbages are still alive, if not going wild. Alive is good. My remaining apple tree is leafing out. I didn’t get to replace the dead one, so without cross pollination, I guess I won’t get fruit. If nothing else, the tree will get a bit more established.

I did a bit more cleaning and organizing. Not anywhere near as much as needed. I did replace some caps and spouts on several aquatainers. I had bought replacement parts some time ago but never put them on. I need to get my water sorted and rotated, but that is frankly low priority. I did it yesterday just to get them moved and make sure I didn’t misplace the parts again.

Amazon says my can organizers shipped yesterday. I’ve been holding off any more food moving until the organizers get here, so I only have to do it a couple of times (one would be ideal, but also unlikely.)

Dinner was Taco Tuesday, frozen ground beef, envelope of mix, and fixin’s from the fridge.

I think I’m going to try some bread baking today or tomorrow. I want to try pita bread, and the polar opposite, soft dinner rolls… If I can get the dinner rolls to work, I’ll have a homemade replacement for the King’s Hawaiian rolls we eat with our pulled pork. Considering the amount of canned and frozen pork I’ve got, rolls would be a Good Thing ™.

The burns on my fingers did NOT blister today. They hurt a bit when pressed or heated, but I may have dodged a bullet. They are still red and shiny and I have to hold my coffee cup differently than normal, but I’ll take it as a win if they don’t swell up and peel.

WRT wuflu. Most of what I see says “undercounting” not “lump in everything possible” at least in the US. Look at the secondary and indirect effects for an indication where the numbers aren’t trustworthy. Hospitals are going through PPEs at an extraordinary rate. NYC has so many dead they’re stacking up, and SECURITY GUARDS have been pressed into service moving the bodies. We’re starting to see cases take off in areas where there were only a few, confirming the exponential nature, and then the math is inexorable. Don’t lose focus. We’re only a few weeks into this and we are looking at MONTHS ahead. Meanwhile, they’re making progress. An antibody test is being trialed. The ‘plasma infusion’ treatment seems promising. The HCQ and Z pak is getting widespread testing. People around the world are working on treatment, vaccine, and testing.

Stay in, stay safe, start your garden!

nick

Tues. April 7, 2020 – hope I get more done today

Cool and damp.[76F, 99%RH, concrete wet]

Yesterday was overcast all day with some rain, especially later. Not a good day for outdoor work.

Not a great day for me to do work inside to be honest. Just not feeling up to snuff. Run down is a good description. Tired. Not quite sick, but still not healthy. So I piddled around in the office and wasted time on the internet with my friends.

I did have a chance to help my 5th grader with her math homework. There are some basics we need to work on. She COUNTED rather than ADDED ’12’ during a problem. Jeez, I thought we were past that. 8yo discovered that she can read the Harry Potter books through her school online portal. She’s on her way through the fourth book today.

I almost really screwed up in the kitchen. I needed hot water for the hash browns, so I nuked a coffee cup. Whatever the cup is made of, it gets hot in the microwave. The handle was scorching hot. Due to some prior issues, it takes a while before my brain realizes that I’m holding something hot. Man, I thought I was going to have some bad damage to two of the fingers on my right hand. I got them cooled off quickly and kept ice on them for a while, much longer than normal. They hurt really bad. After a couple of hours with a cold pack, they didn’t hurt so much and they haven’t blistered. I’ll see how they look later today. I still expect them to blister at some point, given the heat, pain, and redness. I’ve got lots of burn stuff in my med kit, but it’s all for open burns, not blisters. There’s really not much you can do for blisters.

That contributed to my not getting much done during the day too.

I did do some small electronics repair and sorted out some more stuff for ebay listing. Wife has been donating and selling some kid stuff we don’t need anymore through the FB moms group. Porch pickup, electronic money transfer, and we don’t have to even say “hi”. I’ve got a craigslist guy wants to buy a tool from me, but I’m debating if it’s worth $50 to meet him at my storage unit. I suppose there is a way to do the deal with minimal exposure. I’ll wait and see if he flakes.

I’m starting to see articles about reinfection again, and articles that suggest 6 ft isn’t enough distance. Those would both be bad things.

Another article said 3 of 4 hospitals in the US surveyed are treating Covid patients already although numbers are still small. One thing we’ve seen consistently, once the numbers start rising, they tend to shoot up. Again, not a good thing.

And it looks like the CDC has an antibody test ready to deploy. Widespread use of that would be good news as we’ll get a better idea of where we are wrt the whole population exposure to wuflu. I’m getting a bad feeling that maybe we’re all just looking for reasons it’s not as bad as it could be and clutching at straws thinking that we’ve already had it. It’s a comforting idea. I’d like a chance to know for certain. I don’t expect to get a test anytime soon though.

So I’ll stay in, and try to stay safe…

nick

Mon. April 6, 2020 – back to school, JK….

Warmer and dry? Maybe. [75F, 84%RH, and no actual rain yet]

It stayed cool all day yesterday but the rain stopped. It was even pretty nice, if a bit chilly and damp in the evening.

I did mostly indoor cleaning and organizing. I’m moving at a turtle’s pace though. Doesn’t look like a hoarder’s house, but it does look a bit like the wand shop in Harry Potter. I do tend to use ‘pile’ as an organizing structure. Doesn’t help that my wife will occasionally just round up everything she thinks is mine and pile that in my office. Some of the piles haven’t moved in a while.

I’m trying to get some space for my non-prepping hobby, and move some radio stuff around. I really want to get up with some digital modes and I don’t have the room to keep all the bits and pieces in one place. Baby steps.

I also continued to get the shelving and storage area in the garage cleaned up and gone through. Found a couple of boxes of ammo I didn’t know I had. Happy day!

Dinner was Costco special pork ribs from my last run, one rack for us, with the other two racks seasoned, vac bagged, and frozen. My wife ordered Oyster Sauce from somewhere online. I’d run out. It sucked to enter the zombie apocalypse with a freezer full of pork and none of my go to sauce… Anyway, delicious ribs. Really good baked beans- HEB branded can, cornbread (from mix) with added bacon crumbles and baked in a cast iron skillet (just cuz), canned corn (2016), and baked potatoes with all the fixin’s. Admittedly, the first can of corn was rusty from rat pee, and didn’t “suck” when pierced. That went straight into the trash. Clean can had a very reassuring “fushht” sound as the vacuum released. I’ve definitely found that if the packaging is intact, even with my horrible storage conditions, even stored food that is 6 or more years passed ‘best by’ tastes fine. I’m blending in stored food with our normal pantry and freezer food to help ease into this isolation. I also try to have a really good meal with familiar food every few days.

The kids have been great so far. Less poking at each other this week as they had some school work and a lot of “separated” time. Wife and I have been less stressed too. This coming week the school sent out more work to do, and some added resources. Short week anyway due to the Easter holidays, or as the school put it “a holiday you might be celebrating”. FFS, it’s Easter break, whether you are Christian or not. I’m finding I have a lot less tolerance for the ‘tolerance’ as this confinement goes on. If others are simmering too, the whole world could explode soon.

And hey, checks are coming, but conspicuously NOT HERE. Jails have been emptied, and burglaries are up 20% in Houston, while the cops are out sick. Who could have known? You are on your own. Act accordingly.

Stay home, stay safe.

nick

Sun. April 5, 2020 – time is on my mind, yes it is

Cool and wet again.

Yesterday was sub-60s in the morning and night, with slightly warmer temps during the day. Rain throughout the day. Buckets have about 2 inches in them but we got less than that by the gauge.

Spent the day cleaning and organizing indoors, mostly in my office. Didn’t get much of it done to be honest. Did get some stuff up into the attic, and checked the attic roof for structural damage. We had that huge explosion in the neighborhood a few weeks back and some of our friends are discovering that they have damage they didn’t know about. Mainly roof structure that cracked and broke. They are closer to the blast site, and iirc blast force is inverse square law, so if they saw 1/2 the force , we saw 1/4, for any given force. In any case, I didn’t see any broken sheathing, or rafters.

Wife and kids watched the first Harry Potter movie. I watched some of the beginning. Everyone looks so young. Of course they were young then and so were we.

Time is passing very strangely here. It feels like forever since we isolated, but the last week flew by. And counting the days to check if my wife could have an exposure, fewer days have gone by than I would have guessed. So micro time is flashing by but macro time is dragging. Huh.

Dinner was canned chili, with sweet onions, shredded cheese and Fritos. Not quite Frito pie, but not bad. Can was best by 2014 and was delicious. Well, as delicious as canned chili can be.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

Fri. April 3, 2020 – another week gone

Cool and rain, that’s the forecast anyway.

Yesterday was cooler early and late, but did get past 80F at some point. Intermittent rain kept me from doing big work in the driveway. I didn’t want to untarp everything if there was a chance it would get soaked. We never did get much rain though. Today’s forecast is for rain. I guess we’ll see if our part of Houston gets any.

We’re pretty well settled into the new reality. Kids are getting used to remote school and working on their own. I’m working through my list. The urge to go out is lessening. Heck, I cut my own hair. That’s a pretty big change.

No matter what happens going forward from here, we’re well enough into this that things will be different. Flip the switch in your head. We’re not going to return to the way things were. I’ve been saying for a while that it felt like one of those periods in world history when everything changes. Remember? War, famine, or plague. I believe we thought it would be war. Still could be. It’s definitely a plague to get us started on the way.

Something was coming for a while, and it just got here. Now we have to get through it. It’s what we’ve been getting ready to do. Now is the time to do it.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

Thur. April 2, 2020 – time is flying by

Cool and beautiful again, hopefully.

Yesterday was about as nice a day as we ever get. Low 70s, light breeze, sunny and blue sky. Just a great day. I spent some time on the phone with a friend, and sat outside the whole time.

I also got some more food moved from the pile under the tarp, to the shelves on the back patio. The clips I ordered came in, and after spraying the bag, and leaving them in the sun for an hour, I built another section of shelf. I was able to move a whole pallet in the driveway after moving the last of the bins of food from it. I’ve got several black bins left to go through, and there is sure to be more spoilage in them. Then I can get the new shelves, and the old shelves organized. We really are settling in for the long haul.

More of the same on the list for today.

Dinner was taco night, with costco canned chicken, chicken taco mix, and all the fixings. No rice or beans yet. Wife and kids prefer to eat the tacos and not the sides. I’m trying to ease into the pandemic diet adding things slowly. Being mostly low carb lifestyle, all the pasta rice and beans will be a big change. Frankly, so is eating canned veg, with the exception of Costco canned corn. I’ve tried adding some over the last couple of years, but the corn is the only one that stuck. Turns out I’ve got an awful lot of corn and peas.

Kids are settling into the new routine. It really helps that we’ve read “The Girl Who Owned A City”, and the Little House on the Prairie books. It gives the girls a frame of reference that is outside of their dad just talking about prepping. The kids in Little House are grindingly poor and don’t even know it. My kids are stunned by how little they have. The protagonist in Girl Who Owned a City is smart and resourceful and saves the day for everyone. She just gets things done and is a good role model. I’d like to think Swiss Family Robinson is in the mix too, but neither has specifically referred to it. I like the idea of disaster as adventure and the way they just keep improving their situation. Hopefully, that attitude is percolating in their little brains.

Well, stuff to do, including maybe a haircut for me. We’ll see how brave I get…

Stay in, stay safe,

nick

Wed. April 1, 2020 – and that ain’t no joke

Cool and beautiful, if it doesn’t rain.

Yesterday was very nice outside, and I spent far too much of the day inside.

I did get up on the roof to swap out one camera for a new one. The new one looks great. The old camera was state of the art when new, homeland security grade, and very expensive. The new one is very capable, pro-sumer quality, and cheap. The low light and IR capabilities are fantastic, and it’s 8 Mpx, so digital zoom looks awesome. As a bonus, it’s a dome and is a bit less visible and intrusive. Certainly more modern and streamlined than the enclosure on an arm it replaced.

Some other minor gardening, and cleanup, and one ebay sold item and that rounds out my day. NOT productive by any means.

Oh, I did use my new battery charger to charge up an old yellow top battery I have in a carrier with a medium sized inverter. The battery took a charge and ended up on Float charge. I forget the name but it’s one of the expensive ones, ultima? with the grey body and yellow top. Some have a red top. I wish I’d found a forklift battery or some reconditioned marine batteries before all this hit, but I’d only been looking for a short time. I would like to work on the solar array project, but I don’t really have batteries. Or for that matter a charge controller. Add it to the list.

I also desperately want to go to the range and put a box or two through a couple of toys. I really need to function test one, and I’ve never fired the other. One local range is open but I don’t want to risk the exposure.

It is a risk too. Every case in the ER in a week will have been contracted this week, most likely through community spread. Don’t go out and play in it.

Dinner was pork chops, a cheesy pasta side dish, and fresh asparagus. Dessert was the triple layer cake my 8yo made for her grandpa’s birthday. We ate it, he admired it on Facetime. It was bright red cake, dark chocolate frosting, and M&Ms inside and out. She did it all on her own from the various boxes, with very little oversight. Very visually striking 🙂

Kids had school video conferences today. They had fun seeing their teachers and friends. It was mainly a ‘work out the bugs and give this a try’ session. Seemed to go well after the slow start. The school uses Zoom. Borepatch noted on his site that WebEx is offering their video meeting product free for the duration. If you have a group you get together with, but have stopped for the wuflu, you might want to check out a group conference. Funny what happens when there is competition.

Lots of stuff needs doin’ today. I better get to it.

n

Mon. Mar. 30, 2020 – another week, always more to do

Cooler and damp. Rain in the forecast. We’ll see.

I don’t think we got more than a tenth of an inch in the last two days, despite the forecast. I’ve been watering potted plants and the raised beds. I’ve got work to do on the sprinkler system before I can turn it on. Subsequently the grass in front doesn’t look great. The grass in back was so high and dense my mower was almost stalled by it, and I had to cut half widths.

If it doesn’t rain, I’ll be doing more in the driveway. If it does rain, maybe some inside work. Kids will be doing school makework, wife is still working from home.

I’m not used to having people in the house during the week. Everyone is making adjustments. It’s really hard to believe we’re in the middle of a slow motion disaster. Commander Zero is feeling the same weirdness over at his place. Lights are on, weather is nice, and that’s strange. Looking at news coming out of NYC and looking at New Orleans, as well as overseas, I’m still convinced this is the real deal. I can understand that people who haven’t been immersed in this and seen the run up might find it all hard to believe. Even if you don’t pay attention for a few days, the exponential growth can fool you.

It’s coming. It’s real. It will be devastating for the hospital system.

While there are promising leads, getting it bad still means risking death.

Stay in, stay safe.

nick

Sun. Mar. 29, 2020 – almost done with March

Cooler and wet.

Never really got rain yesterday but it stayed wet all afternoon and evening. Kids and wife ‘camped’ in a tent in the back yard. I hurt too much to do that if I don’t sleep in my bed.

I got some work done in the garden despite the heavy mist. Cleaned up an area next to a raised bed, transplanted 3 tomato plants, planted one trash bag potato tower.

My cabbage is currently thriving, but my broccoli has ‘bolted’. I cut it back and am hoping for a second growth.

Meyer Lemon tree has flowers already. We just picked the lemons a week or so ago.

Blueberry bushes flowered and look to be setting berries. I worked on the bamboo to support the bird netting. The bushes aren’t exactly thriving, but it’s neat to have some berries in season. The bird net means I’ll get them and not the thieving wildlife.

Old pepper plants continue to fruit. New peppers need transplanting. Maybe today.

No sign of sprouting for my radishes or turnips yet, nor the mixed herbs.

I need to get my onion sets in the ground and get some other veg in too. Maybe today.

If the weather clears I’ll be working in the driveway moving stuff around too.

Breakfast today is hillbilly donuts. Tube biscuits, cut with a shot glass to donuts and holes, fried up in peanut oil in my cast iron. Then shake in a bag of powdered sugar, cinnamon, or chocolate powder. Or do all three. Special treat for the family. Makes a mess with the oil, but I filter and save the oil just for donuts. It lasts a long time.

Dinner last night was spiral slice ham, baked potatoes, cabbage saute’d with onion, and mango cobbler for dessert. All but the cabbage and cobbler mix was from Costco.

I better get to it.

Stay in, stay safe. Get your garden started!

nick