Sat. June 12, 2021 – non-prepping hobby day! Meatspace baby

Hot and humid but should be clear. Yesterday the humidity was lower than “dripping” so it was nice in the shade. Plenty of breeze too. Today should be similar. Still, it was over 80F when I went to bed.

Did some errands. Picked up some stuff. Did some work for my only remaining client. Petted his dogs. Played with mine. Had chinese food for dinner courtesy of FIL, and will go out for dinner tonight.

This morning I’m going to my non-prepping hobby meeting. It is nice to be getting together again to celebrate our shared interests. I should also see some of my ham lunch guys there too, and learn the fate of our in person lunch meeting. We might finally get that back up too.

Things around here aren’t ever going back to “normal” but they are getting closer. Lots of masks on people still, and I usually wear one when around crowds indoors, but plenty of people without masks too. And I’ll probably just wear a ‘medical’ mask at my meeting, and will remove it at some point, when we’re not shouting in each other’s faces.

I admit I won’t feel comfortable in a shoulder to shoulder crowd for a while. Of course I’m never really comfortable in that kind of situation anyway.

Still looking for a getaway spot. Still priced out of the market. Looks like my next door neighbor sold his house though. The sketchy renters will hopefully be the last for a while. That makes the house across the street, and the house next door into wild cards if things get sporty. I will just hope for the best, and keep my eyes open.

I got another 6 blueberries today with a whole bunch still on the bushes. Baby steps. If only the peach would start to produce. The apple needs to grow in a couple more years but it is growing well this year. At some point I will have to pull out the dead lemon, orange and grapefruit, but it’s really far down my list at this point. They look like alien sculptures after all the pruning I’ve done over the years.

Tomato plants are still huge tropical jungles of foliage, but they are not producing as much fruit this week as last. It is finally too hot. New grape vine died, and the old died back almost to the rootstock. While it is recovering, it hasn’t been very vigorous this year either. Herbs are going gangbusters, far more than we need or could use. Funny, I just realized I didn’t plant any peppers this year. I think this is the first year I haven’t since I started the garden experiments. Ebb and flow.

Well, I’m off to see some people and share a common interest, in person.

Stack your reference library, and your apocalypse library too. They are not the same thing. Stack all the things!


Thur. June 3, 2021 – these short weeks confuse my sense of time

Wednesday stayed nice all day. We were on the edge of the forecast storm area and once again missed it. Even had us getting rain around 4pm… and they were both right and wrong. Right on time I got about 4 drops on my windshield, and that was it. We got a spatter at 7pm, but never really got any significant rain. I’m hoping for similar results today.

I have a pickup or two to do, and it would be easier to drop the kids at the pool than listen to them in the car for an hour. Unfortunately my pickups are near the airports, one each, so not a short drive. Worth it though for the stuff. One estate sale netted me an item at below market, even after tax and transfer fees. Unless I missed something in the pictures, I got a good deal on something that is in high demand and somewhat short supply.

I didn’t get any ammo in the auctions this week though, as the prices are still at retail or higher, for old and mismatched rounds.

Speaking of mismatched, I have enough accessories that I can’t sell on ebay (or use myself) that I’m considering selling on gunbroker. Anyone have experience with the actual process? I mostly use them for price checking.

I’d put some of the stuff in local auctions but my “household stuff” guy shut me down for a while. I WON’T be dropping off this load until they clear out some room in their warehouse. And THAT sucks dead bunnies. I’m getting a bit desperate to move some of this stuff.

In other news, I got another dozen blueberries off the bushes yesterday. I think I’ve passed last year’s total harvest now… The tomatoes are taking over the plots and the kitchen. Now my wife is looking at taking a half bushel to the local food bank today. They supposedly take garden produce.

Speaking of food banks, the state wants to give us another SNAP card for the school lunches we won’t be getting – because school is out for the summer. I ended up using the last one to buy food and donate it to the food bank for Thanksgiving meals. I think I will do the same with this one. We qualify (regardless of income) because our kids attend schools that offer free breakfasts and lunches to every student (because we have so many kids that qualify, they give them to everyone). Bread and circuses. F the world.

And WRT the world, I don’t know WHY we’re seeing all the china flu revelations, or why FauxXi is suddenly not receiving cover from the press, but I like it. I do want to know what they are distracting us from seeing though. They’ll be reporting on it, just not emphasizing it, or featuring it. It will be there though, so they can point back to it later. Crypto and debt currently not featured… hm.

Stack what you can. Lots of people are late coming to the party but there are still seats at the table and canapes’ being passed… we’re definitely in the ‘new normal’ though. Increased prices, increased violence, increased awareness, and increased shortages. The trend lines don’t look great to me. Anyone who can offer a counter narrative, I’m willing to hear it, indeed, I WANT to hear it, but there has to be some factual basis for the narrative. I may object to the facts, or to the interpretation, but I would like to hear it, if ya got one.

In the absence of other instruction, keep stacking.


Wed. June 2, 2021 – ah, the sweet smell of __________

Tuesday was a pretty nice day weather-wise after all. Never rained again after the early morning showers, and eventually got nice and clear, with a beautiful sunset. It stayed reasonably cool in the shade too. Even though the long term national forecast shows us in the rain zone for the next three days, I’m hoping today is nice too. I really want to take the kids to the pool and run some errands.

I spent yesterday continuing to chip away at the pile and the list. I’m making slow progress. I need a few hours to take stuff to the auctioneer though and to get it out of the house.

There is a massive bowl of tomatoes on the counter, despite my wife turning into one of those people who push fresh veg on everyone they see in the day. Even if I liked tomatoes, we have too many, but ironically, not enough to make sauce. This is why I only plant a couple of tomato plants every year. Oh well, it is making her happy as she loves them. They are super tasty, but I think a slice a week is the appropriate amount…

Because I was home with the kids, I did instacart for the groceries. Lots of stuff out of stock, but that could be because we’re coming off the long weekend. Meat prices are high and likely to go higher if we get a real shortage from the cyber attack on a big processor. If you’ve got a freezer full, you are looking like a hero. If you are still filling your freezer, think hard about grabbing some meat right the heck now, in case this attack turns into a longer disruption. Any upset in the just in time system takes a while to recover from, and I think we’re about to get a lesson in that. One of the reasons to prep is to have enough food put by that you can ride out temporary shortages and price fluctuations. The difficulty then comes if it’s not temporary and you haven’t restocked at all, then you have a big hit or you do without when prices are still high. There are trade offs to every approach. Find a strategy you are comfortable with.

This also goes to knowing what stuff costs. It’s hard to know if beef is cheap or dear this week, if you don’t pay attention to normal variation, and the cost of routine items. Even with big purchases like my truck, it was much smarter to shop for a few weeks, and recognize a great deal when it came my way, than my initial urge to buy the first suitable truck I saw at a reasonable price.

When it comes to things I think I will want later, or that I know I’d like to have, I start watching prices as soon as I can. Then, if and when that thing becomes available, I can jump on a deal, or let it go to the next guy. One thing that I learned now that I’m mostly shopping in the secondary market- it will distort what you are willing to pay. I’m finding that there are items that I would have gone to a thrift store to get (most of them have the same sorts of things most of the time) but now I will wait until I see them for even less in the outlet store. I think the price at the thrift store is too high 🙂

The opposite can happen too. When I was traveling for work, and living in hotels, if I bought a drink in the bar that was less than $12 I was a happy boy. Whooo hooo, cheap cocktails! Of course they weren’t cheap by any objective standard, but they were a lot cheaper than most nice hotel bars or ‘date night’ restaurants. I just got used to paying the high price. I’m sure California works that way for everything… and the people who move here certainly think that housing is insanely cheap compared to there. I know I did back in the day.

There are a lot of economic factors that can enter into your decisions about what to stack and how much. Commander Zero has been looking at gold, guns, and greenbacks and has a different idea than far too many of the commentors seem to have, and it’s one I share. Better to have spent the money and have the stuff, than not to have spent it, and not have the stuff. Better to have saved some money for needs or opportunities later on, than spend every penny today.

Finding the balance between spending and saving, between stacking against a possible need, and saving for a possible opportunity, will come down to your personality, your goals, and your view of the future. I think it’s better if you make those decisions after some thought, but don’t let that keep you from acting.

Whatever comes, having some stuff to give you time and options, and having some resources to take advantage of opportunities or sudden needs will serve you well. Keep stacking.


Sat. May 29, 2021 – more rain for Houston

Cool and raining turning to hot and raining, or not. Because this is Houston. Yesterday was mostly nice, only getting wet late in the day. Rained and thundered most of the night though. There was so much lightning that I disconnected all my antennas. I don’t usually do that. I’ve got lightning protection on the HF vertical that is out in the open, and the others are all under a tree, which mostly should protect them from a direct strike. I have to get some lightning protection for them too, but it’s low on my list.

Spent the day doing small things, most of which actually advanced a project or two along. Back and neck were improved, so I didn’t want to re-trigger anything by going crazy with the work.

In the evening, the kids rented and re-watched the movie they saw in the theater the night before. It was called Pitch Perfect, and it is hilarious. It’s full of very funny side comments and ‘throwaway’ lines, rude humor, and it is not politically correct. I kept wondering how they could get away with some of the stuff they did. Part of it is they shot it 7 or 8 years ago and the snowflakes weren’t in control. For the rest, I think they did it without a lot of studio oversight or interference. The sequels look equally funny, the second grossing even more than the original did, and wikipedia calls it a cult hit. Watch the trailer, and you’ll know if it’s for you. I was very surprised and laughed so hard I was crying. They kept almost the whole team together for the sequels, and I think that shows too. The music is pretty good too, if you are a child of the 80s it’s like the AM radio soundtrack of your life.

Today’s toil will depend on weather. All the usual stuff needs doing. So I’ll do some of it. And some will slip some more.

The garden continues to produce tomatoes in large number. My wife gave away a couple of bags already, which is why I usually only plant a couple of plants, any more and you have far too many fruits. I think the cooler start to the season has helped, as well as getting them in the raised beds instead of pots, or it could be the coffee grounds added to the soil, or that I finally got the soil in good shape, or it could just be the universe laughing in my face… In any case, my stuff languishes, my wife’s stuff looks like a jungle.

The peach tree never flowered, the apple is filling in, and the frozen citrus are definitely d. e. a. d. dead. That is a kick in the gonads, after all the effort that has gone into them, and the fact they were just starting to produce.

Farmers throughout history have learned the same lesson- one bad event and you lose your crop, and then, if it’s all you have, you starve. Even if your garden is doing great, and you have green thumbs, you still need stacks of food. And you need to be ROCK SOLID in your skills and knowledge long before your life depends on it. So start practicing, and keep stacking.


Mon. May 24, 2021 – Last week of school, last week of freedom for me..

Well the forecast calls for light rain, but we all know that means SOME PART of Houston will be getting rain, but not necessarily MY part of Houston. 20% chance of rain here seems to mean that 20% of Houston will get rain… and the temps are low 80s, so pretty much just like yesterday.

I’m really hoping for a break in the wet so I can do some local auction deliveries.

I spent yesterday puttering around, doing indoor stuff all day because of the steady drizzle. The few moments without water from the sky were used to deal with trash cans, take trash out, and get some stuff indoors from the truck. I got some household restocking done (moving from stores to use areas), some closet clean up, a bit of PC work, and generally just moved from one small project/task to another.

Today I really need to get a bunch of stuff out of the house, and out of the storage unit, and to the auction. It would be nice to get some stuff done with the new truck too, like installing the dash cam and a radio, not high priority though. Of the two, the dash cam is probably the easiest because there are fewer choices involved and no need to move interior trim panels.

The main ‘hang over’ task is getting the pickup truck to the repair place. The delay has been because I need it to move stuff for the ‘pallet’ auction. I may have to suck it up and rent a trailer for the Expy and just get the Ranger on the road to repaired. A trailer is cheaper than a rental car and would let me keep moving on the other auction. At least my back and neck are back to ‘normal’.

I need to visit Lowe’s or HD too and do some actual shopping. I’ve got to replenish a couple of the plumbing fittings I used up, I’d like to see lumber prices with my own eyes, and I’m hoping to catch kerosene on close out. It’s that time of year, and I would like to have some in my stacks for the next cold spell. I’m pretty sure there will be another. Any garden veg plants that are left might be nice, and I’ll add some seed packets to the stack too. I’ve got room in the beds for some more plants, and more of the ‘salad’ veggies that you can keep planting every two weeks. If they have any citrus trees, I’ll grab one or two as well. Mine are not coming back from the freeze.

And on top of everything else, it’s time to get the hurricane preps going. First storm was already here, and moved up north off of the East Coast. Yikes. I need to keep moving the generator projects along, get some fuel rotated out, refill some propane bottles, maybe get a propane conversion for the Honda 3000, and on and on. Time flies.

If you haven’t already, start trying your hand at gardening, even if it’s just herbs and salad. If you’re already growing veg well, think about stockpiling some more of whatever you use, be it soil additives, pest control, or canning jars. Add some seeds to your stacks too. Just buying a seed vault isn’t enough, you need stuff that grows in your area, and you need practice.

If you haven’t already, think about beefing up your home’s physical security as part of your spring cleanup. Lights, cameras, driveway or gate alarms, landscape changes, and door and window reinforcements should all be on your radar. We’ve talked about specific small things you can do that will make a difference a few times; search or keywords should find the posts and comments.

If you haven’t already, sign up for a couple of email alerts from companies like Palmetto State Armory, Gunwinner, AR500 armor, and the like to see when ‘stuff’ come into stock. Glock pistols are available, and not at crazy inflated prices. Taurus G3s likewise. PSA had an upper/ lower self assembled kit rifle for a not crazy price this weekend. Memorial Day sales are just around the corner. Ammo has come down slightly in the last week too, when it’s in stock. If you are lacking, you still can get to stacking… but it will take a bit more money and time.

Which is the crux of the problem. How much time do we have, and how much money can we spend? Both are likely to be in limited quantity soon. As always the quality triangle still holds true, Good-Fast-Cheap, pick any two. And then stack.


Let me know how does your garden grow?..

Sun. May 16, 2021 – lots to do, little motivation, still sore

Warm and damp, chance of rain. Didn’t rain yesterday, although it felt pretty dang humid. Threatened to rain all day, with only local and occasional clearing skies. Cooler than normal for this time of year, seems like. Makes me wonder about how hot this year will be.

Did my weekend ‘home’ stuff, did my pickups, did some other small errands. Gas at Costco was $2.45/gal. It was $2.65/gal across the street at the big HEB. HEB usually has very competitive prices, so I expect they are typical or low for the area. Didn’t do paperwork. If it’s going to rain today, I’ll do it today. I didn’t want to waste any good outdoors days.

Blueberry bushes *cough* sticks *cough* are still ripening. Apple tree has leaves. Peach tree has leaves. Grape vines have died way back. Initially they were leafing out to within about 6 feet of the end, but now the old growth is all dead and the only leaves are near the roots, on new growth. Citrus in pots set a couple more fruits, and this time I put bird net over them and the fruits are still there. Citrus in the ground is dead. I had hoped, but the bark is coming off the grapefruit, and the orange is dry and brittle. The Meyer lemon wanted to come out of the ground when I bumped it with the lawnmower. Damn. Damn. Triple damn.

Wretched tomatoes are FOUNTAINING out of the ground. They’re like giant weeds, huge and spreading. The fruit sure is tasty, and Child1 was puzzled by the red color and the taste. She’s never had anything but store bought, that she can remember, and these are SO MUCH better. I admit to some jealousy at how easy my wife has had it with the tomatoes.

Given my proven (lack of) gardening skills, either she needs to take over completely or I need to keep stacking cans. Funny thing, the other night when child was asking the pointed questions about food and post-apoc survival, my wife asserted that we would plant a much bigger garden in the yard, not just the raised beds, but that the soil wouldn’t be as good so we couldn’t expect great yields. She’s been thinking about it, clearly. That was almost as shocking as anything she’s said since the lockdown started. I need more seeds. Lots more.


I’m wondering if FedGov and local forces know something they’re not telling us. In the last week I got invitations to continuing ed classes through both my local cop volunteer group, and through the national public safety group I belong to for additional counter-IED training. The classes are in June and July so I guess the threat isn’t imminent, but still, weird timing.

I signed up for both, one local in person, and the other one a webinar. Demand was high as they filled almost immediately. Things that make you go “Hmmmm”.


If you needed more reasons to stack it high, I hope you found them. Let us know how your garden grows… and… Keep stacking.


————(((((((((((((((((PING)))))))))))))))————- DadCooks, welfare check. Drop me an email if you aren’t feeling sociable… flandrey @ aol. com

Mon. May 3, 2021 – tomorrow is Star Wars Day

Today is supposed to be moderate, with a chance of rain. I’m hoping for ‘nice’ and ‘dry’. Yesterday was nice, but not particularly dry. It didn’t rain, but with all the wetness and high humidity, it was pretty damp and sweaty.

Nevertheless, I did yard work. Cut the grass, put up the bird net over the blueberry bushes, and turned over one of the garden beds. Yeah, it’s late, but I’m gonna plant stuff in it anyway. In the other part of the yard, my grape vine was leafing out, to within about 6 feet of the end, but now the leaves are dying back. No idea why. I’ll keep an eye on it, but I don’t see any reason, and there hasn’t been any change that I know about.

My wife’s tomato plants are going INSANE. HUGE growth. Lots of fruit. I like fried green tomatoes, but can take or leave red ones. I don’t think I’ll be able to convince her to harvest early though. We’ll probably have a lot more than we want or can eat as a result. I usually only plant one or three pots because I don’t love them and they don’t do well. This year looks like it will be different. Maybe it’s that they were planted in the raised beds and not pots? Or maybe it’s the used coffee grounds I’ve been adding to the beds… It would be nice to get some veg that we actually eat.*

It would be nice to have some success with the garden, period. I’d feel a LOT better about the coming whatever if I felt like I could grow some food. A steady diet of looters and rat will get old quick without some greens….

Grass soup seems to be the traditional food of a prolonged armed conflict. Every account I read, it comes down to that at some point. I’d like to think that I could do better, especially with time to prep, but at some point you run out of stuff, if you’re not growing more. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that again.

However, since I don’t seem to have a green thumb, I better buy another flat of canned veg. And stack it just that much higher…


*holy cow, that paragraph is choppy. No flow for me today. I hope my usual writing isn’t that choppy.

Mon. April 19, 2021 – a fresh new week, hoo boy, let’s get to work

Cool and damp, probably no rain, but it was scattered spatters of rain most of yesterday, and the forecast was for dry…

I got a bunch done yesterday. All little things, but several that were much easier in 60F weather than 90F.

I cleaned and seasoned 3 cast iron pots with lids. Those will go to the auction. They were Goodwill Outlet, so $1.20/ pound. I’ll make decent money on them and I like saving things like cast iron. Didn’t take long with the angle grinder and wire wheel, followed up with oil and a good bake. One piece is modern, the other two are vintage.

I hung another IR illuminator for my cams. This one points in the same direction as my latest camera and should light up half the street. I didn’t get the power hooked up yet. I got side tracked while going through a bin of wall warts, and ended up powering up several other things that have been kicking around waiting for power supplies. I’ll get to the illuminator soon, and in the mean time, the other things can either be put into service or put away, or sold.

Did a little bit of work in my attic. I moved all the light bulb holders to be above my head level. Since I store stuff up there, I’m moving around at least a few times a month, and I’m always afraid I’ll hit one of the bare bulbs with my head, slashing my face open. It didn’t take long and has been on the list for quite some time. I also put the Easter decor away and checked the rat traps- no rats.

Put another bin of auction items together.

Did some cleaning, poking around, and arranging in the garage too. And I wired the attic fan to a plug. I was going to put a receptacle in the attic for it and a work light, but didn’t have the right j-box, so for now it’s just a cord plugged into an existing outlet. I’m really hoping it will help keep the temps in the garage down. I need a Home Depot run to do some replenishing of plumbing supplies and any veg seedlings, so I might as well get a couple of j-boxes too.

The tomato plants are lush. There isn’t any other word for them. My wife is crowing about her success (I get one or two tomatoes from 3 or 4 plants every year, not a strong suit.) I’m claiming it’s the used coffee grounds I’ve been adding to the beds 🙂 The grape vine continues to leaf out, as does the peach tree. The frozen citrus is still not showing any signs of life. I’m starting to believe it was all killed, which is very disappointing.

I tried something new for dinner. I sautéed frozen shrimp with minced onion and bacon crumbles, and then used a can of Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup as a sauce, serving the whole thing over rice. Tasted good to my wife and to me, and the kids loved it. Quick, easy, low fuel cost, and a real change of pace.

Today if the rain holds off, I’ll be taking a pickup load to my industrial auction. I will have no trouble filling the truck. Then I’ll swing by Lowe’s and pick up the fridge for my rent house. Maybe I’ll even get that installed if I hustle. We’ll see.

And out there in the world, we’ll see how soon it all falls apart. The recent spate of shootings, the lawlessness in MN, OR, and NYC, a Congresswoman inciting riotous crowds that then shoot up an NG unit, lions and tigers and bears… oh my. It seems like the violence is accelerating and escalating.

Keep improving your position, and keep stacking…


Sat. April 3, 2021 – we’ll see how the day goes

Supposed to be clear and nice out. I hope I can get some outdoor work done, but I don’t want to risk any setback with my back troubles. Might have to just not do anything. Not good for the list.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and I mostly missed it. My wife and youngest child took advantage of the cool night and camped in the back yard with a fire in the pit. They had a great time. Oldest child went right to bed and crashed out. She’s eleven but knocking on puberty’s door and it wears her out. I am SO not looking forward to moody teen years.

I didn’t make it out to my client’s house. I was just hurting too bad. Grid down will purely suck if it hurts that bad. Analgesics and antibiotics, stack them high.

Some updates.

The toilet works. No one has had to plunge it in the weeks since install. What a HUGE difference. Speaking of, 3/4″ difference in throne height is a HUGE difference, if you’re used to it… I’m going to have to find a thicker seat to make up the height. Falling that last 1/2″ is – disconcerting.

Didn’t get anything into the garden yet. Grapevine is greening up. Peach tree has leaves. Something ate every single marble sized fruit off my potted grapefruit and lime trees. The blueberries are flowering and filling in. No green on the grapefruit, orange, or Meyer lemon that froze, but I’m still hopeful. There is some evidence of life under the bark on the bigger branches. Apple tree is leafing out. The wife’s tomato plants are flowering.

NVR computer is running, but since updating the linux install, the NVR software crashes about every other day, with a core dump. Seg faults and other issues. I think it may be something to do with ffmpg as it was one of the packages updated, and I have streams that now tear and turn into colored lines, and that never happened before. F me. I’m about ready to just spend the money on hardware and repurpose the pc for my wife or kids.

Haven’t replaced the Expedition yet either.

We’ll see what things on The List I feel up to today. I’m sure there is something I can do. And there are lots of things that need doing.

Keep plugging away, and keep stacking.


Sun. Mar. 21, 2021 – hoping to get some stuff done.

Supposed to be cool and clear again today.  Chamber of Commerce weather yesterday.   Beautiful day to be out and about.

Returned the visiting child to her family, fed and undamaged.   Kid eats a lot for a skinny girl!   Did my errands.  Spent some time going through stuff at my secondary.  Came home.  Ate.  Wasted time on the internet with my friends.  Put the kids to bed.  Currently reading The Thread that Binds the Bones- Nina Kirriki Hoffman, with the 11 yo, and Restaurant at the End of the Universe- Douglas Adams, with the 9yo.  The 9yo was howling with laughter at tonight’s  chapter.  Even if a whole bunch goes over her head, there is enough slapstick to keep her laughing.

It’s fun to share the books.   I don’t know when they’ll stop wanting to read together at bed time, but I’m not looking forward to that day.

The school year has been very strange.  We’d gotten in the rhythm and busy-ness of school pre-corona.   There are always events, meetings, sports, coming and going.  Not so much this year.   Add in all the times we’ve been off school and it’s a completely different feeling.  Having the kids home seems normal, and when they are at school feels like the exception.   I like it.

There’s a lot of wailing and lamenting about the kids not learning anything this year.   I got news for people.   They don’t learn it in a regular year either.  You just don’t see it when it’s all taking place elsewhere, and they get passed from one test to the next.  Jerry Pournelle used to talk about it fairly frequently, and even his experiences were out of date.   The top kids will learn in spite of school.  The middle kids will learn to repeat back what the school tells them, and the lower kids will do neither.

At least with solid reading skills they can self educate when they finally get it.

With that cheery thought, I better start doing some actual stuff today.  Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking.