Sat. Sep. 4, 2021 – week flew by as fast as money leaves my wallet

Another day forecast to be hot and humid, and we’re still in the zone for thunderstorms. Yesterday was interesting. Started cool, stayed cool-ish until noon-ish. Sunny the whole time. Then when I finally committed to putting stuff that shouldn’t get wet in the back of my open pickup truck, the sky opened and the water fell… a whole lot of it in a short time.

I wasn’t the only one fooled. The flippers across the street chose yesterday to replace the roof. They got the old roof off, and then we got 2 1/2 inches of rain. They were working late to get the new roof on.

I managed to drop off 5 big black bins to the auctioneer and he’s still ok with getting more. He is the first one who really meant it when he said he’d take a bunch of stuff. And I’ve got a bunch more to give him.

Today I’m sleeping in as much as I can. Time to do a bit of catching up on sleep. This falling asleep during the day is stealing too much of my day.

Also time to be thinking about a fall garden planting. On top of everything else. My cabbage still hasn’t developed. One got a head that was tennis ball sized, but it has been shrinking. The other is still loose leaves. I thought I’d see how they did before committing to a whole patch. Last time I did that, I lost them all.

Lots of home stuff to do around the house, and I hope to get to my secondary for more clean up, and auction stuff. It’s always something.

Better get started.

Which is good advice if you haven’t been prepping. Stack it high!

nick

Mon. Aug. 23, 2021 – insert title here — ;-)

Hot. Sunny. Humid. Overcast. Rainy. Houston. Sunday was hot and humid, no rain, no overcast.

I did some small work in the garage, and I continue to be impressed with how well the exhaust fan keeps the temps down. Oh, it was still hot, but nothing like last year or the year before. Definitely worth doing.

I set two more traps for Sr. Raton. He walked past the traps I’d already set, so I baited these with peanut butter and bacon. I know he was there, because he knocked a package of Costco canned chicken off the shelf. However, someone‘s been nibbling on the poison block I screwed to the wall along a likely infiltration path…. so SOMEONE is not long for this world. I just hope he takes himself outside before expiring. I’m sure I’ll know it if he doesn’t.

I had a box of rat traps that I bought last year at auction, and I have been using the poison block refills for the bait stations. I have been baiting with Tomcat Attractant because all the previous rats learned that peanut butter equals death. It got one up in the attic, but my garage thief is not interested, hence the pb&b bait. If you don’t already have some pest control supplies stacked, I’d recommend getting some. If the slide continues, services like trash removal, junk pickup, etc. will be impacted. Your neighbors, floods, droughts, and new construction all influence the migration and presence of pests too. When the need arises, there might not be any available.

The same can be said for soil supplements, and garden pest controls. It will be critical if you are relying on a garden for food, even just supplemental food, that you get as much as you can. Can’t have pests eating or ruining food your kids need. We’ve already seen that gardening supplies can vanish if the demand goes up even a little. Having some reference books with alternative methods wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Of course the best case is you getting your garden up and productive long before you NEED it. In most places the learning curve is probably not as steep as here, but it can be hard to find the varieties that grow well for you in your location. Local knowledge helps a lot with that. And every farmer knows that luck plays its part, particularly bad luck. Start climbing that curve. (also, you probably don’t have enough seeds, or the right seeds. Work on that too.)

In other news, the Biddn administration has decided to punish Russia by blocking importation of guns and ammo. Give the popularity of the AK and SKS platforms, that is not good news. Cheap imported steel case 7,62×39 didn’t stay cheap during the recent drought, but it was cheaper than 5.56, and a bit more available. It made for a good argument to have both platforms available in your safe. Who knows, the UN peacekeepers and the chinese ‘advisors’ might become mobile resupply pods if things get super sporty, and in that case, 7.62 will be plentiful again. Until then, the supply chain just got broken.

If there’s something you want, or think you will need in the next 2-5 years, I’m suggesting you buy it when and if you see it. If you need fast computers, might want to accelerate your purchase schedule. Even I’m thinking about getting a new box for the house. Almost everything here is a decade or more old, except the NVR I built, and it’s not new. With all the chips that come from Taiwan, if things get a bit sporty on the global geopolitical front, and it seems likely that they will given our withdrawal from the world stage and increased focus on internal issues, it’s possible that the supply of new things of all sorts could be disrupted.

To put it bluntly, Chinese misunderstanding and foreign adventures could wreck Taiwan’s foundries. Chinese really don’t seem to understand that there are some things that actually must be done correctly and well to work, and not just have the appearance of quality. Chip foundries, like aircraft carrier battle groups and nuclear attack subs, are hideously complex and all the pieces have to genuinely work for the system to work. There is no ‘faking’ it and there is no commanding it to happen.

How long could you go if you had to start from what you have now? That’s the question to ask when considering what and how much to stack. It might not come to that. Sanity might prevail. Doesn’t seem like the smart bet though.

Stack it high and wide. Stack some in secret.

nick

Tues. Aug. 10, 2021 – stuff to do today, and kids at home

Hot and humid, chance of rain for parts of Houston. Yesterday didn’t get as hot as some days last week, but still crossed 100 in the sun. It wasn’t much cooler in the shade either. Stayed mostly sunny all day at my house. I’m thinking today will be pretty much the same. We do have a disturbance headed for Cuba, that might make it to the Gulf in a week, but it seems early to call that one.

Spent the day getting caught up on office and household stuff. Cut the back yard, restocked some of the cabinets. I need to do some shopping pretty soon too.

I’ve got a couple of pickups that need to be done, and no good route to combine them, small things for the house mainly. I like to combine trips for gas and time savings. Can’t always though.

Kids are at home this week so that limits me too.

I’m still pretty sore and stiff from swimming and jumping off the rope swing at the lake. My manboobs are aching. I’ll say it again, and maybe it will finally sink in that “I really need to start stretching again.” Before I can do any exercise, I need to get the planks of wood tenderized into bending again.

No way I will be doing any running or jogging, and especially no rucking, but it would be nice not to be so stiff. Just moving through my day isn’t enough any more. When to find the time though…

Garden is still producing tomatoes, although they are golf ball and racquetball sized. Caterpillars made their appearance and tried to eat what was left of my grape vine. I got them sprayed and might have saved something. No peaches again this year. Cabbage is still one plant with a baseball sized head, and two with just leaves. Collards are trying to grow, but not vigorously. At least the herbs are doing well, oh, except for the rosemary. I have killed another rosemary bush. We use a lot of rosemary too so I’ll be replacing that as soon as possible. Blueberries were done last week, and I’ll be able to take the bird netting down. Apple tree is still ok, no fruit, but the branches are thickening. I need to think about the fall garden soon, despite the 100F days.

There is always more to do and to be done. Somewhere near or in the back yard there is a dead rat. I can smell it, but can’t find it. Joy. I put poison in the garage after finding a box of Mountain House that had been nibbled on, so I’m looking forward to a dead rat in there too. Almond joy.

On top of all the daily normal stuff, and the backlogged stuff, I should know what my brakes and suspension work will cost later today. I’d like to have the Ranger back so I can get the body work done too. Or use it to move auction stuff around town. I need it done and back to work.

So much to do, so little actual desire to do it. I know I need to. I know I’ll feel better ticking the boxes off as the stuff gets done, but I’m weary of the grind. Worst possible time for that too. Oh well. Grinding away is something I’ve got plenty of experience with. It’s just not always the quickest way to get through the list.

Speaking of lists, besides knowing who would rat you out and who might help you, you might want to cast an eye around looking for resources too. If nothing else, it will help you see the area around you the same way the opportunists and criminals will. Start putting stuff away, and making your place less attractive to violence or bad actors.

And stack the stuff you like- buy it when you see it, and get out and look for it. Don’t count on anything being there at the same time you want it. Those days are probably gone for a while.

nick

Tues. July 27, 2021 – trying to get caught up, then some interesting learning…

Hot and hot. Sunny and hot. Hot. Yesterday was hot, over 100F in the shade. Today will be hot.

So I cut the grass. I’d started the back and the battery died, so I needed to finish today. Only took a few minutes in the sun, then I did the front, which is in the shade. Barely broke a sweat despite the heat.

Did a bit of weeding in the garden too. Tomatoes are showing some stress, and the fruits are very small now. No actual ripe tomatoes at the moment. One of the three cabbages is forming a head, the other 2 are just leaves. The collards are doing ok. One plus to the citrus trees dying in the freeze, I get more sun and can maybe do some more beds where the trees were. That will take a bit of thought to decide. I still have the lime and grapefruit trees in pots that I could plant.

Daughter 1 had her second shot Sunday. She wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday. By the end of the day she was kinda ache-y and a little nauseous. I’m trying not to be a d!ck about it. Wasn’t my decision. We’ll see how today goes.

I’ve got to get out of the house today and get some stuff done. I have a class through my Citizen’s Police Academy later this evening. Should be very interesting. More on that later.

In order to get out of the house, I’m going to see about dropping the kids off at the pool for the day. There is at least one friend that might be good for a day at the pool too, and then my wife can pick them all up at the end of the day. Plus, it gets them out of the house and exercising.

It will be nice to get back in school and have more time during the day. Which really bugs me one some levels, because I was looking forward to spending time with the kids. Didn’t do much of that though after all. So we’ve arranged after school care for daughter 2 four days a week and I’ll have to pick her up one day. I hope to use that time for some together time with her. If I don’t structure the time, it doesn’t happen, so I’m giving this a shot. Time is flying by.

It’s flying by for more than just family time. The changes and violence around us seems to be accelerating. Big changes usually come pretty suddenly and people say “no one saw it coming” when plenty of people did. Use your sight. Stack stuff.

nick

Sun. July 4, 2021 – Independence Day…

Surprise! Hot and humid, possibility of rain… kinda like yesterday. So more of the same, and then possibly some tropical storm stuff coming. Joy.

Spent the rainy day indoors mostly doing auction stuff. I watched two auctions with good stuff that had very poor sales. One failed to sell anything on my watchlist, the other sold only 1/3 of the items. Both had higher starting bids. The prices were still discounted, and probably where the items would have sold, but buyers don’t like high opening bids. They want to feel like they’re getting a real deal, and they won’t if they are the only bidder. They will feel like they paid too much if no one bids against them. Turns out there is a lot of psychology to sales. (That should be obvious, but the sellers continue to bang their heads against it) I ended up buying stuff at two other auctions, mostly $1 and $2 lots of industrial stuff, or household stuff. There was a lot of stuff that went very cheaply.

The specialty tool I bought from amazon arrived, and it was clearly an open box item. Not sold that way, of course. It was cheap, and in fine condition, but I’d have expected to pay even less for it, if I’d known. I will likely only use it once or twice a year, just like whoever used it once and returned it.

In between the rain drops, I harvested another 1/3 cup of blueberries. I’m very pleased with the harvest from the skinny little twig ‘bushes’ this year. Goes to show that the best time to plant fruit trees was 5 years ago… so get something planted. It takes a while to develop.

Later today we’ll be taking child 1 to GS camp for the week. That should make it easier for me to do stuff, with just one child at home to keep occupied. I really hope I can do some of the stuff that needs doing.

———————————-

On this Independence Day, take some time to reflect on how far we’ve come away from personal independence, and think about any areas that you can improve your own independence, in whatever area you think you can. And teach your children well.

Of course, having a pile of resources helps maintain independence in a number of areas, so keep stacking too.

Celebrate what we had, and what we still have more of than almost anyone else on earth. If it turns out that these are ‘the good old days’, let’s make them as good as we can.

nick

Mon. June 28, 2021 – if you don’t practice it, you will never learn

Hot and humid, possible rain, and surely some sun. Or some variation on the theme. If you guys are getting tired of the repetition, imagine me living with it 🙂

Yesterday was mixed rain and sun, with plenty of humidity and heat. I did get a bit of work done outside anyway, namely most of the grass cutting.

A quick look at the garden had more tomatoes ripening, lots of green still on the vines. The potted lime has 5 nice fruits on it. The blueberries are still ripening, with at least another half cup of berries ready soon. I harvested the one tennis ball sized onion out of what I planted last year. The grape vines died back almost to the root stock, but one is sending out new growth. It’s about 3-4 feet so far. I need to prune out all the dead grapevine sometime in the future. The herbs are flourishing.

It didn’t take too long to harvest the few things, and pull a couple of weeds.

Really I spent most of the day catching up on my online reading. There is plenty going on in the world and little good in the news. There is continued progress in the new race to space, and that is good, but it’s not something I follow. Of course the news is rarely full of ‘good’ news. Even accounting for that bias, there is a lot of stuff going on. For example, someone in south Chicago shooting up a car in traffic with a full auto rifle and a 100 round Beta magazine, in broad daylight. That is an escalation in the security situation in the city. Likewise, there was yet another daytime shooting in NYFC Times Square.

Nationally, we’ve now got the sitting President telling us rifles aren’t enough to keep the FedGov from killing us, we’ll need F-15s and nukes. It was bad enough when some nobody jerkoff from Cali said almost the exact thing, but now it’s the President? The president who seems more bizarre every day? Who does some sort of scary whisper voice during press conferences and talks about getting in trouble if he doesn’t do what ‘they’ say? THAT president? The same president who’s own party doesn’t trust him with nuclear launch codes?

Nationally, in big cities, and locally we have bad things getting worse. Yeah, doom and gloom. The end is nigh-er… but. Can you make the case it’s not?

And if not, then I hope you’re stacking it high.

nick

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!

nick

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 openweathermap.org 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.

nick

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.

nick

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.

nick