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.



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!


Tues. Mar. 31, 2020 – some stuff got done, but progress is slow

Cooler and possibility of rain.

Yesterday was overcast and partly sunny late, but didn’t rain. So humid that the concrete was wet though.

I did some work on the pile in the driveway, and cleaned out a couple of my “window box” planters on the fence. If they dry out today, I’ll get some new dirt in them and some veg planted later.

I did get the second potato tower planted, and my onion starters in the ground. I had to remove some chives and some grass that had invaded the bed.

I had a small tree with two trunks die on one half, so I got out the saw and trimmed that back. Looks like woodpeckers made holes, then ants got in. They started attacking the remaining trunk too, so I shaved away the loose bark and sprayed the wound with nursery sealer. Hopefully that will save what’s left. It’s a nice ornamental tree in front of the house and I don’t want to lose it.

While I had the saw out, I did some pruning and cut up some medium sized branches that were waiting for me to get to them. There are a bunch of crepe myrtles and japanese cherry trees in the back yard that constantly need cutting back. They are under the utility lines and grow fast. I try to do all that sort of thing at the same time, so even if it wasn’t top of my list, I needed to do the dead tree in the front, which means spending a bit of time in back too. It’s always something.

In other news.

If you haven’t looked at the numbers for the wuflu in a couple of days, please take a look. This thing is growing and spreading. We MAY be slowing the growth, but that only extends the time it will take to get to saturation, it doesn’t prevent it. NYFC went from one case to 100 to 67K with 1300 deaths so far. That’s like 1 in 100 diagnosed, and more deaths to come. People are not being smart about this. They lined up to see the hospital ship FFS. They are loading bodies into freezer trucks. In NYC. In the USA.

Aesop has had cases in his ER and more are coming. Several people here have mentioned one or two degree of separation cases. Meanwhile, TPTB are working their way through the CDC’s Pandemic Checklist. They haven’t gotten to the part where they bring staff families inside the perimeter and fort up, but they are headed down the list toward that. Read that to see where this could be heading.

While I don’t think this is a panic engineered to allow the Deep State and tyranny to take over the US, it’s undeniable that certain people are using it to advance their long standing agendas, and the Constitution be damned. I encourage you all to push back against that without pushing any other agenda. Just point out the places where they are overstepping. And just in case, look to your arms. Figure out where you stand and what, if anything, you are not willing to tolerate.

No matter how this plays out politically, it’s already changing your local security situation. Jails are being emptied, and cops have stopped trying to control crime. They want to live through this as much as anyone, and I can understand that, even as I curse it. You may be much more responsible for your own safety and security than you are used to being. Get your mindset ready. Get your tools ready.

Whether a nothing burger or a society killer, this thing is here and the world around us has changed. I don’t know if we can get back to where we were, or even farther towards where we wish we were, but I know that right now, right here, it’s different. Get your head in the game and get used to the new rules.

Stay in, stay safe.


Sun. Feb. 16, 2020 – got a few things done, SO MUCH more to do

Cool and slightly drier than most days.

Nice day yesterday, although it did get cloudy and overcast in the afternoon. Wife got some yard work done. I got some yard work done. I did a little ebay and storage reorganizing, and packed an item for shipment. I met with a buyer for a hand delivery on some speakers. Saved me the effort of packing them well. He was on time too, which was nice.

I’ve got ONE thin little stalk of asparagus poking up. The broccoli I planted ran directly to flower. The limes are heavy with flower buds. Peach still hasn’t quite budded. I’m still getting some peppers from the two year old plants but will get some new ones in the ground soon. I cleaned out (well, started) some of my fence “window boxes” and will get some root veg in there ASAP. Turnips, radishes, and beets are all on the calendar this week and next as a good time to plant.

I spent some time cleaning leaves out of the area around the garage and fence, and the driveway. I’ve been working on it for a week or more. It should help get rid of some of the damp, and maybe help with the critters too.

I bought a couple of rat trap poison feeders, and put one in the driveway, and one in the attic. I re-baited another. Something has been eating the bait in the attic, mice probably, and the dead rat on the lawn says that there are still rats here somewhere. Even if they’re not eating my preps, I don’t want them around.

Rats, garbage, and sanitation issues are problems in quarantined china. Pics show people throwing trash and worse out their windows into shared courtyards. If you haven’t already learned from my saga, get some traps and poison so you’ll have it on hand when needed.

The virus is spreading and turning up in new places. The chinese continue to crack down harder- as that’s what oppressive governments do. Gotta stop the trucks from moving, even if it means dumping food on the ground while people go hungry. Gotta keep people from gathering, even if it means wrestling with them hand to hand.

Prepare for the virus to get loose here, and celebrate when it doesn’t. Prepare for the economy to tank due to the loss of China and chinese goods. Maybe we’ll dodge the effects, but I don’t think so.

I know what I’m doing. I hope you guys do too.


Wed. Feb. 5, 2020 – same old, same old, plus WuFlu!

Cool and damp. [49F with a fine mist falling]

Yesterday stayed overcast but got up into the high 70s and 80s in some parts of town. I checked my local Ag extension planting guideline, and I should be getting my root crops in. I guess spring is coming.

School and activities continue. I’m taking the kids to sell GS cookies to my friend at the gun store. He’s a great supporter of the girls.

The political circus is starting to get into full swing. I’m going to avoid it as much as possible and concentrate on other things. I’m sure I won’t be able to avoid it completely. I would like it to be the only worry we have in six months, but I’m not sanguine about that.

The numbers out of china continue to rise. They may be false, but they are consistent. More video is making it out too. If you haven’t been following links to “man on the street” vids, you really should. The story that is implied by some of the vids really has to be seen to be appreciated. DailyMail is picking up some of the stories now too, if a couple of days late…

It’s an interesting question of how you get info during the apocalypse. For people in Wuhan, that word isn’t too strong. It’s their own societal and possibly personal SHTF. For some, it is literally TEOTWATKI. Lot more fistfight videos today than previously. I think the violence is about to break out as food is undoubtedly getting short. I’ve yet to see a story about brave truckers delivering food to the infected zone.

Keep in mind how fast this is all happening. For people in China, it must simultaneously feel like warp speed, and like an eternity.

Last week they were shopping and enjoying the holiday, today, they’re being barricaded into their homes.

Use the time we have to get your own shopping done. I have a feeling we won’t regret it this time. And Hey, in a month, if we’re not seeing any more cases outside of China, and our JIT economy based on selling each other cheap crap from China is still plugging along, you can mock me. I’ll be the one eating rice for every meal…. and wearing my face mask as a hat.


Fri. June 21, 2019 – already Friday again, jeez

82F and 90%RH. Never got a drop of rain yesterday, hope today goes the same. Openweathermap (henceforth OWM) has our high at 97 or 98F. It’ll be much hotter than that here in my driveway.

The march to war continues–

This looks like classic Trump to me, promise some outrageous thing, let everyone freak about it, then offer the compromise. We’ll see. I’d prefer not to have a nuclear Iran, and the weaker they are, the better for stability in the middle east.

Lots of kid activities this week so not as many preps as I’d like, and I’m getting ready to head back to Chicago to help my mom with selling her house. I’ll probably be there a week.

The little tiny caterpillars were back with a vengeance and ate all the leaves off one grape vine and most off the other vine. It did reveal on bunch of grapes, which I split with littlest child. They were tasty with thick skins. I sprayed them with the thuricide and I hope the vines recover for next year. Grapes are a huge PITA.

We have one little apple growing on the tree, and one orange is still clinging to its tree too.

Peppers are still producing but tomatoes aren’t showing any fruit. Cukes and zukes haven’t died yet. The stems usually spit open at the ground level and get eaten by ants. I’ve been hitting them with different things hoping to find something that will get them thru the summer. Seems to be working so far. The plants in the one raised bed are still slowly bleaching to white and dying. No time to investigate that further. It MUST be an issues with the soil.

I did add another bucket of rice and some more cans to the stack. I can tell the hand warmers I’m using as O2 absorbers are working because the buckets ‘dent’ in.

I’ve mentioned it before but I think prepping to make tortillas/pita/naan/ or some other flat bread makes more sense than risen breads. They take less time, effort, and fuel. The staples of poor rural people and indigenous people the world over are refined by long history to be efficient in all those areas. (that root you have to smash for hours being an exception necessitated by a lack of alternatives.)

Someone mentioned that my SWAG at a couple of months food for my family was missing some things… yup. It was. There were LOTS of things missing from the list, but it was intended to show that it doesn’t have to be hard, or rocket science to stack a good amount of food. Also it’s what MY family (and by extension, most families I know) will eat. (If I was hispanic or german, the list would be different (and have more pickled stuff on it if german))

There are actually canned beans in the list (red, black, refried,bbq, drunken (borracho), and several others are on my shelves.) For preps, I prefer canned beans to dried. The water is already in the can. The cans are safe from rats and other vermin. The liquid in the can can be used as ‘sauce’ over rice. Of course, they are more expensive than dried beans, but they can be eaten cold from the can, only need to be warmed up to make them tasty, have flavor already added, and are generally easier, quicker, and thrifty with fuel.

If your family already eats chick peas, or dried beans, by all means store them in your preps! I wouldn’t want the list to be seen as EX-clusive. You should always feel free to go beyond or tweak for personal preference. For example, someone else mentioned canned potatoes. I have canned potatoes from a couple different makers with different styles of potato in them. I really like one particular can of sliced new potatoes. I’ve served them as a side dish lots of times. We don’t eat many potatoes though, and most canned versions don’t taste that good to me. I did list pouches of instant potato though. The name brand is really good, especially the varieties with added cheese and other flavors. If we had a real ‘no shit, hit the store for one last run’ event, besides all the overlooked cans, I’d grab bags of potatoes and onions. They store well (up to a year in good conditions) are cheap and versatile. But we personally don’t eat them often, so I usually only keep a couple of pounds of heritage baby potatoes in the pantry, and 10 pounds of onion… we do eat a lot of onion.

And I have to get the wife and kids out the door so I need to continue this later….

what did you do to prep this week?


Sun. April 7, 2019 – weather looks ok

71F and 99%RH. Looks like some sun poking through.

Well then, plan for the day is yard and garden. I guess I need to figure out what I’m planting this year.

Carrots did well. Beets did well in the window boxes, maybe I’ll do a bed this time. Turnips and radishes showed some promise but I let the soil stay dry too long. I’ve got what I need to add irrigation to the window boxes this year. My dad had irrigation for his actual window boxes for flowers, I guess I can figure out some drip irrigation for my veg.

Zukes did really well in one bed, but crossed with the cukes and the result wasn’t good eating. I think I’ll just try zukes there this year.

And I’ll do some pepper plants in pots, like most years.

Maybe I’ll try a tomato or two, and just hope it doesn’t get too hot.

All subject to change and availability of course.

What’s going into you gardens?? Who’s going to try containers this year? AT LEAST get some herbs going…


Sun. Aug. 12, 2018 – got some stuff done, not enough

Currently 80F and 80% at 8am. Yuck.

Off and on spots of rain yesterday but I got the lawn at the rental cut. We have an application in, so hopefully that gets rented. If it does, I’ve got to empty the garage, hang an additional smoke detector, and change the locks.

Today is work here day.

Grapevine is going NUTS. This is another variety from the one that fruited in early summer, hope it might fruit soon. That would be a happy accident if I got a summer and fall variety…

Zukes are all done. Failed to flourish, rotted at the stem.

Fall acorn squash got eaten back to the stem, and never grew beyond the transplant size.

Herbs went nuts. Got some nice sweet banana peppers. Beans and peas turned white, then died. Started at one end of the bed, and spread until they were all dried straw. That was weird.

Nothing from the peach tree. One fruit on the established orange tree. Nothing on the established or potted grapefruit trees. Apple trees finally leafed in and are looking health, if not vigorous (I didn’t expect anything this year)

Bumper crop on the pecan tree, but I’ve never gotten more than a couple after the fungus and the squirrels got done. We’ll see about this year.

I better figure out what I want to plant for fall/spring and get too it. My fear is that I have to get rid of that horrible miracle gro raised bed “soil” entirely. What a horror show that stuff is. NOTHING grows in it, not even weeds, and water will not penetrate it past 1/2″. Def NOT RECOMMENDED.

Kids are stirring, so I better get started on breakfast…


Sun. July 1, 2018 – open

Whew, slept in. Kids are now fed, the dad is fed, the wife is fed, and the kids are squabbling so the dad is also fed up! (now there is crying)

Only 96F at 11am, so not quite following Nick’s rule of tens for a hot day in Houston…. 70 at 7am, 80 at 8am, 90 at 9am, 100 by 10am…

Got a lot of work done at the rental but ran out of material and still have to go back today. Wife got all the remaining cleaning done. We should have it back on the rental market in a week. Pure laziness on my part to have let it go this long. We’ve lost 10k in rental revenue while dragging our feet. That was super stupid. I have a line on a management company with a very affordable rate. If they are taking customers, I think we’ll sign up. This was super stupid. (did I mention this was stupid?)

Drank half a gallon of gatoraid while working, and another half gallon of water and tea before and after. Then drank some more. Peed once and woke thirsty. No headache or hangover today though.

WRT the previous discussion on revenue and wages being down, my ebay sales continue to limp along. I have never had sales this low since starting to take it seriously. I do have a bunch of high value inventory to list, but almost nothing is selling, my views have dropped way off, and my watchers are mostly at zero. I don’t know if it is the economy in general, my vacation hiatus killing my search results placement, or the move to an ebay ‘store’. I think I’ll be calling ebay’s business ‘consultant’ next week to ask about my store move, since that seems most likely to be the culprit.

Garden is growing. The bush and pole beans are growing like crazy, with neat little purple flowers, but no beans yet. Zukes are still hanging in there, with flowers but no fruit yet. The grape vine that didn’t fruit yet has suddenly started growing like crazy. One was red, the other purple, both table varieties. I think this one is the purple. Maybe it has later fruit? Got a shot glass full of blueberries, and was happy to save that much. No peaches again this year. Beets are doing well. Onions seem to be getting bigger, so I’m letting them grow. Would be starving if I needed the garden to eat. Something to keep in mind.

Finished reading the Oregon Trail cookbook. You can make a lot of different things from flour, corn meal, bacon, fat, sugar, and salt. You can make a cake with almost no ingredients. Not sure that any of it was much more than ‘iron rations’, but the breads and pastries sounded pretty good when they had the spices. Bear fat in a lot of dishes. Bears must have been a staple of their hunting and foraging. The main idea is that you can vary your diet, and survive with almost no veg or fruit. LOTS of fat for flavor and energy in EVERYTHING. One of the PA novels has a group slowly starving despite plentiful deer and fish, because they aren’t eating enough fat. Pigs used to be more valuable on the homestead for their fat content than their meat, and the heirloom varieties are all MUCH fatter than current. Something to keep in mind if our situation were to devolve.

Hit one sale this weekend on my way to the gas station. Grabbed a new camelback bladder and sippy hose for $2. Still had the plastic on it. Got a couple other useful things for no money last week. I’m getting more selective as I get my ‘stuff’ topped up.

And that’s the week that was….


Friday, 23 June 2017

09:10 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out around 0645 this morning, damp and overcast. Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket this morning. This afternoon we do science kit stuff.

I forgot to mention that our purple-top white globe turnips failed miserably. We knew they were best planted in autumn, but decided to try planting a row of them this spring. They apparently flourished, but last weekend when Barbara and Al were working in the garden they decided to dig one up. It looked fine, but when they cut it open it was full of worms. So were all the others.

So we’ll plant another row of them in September and see how they do. One of the local gardeners Barbara knows recommended applying borax to keep the worms away from them. We’ll try that.

Email from Brittany about my post yesterday. She and her husband started studying for their Technician Class ham licenses a month or so ago. They’re taking it slow and easy since the next exam session anywhere close to them isn’t until August. One of their neighbors is a serious ham, and got them started by giving them a tour of his shack and demonstrating how everything worked.

They were intimidated by the room full of gear, and figured that it’d cost them thousands to get into ham radio. When he told them that they could get on the air with a radio each for less than $100 total, they thought he was kidding. He showed them one of his throwaway BaoFeng UV-5R transceivers that was set up to hit the local repeater, and told them that it was a $25 radio.

After reading my post yesterday, Brittany and her husband decided to order a UV-82 for each of them, each radio with a spare battery, whip antenna, and speaker/mic. They also got a name-brand programming cable, and downloaded/installed CHIRP. They plan to have the radios ready to go on-the-air the moment they get their licenses.