Sat. July 25, 2020 – so tired and still stuff to do

Hot and humid, storms on the way.

Yesterday stayed pretty darn hot until late in the day.  Here at the house they got a huge rainstorm, but it didn’t last and the humidity dropped enough that the streets dried off.  I was south east and east, and I missed all but a smattering of the rain.  Traffic was very light for Friday at 4pm.

I did get a couple of things done, but really, not much.  Today I’ll be running around and picking up stuff for the house.  Did I mention that my wife figured out I can buy stuff for her and the house?? I think I might have mentioned it…

It lets me buy preps too, so I should quit b!tching, even in fun.

Speaking of which, 37.5 pounds of metal and chemistry is headed my way.  Still more in stock according to the email I got…   If you have a commie rifle, you can still feed it, if you haven’t already stocked up.   Everyone thinks they have enough guns-until the zombies come….

More likely we’ll be short food and meds, but hey, you can’t keep either if you can’t defend yourself.   Although I think the best tool might be a small tool with a suppressor.  Even a big tool with a suppressor is better than no suppressor.  IDK if there is any chance of getting your stamp under the current conditions, but you might want to consider it.   I have and wish I’d started the process.  I’d probably have one today if I had just taken that first step.

Which brings us to the heart of prepping.  TAKE THE STEP.  Whether that is stacking stuff, taking some classes, or getting out and meeting some new people, do it.   Get ready to take that ham licensing test.  Get those gunsmithing dvds.  Order something with a long lead time.  Take the step.  Start the journey.


Keep stacking.



Wed. July 22, 2020 – some days I’m my own worst enemy

Hot and wet.  No, there is no joke about my likes or dislikes there, definitely not.  Nope.  Definitely not.

Yesterday was actually not so bad, on the roasted by the sun, steamed by the swamp scale.  It was actually cool most of the morning and only slightly hot in the afternoon.  So was I slaving away in my garage and driveway?  No, I was not.  SHOULD I have been?  Yes.  Yes I should have been.

Got stuff done, just not what I’d set for myself.  I did finally deliver an ebay item sold back in February.   Nice guy.  Moving from Oceanside in  Cali to Lake Conroe.  Plans to spend the rest of his days there.   Now I’ve got an open spot on a shelf, better fill it with something.  OH, I just picked up another pair of vintage speakers?  WTH is wrong with me?  They are selling though, so there is that.  Not much else is.

And so, I set myself up for today’s tasks.   Work, freezer, work, pickups, freezer, garage, maybe put the half a squirrel in the trash, cook dinner… or I could combine some of those tasks.  Hmm.  Which ones?

It is the zombie apocalypse and we all need to learn new skills, right?

Speaking of selling, this is the time when you get out those cheap steel cased rounds, and the $324 PSA AR-15s and sell sell sell………   remember the ones you bought just so you could flip them when prices went up?  But now you don’t WANT to sell them.  You figure you might need them at some point.  YOU were smart and got them cheap and stocked up, so now you’re covered, and why would you sell when there aren’t any replacements?  What if things go pear shaped?  Then you’ll wish you had the black rifles and not the worthless fiat bux…….. Or is it just me?

Ammo Depot had 762 in stock and shipping yesterday morning.  They still had some late last night.  It was roughly 27c/rd.   They are showing some 223, at roughly $1/rd unless you want steel jacket, and even that is 40c/rd.  Score one for the commie gun in the black rifle internet flame wars.  Zombie apocalypse lite happens and your barbie gun goes hungry but your re-shaped shovel from krapistan is still affordable…  Don’t delay, order some today…

No idea why my brain is where it’s at, but there is still time to stock up on some things.   Body armor might be a smart choice, if you’ve got everything else taken care of…

No matter what it is, you probably don’t have enough if things really go sideways.

Keep stacking.




(did I mention I tipped the AAA service guy with a few N95 masks?  It felt…. very strange.  The world is changing around us.)


Wed. May 13, 2020 – Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month

Rainy and wet. [so wrong, 76F and sun is out]

Yesterday was nice, but humid. Really humid compared to the last couple of days. We got actual rain too, after dinner and sporadically all night.

I did get some stuff done, but no where near what I would have liked. I’ll keep chipping away at it though.

I did receive checks from my auction of the full face PAPR respirators. Made decent money on them. They went at slightly more than my low estimate. Also got paid for some items I couldn’t ebay. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it was money.

Dinner was elk roast. Details in last night’s comments. The central part of the roast was very similar to an eye round beef roast. The cooking, texture, and taste were very similar. Sides were the heat and eat shelf stable bread, and the root veg from the roasting pan. Dessert was Easter candy. I found a half bag of chocolate candy left over from Easter. Hooray!

I mention it in comments yesterday, but I’ll repeat it here. Wound care uses a LOT of supplies… even something as simple as a badly scraped knee. I restocked my medicine cabinet with wound wash, and kerlix from the deeper stores, but then went online to buy more. Some of what I wanted was out of stock everywhere but the arbitrageurs on ebay, and they were short. There were substitutes, but I’m taking it as a sign that things are tight. Supply chains are still disrupted, and demand might be higher than normal.

Check your stock of normal things that aren’t food. Do you have bandaids? Razor blades? Cosmetics and soaps? Gauze, nonstick pads, wrap, tape? Wound cleaning liquids? How about sewing supplies? Got needles and thread? Fusible liner? You might need to repair your high speed low drag web gear if the zombies beat you up. Is there something you usually just order when you need it? Time to check and see if it’s available.

Do you have some repair supplies in general? Crazy glue in different viscosities? Shoe Goo? 5 minute epoxy? Wood glue? Duct tape? Cellotape? Electrical tape? If we really are headed into a big downturn, repair and reuse is going to be important. How about expendables for your vehicles/mowers/garden tools like wipers, belts, air/oil/gas filters, a replacement pull rope? Oil, additives, Sta-bil?

Flints for lighters, butane, lighter fluid? Baling wire? Twine?

Further down the list but important, this home isolation looks like it will be continuing for a while yet, even if things don’t go to sh!t. Do you have playing cards, board games, dice? How about a Hoyle’s book of card games? Pens, pencils, paper? Art supplies? Software to replace something you play online? (My dad loved to play spyder solitaire on the pc, but win10 made it online only. I had to figure out how to install the games pack from win7 so he could play what he was familiar with.) Wife got out the watercolors and did some painting with the girls today for ‘art class”. We love puzzles, so I buy them at Goodwill if they are unopened. The mom’s club in the neighborhood has a puzzle swap going on for those who were not prepared. I find puzzles to be very soothing.

There’s a million things our grandparents or even parents would have kept on hand, just to save a trip to the store, if for no other reason. Think about your tool box or junk drawer, or anything you’d like to do if you had some extra time on your hands. Might want to get that stuff now, if you have the time and funds, and your “sustain life” stuff is all in order.

I’ve got to stop slacken and get back to stackin’…


Wed. Mar. 4, 2020 – more to do, time is short

Warm and wet.

Yesterday started in the high 60s and warmed up throughout the day. No rain for me though.

I picked up some extra food, OTC meds, and cleaners. Hospital grade and they have that smell… I hope I never have to use them.

But I suspect I will.

My wife and I both try to avoid carbs as much as we can so we’ve gotten out of the habit of eating potatoes, with the occasional exception for the little colorful heirloom ones or tiny reds roasted. But some of you will have noted that I’ve bought over 100 pounds of potatoes in the last couple of days. I’ve bought a bunch of onions too. Other than rice, I can’t think of anything as cheap, versatile, durable, and tasty as the potato. Combined with onion and a fat, it can be cooked in dozens of ways from simple baked to fried, mashed, twice baked, with additives, or even raw. 100 pounds for $35. 100 meals for 35USD and it will store for 100 days if kept cool and dry. Go get you some!

As a taste of what’s to come, I thin sliced a few, and saute’d them in bacon fat with sweet onion and served them with dinner. Kids ate them up and oldest daughter complimented me and asked for more. Low carb prepping is hard. It can be done, but it’s expensive. The bulk of my “bulk” stored food is not low carb. It is what it is, and at the very least, I can give it away if not needed. If needed, I’ll enjoy the flavors of the forbidden carbs….

Keep stacking folks. If you don’t need it you can celebrate that it missed us… if you do need it you’ll be glad you had it. Remember Italy. They went to bed on a normal day and work up under quarantine. When it happens it will be sudden and unwelcome and probably completely unexpected.


Tues. Oct. 22, 2019 – work, work, work…

Hot and wet? Could be, but it was beautiful by the end of the daylight hours yesterday. Sun came out, temps were held down, and the clear blue sky was great. Even had some pretty pinks and reds at dusk.

Picked up some of my auction items. Lots of parts for various build projects are piling up in the garage.

I’ll probably never get to them. Oh well, I’ll have them there if I need them.

Hit the Costco run yesterday and spent a bunch more than usual. Didn’t get bulk, but did pile a bunch of stuff in the cart. Sometimes my self-discipline sucks. I hope I do better at the grocery store today.

Rain delayed and shifted some of my plans so there is a cascade effect. Running around doing pickups added to that.

I’ve got my school volunteer days on Wed. and Thur. so I really need to get ahead of the curve.

Lots of yard decor to do too, but that falls down the list with each day.


Sun. Sept. 29, 2019 – donuts!

79f and saturated at 9am.

Wife and child have returned from an overnight GS thing. They brought an extra child home with them. And donuts, so that was OK… (someone will pick up extra child at some point. I hope.)

Sunny day and lots to do, and I’m just getting up. Lazy. That’s me. I better get started.


Monday, 18 July 2016

09:37 – Lots of interesting responses to the preparedness level thought experiment I posed yesterday, both in the comments here and via email. The typical level was about what I expected, somewhere between a couple weeks and a couple months. Some longer. Some much longer. The limiting items crossed all categories, from water to food to shelter to power. Interestingly, very few people answered my question about how comfortable they were with their level of preparedness and what, if anything, they were actually going to do about it. If you haven’t answered or would like to amplify your answer, leave a comment or send me an email.

Two of my shiest readers, Jen and Brittany, were among those who replied via email. As I expected, Jen’s answer was that her family of six is prepared pretty much across the board for one year plus, with backups to their backups. Brittany says her family of four is good at this point for probably two or three months, with food the limiting factor. They haven’t received the foil-laminate gallon bags from the LDS on-line store yet, so they have lots of bulk staples sitting in bags awaiting repackaging, and plan to buy still more of those this week, along with a lot of canned goods. Her guess is that they’ll be up to six months by the end of July and a year by the end of August.

Brittany brought up powdered eggs, which are kind of an odd situation. Back when I bought our initial supply (about 84 dozen worth), I paid about $17 per 33-ounce #10 can for Augason Farms whole egg powder from Walmart. With the chicken plague last year, that price shot up to ridiculous levels, over $50/can for a while. Meanwhile, the chicken population has recovered to the extent that eggs are a drug on the market. From a high of nearly $3/dozen wholesale last year, the price bottomed out at $0.55/dozen wholesale a couple months ago. It’s now recovered to just under $1/dozen, but that should still make powdered eggs pretty cheap. When I looked several days ago, Walmart was still charging over $30/can for Augason Farms eggs, when they should be about half that. (It’s not Walmart; the retail price on the AF site is still very high.) Brittany asked about Walton/Rainy Day powdered eggs. Their #10 cans hold 48 ounces rather than 33, which is pretty odd in itself, and their retail price is about $30/can. Resellers list it at $22/can or so, which is actually cheaper per ounce than I paid at Walmart before the chicken plague. But both the Rainy Day website and reseller websites list it as out of stock. Not sure why that is, unless preppers are stocking up in bulk. And I note that the Rainy Days website lists a 10-pack of #10 cans of powdered eggs at $150, or $15 per three pound can. Also out of stock, of course.

Brittany is also concerned about cooking/baking in a long-term emergency, so she was considering ordering a solar oven. There are several popular models out there, most of which sell in the $250 to $400 range. I told Brittany that in my opinion that’s a lot of money for not much product, and I thought she’d be better off making her own. She can make a functional solar oven from cardboard boxes, shredded newspaper, and a sheet of glass or plastic. If she wants a more durable solar oven and is willing to spend a little money on it, she can get her husband to knock something together with some boards, plywood, black spray paint, and aluminum foil.

In my research on solar ovens, I learned something I’d never considered. I always thought a solar oven used a transparent cover made of glass or Plexiglas, but many solar ovens just use simple plastic sheeting (like a disposable drop cloth). I recently ordered a 10-pack of True Liberty Goose Bags. They’re US-made, 18×24 inches (46×61 cm), food-safe, and rated for use up to 400F. The double layer of plastic with an air gap provides excellent insulation, and should allow a box oven with reflectors to get up over 200F even in cold weather. The Goose Bags are large enough to make a good size solar oven, cost under a buck apiece, and I’d rather use them in an emergency than be pulling windows off the house.

One of our upcoming minor projects will be to knock together a solar oven from boards and Masonite that I can use to test temperatures. I’m told that one can even bake bread in a solar oven, although it may take several hours and may not brown well. A solar oven also gets hot enough to kill microorganisms in water, so it’s a good option for water purification.

Friday, 1 July 2016

09:32 – I got an interesting email from a guy who’s about my age, and has been a pharmacist for almost 40 years. He started in a hospital pharmacy, worked for an independent drugstore for a few years, and for the last 25+ years has worked for a national drugstore chain.

Things have changed a lot in that time. Years ago, he spent a lot of time keeping track of inventory, discarding drugs that were nearing expiration, and manually ordering to replenish the supply. Nowadays, it’s all computerized just-in-time. They get a delivery every day, with the computers at the central warehouse deciding what items to ship and how much of each. The only time he has to order manually is if he needs oddball items for which the demand is sporadic. If they need something they’re out of, it’s delivered via overnight express. He said that’s why having prescriptions partially filled is a lot more common than it used to be. I’d actually noticed that myself. In the last several years, Barbara has had several prescriptions partially filled and we had to return the next day to the pharmacy to get the rest of the prescription.

This guy has been a prepper since 9/11. As he says, most preppers understand that JIT inventory systems for supermarkets mean that there’s only about a 3-day supply of food in local supermarkets at any one time, but most don’t realize that the same or worse is true of pharmacies. If the trucks ever stop rolling for any reason, local drug inventories will be exhausted very quickly. Especially because in a serious emergency, just as with supermarkets, what would normally be a 3-day supply will disappear in a few hours as people refill prescriptions to make sure they don’t run out.

His advice for people whose lives depend on medications is to convince their physicians to write prescriptions for the longest term and most refills they’re willing to do and that their insurance will cover. Refill them as soon as possible, and ask your physician if each medication can be stored in the freezer. With the exception of some liquid medications, notably insulin, most can. Store any excess medications that are freezable in the freezer, where they will remain usable for years to decades.

For those of us who don’t routinely take prescription medications, the most important thing to store is antibiotics. You might never need them, but if you do it may be the difference between life and death. I wrote about that here, including links to specific antibiotics at Interestingly, not long after I posted that article six months ago, aquabiotics received a visit from the feds and stopped selling antibiotics. Just the other day, I visited their site and found they were again offering antibiotics. If you haven’t already stocked up, you might want to grab some now while the getting is good.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

08:59 – Barbara is due back sometime this afternoon. I’ve told Colin, but he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m telling him. Or perhaps he’s like Duncan. When Barbara was gone overnight or longer, Duncan used to shun her when she returned.

I’ve been thinking about cooking and baking in a grid-down situation. Obviously, if that happens during cold weather, we’d be running our wood stove. The flat top of that is more than hot enough to use for frying, boiling water, etc. and our Coleman Camp Oven would allow us to bake on it as well. Granted, that oven has only a 10-inch (25.4 cm) square rack, so it’d be limited to baking one standard loaf of bread or perhaps two smaller ones at a time, but it would be useful. As long as the wood stove was burning, we could turn out one oven load every hour or so, 24 hours a day if necessary. For that matter, given fuel, we could cook/bake on our propane grill, Coleman propane stove, or Coleman dual-fuel stove. Or we could build a Rocket stove from concrete blocks.

Because the ability to cook and bake is so important, I want to have backups to our backups to our backups. So I’ve been researching solar ovens. I’ve read several books and webpages devoted to them, and I conclude that it’d be more accurate to call them solar crockpots than solar ovens. Short of an finicky parabolic or Fresnel-based focusing oven, which requires constant adjustment to keep the beam focused, standard solar box ovens top out at around 350F (~177C), and that’s only with $250+ commercial models under ideal conditions. Realistically, figure 250F to 275F, if you’re lucky. Still, that’s hot enough to boil water, cook meat, make casseroles, and even to bake (and brown) bread. It’s just that everything takes a lot longer to cook or bake. Instead of popping dinner in the oven an hour before you intend to eat, you pop it into the solar slow-cooker in the morning to have it finished by dinner time. Not that overcooking is an issue at all. At the temperatures reached in a solar box oven, something may be cooked after four or five hours, but it doesn’t hurt to leave it cooking for several more hours.

I’m using this page as a starting point, and more particularly, this model. I’d make a few changes to the design. I don’t want a cardboard solar cooker. A sudden cloudburst could destroy the oven. Instead, I’d make it with 1X12 boards, glued and screwed, for the sides, with masonite or thin plywood for the bottom and reflector(s). I may never have time to actually build one, short of a disaster, but I do want to have everything I need on hand to build several of these if we ever need them. I’d prefer a wooden structure, but I’d use cardboard boxes if necessary. Doing it that way, one can make a usable solar oven with two or three dollars’ worth of materials. A lot of the stuff you’d need can be found around most homes–cardboard boxes, glue, aluminum foil, and so on–but there are a couple items I’d want to keep on hand specifically for these ovens.

First, although I could make field-expedient black paint (or even just rub the inner surfaces of the oven with charcoal), I’d want to have a few cans of flat black high-temperature spray paint. In addition to blackening the inside surface of the oven, this stuff can be used for blackening the exterior surfaces of pots and other vessels so they’ll absorb the heat instead of reflecting it. Cast iron cookware is preferred for use in solar cookers, but ordinary aluminum, stainless steel, or chromed pots work just as well if you blacken the exterior surfaces. In fact, I’d probably spray paint the cast iron stuff as well. I’d run a new solar cooker and freshly-painted empty vessels for a full day in the sun just to drive off any residual chemicals from the paint. Incidentally, this kind of spray paint is also useful for blackening the outside of soft drink bottles to prevent algae growth if you’re using them for container gardening.

The best material for the glazing is double glass panels with an insulating air gap, but ordinary window glass works almost as well, as does heat-resistant plastic. I could probably scrounge enough window glass to make several solar cookers, but turkey-size oven bags are inexpensive, heat-resistant to 400F, a good size for a solar cooker, and reasonably durable. In a pinch, you could probably substitute the clear 4-mil plastic sheeting sold as disposable drop clothes, but it probably wouldn’t be as durable.

Friday, 21 August 2015

08:39 – Barbara returns sometime this afternoon or this evening, which means Colin and I need to get rid of the nekkid women and dead bodies. Fortunately, we get recycling pickup (blue cart) and trash pickup (black cart) today, so I figure we’ll recycle the nekkid women and toss the corpses in the trash. Or vice versa. We got yard waste pickup (green cart) yesterday, but neither Colin nor I was quite ready to get rid of the nekkid women. Or the dead bodies.

Nearly all of my time this week was devoted to working on science kit stuff, but here’s what I did to prep this week:

  • I bought a box of 15 packets of Oral Rehydration Salts, with each packet sufficient to make up a one-liter serving. Actually, we stock the chemicals we’d need to make up hundreds of liters of ORS solution on-the-fly, but I wanted the commercial product to shoot an image for the book. Also, it’s not a bad idea to have these on hand for an emergency, and they’re cheap enough. What’s bizarre is that they have an expiration date two years after the manufacturing date. All the packets contain is anhydrous glucose and some inorganic salts, all of which have real shelf lives measured in centuries or millennia. These won’t go bad any time soon.
  • I continued work on our long-term food storage inventory spreadsheet. Overall, we’re in pretty good shape, although there are a couple areas that need attention.

So, what precisely did you do to prepare this week? Tell me about it in the comments.

11:49 – When I was talking to Kim yesterday, she mentioned that her aunt had just been taken by ambulance to the hospital. I figured she must be pretty old, since Kim’s mother, Mary, is in her mid-80’s. I asked Kim if this was her mother’s sister or her dad’s. Kim said, no, that it was actually her great-aunt, her mother’s aunt. My estimate of the patient’s age went way up.

When I talked to Mary this morning, she said her aunt had a urinary tract infection. UTIs can be very serious, particularly in older women, where they’re often asymptomatic until the infection is well advanced. One of the standard treatments for UTIs in patients who can tolerate sulfa drugs is sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, AKA SMZ/TMP. Like all sulfas, sulfamethoxazole is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is useful for a lot more than UTIs. But bacterial resistance to sulfas is pretty widespread, so they’re often used in combination with TMP or another DHFR inhibitor. The two in combination work synergistically and are more effective in most situations than sulfas used alone.

From a prepping standpoint, a lot of people buy Thomas Labs Bird Sulfa tablets, which contain 400 mg of SMZ and 80 mg of TMP each, or Fish Sulfa Forte, which are twice that amount. The problem is the cost, which is $0.50 per tablet or thereabouts. Here’s one place that sells bottles of 500 SMZ/TMP tablets (800/160 mg) for $115, or less than half the cost per tablet. If you’re storing antibiotics for a large family or group, you might want to grab a bottle and stick it in the freezer.

Note that I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Sulfa drugs would not be my first choice of a broad-spectrum antibiotic, not least because severe sulfa allergies are quite common. But SMZ/TMP is effective against a pretty large number of bacterial pathogens, and it’s something I’d want in my toolkit.

I just added a new category that I’ll use when I write about something that I’ve found that’s particularly important or a particularly good deal.