Tuesday, 27 September 2016

10:13 – I can’t remember for sure the last time I saw any of a presidential debate. I may have seen part of the 1980 debate, but the last time I remember for sure seeing part of a debate was Kennedy versus Nixon in 1960. I watched a few minutes of last night’s debate, and now I understand why I waited so long. I don’t intend to watch another for at least 56 more years.

I watched it on the Roku box on CBS (I think; I installed the ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox/PBS channels on the Roku yesterday and then just picked whichever one was at the top of the screen). What immediately struck me was that Trump seemed normal while speaking, while Clinton’s mouth was moving out of sync with her voice. I suspect someone was standing behind the curtain with his hand up her back, making her mouth move. It reminded me of Chuck and Bob on Soap, except that Chuck and Bob had better lip sync. I suppose Clinton’s rictus was supposed to be a smile, but she reportedly actually smiles so seldom that she was in danger of breaking her face.

UPS showed up yesterday with my Walmart.com order. One of the boxes was only slightly dented, which for UPS is doing good, but the second box was crushed and ripped. We opened that one while the UPS guy was still there. Surprisingly, given the condition of the box, nothing was missing or damaged. There were two one-gallon plastic jugs of pancake syrup, two five-pound paper sacks of corn meal, and four four-packs of 16-ounce canned chili beans. As usual, Walmart used a box that was too large for the contents, giving those four-pack bowling balls lots of room to bounce around and crunch anything else in the box. They made their usual concession to packing materials by tossing a small piece of bubble-wrap and one small air bag into the box. Just enough to be gratuitous without actually helping to pad the contents.

Not for the first time, Barbara remonstrated with me for ordering stuff from Walmart, asking why on earth I’d order from a vendor who did such a horrible packing job. I told her that sometimes they packed stuff well. For example, the last time I ordered Bertolli Alfredo sauce, they packed all dozen of the jars individually within the box, presumably because they’re glass and even a moron knows what’s going to happen if you ship a dozen glass jars loose. But the real reason I order from Walmart is that they offer a lot of things that aren’t available elsewhere, and that their prices are considerably lower on many items. Amazon might carry the same stuff, and they would pack it well for shipping, but they’d also charge a lot extra, often 50% or more.

Email overnight from Jessica, which is the first email I’ve gotten from her other than her request to get her hooked up with Jen and Brittany. In the past, it’s been her husband, Jason, I’ve exchanged email with. Since Jason and Jessica are both on-board with prepping, that’s unusual. Most email I get from newbie preppers is from women, I think because they’re much more open to asking questions about things they’re not experts on.

Jessica said one of the things that she’s concerned about that hasn’t been talked about much here is nuclear radiation emergencies, whether from a nuke plant meltdown, a terrorist dirty bomb, or a full nuclear attack. I sent her links to several useful on-line documents. She asked specifically about potassium iodide or iodate tablets, and I recommended that, given their ages, these are something they should stock. Iodide or iodate tablets protect against one very specific risk: thyroid cancer caused by ingesting or inhaling radioactive iodine. The tablets provide an excess of non-radioactive iodine, which floods the thyroid and prevents uptake of the radioactive iodine. Because thyroid cancers are very slow-developing and because there are downsides to high doses of iodine, authorities recommend taking iodide/iodate tablets only if someone has been exposed to radioactive particulates and only if that person is under 40 years old. There are also considerations for taking them during pregnancy. I sent Jessica links to information about all of these issues.



Saturday, 3 September 2016

09:50 – Robbie, Lori’s regular substitute, just showed up with the mail. Two boxes for us, one from Amazon and one from Walmart, all kit stuff. The back of Robbie’s vehicle was crammed full of boxes, nearly all Amazon.

Amazon really is taking over US retail, one step at a time. Robbie told me something this morning that I wasn’t aware of. Early every morning, an Amazon truck shows up at our local post office. I figured Amazon used FedEx or UPS to get boxes to local post offices. But, no. If Amazon is running a daily delivery truck to little Sparta, NC, you know they have to be doing the same for nearly all US post offices. Robbie said there were usually 200 or 300 packages on that Amazon truck, and that’s only going to increase as Amazon continues to stamp out their competition. I told Robbie that it wouldn’t surprise me if, a few years from now, Amazon went into direct competition with USPS, UPS, and FedEx by delivering directly to customers. The only difference is that they’ll be delivering only Amazon shipments, although it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go after UPS and FedEx customers, at least at first.

Our friends are supposed to arrive late this morning. They’ll be staying until Monday afternoon, so Colin is about to have a big weekend. More people to boss around and check on in the middle of the night, more food to beg, more of all the stuff he likes to do.

Since we moved up here last December, we’ve established a morning routine for Colin. When Barbara gets up, she gives him breakfast, immediately after which I put him on leash and take him out for his morning constitutional. We stay on our property the whole time. I just mentioned to Barbara the other day that I wanted to get Colin in the habit of going off-leash. The weather is fine right now, but before long we’ll have snow and ice on the ground, and the last thing I need is a 70-pound dog putting it in four-paw drive while I try to hold onto the leash without falling.

So this morning, I took Colin off-leash. Sure enough, he followed the same route we walk every morning. When we finished walking that route, I shouted, “In the house!” and he trotted up to the front door and waited to be let in. Good dog.


10:31 – Ruh-roh. Email from Jessica, who wants to contact Jen and Brittany directly via email. I emailed Brittany and Jen to ask their permission to share their email addresses, and I’m guessing they’ll agree.

I think of prepping as a sex-neutral activity, so I’m not sure why prepper girls apparently want to talk with each other privately, away from prepper guys. I mean, it’s not as if there are any sex-specific prepping issues, activities, or supplies, other than the obvious. Are there?


Monday, 15 August 2016

09:46 – Barbara yanked out our pathetic broccoli plants the other day. Their leaves looked moth-eaten, and there were no heads developing. Lori, our mail carrier, is just the latest person to tell us that broccoli doesn’t do well up here. Too bad. Barbara and I both like broccoli.

We need to figure out by trial what works for us and what doesn’t, but that’s true of any gardener anywhere. The climate here is definitely different from Winston-Salem. I just realized yesterday that our first frost and first snow up here will probably occur in September, while it’s still summer. It reminds me a bit of growing up in New Castle, PA, where one year I remember there were still traces of snow on the ground on my birthday, in early June.

Email from Jason. He and Jessica now each have a shotgun. They decided to pay the extra price to get Remington 870 pumps. Both are in 20 gauge for ammunition commonality. Jason’s is a standard model, and Jessica’s is a youth model to suit her smaller frame. They also picked up 20 boxes of buckshot to give them 50 rounds per gun as a starting point.

Given that they both work and they have a young child to care for, Jessica convinced Jason that they didn’t have time to repackage bulk staples, so they decided to make a run or runs to their nearest LDS Home Storage Center and pick up a bunch of dry staples in #10 cans. That costs more than buying 50-pound bags of stuff and repackaging it themselves, but they both considered that a worthwhile trade-off. That fits well with the considerable amount of food they’ve already bought at Sam’s, most of which is canned. At my recommendation, they’re buying a lot of white flour rather than wheat. It’s rated at only a 10-year shelf life, but in fact it’ll be good for far longer and it’s much more convenient to use, particularly under emergency conditions. That also means they don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a good mill.

They do plan to repackage some stuff at home, mainly dry staples that the LDS HSC doesn’t offer. And they’re already putting together an order for Augason Farms stuff in #10 cans and pails. To address the water issue, they’ve already bought several foil packages of HTH for water purification, as well as a Sawyer PointZeroTwo micro-filter. They have easy access to surface water, so an ongoing source of water won’t be a problem. Their goal is to have a one-year supply of food for their family complete in the next 30 days. I suspect they’ll achieve that goal.

With Jen, Brittany, and now Jason/Jessica, I’m seeing an interesting phenomenon. I’ve been exchanging email with newbie preppers for a long time, but there seems to be a new sense of urgency. Instead of just thinking about it and talking about it, a lot more people seem to be actually doing something about it. I suspect the BLM rioting, muslim terrorism, police shootings, and the upcoming election have something to do with that.





Saturday, 13 August 2016

10:31 – Barbara is off to the wellness center to volunteer for a day-long event for the library reading program. She’s picking up take-out for dinner on her way home.

We made an apple crisp yesterday for our dessert/snack, using apples from the tree in our back yard. We kind of combined two or three different recipes, and it turned out well.

I read Locker Nine: A Novel of Societal Collapse, Franklin Horton’s latest, last night. Unlike most self-published PA novels, Horton’s are well-written and well-edited. He does a professional job all around. This book follows his three-part Borrowed World series, which is also excellent. Amazingly, he writes these things on his lunch hour at his regular job. He’s smart enough to pay for professional editing, layout/formatting, and covers. It shows. His books are indistinguishable from traditionally published books. Of course, none of that would matter if the content wasn’t also professionally done, which it is. This boy can write.

Email overnight from another newbie prepper. I’ll call this one Jason. He’s 33 and his wife, Jessica, is 31. They have a toddler, and another child on the way. They both work, and have a decent middle-class income. They bought a house five years ago, just before his wife found out she was pregnant with their first child. They have a mortgage, two car payments, child-care expenses, and all the other financial commitments typical for a young married couple, but they live within their means. Their home is in a nice suburb of a mid-size city in a metro area of just over 100,000 population. Like most people, they follow the news, and they’re both getting extremely concerned about what’s going on in this country.

A couple weeks ago, they decided to start getting prepared for whatever is coming down the road. They made a Sam’s Club run and stocked up on cases of canned goods and lots of bottled water. Jason and Jessica have both been spending a lot of time browsing prepping sites, and are overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they need to think about, buy, and do, and the decisions they need to make. Jason said his top priority at the moment was to buy a gun because they have no means of defending themselves. Neither of them have any experience with guns, and Jason wanted my advice about what to buy.

As is my habit, I answered his direct question first. Since they’re prepping on a budget, I told him that the best and most economical choice for him (and his wife, if he wants a gun for her as well) was a short-barreled pump-action tactical shotgun. For anyone large enough to stand the significant recoil, I said the Best-Buy award in my opinion went to the Mossberg Maverick 88 tactical shotgun in 12 gauge, which can be purchased for under $200. Jason said Jess is “five-foot nothing and 95 pounds dripping wet.” I told him in that case a 12 gauge with heavy buckshot loads is much too much gun for her. The alternatives would be to buy a 20-gauge Remington 870 or Mossberg 500/590 for Jess (or both of them) or to buy reduced power 12-gauge buckshot loads for the Maverick 88. The advantage to both of them using 20 gauge is ammunition commonality. The disadvantage of the Remington 870 or Mossberg 500/590 is that they cost $150 to $250 more than the Maverick 88.

I suggested to Jason that no matter how many and which shotguns they buy, they should buy 100 to 250 rounds of mixed buckshot and rifled slugs for them, along with a bunch of #7-1/2 birdshot rounds that they can use at their local sporting clays range to achieve basic competence with a shotgun. I also suggested that they fire at least a dozen or so rounds of the serious stuff to get accustomed to the difference in recoil between light birdshot rounds and serious defensive rounds.

Other than that, I suggested that their top priority should be securing a reliable long-term supply of water, getting their food stocks built up (including powdered baby formula) and the means to cook that food, and making some provision for staying warm in winter. Jason has been following this blog for several months and Jessica has started reading it, so I’m sure they’ll pick up a lot by osmosis.

Back to science kit stuff. I’m going to make up solutions while Barbara is gone today.