Wed. Dec. 16, 2020 – I’m TNT, I’m dy-no-mite…

Cool, but no rain forecast.

Tuesday it rained.  All over town in varying degree.  Lots where I was.  Not so much at home.

I ran my errands.  Fixed the plumbing issue at my rent house.  Got it the first time, with the stuff I had with me, and didn’t have to do the second part after all….   that’s two miracles and a ‘nice save’…. I feel like a lotto winner.

Of course I also found out that my tenants are getting married in May.  Which means I’ll need new tenants when they get pregnant.  House is fine for two, too small for three.  And he had the ‘rona, but she never got it.  Locked in with him, and him with both symptoms (mild to ‘this sh!t sucks’) and a positive test, her with two negative tests.   Three whole weeks and she never got it.  Crazy.

Harvested two stalks of broccoli from the garden.  They are about fist sized heads.   Maybe they’ll be dinner tonight.

While sitting at my computer I’ve been ripping my way through the hundreds of CDs in the two binders I picked up.  The burned copies were all bad.  But I’ve been having good luck with the commercial disks.  Almost all have ripped, although some have taken a whole lot of re-reading and oversampling.  A couple just needed washing, and I polished 2 so far that I really wanted to rip.    I’ve done a couple hundred so far with the same left to go.  Then the physical media goes to storage.  I’m not the guy who rips his collection then sells all the disks…  anyway, I like owning physical media.  After this, I’ll have just about every Lynyrd Skynyrd disk ever released- something that wasn’t one of my life goals, but I’m a completist.   If I’m going to burn all the disks, I’ll burn ALL the disks.  Even 20 or more Skynyrd disks.  Le sigh.

Today I’m home with the student, so I’ll be doing home stuff.  There’s certainly plenty to do.

Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do some stacking…  Something I recommend to everyone 😉

nick

 

 

Sun. Dec. 13, 2020 – street skirmishes in the nation’s capitol…

Well, in Houston it’s cool and damp.

Elsewhere Civil War II is heating up.  There are a couple of links late yesterday.

Yesterday I did get some stuff done.  Most of what I was hoping to accomplish, but still not anywhere near what was needed.  Today if the weather holds, I’ll head over to my secondary location and do some work over there.

Got the tree up and decorated.  House smells nice.  My wife and girls are baking cookies today.

It’s a bit crazy that while I was watching a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian (stilted, heavy handed, third writer and still it’s meh) there was fighting in the streets of DC.  I was pretty sure it would hold off until after Christmas, but I guess the anger is growing faster than I thought.  That is the problem with being comfortable here in Houston.  I have a hard time getting a sense of the real mood and conditions in the rest of the country.

Things do tend to change slowly until they change all at once.  We might be closer to flipping the switch than I thought.  Use what time you have to improve your position.  This isn’t going away, and it isn’t getting better without getting a whole lot worse first.

Stack it as high as you can.

Nick

 

Wed. Dec. 9, 2020 – up late, tired, stuff to do

Cool and windy, still damp.

I did get a few things done yesterday.  I didn’t do plumbing at the rent house (tenant nixed the plan, had critical zoom meetings), I didn’t take another load to the auctioneer, and I only got some of the Christmas lights up.

I did get some stuff put away in the garage.  So that helps somewhat.  And did laundry, cooked dinner, fed the child lunch, answered math questions, and other general domestic bliss.  Still didn’t get groceries ordered.

All but the plumbing slips to today.  Joy.

Time to do a big push.

All of you were busy as beavers getting ready for the coming troubles, so I know I don’t even have to say it… but I will.  Keep stacking.  Work harder.  Lord knows I need to.

 

n

Wed. Dec. 2, 2020 – both the Advent calendar and the Elf on the Shelf are back

Cool and damp, windy and cool, but no more freezes this week.

Froze here for about 8 hours Monday night though.  I really hope my citrus made it through.  I didn’t remember the warning and was busy so I didn’t cover anything.  I think the lowest it got was 28F and it was there for about 4 hours.  I am really unhappy about that and I’m kicking myself in the nethers for the oversight.

I spent the day yesterday doing auction stuff.  Didn’t get much else done.  Had a moment of weirdness when I noticed a guy standing around in my ‘troubling’ neighbor’s yard.  He looked like a contractor, and was acting like a contractor waiting for a meeting about the house, but the neighbor’s elementary age kids were just coming home from school, and had forgotten their door key.  So they couldn’t just walk past the guy and enter, they had to walk past him twice.  I was in the front yard watching because it caught my attention.  The kids went around to the back, and the guy got a ladder and got up on the roof.  I went to look into the back yard and make sure the kids got in, while keeping an eye on the guy.   He finished on the roof and left.  If it weren’t for the timing, I might not have noticed, but then again, something caught my attention.

The mom and dad came home shortly after, because the kids called about a strange guy in the yard and on the roof.  (They rent, so it could be legit, just something the owner didn’t mention.)  The parents were freaked and came to talk to us about what I saw or didn’t see.  We had a good talk for about half an hour about security issues and calling the Constable’s deputies if anything weird is going on.  She related that on more than one occasion a truck was parked in front of her house watching or waiting, and that one time the truck followed her out of the subdivision.   I gave them the Constable’s number and suggested that that would be an EXCELLENT time to call for a driveby….   I’ve mentioned before that something is going on with these two.  They were super keyed in on my cameras, they had the very tense custody exchange shortly after moving in, and he did the whole ‘get up in your face and see if you back down’ with me the first time we met.  I don’t usually back down.  My normal reaction is to step into it, and mention some of my experiences with cops or crims, depending on which I think will de-escalate the best.  Some things I just ignore* while noting them.  In any case, he cooled off that time.  (Did I mention, both have tats with probable gang history, although nothing as obvious as signs or facial markings.  To be fair, a lot of early middle-aged people in this area have some evidence of past indiscretion on their bodies, so it didn’t concern me but I did note it.)

I think I’ll move my new camera install back to the top of the list, pointed to cover the area in front of their house.  I have good video of the guy’s truck, but nothing great of the guy.  He’s probably just a roofing contractor who was supposed to meet the owner, and the owner didn’t show for some reason.  Probably.  But he didn’t have a front plate on his truck, and he disappeared around the back, up the driveway for a few minutes while I was watching.  Momma said he looked in her car (she didn’t waste any time putting cameras up to cover their vehicles after they moved in, and she knows her way around the system if she checked the video that quickly.)  Hopefully the landlord will shed some light, otherwise we notch up the security level.

Looking at the video took me a bit longer than I expected.  Linux has different tools for playback than I am used to, but I got good recordings of the incident.  I’ve got the motion sensitivity turned too far down for the onboard recording at the camera, as I didn’t get his truck driving away in native resolution on the cam.  I have to take another look at that.  It’s been my experience that no matter what the system, or how you’ve configured and tested it, until you go looking for video of an actual incident you don’t REALLY know what it’s recording or not, and if it’s what you need.

I’m home today with the student, so I’ll continue the auction and ebay preps, and maybe get up on the roof with a new camera.  (Both my plumber and my auction drop off got canceled yesterday, leaving me at loose ends.)  Thursday filled up, so I need to be productive today.  It’s always something.

Oh, and I went through the shelves of food I just stacked in March.  I moved some to my ‘working’ shelves, and I think I’ll move the rest back to my secondary location.  That will free up some space here, and give me some redundancy.  Turns out, I don’t need those 8 gallons of bleach to be so close to hand.  And some buckets of bulk can be shifted too.

On the other hand, I’ve got 7 cu ft of freezer to fill.

Keep your eyes and ears open.  Keep stacking.

nick

 

*once I was chatting with my local work crew in LA.  Quite a few of them had the signs of previously mis-spent youth.  I mentioned that I grew up on the South Side of Chicago (south suburbs to be exact, but South Side has a richer connotation.)  They had previously asked me “where you stay at” which is a dialectical way of asking ‘where do you live right now’.  That particular phrase indicates a subculture I’m familiar with, so when they asked me “who I was with” or “who I ‘claimed'” they were asking me about MY past gang affiliation.  Since I had none, and that would have been all in the past anyway, I ignored the questions like I didn’t hear them and kept on chatting.  Eventually though, they kept poking at it (good-naturedly) and I ended up saying “I know what you’re asking and I am not hearing you ask it, cuz I ain’t gonna answer it” which got a laugh,  and then I made some jokes about throwing signs and tags that got some more laughs.  That worked out ok because they were technically working for me, were mostly guys I’d worked with on other shows, and it was friendly and in a ‘lets see what this white boy really knows’ kinda way…   In another time or place I would have let those questions blow right by me like I didn’t even recognize what they were asking.  Sometimes it’s better to be a player, or to have BEEN a player (even better as you don’t have to keep up the same level of face) and sometimes it’s better to be a ‘civilian’ and off limits and out of play…and sometimes if you are 200 pounds with a grey crew cut, and drive a white Expedition with a push bar it’s better to let them make other assumptions about who you  might work for.

Mon. Nov. 30, 2020 – really counting down the year now

Cool but hopefully no rain.

We could use the chance to dry out now that we got all that rain.  The ground is squishy.

Yesterday I spent way too long monkey punching my linux install to get my NVR software running again.   Linux does some dumb things.  So does my NVR software.  Still, it’s orders of magnitude more stable than the windows version, and I don’t have Gates and Co.  messing with my computer every month or whenever they feel like it.  Still not something I’d put on a customer site unless they had a wild mix of cams that were not supported by hardware NVR or VMS (video management system).  With the ONVIF standard for IP cams, it’s getting to be rare that a camera isn’t supported by newer hardware.

I do feel a lot better with the cams recording to my NVR as well as internally.

The new range hood project should be finished today.  I’ve got to get the exhaust duct connected and supported, and Bog’s my carbuncle.

Christmas break is now only 3 weeks away.  I should get some decor out if the weather holds.   It was CHILLY yesterday, as well as damp.  I’ve got citrus still ripening on the trees, so I hope we aren’t going to get a frost for a while yet.  No fall garden, that’s clear now.  Except… my broccoli is putting out florets.  I’ll be happy to eat them, and the other dark leafy veg might be collards.  In any case, the leaves are looking edible to me…   But new veg?  Not happening.

So that means stacking some more cans of veg.  Because I won’t be feeding us from the garden.

Other supplies, especially defensive stuff has been very limited availability, and high price relative to last year.  Cheap compared to January, I think.   If I had money, and access to the stock, I’d buy a pallet of ammo.  But neither of those things are true.    If you are short of what you’d like, sign up for palmetto state armory’s enewsletter.  They are rumored to have one of the big manufacturers as a partner or owner, and while they are (in)famous for their inexpensive ARs, they also have been getting stock of defensive handguns, shotguns, and parts.  They’ve had more inventory than most of the other places I check.  AR500 armor had a sale on, if you think some body armor might be a good idea.  It takes a while to get your order fulfilled by them, so you might want to look around.  Their product seems good though, and their prices were low.  Ammo is hit or miss.  Rocky Brasss newsletter, or GrabAGun’s, or one of the linker sites like ammoseek.com is probably your best bet.  Expect to pay $1/rnd for 556/223, and 50c to $1/rnd for common pistol calibers, much more for anything fancy.  Airsoft or BB guns will let you work common problems without breaking the bank…

Think about what you will do if some restrictive laws do get passed, and DON’T tell anyone that you’ve decided on anything other than selling all your stuff quick before the laws take effect.  Make sure you have a bill of sale… even if it’s just to A. Random Patriot.  When bad things happen they tend to happen all at once, and very rapidly.

Times are going to get tough, no matter what happens with the election, or the wuflu.  Too many cans have been kicked down the road.  Too many things have become un-tethered from reality.  Far too many people aren’t able to hold a contrary thought in their heads, and react violently to the suggestion that they should.

It’s not too late to shore up some weak spots, but it will be soon.  How soon is yet to be seen.  The longer you wait the more it will cost and the harder it will be.

So keep stacking,

nick

Wed. Oct. 28, 2020 – getting closer to Halloween

Cool.  Wet.  Dreary.  Like yesterday.

It never got much warmer than 70F and it started in with a misty drizzle around 4pm.  Generally yucky all day.

I made my pickup on the other side of town.  A couple of preps this time.  There were two deep cycle batteries, very cheap, in unknown condition; a commercial inverter, a couple of gallons of vegetable oil, some PPEs for chainsawing, and some other small items.  I’ll get the batteries on my charger/conditioner today and see how they look.  The inverter needs a good exam too, but it was priced right.

I spent much of the rest of the day fighting to get my security cam software running on linux.  It LOOKED like a straightforward process, but turned out to be a big pain in my backside.  Most of the story is in yesterday’s comments.  Long story short, it’s currently working, and seems much more solid than the windows version.  Unless you have some unusual cameras you just have to use, I’m not recommending iSpy and a roll your own approach at the moment.  I saved about $1000 off the price of a commercial NVR of the same capacity, and I did get to use a mix of cams I already had, but there have been some challenges along the way.  If you don’t want to mess around with it, I can recommend some ‘pro-sumer’ level gear to you.

I find that my biggest use of the cams is to look outside from my desk and see “what’s making that noise out front?”  Most of my clients have expressed the same idea, they use it to look around when they see something.  Breakins and other camera worthy things are thankfully rare.  Checking on the pool, or which diesel truck is idling out front is much more common.  Of course if there is an incident, having the video is a great help.

Today I’m home and working on the same things, plus getting youngest child going on her costume, and working on at least one of my new Halloween displays.  It’s not prepping, or dealing with all the other stuff, but keeping up some normality is important, especially for the kids (and not just mine, but the ones coming to Trick or Treat too.)

These are likely to be the ‘good old times’ if even half the stuff coming down the pike gets here.  On it’s face it sounds extreme- to think that we better make this special or that special, in case we don’t get the chance next time.  But nothing in this world is certain, except that no one gets out alive.  And we BETTER make it special, because whether from civil war, disease, economic collapse, or simple poor health or a traffic accident, we might not get another chance.

Keep stacking.

nick

Tues. Oct. 27, 2020 – Taco Tuesday! Or maybe not.

Cooler and humid.  We’re supposed to get some Fall weather for a few days.  The national forecast also says ‘rain’ or really thundershowers possible.

Monday was mostly overcast depending on your part of town.  Houston is a collection of micro-climates and even the local forecasts aren’t local enough.

I did my pickups, got some gub stuff and some household stuff.  That ate my afternoon by the time I got the stuff and went by my secondary location to drop some of it off.  I brought home some of what I need for my halloween candy dispensing machine too.

Before I left the house though, I went looking for a drive for my NVR pc.  Grabbing some drives from my box-o-random drives, I plugged them in to see what was what.   Two of the 4 were dead- clicks and whines, no platter spin up.   Two were fine, spun right up, partitioned and formatted no issues.  The dead ones were both Seagate, the good ones both WD Caviar Green.  Tiny sample size and old random drives from who knows where, but it was striking.

Had a police chopper orbiting over the neighborhood again too.  Then he went straight up a major street until it ended, then followed another to a point where he orbited, then back to the barn.  Looks like they were watching someone, who ran.  They followed until he ran out of road, watched for a while, then left.    The flight radar website was very helpful.

That led to some playing around with scanners for a while, but nothing productive.  I never did hear any chatter about the chase.

Closer to home I put the motion sensor for the “Driveway Patrol” on the porch and the receiver at my desk.  Even with the camera covering the front porch, I’ve been surprised to find a package waiting on the porch.  I really want to know if someone is at my door.  So I picked one up at an estate auction, and it works great.    Now I see the flashing light when someone approaches the door and I can glance at the camera and respond or not.

Small steps, baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

And I encourage you to take some steps toward your own goals.  Some of those steps should be stacking the stuff you might need later…

 

n

Thur. Oct. 22, 2020 – lots of weird looking dates this month

Cooler, maybe some rain.  Certainly humid.

Almost 10F cooler outside than in my  office when I wrote this late last night.   During the day it got into the low 90s in the sun, but it took longer, and it didn’t stay there very long.  I expect the same today, only there is a bigger chance of rain.

Daughter one got on the right bus twice yesterday and got where she was supposed to be first try.  Nice change of pace :-/   She’s still adjusting to being at school all day.  She says “it’s exhausting”.   Daughter two likes virtual better than in person, but is getting bored being chained to the lappy.  The district (passing the buck to the state) has managed to crush the best aspect of remote learning by requiring the kids to stay in sight of the lappy camera for their  required time.  No more finishing your work and taking out a book… no  more working ahead either- by diktat of the district.

I managed to sell a couple of items on ebay, so I’ve got shipping to do today.  One is easy, just a medium flat rate box.   The other is sensitive and going to Germany, so needs a sturdy and large box.  I hope I got the weight right, for the buyer’s sake.  He’s pre-paying for the shipping based on what I had in the listing.  I was offering free shipping so I didn’t worry too much about the weight I listed.  Hmm.  I wonder what happens if it weighs more than I thought? Never came up before.  Nice to have some items selling though.

Spent a bunch of time getting some stuff ready to list.  It ate more time than I thought, so I still don’t have my NVR running on linux.   It’s running under windows, even if I can’t see the live cam view, it is still saving the video files so I’ve got coverage if something happens.  I got really used to just glancing up to see what’s going on outside though.  I can still access the stream from the cameras individually, it just takes another couple of steps.   Carry that task over to today.


Not much movement on the campaign trail, given the explosive nature of the allegations against the Bidens.  There must be some frantic activity behind closed doors.  If the stuff in the emails is true, and no one seems to be saying it’s not, then the only way to avoid jail is to win the Presidency, or hope that being the failed candidate is a shield, like it was for Hillarity.   Or fake a medical issue and then retire to ‘spend more time with family.’

Uncertainty is not good for markets.  The markets and the ‘financialization’ of our economy have gotten us into a lot of trouble and will likely get us into more.  I feel better with food in the freezer and a big pile of stuff to use if the going gets tough.  I think it’s probably a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’, so keep stacking.

n

 

 

Wed. Oct. 21, 2020 – busy at home today

Cooler, cold front supposed to be coming in, and I can’t wait.

It was very humid but a bit cooler yesterday.  That made it nice for most of the day.  It was a bit too warm in the afternoon for me to wear my LA Police Gear Covert Casual Shirt.  I don’t know why but it’s the hottest shirt I own, short of flannel.  The idea is great- longer tail and hem, snaps instead of buttons, pattern to break up any ‘printing’… all details that are well executed and aimed at concealed handgun carriers.  Unfortunately, I broil in the shirt.  Oh well, maybe it’ll be cool enough next month.

Today’s agenda includes the computer work I didn’t get done yesterday which is mainly getting the PC I use with my security cams completely switched over to linux.   If that goes well, maybe I’ll get my NAS out of the safe and run some backups.

At some point, in the interest of reducing clutter (for my wife) I want to start ripping all my bluray and dvd movies.  Anyone who has built a home media library, I’d like to hear about what you did and if you like the result. Also, what you use to access it.  It’s something I can do in between other things, just feeding disks into  a machine while working at my desk.  I think it’s a massive undertaking, but I might as well get started.

I’ve also got to get more stuff out of the house.  I did get a few more things listed, and even got a lowball offer one item.  SO MUCH more to go though.

Socially, there is Halloween coming too.  With the rain, I haven’t done any more decor, but I did decide what I want to do to keep my distance from the little disease bags that come begging…  I think I can do it with a minimum of effort, using stuff I already have.  Just have to dress it up a bit.  I want to do at least one of the new elements I’ve been planning for a couple of years to the displays too.  I’ve got everything I need for an awesome 3D Eye of Sauron.  I haven’t picked a spot for it or put all the elements together yet.  I still have a couple of days to do something.   I think it’s REALLY important to continue participating in the social and cultural milieu especially as things get bad.  Not ‘band on the Titanic’ bad, but I want to keep the normal traditions going as much as possible.  It’s our culture that needs to be preserved.

Add in the normal ‘kids are home’ and domestic bliss activities, along with my never ending list of cleaning and organizing, and my day should be full.


I can’t even begin to make a prediction about the current Presidential race, but I don’t see how Sleepy Joe can avoid the taint of what’s coming out involving his son and family.  If it was Trump’s son in Hunter’s place, the mob would be screaming for his blood, not making excuses and trying to discredit the revelations or bury them.  The world has gone mad, with the population gone bi-polar.  I try to sit on the fulcrum and watch both sides move up and down, but I know which side I’d declare for if I had to.  I put up my Thin Blue Line flag last night, even if it gets me on some lefty’s list.  It’s not very grey man, but then I normally fly the Stars and Strips, and the Lone Star, so adding a flag isn’t much of an additional statement.  They already know where my sympathies lie.

I’m trying to get my house in order, and make room for more stacks… I’ll suggest that if you haven’t started putting some by, it’ll cost you more at this point, but it will likely be invaluable later.  Get started.  Keep going.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

Tues. Oct. 20, 2020 – 10-20-2020 huh.

Cooler and wet.  Maybe some sunshine later.

Got rain and humidity yesterday.  Lots of both.  It kept me inside, since I was home with my student, and my wife was at the office.

So I decided it was time to mess with upgrading my NVR computer and software.  I was running ispy Agent on win10.  I am very tired of windows updating and killing my recording.  Agent has a version for linux….   well.   I updated agent and it failed to restart, so I had my motivation.

I also needed to add a much bigger hard drive, which has just been sitting here waiting for a good time.  Putting the UPS that’s sitting here in line with that pc has been on the list for a while.  Fractal.  That’s my to do list.

Had to clear a spot for the UPS and that meant vacuuming up the dust bunnies.  Then it wasn’t charged so I got to listen to that beeping for a while.  Pulled the pc and opened it up.  Blew it out.  I had installed the second 4TB drive with zip ties.  I don’t remember doing it, but I guess I did.  There isn’t any second drive cage in this little HP midsize case.  So where would the new 8TB go?  Pliers.  Case mod.  Foam and zip tie.  I fit the 4TB in tighter and strapped the 8 to it.  It’s pretty clean if a bit tight.  Budget models are technically expandable, but they (probably rightly) don’t really think anyone will.  Still would have been nice to have the drive cage included.  I noticed I still have a ram slot open.  I’ll have to look at filling that.

Why leave the 4TB drive?  Mainly as a place to archive any interesting video.

Formatted the 8TB drive under windows, made sure the Agent software really was borked by the update.  Inserted USB stick and booted to Mint.  Decided to just install it as a dual boot, but couldn’t.   The stock Dell drive has like a thousand partitions hidden on it– well at least 4.  Mint couldn’t or wouldn’t figure out how to just install alongside windows (even though that was a choice) and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I needed to do.  So I decided to try installing the Agent software on the live distro…

Which actually worked, after some cut and paste errors, and some user error on my part.  Remember that I’m just really sitting here monkey punching the keyboard.  But after several tries, I got it installed and started.  And it works.  It’s pegging all 8 cores, but the video is smooth and clear.  I did quickly run out of disk space, because the default install uses the same drive for storage, and there just wasn’t any space.  That’s when  I tried to point it at my new 8TB drive.  Sorry Charley, read only file system.  After poking at it, doing what seemed logical and watching it LOOK like it changed the permissions, it still didn’t really.

I shut off recording for the night, and have been just watching to see if the server is stable, which was my other issue with the software running on windows. (agent runs as a server, you interact with it using a browser.)   It’s always disconnecting from the server and I get a blank screen rather than the camera views.  So far it’s been stable and hasn’t disconnected yet.

Today I’ll be swapping the main drive for a blank and installing Mint for real.  I’ll have to reinstall all the codecs, software, and settings but hopefully that will be good and stable for a long time after that.

I might boot back to windows to do the file deleting and space clearing I want to do  on the 4TB first, just because I’m more familiar with it.

All in all it’s more messing around than I wanted, but MS is making it increasingly clear that they consider your pc to be theirs and they’ll do what they want, whenever they want.  I don’t care for that.

I’ve also got to pick up a couple of things today.  Wife is working from home so she can watch the younger one while I go out.

More household stuff from the auctions.    I’ve created a monster.


The news isn’t getting any better.  Biden would be cooked, resigning in disgrace if he weren’t their only hope to defeat Orangeman.  They literally can’t acknowledge that he’s crooked because of what they’ve got invested in him emotionally.  HE can bow out, but I don’t think he will.  I do expect a rash of single vehicle crashes, and overdose/suicide/mystery deaths.  I expect some other distractions too.

Stay away from crowds.  And keep stacking.

 

nick