Wed. April 14, 2021 – things to do outside the house today…

Probably raining, probably warmish, although yesterday wasn’t rainy despite the forecast. It did start misty, and it did sprinkle later in the evening. Big fat lot of nothing during the day.

Spent the day arranging for my next dropoff and cleaning my office. Did two loads of laundry too. Had to stay close to home so I could pick up child 2 from school at 230.

Moved some stuff to storage, brought home a duffel I forgot about. Some stuff from the Goodwill Outlet, for the stack. While the vast majority of the outlet customers were fighting over 25c tshirts, I got an Orvis light weight fishing gear type long sleeve shirt, an Orvis heavy plaid long sleeve shirt, a fleece vest from Helly Hansen, and a rain shell from Mammut. The duffel was Eagle Creek. That’s about $500-600 new retail worth of stuff, all in like new condition. The whole bin was full of outdoor active wear, but most of it was cotton and (other than the plaid flannel shirt) I’ve stopped wearing cotton shirts. They must have dumped one guy’s donation box straight into the bin. It looks like it was never worn. If it’s raining later today I’ll be trying out the Mammut jacket to see if it’s really worth what they get for them. I paid $1.20 / pound. Better living for less, that’s me.

Quick update on my linux NVR… since reinstalling, and letting the update run for everything, it runs ok until it crashes. Seg faults, bo>virtual fail faults, and another one, happen at least once a day. The NVR server crashes, and just stops running. I notice that there aren’t any cam views displayed because the browser lost its connection to the NVR server, restart the server, and it works again. Well, I also noticed that 3 of my cam streams, all from the same model of camera, in the same aspect and resolution, were having visual artifacts. The bottom half of the image would ‘tear’ and turn into vertical lines, and jump around before looking normal. Watching the terminal output log, there were ffmpeg errors thrown at roughly the same time. Anyhow, I recall the install instructions talking about not using the ffmpeg that came with the distro, and there are instructions for getting the version they want you to have… which set me off to google to figure out how to downgrade or undo the update. Looking more closely at it though, the installed ffmpeg was from the correct place and was the same version. So what was different? Firefox updated too.

Guessing that FFox might be the issue, I installed chromium (the NVR developers preferred browser), and noticed there were ffmpeg helpers to install specifically for chromium, so I monkey punched the install, accepted whatever it offered or required, and started chromium instead of FFox to attach to the server… I haven’t had a crash or artifact in the stream since. If this keeps up, I may be finally to a stable and up to date state for the stupid thing. I had also installed chromium on the previous installation, but used FFox most of the time. Maybe the codec, or ffmpeg helpers or something needs to be there and they didn’t notice because they all just use chromium. Since I’m not using the browser for anything other than displaying the live cam views and managing the server, I don’t care what browser it is.

That messing around ate part of the day too.

So today I’ve got one pickup, some other errands to run, hopefully a visit to do some work at my secondary, and more office cleaning (which is also moving radio power supplies, UPSs, antenna feed lines, power strips, storage drawers, my vinyl cutter, monitors, and the huge pile of accreted ‘stuff’.) And that leaves off any attempts to get my old drives re-mounted in my new NAS (for recovery), or to get my existing NAS back under the desk and back on the network to run a good backup. I really don’t want to lose over 500 movie rips, or the hundreds of albums either.

I like civilization, and I really don’t want to lose it. Can’t get a backup in place…

So I keep stacking, and going through the stacks, and sorting, storing, and selling. You should too…

n

Tues. Mar. 30, 2021- not a completely lost day…

Cool and sunny, chance of rain. Yesterday started cold and wet but ended up very nice. Some threatening skies to the south, but nice at my house! Huge full moon glowing low in the sky at 7am when I took child one to the bus.

I didn’t enjoy the day much though. Felt “off” and went back to sleep after getting the kids out the door. Woke up a couple hours later, so dizzy I could barely walk or stand. Thankfully that passed and I just felt tired, slightly dizzy, and a little nauseous. More ‘achy’ than the day of the shot too. We’ll see how today shapes up. By all accounts, I should be over most of my symptoms soon.

Spent what was left of the day ripping DVDs to disk, poking at my linux box, and getting paperwork in order for tax preparation. I actually got things done in all three areas. The NVR is finally back. It looks like someone put the required packages back where they were, and everything installed and started running. It took a bit of google and poking at it to get my settings to look right, and get the stupid thing saving video in the right place. It looks like it’s working, and without the previous issues.

I got some of the huge pile of paper I need to go through organized too. Today I’ll do more with that. Maybe I’ll do my mileage too. That will help get us ready to file our taxes. I’ll have to actually pay my TX business taxes before we can file the Federal income taxes. No state income tax in Texas though. and some years we get a deduction for the sales tax we paid. Still a huge pain in the backside to do all the required filing and recordkeeping.

There is stuff going on in the world of finance that could be the beginning of the great unwinding, or could be just one more signpost on the way. Better minds than mine will have to decide, but it’s time to look around and pay attention to it. Decide for yourself it it’s a stumble or a fall. I’m no financial genius, and this isn’t advice, but consider taking profits if you have them. I was chatting with a young woman in the checkout lane at the Goodwill Outlet and she showed my how she uses an app called Cash App for her finances. She bought $10 of Tesla while we were standing there, with cash she got from reselling thrift store items. She gets ‘loyalty’ money from the app in bitcoin… which is also available inside the app. I didn’t have a chance to ask her if she ever sells, and what kind of reporting the app gives her for tax purposes, but consider that there are likely 10s of thousands of people just like her poking away at the market, and crypto, and that they likely have very little understanding of what’s really going on. It felt VERY much like talking to a virgin house flipper in 2008…. Be warned.

My stacking lately has been limited to items that are expensive and difficult to find locally. I feel like I’ve got a good base of the basics, and if opportunity knocks with specialty items I should answer the door. That said, waiting just 3 weeks to rotate my gasoline before hurricane season is going to hurt my wallet. My delay in replacing my truck will cost me more than if I’d bought two weeks ago. Inflation? or simple supply and demand? Who can be sure, but prices are going up around here.

If it is inflation, turning money into goods is generally a good strategy. If it goes hyper, you can’t do it fast enough. Can’t happen here? I’m sure the others who have experienced it thought the same thing.

No matter the current reason, I think it’s almost always a good idea to keep stacking (durable things, long lasting things, things you absolutely need, or things that are very easy to convert to other things). You know the drill…

nick

Sat. Mar. 27, 2021 – the weekend is just two more days to work…

Cool but dry, clear, and sunny. I hope. Yesterday was that way and it was great.

I managed to load the truck, but not to drop off anything at the auctioneer’s. She got called away for some other thing that came up. I’ll drop off today, after I get the J&J&j shot. I’m scheduled for 11am. Not really looking forward to that, but ‘a happy wife is a happy life…’ and all that.

After my dropoff, I need to spend some time at my secondary getting stuff thrown out, and getting stuff ready to take to the other ‘industrial’ auction.

Meanwhile, the world turns.

Ebola is back in the news, with a group being watched in Oregon after travel to an area with an outbreak. The chances are slim for a problem with this group but there will be others. If it gets here, some people are gonna die. And we’ll be lining up for the shot…’cuz that stuff ain’t no joke.

Street violence seems to be way up with publicized attacks on asians and elderly. Hell, kids too, with the guy who stabbed the 12yo kid in the neck. That can be taken as an indicator that we’re on the downhill slope. Prepare yourself mentally and physically.

There are more supply chain problems and shortages coming too. My buddy in OK reports that his Home Depot is limiting purchases of drywall and drywall mud and believes both will be in short supply for a while. Lumber prices are way up, but I think that’s due to strong demand more than any disruption.

About 10% of my grocery order was out of stock between when I ordered and when it got shopped, and there was a long list of items I’d bought before that weren’t available when I shopped. Things are very much still not normal.

In a situation with intermittent availability, you need to buy it when you see it, and buy some for later. I’m fully restocked on paper goods, and will keep adding to the pile. I’ve got meat in the freezer, and bulk buckets of starch, sugar, and carbs. I’m trying to build up some meds. I’m still buying ammo if I can and the price is OK. I thought about putting some steel cased 9mm in the auction, but I’m reluctant. I don’t want to shoot it, but it beats having nothing… the real question is what I would do with the money, and does THAT make it worth doing. With Executive Orders coming, I’d recommend sucking it up and paying what you have to if you are still short in the bang department, assuming you can get what you need at any price.

In other words, stack it. And keep stacking it.

And keep your head on a swivel if you venture forth.

nick

Fri. Mar. 26, 2021 – weird used to intrigue me, not so much anymore…

Pleasant and cool, with sun and a breeze.  A lot like yesterday once the overcast blew out.

Spent the whole day indoors.   Kept plugging away at stuff in my office, and getting stuff ready for the auction.   Ended up rescheduling my dropoff for today when I realized I had a bunch of small items that all needed me to mess with them a bit before sending them, but that the money difference made it worthwhile.  So I cranked through a bunch of minor repairs, in between moving stuff around and doing my normal interweb things.  And poking at my NVR…  and doing the paperwork for my passport renewal… and other paperwork too.  Not what I was hoping to do but progress on a number of smaller goals.

Oh yeah, and spent an hour watching the President give a short speech and then get a tongue bath from the press.  Oh there were a couple of questions that sent him drifting off the rails, but OMG, one of them managed to sanctify him and damn Trump in the same breath.

I’ll admit there were a few times when he was saying stuff that sounded good, like actually providing a partial demographic breakdown of the illegals.  But that was mostly when he started to drift off message, and then he would just stop mid sentence and switch gears.  And there were flat out lies, misdirections, and contradictory statements following each other.

He looked less feeble than some other times, but his eyes and eyebrows are very strange, he had trouble controlling his speaking volume (considering all the practice a half century of “public service” has given him), and he needed extensive notes.  It was the longest I’ve seen him go without someone hovering near his elbow or just barely close enough to catch him if he falls.  Normally he’s got at least one person watching him like he was a toddler walking the top rail of a fence.

He played a couple of weird moments for laughs, and I don’t know if they were intended to be funny or if he just saved a gaffe.  Some of those things are being quoted without context.   I’d like to THINK he’s an affable guy, playing the fool for laughs, but I suspect that’s not what was happening.

To top it all off, he shuffles his feet like he can’t lift them normally, and he’s got a couple of weird tics that I associate with age and confusion.  I wasn’t looking to be impressed, and I wasn’t.  The whole business about whether or not he’d run next time was especially weird.    It’s like he doesn’t expect to be around for that, so why bother?  I agree with him on that.

He’s a train wreck.  Called Putin names.  Called other countries’ leaders thieves.  Promised more gun control, more government spending on stuff the private sector does better, bragged about the crusts he tossed to the peons, forgetting that it was THEIR money to start with.  Bagged on the rich, trotted out the old lines about greedy bigcorps not paying taxes, plugged the unions, all the normal playbook.  On the plus side, I didn’t have to hear Kamel laugh.

It’s getting weird out there folks.  Something’s gonna give.  And it’s a lot easier to break than build.  Get the stuff you need now, while you can, if you can.  And stack it high.

nick

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