Mon. June 14, 2021 – a fresh new week!

Hot and humid. Possibility of rain. Yada yada, Houston, mumble… Yeah well it got to 107F in the sun at my house yesterday so that’s pretty stinking hot. And I mean stinking, especially after working outside… Today should be similar, with rain possible in the national forecast. It was still high 80s when I went to bed, so if the front moves in and brings some cooling with the rain, I guess I’ll live with rain.

Spent yesterday doing stuff around the house, and not much of it. Other than cutting the grass in the hottest part of the day, I mostly hid in my office. I did get two of my radios finally connected back up to their antennas and power supply, so that was something off the list. They might still have some cabling clean up in their future, but for now, I can at least listen again.

My auction pickup was vintage camping gear. There was a vintage sleeping bag (Comfy, Seattle Quilt Co) that might be worth some money, and a brand new lantern that I have to take a good look at. Styled like a coleman, but all shiny chrome, some research is in order. With the vintage pair of Filson boots I picked up at Goodwill, all I need is a red flannel shirt and I’m all set to hit the woods, 60s style.

While I was in and out of my office, I ripped another 20 or 30 CDs and 15 or 20 DVDs. Haven’t figured out why the Bluray disks won’t rip, but I haven’t looked too hard given all the other stuff on my list.

I updated my NVR linux install. It hasn’t been stable at all, but it’s the MS dotnet stuff that keeps crashing. At least once a day I get a seg fault or some other error, so I decided to try running update. I de-selected all the “move to the next version of dotnet (5)” stuff because it broke the NVR last time. That left the linux stuff and the fixes to dotnet 3. If it hasn’t crashed by later this morning, there has been an improvement.

In-laws were safely delivered to the airport and JetBlue’s tender mercies, so I have my house to myself again. Didn’t make MIL cry this visit, so that’s a win. Didn’t really talk to her at all about anything though. Didn’t say much to FIL either. My wife and I both love our families but there are reasons we live 2000 miles away. I wish it were different but if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.* I try very hard to not get between them and the grandkids, except when my kids need protecting from their bizarre ideas. Fun to eavesdrop when oldest supports Trump in conversations with them. They dodge and bail on the subject pretty quickly. When a 12yo sees the truth, it’s pretty obvious and only the willfully blind refuse to see.

Today I’m stuck at home with the kids so I’ll be doing office and PC stuff. There is plenty of it to do. And when I get stressed, I’ll play with the puppy.

Keep stacking.

nick

*or living on a spaceship

Thur. June 3, 2021 – these short weeks confuse my sense of time

Wednesday stayed nice all day. We were on the edge of the forecast storm area and once again missed it. Even openweathermap.org had us getting rain around 4pm… and they were both right and wrong. Right on time I got about 4 drops on my windshield, and that was it. We got a spatter at 7pm, but never really got any significant rain. I’m hoping for similar results today.

I have a pickup or two to do, and it would be easier to drop the kids at the pool than listen to them in the car for an hour. Unfortunately my pickups are near the airports, one each, so not a short drive. Worth it though for the stuff. One estate sale netted me an item at below market, even after tax and transfer fees. Unless I missed something in the pictures, I got a good deal on something that is in high demand and somewhat short supply.

I didn’t get any ammo in the auctions this week though, as the prices are still at retail or higher, for old and mismatched rounds.

Speaking of mismatched, I have enough accessories that I can’t sell on ebay (or use myself) that I’m considering selling on gunbroker. Anyone have experience with the actual process? I mostly use them for price checking.

I’d put some of the stuff in local auctions but my “household stuff” guy shut me down for a while. I WON’T be dropping off this load until they clear out some room in their warehouse. And THAT sucks dead bunnies. I’m getting a bit desperate to move some of this stuff.

In other news, I got another dozen blueberries off the bushes yesterday. I think I’ve passed last year’s total harvest now… The tomatoes are taking over the plots and the kitchen. Now my wife is looking at taking a half bushel to the local food bank today. They supposedly take garden produce.

Speaking of food banks, the state wants to give us another SNAP card for the school lunches we won’t be getting – because school is out for the summer. I ended up using the last one to buy food and donate it to the food bank for Thanksgiving meals. I think I will do the same with this one. We qualify (regardless of income) because our kids attend schools that offer free breakfasts and lunches to every student (because we have so many kids that qualify, they give them to everyone). Bread and circuses. F the world.

And WRT the world, I don’t know WHY we’re seeing all the china flu revelations, or why FauxXi is suddenly not receiving cover from the press, but I like it. I do want to know what they are distracting us from seeing though. They’ll be reporting on it, just not emphasizing it, or featuring it. It will be there though, so they can point back to it later. Crypto and debt currently not featured… hm.

Stack what you can. Lots of people are late coming to the party but there are still seats at the table and canapes’ being passed… we’re definitely in the ‘new normal’ though. Increased prices, increased violence, increased awareness, and increased shortages. The trend lines don’t look great to me. Anyone who can offer a counter narrative, I’m willing to hear it, indeed, I WANT to hear it, but there has to be some factual basis for the narrative. I may object to the facts, or to the interpretation, but I would like to hear it, if ya got one.

In the absence of other instruction, keep stacking.

nick

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

Thur. Feb. 18, 2021 – losing track of the days…

Cold again, supposed to get a hard freeze tonight.   Yesterday felt colder than it was.   With the sub-freezing temps, it was very dry, but with the advent of the melting and the rain, humidity was HIGH and the damp cold felt REALLY damn cold.   (srsly, some of you are laughing but it hurt it was so cold.)  35F at 930pm down from 38F and higher during the day.

As I figured I would, I got the chance to help out a couple of neighbors.  (We are a neighborhood.   I live on a cul de sac, and about half of us are ‘chat in the street, talk about the kids’ friendly, especially after the storms and hurricanes, etc.  The other half we just never see except to wave as they drive by.  And that is a bit of an issue but not one to solve in a day.)

I helped the family across the street get their 1950s era gennie running.   It ran in the summer but wouldn’t start now.   There were a couple of minor things, the metal piece you touch to the spark plug to shut it off was too close to the plug and was grounding it out and there was water in the fuel and carb.   Drained a half cup through the carb and float bowl, reset the idle speed, and it fired on the 5th or 6th pull.   Ran pretty well too.   Put my meter on it, 57hz and 115v – so, well within range to be expected.   Small engine repair is a real world usable skill and being able to get and keep your gear running could save your life.   Youtube probably has someone fixing exactly your problem, but to learn small engine trouble shooting and repair in general, and be entertained by a guy who loves what he does, spend some time watching Mustie1.

Did a welfare check on the elderly couple down the block and found out  they didn’t have heat, or a way to cook food because of the power outage, so I brought them a gallon of already hot water, a single burner coleman stove, and a Mr Heater Little Buddy .  Unfortunately it looks like that single burner Coleman is out of production.   That is a real shame because it stores easily and uses the same bottle as the Mr Heaters and Coleman lanterns.    My wife loves it for Girl Scout camping.   I’ve picked up a couple at yard sales or estate sales and there are two on ebay for crazy money.   If you were going to standardize on 1 pound propane bottles, I’d recommend a small stove that uses the bottle, one of the Mr Heater Buddys, and maybe a lantern (and only because you won’t be caught with dead batteries).

The lantern is iffy, because the Streamlight lantern is so good, I can’t really recommend anything else as a serious area light.   Anything you’re going to be moving around with you and setting in different places will always be safer if it’s not fire.   I have a dozen of the cheap little battery powered LED lanterns from Costco, the kids use them at camp and around the house as toys.   They actually work pretty well, and like cheap flashlights, buy a bunch and scatter them everywhere for convenience.  But for disasters, when you need light, I love my Streamlight Siege.  Mine normally lives on the floor beside my bed within easy reach.  My wife loves her smaller Siege too.

Later in the day I got a call from my buddy about borrowing a space heater.    I loaned him the one from the garage.   It would have been pretty hard to say no to a friend with kids just to heat the garage (not that I would have.)  It does bring up a point.   Having multiples of items isn’t just a good idea for redundancy, what with two being one and one being none.  Unless zombies are eating people on your front lawn, you are probably going to want to help people in your circle/tribe/etc if you can.  Unless it’s truly TEOTWAWKI, people WILL remember your help or lack thereof, and it would be an extraordinary individual that wouldn’t look for payback later.   Just sayin’.  Help where you can.  Build your community.   Later you can help them build their own resilience.

Plan for today is more of the same, with some additional experimentation if possible.   We’ll see if I get to it.  And I just realized I was going to do a “why the 5 gallon bucket is the preppers multitool” post, but got completely sidetracked by my life…   Jeez, it’s like I’m on instagraam jumping around shouting “look at me!!!” in a bikini.   Now try to get that image out of your head.  You are stocked up on eye bleach right?   😉

Keep stacking.   And ask yourself the question I never asked about storms in winter, “What if the disaster comes when I’m NOT expecting it to?”

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