Sat. July 11, 2020 – continuing to sweat, and work, and work, and work

Hot and humid again.  Same same.

Yesterday stayed hot hot hot all day.  And sweat through to your skin in 5 minutes humid.

So, while I didn’t get much done in the garage, given that it was more than 109F in there, I did yard work.  Cut the grass, pulled a couple of weeds.   Cleaned up the rest of the mess the heavy trash guys left.  Cut and stacked the free firewood.  (Used the electric chainsaw.)  Pushed dirt around the bottom of the pool.

Then did my auction pickup.   Helped load the old bedroom furniture into a lady’s truck (3 trips to fit it all).  Cooked dinner.  Put the kids to bed.  Read more Tales of Alvin Maker: Prentice Alvin to the oldest.  Watched some youtube.

Dinner was some super scraggly and thin asparagus from the last supply drop, and almost 2 pounds of sirloin steak from the freezer.  My 9yo ate the biggest hunk, half a pound at least, and more than I ate.  She is a vicious little carnivore.  Last year’s girl scout cookies for dessert.

Today I’m really really really trying to get the freezer into the garage.  I’ve got to get a ton of shirt out first, and it’s hot.  But I need to get it settled and start stocking it again.  I’ve also looked at freezer temperature alarms, and they are either cheap and poorly reviewed, or pretty dang pricey.  I’ve got normal digital thermometers on the fridge and the chest freezer.  They don’t alarm though, but you can see at a glance the actual temps.  I’m going to look some more before deciding what to get.  I sure don’t want to lose another freezer full.

Speaking of a freezer full, with additional space I’ll be able to store more frozen fruits and veg.  I don’t normally keep much besides meat and butter, with some bread products in the freezers.  My wife has a bag of fruit chunks for smoothies in the kitchen freezer.  One of the observations someone mentioned about the covid lockdowns so far was wishing they had more frozen fruit.  I hadn’t thought much about it, and I have canned fruit and fruit pie filling, but I don’t have much frozen.  I think I’ll add a shelf of frozen fruit to the pile.

Always something more to stack, keep at it.

nick

Thur. July 2, 2020 – last day of swim team

Hot and humid.

Yesterday was hot and humid, with a bit of a strong wind from the south on the south side of town.  The breeze helped a lot, but it was still stinking humid anywhere the breeze wasn’t.

Ran around town all afternoon doing pickups.   Stuff for my wife, and a few tactical items, and one or two lots of my hobby items.

Supply drop from Costco and HEB is mostly put away.  I spent last night breaking down the bulk meat into dinner sized packages, then vac sealed and froze them.   They’re in the new freezer too, even though it’s just sitting in the driveway.

I baked bread in the machine again Tuesday, and again it had a ‘sharp’ flavor too it.  I suspect that even though it’s edible, and not actually bad tasting, the flour from 2014 isn’t great.  So I ordered and received 50 pounds to replace the bucket or two from 2014.  Flour is cheap, we can get it, and I knew there would be some spoilage and waste with the way I stored it.  As mentioned, it doesn’t smell or taste funny or bad, but there is something that isn’t quite delicious when you bake with it.   Given that this isn’t the actual zombie apocalypse, replacing it makes sense.  Six years with no particular care taken to store it is a long time.

I was able to get clorox bleach from costco, the 3 gallon pack.  That’s a change.  Still only Kirkland brand TP, although they had kleenex tissues.  Still no clorox cleaners or wipes, and no lysol spray.

HEB had Prime top sirloin for $7/ pound.  I bought 6 pounds.  It was definitely ‘short time’ but that doesn’t bother me as it got vac sealed and frozen.  It wasn’t listed as short though.   That is cheaper than almost any of the beef except hamburger, and there were hamburger choices that were that much or more.  It is still possible to be a smart shopper, even remotely with instacart.

Today will be one last trip to the pool for swim team.  I decided that the kids really needed to see their friends and say goodbye.  They missed that when school ended and it really bothered them.  I hope it isn’t a mistake.  Cases and hospitalizations are both rising quite steadily in Houston and the rest of Texas, no matter what my friend says.  Hopefully he’s right and there is enough of everything, and that the panic is overblown.  I’m not panicked, I’m just sticking to what I decided to do early on.  It’s not ebola, but I still don’t want to roll the dice on it.

One of the local country clubs does a nice little fireworks show for their members that is visible from some public spots.  We went there last year, and they say they’ll be doing a show this year too.  We’ll be outdoors and distanced… if the weather is good.  Trying to find the balance  between staying isolated and going out to play in it is difficult.   Even I’m glad to be out and about, getting a break from being in the house.

It’s not just wuflu either.  The madness of some black lives matter is still ongoing, although it looks to be thoroughly co-opted by antifa and the prog/socialist left.  I put some links up yesterday or the night before with violence directed as us ‘normals’.  Keep your awareness up if you are going out.

And keep stacking while we can.

nick

 

Wed. June 24, 2020 – more of the same, sorta

Hot and humid.  [74F and dripping, overcast. I purely suck at weather forecasting]  It is Houston and summer….

Yesterday was hot and humid, although less of both than previous days this week.  Stuff was actually drying out once I dumped the standing water.  Sometimes we’ll go days with water in every nook and cranny because it just can’t evaporate.  And I was able to work outside for a while, without my vest or my head exploding.  Nice little break.

I took some time and did pool care.  Skimmed off the leaves, swept the bottom, and made a big siphon hose to suck out the debris.  My little siphon hose took too long and used too much water.  And it clogged easily on the half eaten pecans.  The damnable tree rats are chewing the still very undersized and unripe pecans in half.  That makes two marble sized pieces to drop in the pool, since they can’t eat them.  Bigger hose, stronger flow, less choking, and I had that cleaned up in a jiffy.

Then on to pulling some inventory to go to the local auction.  I’ve got two big black bins full, and more to go.  SO MUCH MORE.  The auction isn’t appropriate for all the sort of stuff I have to sell, more for the household/estate stuff than the industrial stuff, but I’ve got plenty of that too.  In the process, I was going through stuff in the house, on the patio, and in the garage.  Miles to go before I sleep, but every journey starts with a single step, right?

Dinner was Taco Tuesday.  Canned chicken, canned beans, tortillas and fixin’s from the fridge.

Daughter one has a visit with the orthodontist this morning.  We were doing a retainer to move some teeth around so they didn’t get damaged before we could do the braces.  She lost the retainer.  It’s been months, so it’s time for a reassessment.

Daughter two is complaining of a mild headache and feeling “pukey”.   No actual vomiting, but no appetite either.  I’m wondering where she picked up a bug, and the only answer is ‘swim practice’.   That is double plus ungood as it points out how easy it would be to get something else.  I’m not feeling great either, with occasional coughing, and some mild headache.  I’m blaming mine on allergies and doing too much reading with my cheap ‘cheater’ glasses.  We might stay home from swim today.  We’ll see.

As part of my cleaning up and moving stuff, I moved some rice from bags in the black bins to buckets with O2 absorbers.  I filled two buckets and could have filled a third and fourth with rice and another bucket with flour.  30 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, 2 cups a day, and each bucket is good for approximately 30 days.  That’s a nice tidy number and easy to see at a glance what inventory looks like in ‘days’.  I find it much easier to think in terms of ‘meals’ or ‘days’ when looking at my stored preps.  I absolutely never think in terms of ‘calories per day per person.’  Bob and I had some discussions about our different approaches to thinking about food, and I’m convinced that mine has fewer built in barriers to action, lower friction for the prepper, while his has the advantage of having math and science behind it.  Like a lot of prepping, it’s easy to go off into the weeds and to find reasons not to start.  “Oh, I have to figure out how many calories are in a bucket of flour before I start storing it.” “are mylar bags really necessary?  What about oxygen absorbers?  I don’t have any.”   Stuff like that.  My method feels a little more haphazard, but really, do you think in terms of making a pot of rice or of cooking 1700 calories of foodstuffs?

However you think of it, get started if you haven’t already.  I’m eating rice stored very haphazardly in 2014 and it is delicious.  (stored in a black bin, limited airflow, no vermin, constant comfortable temps.)  I didn’t use O2 absorbers, or repack into mylar, or any of the other things.  I saw a case of ebola in Dallas and panic bought a bunch of food.  I packed it tightly in bins at my secondary location, and ignored it until this year.  Because I moved it home, I’m repacking it into buckets as they are more air tight, and easier to move when full.

I’ve rotated the 2014 stuff to the front and put the 2019 and 2020 in the back.  If I move some back to my secondary storage, I’ll move the 2019 and 2020 food.  My point is, you don’t have to do it perfectly, or in any particular way at all.  You don’t NEED all the rest of the stuff or to spend a lot of time.   Rice is cheap.  Flour, sugar, salt, and even peanut oil (my stored fat) are cheap.  If you have some spoilage, it’s a small price to pay vs. NOT having any food.  To the staples, add canned food- meat, veg, and beans to start, fruit, pie filling, and ‘weirder’ stuff as you can.  The cans will do just fine for years if you keep them cool and dry without any other work on your part.

You can and should build off that food stockpile, but at least you won’t starve to death in the first 3 months of a disaster, whatever that might be (prolonged unemployment being the most common, sick spouse or kid being the second.)

So, get started, or keep going, but keep stacking.

 

nick

Fri. June 21, 2019 – already Friday again, jeez

82F and 90%RH. Never got a drop of rain yesterday, hope today goes the same. Openweathermap (henceforth OWM) has our high at 97 or 98F. It’ll be much hotter than that here in my driveway.

The march to war continues– https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-21/trump-backs-down-military-strike-iran-last-minute

This looks like classic Trump to me, promise some outrageous thing, let everyone freak about it, then offer the compromise. We’ll see. I’d prefer not to have a nuclear Iran, and the weaker they are, the better for stability in the middle east.

Lots of kid activities this week so not as many preps as I’d like, and I’m getting ready to head back to Chicago to help my mom with selling her house. I’ll probably be there a week.

The little tiny caterpillars were back with a vengeance and ate all the leaves off one grape vine and most off the other vine. It did reveal on bunch of grapes, which I split with littlest child. They were tasty with thick skins. I sprayed them with the thuricide and I hope the vines recover for next year. Grapes are a huge PITA.

We have one little apple growing on the tree, and one orange is still clinging to its tree too.

Peppers are still producing but tomatoes aren’t showing any fruit. Cukes and zukes haven’t died yet. The stems usually spit open at the ground level and get eaten by ants. I’ve been hitting them with different things hoping to find something that will get them thru the summer. Seems to be working so far. The plants in the one raised bed are still slowly bleaching to white and dying. No time to investigate that further. It MUST be an issues with the soil.

I did add another bucket of rice and some more cans to the stack. I can tell the hand warmers I’m using as O2 absorbers are working because the buckets ‘dent’ in.

I’ve mentioned it before but I think prepping to make tortillas/pita/naan/ or some other flat bread makes more sense than risen breads. They take less time, effort, and fuel. The staples of poor rural people and indigenous people the world over are refined by long history to be efficient in all those areas. (that root you have to smash for hours being an exception necessitated by a lack of alternatives.)

Someone mentioned that my SWAG at a couple of months food for my family was missing some things… yup. It was. There were LOTS of things missing from the list, but it was intended to show that it doesn’t have to be hard, or rocket science to stack a good amount of food. Also it’s what MY family (and by extension, most families I know) will eat. (If I was hispanic or german, the list would be different (and have more pickled stuff on it if german))

There are actually canned beans in the list (red, black, refried,bbq, drunken (borracho), and several others are on my shelves.) For preps, I prefer canned beans to dried. The water is already in the can. The cans are safe from rats and other vermin. The liquid in the can can be used as ‘sauce’ over rice. Of course, they are more expensive than dried beans, but they can be eaten cold from the can, only need to be warmed up to make them tasty, have flavor already added, and are generally easier, quicker, and thrifty with fuel.

If your family already eats chick peas, or dried beans, by all means store them in your preps! I wouldn’t want the list to be seen as EX-clusive. You should always feel free to go beyond or tweak for personal preference. For example, someone else mentioned canned potatoes. I have canned potatoes from a couple different makers with different styles of potato in them. I really like one particular can of sliced new potatoes. I’ve served them as a side dish lots of times. We don’t eat many potatoes though, and most canned versions don’t taste that good to me. I did list pouches of instant potato though. The name brand is really good, especially the varieties with added cheese and other flavors. If we had a real ‘no shit, hit the store for one last run’ event, besides all the overlooked cans, I’d grab bags of potatoes and onions. They store well (up to a year in good conditions) are cheap and versatile. But we personally don’t eat them often, so I usually only keep a couple of pounds of heritage baby potatoes in the pantry, and 10 pounds of onion… we do eat a lot of onion.

And I have to get the wife and kids out the door so I need to continue this later….

what did you do to prep this week?

nick

Fri. May 11, 2018 – again?

72F and humid, but clear skies. Should be another hot sweaty day here in Houston.

Friday again. More school activities. More stuff to do around the house. More, more, more…

This week I ordered (and received some) parts to rebuild the Portacool cooler I pulled from the trash. It should help me work outside in the heat, so I’m calling that a prep. It’s the reciprocal of making sure you have heat in the winter for those of us in a warm climate.

I think I won this round with the caterpillars that would eat my grape vines. I’ll keep an eye on them. Not sure what to do if you don’t have the right pest control. Soapy water and picking them off by hand seem to be the recommendation. Growing food takes a lot of time and effort if you don’t have access to modern tools. There’s a reason farm employment is down to like 1% of the population here.

The rats continue to make their presence known. I’m VERY reluctant to re-establish my shelves of food while I know there are some around. So the food sits in big black bins in stacks in the driveway. Even though it’s not as much food as I’d like, it still takes up more space than you’d think, stacked in the driveway. It’s also more difficult to USE the food when it’s in random stacked bins.

What have I learned from the rats? For canned food, a simple sheet of cardboard on top of the flat of cans would have kept the rat ‘debris’ off the can tops.

For boxed food, I’m not buying any more unless the contents are in plastic bags. The packaging can get ‘wet’ or otherwise damaged, and the food stays usable. Cheap pasta seems to be the biggest issue, with the pasta just in the treated cardboard.

For cases of plastic containers, like fruit cups, rotation is key. The damnable rats ate into the case from the rear, ate out the contents, and I never saw an indication… but when I went to pick up the case, it was nothing but an empty box, filled with empty cups and ‘debris’.

Rats are smart, adaptable, and seem to communicate. You probably won’t be able to get them with the same trick twice. This means lots of different control strategies.

Be aggressive in your response. I was tepid, let them get established, and they ate some very expensive food (and a ton of cheap food too). I’m still fighting them. They will eat your cooking oil, flavor packets, sauce mixes, shelf stable, pouch meals, boxed food, and anything else they can get their teeth through. They will ruin you cans if it goes on too long, even if they can’t eat them. Man up and KILL the little thieves.

So, what have you done or learned this week?

n

Fri. Feb. 16, 2019 Friday, again. Wow.

I’m tellin’ ya, time is flyin’ by….

70F and 99%RH. Moisture condensing on concrete deck and floor, and anything metal or solid in the garage. Can anyone say “less than ideal storage conditions?”

I did make a great dessert last night from “middle” term storage. I’ve found that the fruit cups from costco will discolor and the fruit gets mushy after the expiration date. This is pretty typical, “color and texture might change but contents remain healthy and safe” is true for cans as well. I’ve mentioned here before that when I notice that a case is aging out, I make fruit cobbler.

So last night, a delicious mango cobbler was made, and half was consumed after dinner. The mango tastes pretty much like peaches after canning. I used prepackaged cobbler mix. It couldn’t be much easier- melt butter, pour in mix with milk, dump in 4 fruit cups. Bake. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Kids asked for seconds. Success!

Managing your stores probably deserves a whole post, but the short story is — use what you have too much of. In other words, if we’ve eaten fewer eggs than normal, I will make something to eat that requires more eggs, like French Toast (Freedom Toast!). That’s a good way to use up some bread too. Or fruit desserts to use aging fruit cups that don’t LOOK attractive, but are still delicious. Think about baking, or pre-cooking meat and freezing. Pies are a way to make fruit last a few more days. Juice fruits and freeze the juice…

Anyway, I’m toying with the idea of a “use less week.” The idea is that you probably use more than needed during these times of prosperity, and would use less if times were tough, so why not try it now??

Some easy examples: toothpaste. Most people probably learned to put a stripe of toothpaste the whole length of the toothbrush. I find that less than half of that is sufficient to fill my mouth with foamy cleaning action. I’ve completely internalized this change.

Shampoo. The bottle usually says how much to use, but do you just pour some in your hand? Bigger than a ‘quarter’? I’ll bet half will give the same sudsing action. If not, just “lather rinse repeat” like the bottle says. Nothing to lose.

Hand soap, hand sanitizer. The dispensers kick out way more than needed.

Eggs. I love eggs. I now only buy the Large size though. Simple change from the Extra Large I grew up with and just kept buying. They are cheaper too. And I’m finding that one is enough for breakfast when I habitually ate two.

Toilet paper. I’d bet that most of us just use this the way we learned as kids. I did. Having kids to teach, and someone else’s butt to wipe, made me rethink both technique and amount. Not something to skimp on, but if you knew the supply was limited, would you be more careful and use less? TP is a very bulky item to store as preps, and not something you want to run out of.

Laundry and dish soap. Do you just dump some in? When was the last time you read the bottle or looked at the different marks on the measuring cup?

Ketchup or dipping condiments. Just dump a big squirt on the plate? Why not put half as much and then squirt more if needed?

Hmm, this is turning into a coupon clipping, make your own soap kind of post, so I’ll end it here, but I challenge you to look at your habits, and see if you are being a ‘good steward’ of the resources you have.

nick

Friday, 27 October 2017

10:38 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, clear and calm. We got a later start than usual this morning. That was down to me, not Colin.

Only two more days until Barbara returns home. It seems like she’s been gone a month, literally. I found Colin yesterday sitting at my computer, trying to get me signed up at a singles site. He thinks Barbara is gone forever.

I haven’t seen any more of the raccoons, but I haven’t seen Animal Control at all. They were supposed to come out and set traps. I guess they figured it’d be easier just to let me shoot them.


I mentioned in comments last night that the free ride at Walmart is over. They still offer “free” two-day shipping, but they charge a lot more for the same item if you have it shipped versus picking it up at a store.

Here’s a good example. A gallon of their store-brand vegetable oil, which will cost you $3.68 if you pick it up in the store. They’ll instead ship it to you “for free”, but then the item costs you literally twice what it does in the store.

I looked at prices on literally dozens of items I’ve ordered from Walmart. Some they apparently hadn’t gotten around to changing yet, but most had the shipped price padded, in some cases by more than double.

One of the things they hadn’t gotten around to was changing prices on items in the Saved for Later portion of my shopping cart. This time of year, canning jars are always hard to find and expensive, particularly the name-brand ones. (Avoid store-brand canning jars like the plague; they’re mostly made in China instead of the US and are very inferior quality.) I had a bundle of two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars with lids and bands in my saved cart, so I went ahead and moved it to my main cart, expecting it to jump in price. It didn’t, and it said they had only three left in stock, so I crossed my fingers, updated the amount to 3, and clicked on Order. Once those arrive, they’ll boost our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars from 72 to 144. That’s sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat.

A couple weeks ago, while we were watching a Guildbrook Farms canning video, Barbara mentioned that she’d just as soon stay stocked up on Keystone canned meats rather than canning our own. I agree, except that I want to can some types of meat that aren’t available or are very difficult to find commercially canned. Things like dark-meat chicken, the sausage Barbara buys from Costco and Jimmy Dean, and so on.

Monday, 9 October 2017

08:44 – It was 68.0F (20C) when I got up this morning at at 0620, pouring down rain. It was 0730 before the rain slacked off enough to take Colin out. We’ve had 4.6 inches (11.7 cm) so far, and it’s still drizzling, with heavier rains forecast for later today and tomorrow.

Barbara made a skillet dinner last night with Costco sausage, macaroni, and a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce. I washed out that jar, of course, and will use it for repackaging LTS food.

Not for canning food, though. The Classico jars look like canning jars. They even have “Atlas Mason” and a graduated scale molded into the glass. But they are most definitely not actual canning jars, and everyone from Classico themselves to the Center for Home Food Preservation says not to use them for canning, particularly pressure-canning. Here’s an article that summarizes everything you need to know about re-using commercial glass food jars as canning jars.

In short, don’t do it. You may get away with it, and if the lid seals the food will be safely preserved. The big issue is that both failed seals and broken jars are likely, particularly if you pressure-can rather than use a boiling water bath. It’s simply not worth taking the chance of spoiled food, broken glass, and so on to save the relatively small cost of a real canning jar.


Since 2014, I’ve bought (at a guess) three or four dozen boxes of Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake. We’re now down to whatever’s left in the kitchen pantry–maybe three boxes–and I don’t intend to buy any more. We like the stuff well enough, but when Barbara made one yesterday I commented that I liked the chocolate pan cake we make up from scratch just as well or better. She feels the same, so no more Krusteaz cake mix. That, and the fact that the price has increased from $2.14/box to $3.58/box. We can make it ourselves exclusively from stuff in our LTS pantry, and make it a lot cheaper.

The same thing is true of the Krusteaz pancake mix, which I’d bought in 10-pound bags. (The price on that has jumped from about $8/bag to about $10/bag.) We have everything we need in LTS to make pancakes from scratch, so why bother paying more for the pre-mixed stuff?

As we’ve been cooking more and more from scratch, one of the things we’ve discovered is that (usually) it doesn’t take any longer starting with discrete components than it does to start with a mix. And having those discrete components gives us much more flexibility. The only thing we can make with a box of Krusteaz cinnamon crumb cake mix is a cinnamon crumb cake. But we can use the discrete components to make up literally dozens of different things. It costs less, it takes little or no more time, and the shelf life of our stored raw materials is essentially unlimited, which can’t be said for mixes stored in cardboard boxes.

I’m thinking about doing the same thing to replace our stored stock of soups as we use them. Although a can of soup doesn’t cost much, and Sam’s (and presumably Costco) still sells Campbell Cream of Mushroom or Chicken for about $9/10-pack, Walmart, Amazon, and other vendors are typically up around $1.50/can or higher. That’s maybe five times what it costs to make them up on-the-fly. I have a recipe for Cream of (fill-in-the-blank) soup, and it’s pretty simple. Just make up a rue with butter (or butter powder and oil or shortening) and flour and stir in the name ingredient. It takes five minutes, and we can do that while we’re standing in the kitchen working on other parts of the meal. And, once again, that gives us a lot more flexibility.


I’m still working on my post-apocalyptic novel, but it’s a matter of an hour here and 15 minutes there, as I can find the time. I just fixed something in it yesterday. Amateur radio plays a small part in the novel, and I’d been trying to come up with decent fake call signs.

I was going to use my old call sign that I had back in the 60’s, because the FCC has completely forgotten that I ever had a licence back then. The problem is that that call sign is now showing up in the database as unassigned, which means the FCC could end up assigning it to a real person. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want to do that.

What I really needed was a ham radio equivalent of the hokey 555 telephone exchange that’s always used in TV shows and movies to provide non-working fictional telephone numbers. Unfortunately, there’s no such range for amateur radio call signs.

I’d never seen the TV series Last Man Standing, but an Internet search turned up the fact that Tim Allen’s character is a ham radio operator, and the show’s producers ran into the same problem I did. They wanted a real-sounding call sign, but found only one way to do that. They made his call sign KA0XTT, which looks kind of like a real ham call sign, except that the X in that position indicates an experimental station and would never be assigned to a real ham operator.

I briefly considered using strings that could never be assigned to a real ham, like K33RTK. The problem with that is that any reader who had any knowledge of ham radio would be jarred by such a fake call sign, probably enough to knock himself out of the story. I don’t want any clangers like that, so I ended up using the X the same way that Tim Allen’s producers used it.

The next issue I had to fix was when news reports of the Las Vegas Massacre revealed that the shooter had used a bump-fire stock. Shit. I’d already written a section that had one of the main characters mentioning the three Slide Fire stocks he’d bought recently for his family’s AR-15’s, and how they were completely legal. So I rewrote that to have him buying them years before and paying literal cash so there was no record of the transaction.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

09:24 – It was 60.9F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0630, overcast. We’re supposed to start seeing the effects of the hurricane late this afternoon or this evening, with heavy rains and wind tomorrow and Monday.


A couple people emailed me about the bump-fire stocks. They’d attempted to order one before any new regulations come into effect, and found that there are none to be had. Again, I wouldn’t worry about it.

First, anyone can produce a very high rate of fire with an AR-15 simply by pulling the trigger as quickly as possible. It may not be up to the 800 or 900 RPM cyclic rate of the bump stock, but it’ll be closer to full auto than what most people would expect. Back in the 70’s, I tried this and had someone use a stopwatch to time how long it took me to empty a 30-round magazine. About 4.5 seconds, which meant I was firing about 400 RPM. That’s roughly what an M3 Grease Gun SMG does.

Second, back before bump stocks were introduced, several vendors sold modified triggers for AR-15’s. These flick triggers were designed to allow you to fire rounds as fast as you could vibrate your finger on the trigger. I assume they’re still available, but I have no interest in those, either.


Yesterday morning, Barbara suggested we repackage the 50-pound sack of flour that was sitting in the laundry room. So we transferred the flour into 19 of the 1.75-liter Tropicana Orange Juice bottles, at an average of 2 pounds, 10.1 ounces per bottle. (Ranging from 2’8.9″ in the lightest to 2’14.1″ in the heaviest.) We’ll add oxygen absorbers, label them, and haul them downstairs today.

That 50 pounds of flour totals 83,160 calories (1,663 calories/lb), or about one person-month’s worth of raw calories, assuming 2,750+ calories per day. Looked at another way, it’s sufficient for 25 two-loaf batches of bread dough, 50 pancake meals for four people, or (with 60 pounds of cornmeal) about 180 batches of cornbread.

Nor will we worry about shelf-life. In heavy PET bottles with oxygen absorbers, it’ll stay good for a long, long time. LDS rates their white flour at 10 years shelf life, and they’re conservative. I’ve mentioned before that back in the 70’s I ate bread made from white flour that had been stored in canning jars for 25 years or so. The bread tasted normal. The raw flour had a tannish cast and caked badly, but it had no unusual odor, and merely sifting it eliminated the caking.


Barbara also mentioned that she wanted to go through our stock of LTS canned goods to look for pop-top cans. She decided independently that they aren’t nearly as good for LTS as standard cans that require a can opener, and she’s right. The integrity of the can is paramount for LTS, and pop-top cans have been scored for easy opening. That calls into question the long-term integrity of the can, as far as we’re concerned.

So Barbara wants to locate all of the pop-top cans and move them from the LTS food room downstairs to the upstairs pantry. We’ll use them, assuming they pass the sniff test, but we’ll avoid buying anything else in the pop-top cans.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

09:16 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0645, partly cloudy.

Barbara is leaving mid-afternoon to head down to Winston. She’ll have dinner with Frances and Al, stay with them tonight, and then head back tomorrow morning, making a Costco run on her way out of town. It’s WW&P for Colin and me.

Our LTS food inventory is at steady-state now, so we don’t need much. I did ask Barbara to pick me up a case of six #10 cans of coffee, a two-pack of mayonnaise, and another case of Costco bottled water in gallons.

Barbara just headed for the gym. When she returns, she’ll finish packing up the two dozen chemistry kits we assembled yesterday, and then label bottles for stuff we’re running out of. While she’s gone, I’ll make up solutions for those.


Email from Kathy, whom I hadn’t heard from in a month or so. All of the stuff they had on order has arrived, been checked in, and shelved. The propane tank and gas cooktop has been installed. She’s done her first pressure-canning run, canning up ten pounds of sausage that she bought on sale. Now she’s carefully watching the jars, halfway expecting the lids to pop or something.

Mike has proposed a Cunning Plan, which Kathy thinks is just bizzare. He points out that they don’t have a cold cellar, and he’d like to build one in the basement by enclosing a small area, insulating it heavily, and building a refrigerator into the wall, pointed into the enclosed area. Kind of like a 21st-century version of an old ice-house.

She asked my opinion. I told her that I’m not a refrigeration engineer, but it just might work. The refrigerator’s compressor would probably have to run for a couple of days to get the insulated area cooled down and there might be some problems with temperature differentials within the space, but keeping a well-insulated larger volume cool isn’t much different from keeping the interior of the refrigerator cool.