Category: march to war

Tues. July 16, 2024 – hot, and humid. Whoddathunkit?

So another hot humid summer day in Houston is ready to start. And one just finished. Everyone likes to complain about the weather, and we got plenty to complain about…

Took D1 to her day camp (for those without kids, it’s an activity that gets the kids out of the house for a day or a half day). There is a whole industry of “day camps” for kids. Most of them have an educational component, so the kids don’t even get a break from school in the summer anymore. When the kids needed constant supervision, having a place for them to go for a few hours a day was as godsend and we did it. Looking back, it might have been better if the FUN element had been emphasized rather than the “learning”. D1 has her second day today.

Spent the rest of the day doing domestic bliss and passed out from carbs. Can’t do that today, too many things need to be wrapped up around the house.

I need to put the A/C units away. I need to do the last of the laundry. And there is more cleaning and organizing to do in my office and throughout the house. Outdoor shite is gonna have to wait… other than putting my plates on the trucks. I got that done yesterday. Now I have to get my toll tags changed out or at least matched to the new plates. There is always more…

Like my hobby website had issues that boiled down to me not knowing what I’m doing. I hope I got it straightened out… but I won’t know til later today. Stuff was working — for the browsers we tested. But apparently older IE refused to render the template properly, and wouldn’t redirect to the wordpress “parking” url. FFox and android, and apple all worked fine. So that revealed that I had taken control of the URL but not properly transferred it to my new host, and linked it to the wordpress built site. Thought I had, but I was wrong. And IE wouldn’t play along. That should have gone through last night, but I will have to verify it and make sure it is working…

Trying to stack up some community engagement. It’s easier to sit home alone. Not as useful, but easier.

Stack some stuff, the rate of change is speeding up.


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Mon. July 15, 2024 – a new week and a new start

Hot and humid still, and again. No rain yesterday for me, but maybe for others in Houston Metro.

I did my thang yesterday morning, poking at laptops and drinking my coffee. Then some clean up, some generator messing about, and off to get fuel. Got some. Checked on my secondary location (my stuff is fine.) Came home and power is restored… so I have a bunch of cleanup and putting away to do. And then maintenance on stuff. But I have power again, so that is good.

Today I’m dropping D1 at a day camp, and maybe doing some other stuff. Wife and D2 will be home. Then I’ve got more cleaning to do, and some organizing. There is a never ending list…

And it’s all easier with power.

So stack what you need to provide some of your own. I’m taking a good hard look at mine.


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Sun. July 14, 2024 – shot heard ’round the world…

Hot and humid, although it would be nice if the temp stayed under 90F like yesterday. Took overcast and rain to do that, but it helps to not broil the brain in the skull…

I’m still running my two little portable A/C units to take the edge off. I’m spending $25 per day just for that. It’s worth it.

Didn’t get much done. I spent most of the afternoon working on my new Toughbook CF-54. I won it in an auction but haven’t had time to crack it and get it set up for me… so I started that. Because I had a bunch of software out of the hall closet sitting on the kitchen table, and thought “why not?”

I tried the normal route, booting from install media, changing utilman.exe to cmd.exe and then using net user to change passwords, but it didn’t work. Acted like it worked, but I never could get to the actual cmd window. So I tried a program I picked up somewhere, probably the goodwill bins. It’s a pc password changer program on a USB drive. Worked like a charm. Turned on the admin account, cleared passwords for everything I could, rebooted and was in. The guy who returned the notebook to amazon or wherever didn’t have any files on it. So I killed that account and started poking at win10 config stuff.

I’ll run some av, and malware detectors, and hope the cracker didn’t rootkit me. I will ease into using it as my primary lappy over the next few months. It’s bigger, faster, and yet thinner and lighter than my CF-30. I hate win10, but I like the hardware upgrade. I may still install the panasonic recovery media from bare metal. I would like a bigger SSD anyway. But for now, it’s good enough.

I need to get some stuff picked up and put away before the Mrs. gets home. And do some cleaning.

The Centerpoint outage tracker says we’ll be back up Wednesday. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, stack the critical things. The world has taken another step down the path … and it doesn’t end in skittles and beer for the likes of you and me.

Eyes and ears open, head on a swivel.


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Sat. July 13, 2024 – Friday the 13th falls on a Saturday this month

Hot and humid, but starting out cooler and drippy. Yesterday we got more rain. The bayous were starting to return to normal levels, but then we got hammered again. Hard enough for localized street flooding, which isn’t uncommon in Houston, but is insult on top of injury… at least Friday ended with a nice evening.

I didn’t get much done but I did get some things started. I made a tiny bit of progress on my office and a closet… which has the temporary result of making the rest of the house look worse. But I’ll tackle that today.

Went out for another 4 bottles of LP gas. I’m using 2 and a partial every day, plus 5 or more gallons of gas. The gennies are getting a lot of wear too. The honda needed some oil added, and the generac has a very small oil leak that will need to be watched. They were not designed as ‘prime movers’ but as temporary use.

My normal activity today would be my non-prepping hobby, but that meeting got moved due to lack of power at the venue. Our annual meeting is getting close and we need to meet…

Lots of things are getting upset or moved due to the ongoing issues.

I keep reminding myself that we were on generator power for 14 days during IKE and it’s still early in the recovery, but then I think about the relative lack of general destruction from Beryl. I’m not the only one getting frustrated that progress doesn’t seem to be happening, and the lack of transparency is not a good thing.

Stacks are helping, like they are supposed to. Stack up some of your own.


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Fri. July 12, 2024 – more of the same..

Maybe a bit cooler? The national map shows chance of thunder storms for the next couple of days. We had several around Houston yesterday afternoon, but nothing at the microclimate my house is in… Had to water the plants.

Did a pickup, and drove around some to check on things. My secondary location is near my propane guy. My rent house isn’t too far from either. Checked on a friend’s house and shop. Got gas and LP gas. Cash money for the LP Gas, and only $12 per bottle. The swap a bottle was up to $29 if you needed to use a card, and most of them were probably sold out.

Pick up extra propane bottles when you see them. Yard and estate sales are where I got mine. If the bottle is out of date or in bad shape, everyone says the same thing, take it to HD or Lowes and swap it for a new one. It works. They have staff to refurb the bottles, if they are saveable and it’s cheaper than buying new.

One advantage of LP gas over gasoline is that it stores well. One disadvantage is there is less energy in it and it can cost more than gasoline. Life is full of tradeoffs, and both have a place in your preps. Lots of things use propane too.

We’ll see what today brings. I didn’t do any work on the trucks because of the sprinkles and threat of rain. Maybe I’ll get to that today. I don’t think I’ll be plumbing my gennie into my gas line unless it will run on a 1/2″ line. Anything bigger would mean taking my service apart and changing out pipes to add a bigger tap. Not sure I’m up for that. There is already a valved tap for 1/2″ pipe. I think it was probably for a patio grill. If I can find the manual for my gennie, I’ll see what it calls for for supply.

Always more to do.

Always something to stack.


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Thur. July 11, 2024 – the recovery continues… also Kwikimart Day…

Still hot. Still humid. Still summer in Houston. Still really just the beginning of hurricane season.

I hid from the heat most of the day. Read. Minded the generators. Had “Walking tacos” which are like “Frito Pie” except taco meat and fillings in a bag of Doritos(tm), not chili and toppings in a bag of Fritos(tm). Spent a few minutes cleaning my office. It’s hot and dark in there so I gave that up pretty quickly.

And today might be pretty similar. I’m toying with the idea of doing some work on the vehicles. I have new headlights for the Ranger. Fog lights for the Expedition, and new license plates for both. I should install some radio gear too, to go with the plates. But it is so hot I’m afraid to do much with no cool house to go back to. I’m really feeling the heat, almost like after my heat injury. Don’t want to get back to that mess.

I’ll find something to do, I don’t have the time to just lie about reading, not really, no matter how uncomfortable it is to work or how worn out I am by the labor.

I will try to do some stack sorting at the least, and I need to get out and refill gas bottles and gasoline cans. We could be at this a while.

Wife and kids are contemplating heading to the BOL, where there is power, a/c, and internet for work. I’ll stay here and mind the house. Kids have been really good so far, but are getting a bit stir crazy. D1 wants to go out with her friends, but D2 is ok with books and internet so far. Neither wants to clean house or do chores.

Heck, I don’t either.

Stack something, you will use it eventually, and be glad you had it…


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Wed. July 10, 2024 – supposed to have a whole bunch of folks back on the grid today…

Dunno if I’ll be one of them…

Hot and humid continues. Sunny with patchy clouds. REALLY unpleasant if you have to be out in the sun. Hats and longsleeves on to the linemen and others working to restore power. Those fire retardant clothes aren’t lightweight or particularly breathable, or wicking.

Centerpoint said they hoped to have the majority of customers back online today. We could hear and see transformers blowing up yesterday and during the storm, so they have a few more repairs to make than just splicing wires that trees broke. BTW, it’s distinctive when a transformer goes “Ffoomm”. Once you hear it, you’ll always recognize it.

Still running the gennies. Still hotter than is comfortable. Today I may do some poking around with solar, if the sun isn’t too hot. Or maybe some garage or driveway work. I’m reluctant, because if I get too hot, I don’t have a 73F house to fall back to.

Yesterday was cleaning up my rent house and refueling, which I mostly put in comments. Meeting my renter was nice. She’s outgoing, engaging, and grew up in the same general area I did, so it was nice to chat with a homegirl… And she got power back around 10am Tuesday. We used a realtor friend to do the legal parts of finding a tenant this last time, and although I’ve been to the house several times to do work, I never crossed paths with her before yesterday. (can’t be accused of discriminating if you never meet the applicants)

Anyway, cleanup continues, we might get power back today, and there are lessons to learn.

Stack some real world experience to help you identify problems before they are life or death…


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Tues. July 9, 2024 – will we get power restored before I have to head up???

Hot and humid. Likely to be sunny and no rain. Unlike yesterday! The hurricane Beryl winds and rain hit us in the early morning and were gone by late morning. That left us cool and wet, which helped immensely with cleanup.

Details of my day are in yesterday’s comments, very late in the day. AT&T had and is having a lot of cellular network issues. They sent a text that all of Houston would get “unlimited” data and texts, but the network was failing with DNS errors and a variety of issues all day. My wife’s verizon phone mostly worked like a champ but eventually their network got flaky too.

I don’t know if the AT&T fiber stayed up, but it was there when I finally got around to standing my network back up. Still not booting the computers though. The cams have SD cards so will record about 3 days internally, and I don’t want the linux and windows boxen booting and crashing all day… nor do I want them running off the dirty power from the generac. It’s HARD on boards and PSUs.

Today is “make sure W can keep the gennies running” while I head to the BOL to get power restored up there. Also more cleanup in both places. Something with automatic failover is going to be critical if infrastructure continues to be fragile. Considering the aging condition, terror attacks, weather events, etc, it seems pretty likely that infrastructure will continue to degrade. Driving to the BOL and splitting the party whenever we have a long outage is getting a bit old.

Never split the party. It’s a good rule.

Time to get more serious about some of the “just in case” stuff I’ve been stacking.

Stacks give you choices. Choices are good.


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Mon. July 8, 2024 – will we blow away? will we float away? only time will tell

Because it’s gonna be hot and humid unless it’s actually storming. And then I won’t care because I’ll be inside anyway. Supposed to be a hurry-cane headed this way. I’m not feeling the urgency for some reason.

I really do hope it’s a ball of nothing but some heavy rain. We’ll muddle through in any case.

Yesterday was mostly getting stuff buttoned up at the BOL and heading home. Didn’t do a lot of storm prep here because it was raining when I got here. Since then it cleared and hadn’t rained any more when I wrote this at 1am.

Since I’m completely unprepared, I hope it’s nothing. In case it’s not, I guess we’ll fall back on the preps from the last 15 years…

Y’all be safe out there, as it’s sure to suck for someone.

Mean while, think about the hazards local to you and stack accordingly.


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Sat. July 6, 2024 – another hot day, more little jobs…

Hot again. We might have gotten some rain overnight, it was in the forecast and there was some lightning in the surrounding areas… but it will probably still be hot.

Spent the day chatting with sibling and spouse. They are athletic and spent the morning jogging, and out on the kayaks. But it was HOT and humid so we spent the afternoon in the shade, just sitting.

I did do some more investigation into my sprinkler pump. It’s not holding prime. I may have to open it up and see if the impeller is worn out. The grass went from “could use some rain” to “dry and crunchy” in the last couple of days so I would really like to run the sprinklers.

The garden is still producing but if we don’t water it, or get some rain, it will be done soon.

Today will be about spending some time with guests before they head to the airport. Then I’ll do some work. Probably. But it will be small jobs.

It was great to have the community gather for the fireworks. Lots of people in the park, lots floating in boats to watch the show. Lot of flags and even some bunting on the houses I can see. Nice to come together.

Work on stacking some friends and neighbors. You’ll need them the most when things get tough.


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