Thur. May 19, 2022 – driving around today

Hot and clear, some small chance of scattered showers.   But mostly it is likely to be hot and hot, with a side of hot.   My weather station said 102F in the afternoon yesterday.  Granted that was in the sun,but jeez.

Since my back responded well to the stretching, manipulation, and inversion table, I woke feeling pretty good.  I decided I didn’t want to screw that up by unloading trash from my truck or cutting the grass.  So I spent most of the day online.

Today I have to venture out and collect all  the stuff.   Metro shelves for the garage and storage.  Another bucket of freeze dried food, and a cell booster for my client’s place.  A bunch of stuff for the BOL.  Typical week.   Keep moving as the world does its thing…

Which seems to be continuing on the path we’ve already started down.  The drums of war are beating and they won’t stop.*  Various items are in short supply, and there are more of them, and the supply is shorter, from what I’m hearing.   The money markets are in turmoil.  People are starting to buy less, move down scale, and run out of credit card.  Home sales are slowing, which is normal when rates increase, but a lot of people are going to feel a lot less rich when they are making two mortgage payments, waiting for a house to sell.

There are HUGE new developments going in all around the Houston metro area in green field developments.  They are tearing down warehouse and industrial space to build apartments and condos, and clusters of houses closer in.   Everyone in the country seems to be moving to TX or FL.   This is historically a boom or bust town, and we’re seeing it again…

But there is a frantic quality to it.   People are in a big hurry to get done before the bad thing happens.  IDK which bad thing they individually fear, but there is starting to be a sense of wrongness in the population, at least the parts I interact with.   And I talk to everyone I can.  Store clerks, construction company owners, workers, yard salers, hustlers, professionals, tradesmen, small business owners, other random people.   Change is in the air.  Not hopeful, good change either.  More like dread, and trepidation.  Everyone is nervous and unsure, but soldiering on as fast as they can.

8 buckets of rice is 2 dry cups a day for more than 2 years.   Including the buckets, it’s about $400.  Don’t wish you’d bought them, BUY THEM.   You don’t have to get it all this week, but I wouldn’t wait too long.  Everyone has room for 8 buckets.   Throw a couple big bottles of multi-vitamin in the cart too.

Bob would talk a lot about “iron rations”, food that was enough to keep you alive, but not what you’d eat by choice.   There are a lot of details in posts and comments tagged with the keywords on the right.  Go and read the posts.   But at a minimum, buy and store the rice.  It will extend whatever else is available, and it’s the single simplest thing I can think of to recommend doing.   Of course there is a lot more, and I urge anyone who hasn’t already to read the stuff at the keywords.  Then ACT.   It’s really cheap insurance.

That’s the baseline.   Build from there.  Stack it all.

nick

 

*”why are the drums going all night?”  ” when the drumming stops, the guitar solo starts…”

Fri. May 13, 2022 – Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month

Hot and humid, probably clear.   Mid 90s likely, both in temperature and humidity… summer is here in Houston.

Spent the afternoon doing a round of pickups.   I realize it sounds like I’m doing nothing but buying stuff at auction.  Well… that isn’t wrong, as such.   What might be missing is that I buy almost nothing from stores or online anymore unless it is something very specific that I need quickly.  For example, one of the stops yesterday was for cleaning supplies- two gallons of dish washing soap, 4 spray bottles of bleach/soap, and a couple of other things.   Was it cheap enough to drive across town?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Some flexibility was involved as the dishsoap was Joy lemon scent, when we prefer the blue stuff, but at only a buck or two a bottle, I’ll smell the lemon…

A stop at goodwill yielded a box of silver colored indoor door knobs because the universe still loves me.  I wanted to change out the gold colored ones at the BOL, as most are very worn after 40 years, and they weren’t high quality to start with.    I wish they were levers, but beggars blah blah…  Flexibility.  Anyway, not a priority, but doorknobs are something you touch every day and if they don’t work right, it’s frustrating.

A chat with another seller and he’ll send me advance pics of some of the stuff I’m looking for for the BOL before it hits the auction.   People, networking, meatspace.  Relationships are important.   I’ve been saying it, and I’ll repeat and I’ll repeat and I’ll repeat that you need practice in the secondary economy, just like anything else.  It could just be confirmation bias but I’m convinced that you or someone in your group of acquaintances will have to play the role of ‘scrounger’ or supply clerk, or whatever you want to call it, but someone will have to know where to get stuff, who to try getting it from, and what is worth trading.

A lot of preppers talk about stacking stuff ‘for barter’ but they’ve never dickered over a price, or shopped anywhere but a big box store.  I don’t stack ‘for barter’ but I do have stuff that I think I’ll need later, and if I need it, probably other people will too.  And since no one can go it alone, or stack every thing they might need, it might be that I end up trading or bartering or just plain selling some of that stuff.  A HUGE amount of commerce is happening in the person to person space already.  That is only going to increase.   Get some practice.   Hit some yardsales this weekend, and check out a thrift store…  driving around your area will help you survey the current conditions near you too.   Lots of benefits to getting out and looking around.

 

The best part of shopping in the secondary economy is saving money.   Second best is getting something you couldn’t get otherwise.   Leverage it to build your stacks…

nick

 

Thur. May 12, 2022 – change, flexibility, and decisiveness

Hot and humid, another sunny day.  It got pretty dang hot yesterday.  I was sweating and pretty dehydrated after working at my storage unit for over an hour.  I had some water with me this time, and that helped.

I took a pickup truck load to the auctioneer, and picked up a lot to flip to my “non-prepping hobby” guys ( I hope) on Saturday.  I will be picking up a few things for the BOL today, and heading up there Saturday afternoon.   I was just too tired and had too much to do here to head up yesterday.

The post title is about what we are facing and what I think you need to get through it, besides massive stacks of course.  There was a shortage of used vehicles, and I bought a truck.   There is a shortage of rural properties, and I bought a nice one.   There are ongoing shortages of food, cleaning supplies, parts, construction materials, and skilled labor.   I’ve had a chance to buy some, and am still waiting for that chance for others.

What let me get what I wanted was knowing what a good deal looked like, having the resources available to act immediately, acting immediately, and a willingness to compromise on what I was getting.

We’re still in a period where you can get what you want, maybe even precisely what you want IF you can search for it, and wait for it to become available.  And if you can afford it… but that is rapidly becoming less common, and NOT being able to just walk in and get what you want, right here and right now, is becoming the norm.

We have a culture of abundance.   We are entering a phase where some things, many things, are no longer abundant.  That is a pretty big change and one that some people are going to have a hard time accepting.   It’s going to be critical for your own success at seeing this through to the other side to recognize the change in our reality, and to develop new ways to deal with that fact.

It may mean carrying more inventory than you are used to, either at work or in your domestic arrangements.  A full and deep pantry is going to ease a lot of misery around shortages of foods.   Adequate spares for your critical systems need to be on hand, and not in someone else’s control.  You may need to plan ahead, order early, and you may need to pay immediately, rather than on the terms you are used to.  That means having access to more cash or bigger credit lines than you might have had last year.  And it means accepting less than you would really like, because that’s what IS available.

That last point is going to be really hard for some people.   The personality that likes to research thoroughly before a purchase, that likes to mull over a decision, is going to suffer if they don’t change.  Do the research, make the decision, but then act decisively when the opportunity presents itself.  Be open to alternatives.

And be open to alternative sources.   The secondary economy is booming.  Resellers are making hay.  Used, damaged, fixable, or cleanable may be your best choice.  Traditional retail and traditional supply lines will not be able to supply all your needs.  Start exploring your other options now, while there is still time to climb the learning curve.

Finally consider the changes in culture.  Respect for the law and for law enforcement is crumbling.   Violence is increasing and occurring in areas that were formerly safe. Some people LIKE chaos and strife, it breaks down social norms and increases their freedom to do what they like doing.   Some of them like hurting other people, taking their stuff, and destroying whatever strikes their fancy.  Some people will go along to get along.  It won’t matter to you if they guys running the roadblock are doing it for love or to feed their family, you lose either way.

It’s going to get tough, but we can get through this.

Stacks of stuff will help.

nick

Tues. May 3, 2022 – about to get even busier…

Forecast says “clear” for the next two days at least.   Monday started out very gusty, with spatters of rain while I was putting the kids in the car, but it soon cleared up.   Today should be clear all day, but I’m sure it will be humid and hot.

Because I’ll be doing some work in the attic.   HVAC guy came yesterday and did whatever poking around he needed to do to get the job actually started.  I’ve got a feeling it will be about 80% of what we want, it’s costing more than the luxury system quote from two years ago, and I think the work will be pretty haphazard.   BUT, he got the unit we needed, and the approved ductwork, and the system has been patched and babied along for two extra years past its failure point.   I NEED to get new stuff installed.  And for that to happen, I need to clear space in the attic for them to work.   That will be … difficult and a pain in my sweaty backside.

On top of that, I have the normal weekly stuff to do, and I am supposed to be taking stuff to auction today and tomorrow.   Which probably will not happen if I’m in the attic all day.

I did get a few things done yesterday.  Did a billable half day of work for my client.  AT&T has pushed all the conduit to his property, they just need to get fiber in it, and make the final several hundred foot push to the house.   It looks like they  hope to light up the rest of his neighbors too at some point.   There are lots of drops along the way to his house.

More food got put away.   The $2/pound pork loin got turned into three roasts, and one got eaten for dinner.  The others joined their piggy friends in freezer camp.   I opened a can of cajun style lima beans as a side, didn’t tell anyone what they were besides “beans” and not only did they get eaten, my wife actually called them good.   It must have been the butter and bacon crumbles.

Also got 40 pounds of flour into buckets.  20 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, a paper plate, and a couple of hand warmers to eat the O2.   Those buckets will go to the BOL.  My wife notably didn’t say anything about the 40 pounds of flour sitting in the living room until I could pack it.   I think she’s coming around to the idea of shortages.  It would be hard not to given the news and predictions from every direction.  Yet there will be people crying that ‘nobody told us’.   I’M telling you, there will be shortages, and some people are going to be very hungry, both here, and pretty much everywhere else.   Dust Bowl, Great Depression, soup kitchen levels of hungry, only without the civility of a homogeneous society.  That last point should be top of your mind too.

Ammo prices have come down slightly and availability has increased.  I’m even seeing sales on large quantities.  Some places have complete uppers for sale again too.  If you’ve been waiting, this is as good a time as any.

ATF has new rules ready to go into effect.   We may be facing whatever comes with what we’ve got.   And something bad, really bad, is coming.   The DHS created a department to police thought and word.   That’s how far we’ve come, and the direction we’re going.  They didn’t ‘float a trial balloon.’  They created it and staffed it.  Just like that.  With no lead up or indication ahead of time.  Once we’re on a war footing, even the token resistance from conservatives will be stifled in the name of the war effort.  It’s all happened before, it can happen again.

So stack it high. And hide it well.  You’ll need it.

 

nick

 

Wed. Apr. 27, 2022 – “We loin as we go.”

Cool and damp, but maybe clear?  Maybe not clear but not raining either.  Yesterday started overcast and ended sunny, so it’s possible either way.  I’m hoping for clear so I can do the stuff I haven’t been able to do.

Truck problems persist.  Something is badly wrong, and I’m hoping it’s the alternator.  That is on top, easy to get to, and relatively cheap.  I need the pickup running for so many reasons, but mainly to move stuff around.

I did some errands, and some troubleshooting, and messed around.   More of those same things on the schedule for today.

No further progress on the BOL work.   Frustrating to be dependent on others.   Yeah I know, I’ve been reading about the issues, and they’re not just happening to other people.  They are real, not theoretical, and they suck when they happen to you.

Busy week and weekend coming up here at the Casa De Nick.   Swim team is starting up with nightly practice, Girl Scout weekends are on the calendar, and all the normal stuff is happening too, AND the work at the BOL needs to keep moving forward.  It’s a bit challenging.

 

But, hey, no one said it would be easy.  Or cheap.

 

And in the wider world, the chip shortage will continue for at least another year, according to industry sources.  Standing up new fabs takes time, and it takes some of the chips that are in short supply.   Electronic Design magazine has several articles on the issue in this month’s issue, and there is some fascinating stuff there.  Like that it takes about 6 months for a chip to move through the build process, or that 70 countries are involved in a typical chip, either through materials, or processes, or design and execution.  I’ll link the article in the comments if I can find it online.  As a note too, based on my habit of watching how thick or thin the trade mags are, we’re in trouble in the electronics design and manufacturing sector as the magazine is down to ~30 pages.  The more general Machine Design magazine is 32 pages this month.  MD used to be hundreds of pages 10 years ago but has really slimmed down since wuflu has been ravaging the world economy.   ALL my trade mags are thin, some are VERY  thin.

If you need it, or will need it, get it.  Don’t wait, as it probably won’t be available later.  If there is something you must have to live, or do business, or conduct your daily activities, make sure you have a spare, and repair and maintenance parts.  Seriously, I’m behind the curve on some things and it sucks.   We might be very close to the point where suddenly everyone is buying anything just to grab onto something they hope to use or trade or sell later.   That truly will be ‘panic buying’ and it will kick off a major slide downward on the slippery slope.   Get your ducks lined up.

And stack all the things.

nick

 

bonus points to anyone who identifies the movie quote in the day’s title…

Mon. Apr. 25, 2022 – birthday and anniversary this week

National forecast says we might be getting some rain today and tomorrow… which I’m hoping against.  I’ve got stuff to do that needs dry weather.   It was 76F and 91%RH when I went to bed.

I did some stuff Sunday.  Mostly fled the house and the squealing of tiny proto females.   Did two pickups, both mainly for my non-prepping hobby.   Did daddy daughter stuff, then wasted time on the internet with my friends. Oh, and during that time the dog ate an unknown quantity of Easter chocolate and caused some concern and an attempt at making him vomit it up.  The little poop factory eats aluminum soda cans, a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide didn’t phase him.  He’s still alive so I guess he didn’t eat too much of the chocolate.

Today’s plan is to figure out what’s gone wrong with my pickup truck, get some bins of stuff ready for auction, and do a pickup or two of BOL stuff.  Rain complicates all of that tremendously so I’m hoping it misses us.

I’ve got so much going on this week, swim team practices start, D2 has a birthday, I have a wedding anniversary, and all the normal things too.  It’s crazy.


Some comments at the end of the day yesterday regarding supply chain, food, and corn.  If you haven’t caught up, take a minute and read them and consider how they’ll affect you if it happens that way.

Beyond local and national farm issues, the brutal lockdown in China is backing up shipping and supply chain like crazy.  The effects will start showing up in a couple of weeks and it will take months to un-flock this clustered mess.  Expect anything coming from or through China, and particularly Shanghai to be delayed or unavailable, possibly for months.

The situation is worsening folks, in just about any way you look at it.  I know, I know.   Sky is falling yet again.  Yep.  Look at the material and make your own conclusions.  If you decide it’s overblown, then at least you’ve considered it, and didn’t just keep running forward with your eyes closed.

If like me and others, you see all the signs pointing to things getting worse, not better, ACT on that.  Take actions that work for you and your family and for your financial situation.  I’m still in “don’t do anything irrevocable” mode, but we did turn a whole pile of cash into a whole pile of bricks and dirt because my wife agrees that inflation is eating our savings like a fat man at a buffet.

Interest rates are rising.  They’ve already risen.   If you are selling a house, do the deal.  If rates rise too much the housing bubble will pop again.  If you are buying a place to live, and it’s within your means, know that you might end up underwater on your loan for a while, and that might limit you for a few years or longer.  I wouldn’t be buying any place as an “investment” and I wouldn’t be entering into an adjustable rate mortgage at the moment either… nor would I ‘stretch’ to make a purchase that is outside what I can safely afford.  If I was renting, I’d be looking at long term leases to lock in monthly payments.  If I was the owner, I’d be looking at short term leases as much as possible.

Also consider what these changes and trends mean for fixed incomes and government assistance programs and the people dependent on them.   Food shortages almost always lead to riots.     In other words, I expect violence and lawlessness to increase.  It will be variable by area, but everyone will be affected.   And people will be fleeing to your safe semi-rural area when the cities get worse.  They’ve already started.

Time to really get busy getting ready.   Suck it up and stack it up.

n

Mon. Apr. 11, 2022 – let’s go bran… flakes. Get ready for ‘meatless Monday’…

Windy and clear, not particularly cool.   Yesterday was nice until the evening when there was some misty drizzle.   Never got too hot, and the sun stayed behind clouds.

That was perfect weather to wash the truck.   I figured if it was time for an oil change, it was probably time to wash it too.  I’m really not interested in washing vehicles, but it occurred to me that for what I paid, I should take better care of it.   I’ll try to be better, I  swear.

I actually got a bunch of stuff done, and some stuff just had a bit of progress made, but even baby steps are steps, right?

Having someone over (our buddy the electrician) made me realize how far I’ve let some things go.   I still have the boxes of  Christmas lights sitting on the patio, because I didn’t put them right back in the garage attic where they belong.   So I did a bit of tidying.  Also got some plumbing supplies together for the BOL, and washed the truck.   Checked the oil and fluids in all the vehicles, and added wiper fluid to all of them.  When I bought the gallon of 1:50 concentrated windshield washing fluid, I thought it would be about a lifetime supply.  I’m down to the last inch and a half in the gallon bottle though.

As a side note, all three vehicles need DIFFERENT weights of motor oil.   What the what?  Honda’s is one I’ve never heard of and never even noticed in the store- 0W-20.   I guess I’ll get at least one oil change for the Honda, although my wife has been having a mechanic shop do the changes for her.  Oil changes for my trucks make sense to stock, as I’ve actually done a change on the Ranger, and on my old Expy.  I can do it again if I have to, but I don’t like to mess with it.

It does all sorta circle back to the idea of “timeliness”.   Changing oil, checking fluids, they are about catching or preventing problems.   Putting stuff away as soon as you are done using it helps keep it in good condition, and keeps it where it can be easily found later.  Acting once you’ve come to a conclusion about a course of action keeps the action timely too.  Wait too long and the conditions might have changed.   It’s not a new or profound concept, there are aphorisms and ‘rules of thumb’ galore that address it, from “A stitch in time…” to “for want of a nail” to “make hay while the sun shines…” and “strike while the iron is hot” among countless others.

I’m guessing I’m not the first guy to dither, or procrastinate, judging by the number and pervasiveness of the culture hacking aphorisms.  I’ll share with you that I feel like time is getting short and the ability to act in a timely manner is becoming more important than ever.   In Taoism, it’s the idea the you maintain yourself in a ‘centered’ state, equally ready to move in any direction.  Whatever tradition you come from, being awake, alert, and ready to move in any direction as needed (literally and figuratively) will be very important for your well being during the next couple of years.

If you’re not there yet, start practicing the mindset, and gathering the resources.

Don’t delay, stack something today.

 

nick

Fri. Apr. 8, 2022 – like a drunk lurching down a hallway…

Cool and clear?  Yesterday was, with a gusting blustery wind.   In the afternoon it was 81F in the sun, with only 19%RH.   Gorgeous.  I’d like some more of that please.

I did my one pickup, missed the others.   I’ll be getting those today.

I heard back from the septic engineer finally, and he can’t meet this weekend, so I will not have to dash up to the BOL.  It’s my non-prepping hobby meeting weekend so I’m really glad not to miss getting together with the guys.


 

It occurred to me that we move through time like a drunk lurching down a hallway.   The hallway is the constraints of what is possible.   Sometimes the hallway is wide and we don’t find the walls.  Sometimes the hallway is narrow and the drunk walks straight down the center.  Sometimes he slides down one wall or the other.  Sometimes, he bounces off the edge of what’s possible and moves backward for a short period before moving on down the hall.  Occasionally there is a doorway or an alcove and since the drunk is leaning on the wall as he moves, he gets stuck in the slight widening of the hall.  Often as not, he’ll spin around eventually and lurch down the main part of the hallway again.

Our hallway is very narrow at this moment.   We’re rushing down the hall, bouncing rapidly from wall to wall.   Some of us are spinning around with every bounce, trying to reorient on moving forward.  Some are holding a hand against one side to steady us as we go, but we are all becoming more and more constrained as we go along.

As a nation, a culture, a people, and as individuals, we are coming to a place where the hallway ends.  Is it a door that we can pass through and then continue down the same hallway?  Or is it a wall, and the door opens to our left or right and takes us in a different direction?  Do the walls just squeeze us down, like a cattle chute, until we can only go forward, in single file, pushed by the mass behind us?

I think I know where we are headed.   I don’t know how long the remaining hallway is, nor how we continue.   History says that “we” as a whole WILL continue, but not necessarily any specific one of the “we”.    The mass of people behind us in the hallway pushes us forward, even if we’d prefer to stop.  You can shelter in an alcove for a short while, but eventually the mass carries you on.   Just as I don’t know how long the hallway is, I don’t know how wide it still might be.

It feels pretty narrow, with very little room to lurch around.  It feels like we’re pretty close to the door, or the jog in the hall, or even the complete change of turning right or left.

My plan is to get me and mine through to what comes next.   I’ll move with the crowd down the hall, lurching a bit less, and focused on moving at my own pace, and not just getting carried by the force of the pushing masses, until we pass through and the door opens on a new hall, or the constraint of what is possible widens out again.

 

Stack the things you need, so that the crowd has fewer handles to grab as  they pull you along.

nick

Mon. Mar. 28, 2022 – let’s start another week, ‘cuz we got nothing else to do…

Cool but clear, sunny and warmer later.   I hope, because yesterday up north was like that and I want more.   Spring is here, and it’s too short.

Slept in to 8am yesterday, after going to bed early.   Unfortunately, I’m awake at the 5 hour mark out of habit, and had only fitful dozing after that.   Still, dozing in bed is not bad…

Got up and did some cleaning and more cleaning, and a bit of auction stuff online.   Met three new neighbors while out in the yard and garden.   I didn’t want to start any big projects or do anything that could go wrong.  And anyway, an early boss once told me “if you have nothing else to do, clean.”  Working in a kitchen, that was good advice.   I had a later boss, while working as a carpenter in a shop, tell me he never wanted to see me cleaning.  ( I was the highest paid guy in the shop.) He wanted me doing tool maintenance or shop improvements, ie ‘extras’ outside my normal work.  Either bit of advice is good advice depending on the situation.  Yesterday I cleaned.

Another drive home and some catching up online, and I was good to go for the coming week.

I have to do some focusing on basics this week.  NEED to get to the store and fill a couple more buckets.   I have also been running down my stocks of OTC supplements that I take daily, because there haven’t been any great sales.   I really need to build those supplies back up and pretty quickly.  I wasn’t paying attention.   I don’t have  a formal inventory system.  And I didn’t look closely for too long a period.

I’ve been neglecting my ebay stuff too.  Sold two items over the weekend, and they need to ship.  A whole bunch of new items need to list too.   And of course, I’ve got to get the next set of bins to my local auctioneers.   Getting the BOL together is more sexy fun than listing, or sorting, but it won’t pay the bills.

Normal life stuff happening right now includes- car repairs, dr visits, jury duty summons, and all the normal ‘domestic bliss’ stuff that piles up.

Add the ever increasing likelihood of expanding the conflict with Russia, rumbles of food and diesel shortages here at home, and all the falling skies, and it’s all we can do do keep running in place.  Can’t stop for  a minute without falling behind.

 

Keep improving your position.  Keep stacking.  Don’t lose sight of the goal.

 

n

 

(and shout out to Harold Combs, who DID unplug, at least so far, and for a while…)

Thur. Mar. 10, 2022 – moar preps! moar stacking! Do it!

Less cold and damp, more sunny.  I hope.  It was pretty nice yesterday considering.  I was outside in shirtsleeves, but my nose and fingers were cold.

My plan for the day needs it to not be raining, so, fingers crossed.

I got most of what I wanted to get done finished at my client’s house.   There are a couple of  things remaining, but I need some remote support from the programmer to make progress with them.

Today I’m hoping to move at least a truck load from the one unit to my closer storage unit.  During that move, I’ll try to get another truckload for the local auction sorted out and delivered.

Spring Break is next week and my wife wants to spend the week at the BOL, doing work and exploring the area.  I know the work needs doing, but it does take me away from my endless lists of stuff to do for a week.  Like I said before, I’m going to have to step up my game.

Y’all need to think about stepping up your game too.   Things are already worse than a week ago, and two weeks ago.  There aren’t many things happening to make them better any time soon.   We may not get to Mad Max, but I bet we get to ’30s depression, or WWII levels of scarcity.  And it could be worse.   So get to stacking…

nick