Category: march to war

Tues. Nov. 28, 2023 – my brain, my poor little brain…

Cold, but warming. No rain today but it’s on the way. I don’t think yesterday got above 65F as the sun got hidden behind some overcast before noon, and never made it back out. Today might be the same.

I spent Monday driving all over town doing pickups. Did a big circle, mostly just outside the Beltway, which is the second ring road around Houston. 99, or the Grand Parkway is the third and isn’t complete yet, but where it is done, it is living up to author Joel Garreau’s prediction/theory/observation. In his book Edge Cities, which I recommend as a very well written look at how and why things ACTUALLY get built, he observes that modern mini-cities develop at the intersection of a ring and spoke road outside of a traditional big city. You can see it happening here in Houston, in almost real time.

Anyway, I did a big circle around Houston, only cutting through town on the east side instead of following the circle- mainly because there is water and garbage dump on that side, so the outer ring isn’t being built. It’s also massively built out with petrochemical processing plants, and they aren’t going anywhere.

I’ve got some more pickups to do today, but not in such a smooth circle. I’ll be out west in Katy, then south east in Dickinson. Then I’ll head home. It’s more of a diagonal line, that will combine several stops, but still seems like a lot of wasteful travel. I just couldn’t get my Dickinson pickup into my schedule yesterday so I will be retracing some of my steps. Also what I didn’t count on yesterday was about $30 in tolls. It’s easy to forget you are being charged with the autopay and open road tolling. I’ll try to take that into account today and save a couple of bucks if I can.

These pickups are some spare parts, some Christmas stuff, some domestic home use stuff, and a few items for the BOL.

In between yesterday’s running around I got some domestic bliss in. Laundry, picking up the kitchen, folding clothes. All the un-glamorous stuff that makes the household run.

Wife is still feeling poorly, and D1 is starting to complain she doesn’t feel well either. I’ve been overdue to change the HVAC filters and I think that might contribute. I feel it when I come home. Someone stopped the amazon subscription for the filters that would remind me to change them. Someone. Not naming any names, but IDK why they stopped, or why they won’t start them up again. There are mysteries in the everyday…. I have purchased some in the auctions in the mean time, and will be picking them up today. I’ve seen how nasty the current filters are, and I think it can’t hurt anyone’s health to get them changed ASAP. The red shirts don’t just die on away parties, they keep the dang ship running… when they’re doing the job. Dang red tunic looks terrible on me.

Filters. Wiper blades. Lubricants. Cleaners. All sorts of expendables. Do you have enough stacked?

If not, why not? Stack them up…


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Mon. Nov. 27, 2023 – the map is not the territory

Cold and maybe not damp but I bet it feels like it. The forecast says <40% RH and a temperature range from low 40s to high 50s. That is enough to make my hands and joints hurt. We never did get rain yesterday, which let me get some lights and decor up. I feel less like a slacker with some stuff up.

I only felt slack because I pushed my own workdays back a couple of times. I wouldn’t normally have stuff up any earlier. So far it’s pretty restrained and monochromatic. Seems to fit the times, but then, I might have to stick my thumb in the times’ eye and have some color exploding all over everything…

Or not. We’ll see how much time and energy I have while doing all the other things that need to be done before the end of the year.

Today I’ll be doing some pickups, and jebus willing, a drop off. It would be nice to collect some checks too. Even here at stately Flandrey Manor, the light bill and water bill need to be paid, and evil megacorps don’t give their product away. Unfortunately, even my AAA+ clients are slow payers this go round. There is a fair amount of that in the world at the moment, and I’m not the only one noticing.

So, more stuff goes on the block. There is enough of it… and I need to get some of it back up on ebay too. I’ve been putting that off, but I don’t think I can delay any more. Plus I’ve got some leftover industrial stuff that I’ve been trying to get to the appropriate auctioneer, but he’s been jammed with bankruptcy sales. It would be nice to move some of that stuff out of here. This isn’t a great season for reselling, unless you have Christmas gift items. It is normally slow until February. But it is what it is, and who knows, it might be better than expected.

And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

In the mean time, there is plenty of prepping related stuff to do. You can’t just read about it, you have to do it. You will inevitably find that there was more to it than you thought, or that you couldn’t quite make something work, or that you were missing a critical piece. You have to do it. Pick something in your preps and use it this week. Be sure it will work.

And stack. Because that’s the EASY part.


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Sun. Nov. 26, 2023 – less than a month ’til Christmas…

Cool and clear, sunny. Yesterday was pretty dang nice. Some clouds, and overcast at the Ren Faire most of the afternoon, but nice temps. It would be great if today was the same.

My summary of my day at the Texas Renaissance Faire is in comments yesterday. I enjoyed it. Not a cheap day out, but a day out in the woods, and there was certainly plenty to look at. D2 enjoyed it, which was the main point.

Today I’m hoping to get some Christmas decor and lighting set up. I’ve got a bunch of new lights and some other stuff for this year, and I don’t have a clear idea of what I have or how to use it best, so I have some experimenting to do. I’m also looking at getting a bunch of cheap artificial trees and setting them up outside as part of the display. A forest of Christmas trees, as it were. We’ll see what I end up with. Figuring it out on the fly is part of the fun for me.

I think that public participation in the rituals and traditions of our culture is vitally important, not only for my own kids, but for the continuation of our culture in general. We celebrate a secular version of Christmas, not a religious one, and yeah, I get the issues with that, but it’s what we do… and Americans basically invented most of that from the whole cloth, or stole bits and pieces shamelessly to suit ourselves. It works for us and provides a framework for the coming month. It builds family memories and traditions too. These ARE the ‘good old days’ so do your best to make sure they are “good”.

We are fighting for our very existence culturally. I’ll take every thing I can that helps.

Stack it up, go the extra mile, be the force for change.


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Sat. Nov. 25, 2023 – plans, don’t know why I bother…

Cool and hopefully clear today. D2 made plans. It got to be clear and sunny yesterday, late afternoon. I almost spent the day putting up decorations, but then had other things to do.

Like pick up my Expedition from the repair place. $1400 lighter and I still don’t have a passed inspection. What I do have is new brakes in front, a new sensor, some dirty injectors and fresh oil… and instructions to drive about 100 miles to see if any of the old codes come back. He only changed the sensor for the code that returned after clearing three…

I did get a little auction stuff done and a little clean up. Damn little, but baby steps are still steps. Or that’s what I keep telling myself.

Today D2 wants to go to the Ren Faire. I like that sort of thing, although I won’t be dressing up. D2 will be dressing up. I’m just there for the meat on a stick. It’s the last weekend for the Faire, and I have no idea what the crowd will be like. I don’t think anyone would consider attacking a Ren Faire, but ya’ never know. Arms are not allowed and edged weapons must be ‘peace bonded’. Kid will be carrying a big pointy pig sticker. It’s chinese and doesn’t have sharp edges but the thing would go right through you if applied in the right direction. Should be fun, and it gets us out of the house. Assuming it’s not pouring down rain.

So we’ll be out making memories of the good ole days. Stack them up too.


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Fri. Nov. 24, 2023 – Friday of color. And fistfights over cr@p.

Cool and damp again, possibly upgrading to ‘wet’. It was off and on drizzle most of yesterday here in the swamp, so I sat and watched youtube vids instead of putting up Christmas decorations.

It was odd, not having an agenda for the day, once the decoration stuff went out the window. I did throw ingredients into the breadmaker so we’d have a fresh loaf. I went with the ‘oatmeal’ bread recipe that came with a breadmaker I never owned, and have used for a couple of decades. I think I got the recipe book from a friend, and the times don’t quite match any ‘maker I’ve ever owned, but they work fine. The oatmeal bread recipe is a favorite. Fluffy, chewy bread, no hint of the oatmeal in the taste or consistency.

Wife and kid2 outdid themselves with the dinner cooking and pies. I just had to cut and serve…

I did do some more sorting and cleaning and getting stuff ready for auction. Partly that was to clear space for the Christmas tree. Partly it was because it needed doin’. And I’ve been feeding DVDs into the computer to add to the ripped library. I found a box full that I had forgotten about and I’m getting back into the habit of feeding them in. I’ve still got several banker’s boxes to rip but they are not where I see them every day. I am finding a fair amount of duplicates as I go, but that’s ok, they were cheap. Getting them ripped means the media can go into deep storage and not be in the house.

I also did a bit of Friday of Color shopping online last night. I ended up buying a couple of things that were heavily discounted. Passed on the item that was only discounted slightly. I will put it on my Christmas list, and maybe I’ll get it. I don’t need it soon anyway (it’s a desolder gun, similar to the Hakko one that is the industry standard at its price point. I’ve wanted one for over a year, but can’t justify spending the money on myself, when my old bulb sucker works ok.) Not having a good solder removal tool makes it easy to put off doing repairs. I would like to eliminate some of the reasons NOT to do things in my life.

That is a goal for me in general for the coming year. Make it easier to ‘do’, than to ‘not do’. And of course to continue improving my situation. Doing things should help with that.

Join me won’t you? Get a jump on your New Year’s resolution.

Stack something. Get the stuff you need to do something that needs doing. And then do it.


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Wed. Nov. 22, 2023 – 112223 – Well now. Better get some groceries in for the big feast…

It’s supposed to be in the low 60s and partly cloudy today. And we might have that. Some places. And for a while. It’s just as likely to be warmer and colder, rainier and drier. Yesterday certainly was.

Spent the morning getting caught up with online stuff, and doing my normal at home morning stuff, mainly auctions. Had to take the kid to a “not a date” with some other kids. On my way home I dropped the Expedition at the repair place. I’m overdue for an inspection and won’t pass with a ‘check engine’ light, so there needs to be some diagnostic work and probably some part swapping before I have a chance of passing. It’s probably emissions related too. I should hear something from him today. Even a truck that is 6 years old is too new to work on without a ton of specialized tools and knowledge. All the mileage and eco cr@p grafted on to meet arbitrary standards does not increase simplicity or reliability. Or economy in the economic sense.

In the mean time, I’ll drive the Ranger for my errands today. I’ve got pickups, a trash run, and possibly a drop off to do. As vehicles become more computer than machine, Pournelle’s observation that to keep n computers running takes n+1 computers, starts to apply.* I’m fortunate to have the choice of vehicle, like I have the choice of tool for the job.

One of the errands will be hitting the grocery store for some stuff for Thanksgiving dinner. If we had to we could go with what we have in stock, but some things are time savers- like the refrigerated pie crust. And some things it’s nice to have fresh versions, like fresh apples instead of canned filling. In any case, I’ll be shopping this afternoon. I wonder what inventory is going to look like. I know prices will be higher than last year.

Which brings me back to my broken record. We’re living in the beginning of a serious decline. It might be the 70s, to be followed by the 80s rebirth and exuberance, or it could be the 20s-30s and the misery that only ended after the war ended. But even that was followed by the 50s and the explosion of our industrial might. Point being that things are going to get worse before they get better. They might get a LOT worse. But there are steps you can take to ease the passage to the good times that will follow.

It’s not impossible, or even particularly hard. You just need more of all the stuff you won’t be able to afford or even get at any price, to carry you through. You need a way to continue bringing in money/valuable stuff, so that you can get some of whatever is available. The harder part is being in the right place, and surrounded by the right people. But I’m pretty sure we can all identify what places NOT to be, and what people to avoid.

Make your plans and work the plan. Be flexible, and open to opportunity. There will be a great many of them as things undergo tremendous change. Don’t hold on to the wrong stuff or the wrong ideas for too long either. Now more than ever be aware of fighting the last battle, and not what is actually happening. With planning, foresight, flexibility, and luck we can get through this, and even thrive.

Keep your head on a swivel, and keep stacking.


*I haven’t missed the joke in his statement, it’s just that there is often truth in jest.

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Mon. Nov. 20, 2023 -11202023 – maybe I’ll get more done today

Mid 60s and windy with some cloud cover and maybe sprinkles of rain today. Describes yesterday pretty well too. Rain was barely noticeable though.

Spent the day on the garage man door replacement. Door went in ok, but the opening and jamb ended up needing a bunch of adjustment. Dang thing was BUILT as a trapezoid. Trying to make the corrections without tearing it all out took a bit longer. Then the locksmithing took a bunch of time. I ended up re-keying 3 cylinders, one dead bolt, one new handle for the garage entry, and then one new handle for the house entry door. Made them all match the same key. Of course there is more to it.

I didn’t have keys for a couple of the cylinders, so I had to make a bump key to open them. It’s easier than disassembling the whole thing. Had to make another when the first attempt didn’t work. Then I dropped one cylinder and had to re-load it, and get it all back together. They’re in, the jamb is square,the door fits well, and I can reinstall the trim and move to the next job today. REALLY didn’t think it was going to take that much time.

I did start the day playing a game with D2 and W1. And played another at lunch time. Then had venison and brisket burgers for dinner, and played LoTR Monopoly after. First time I’ve ever played Monopoly and had one player bankrupt everyone and win with every single property (save one that no one landed on.) D2 had a heck of a lucky day, winning every game we played except the very last card game. FWIW, the LoTR version of Monopoly is much better than original Monopoly, IMHO. Nice metal game pieces, a nice replica ring, and some tweaks to the rules that make the game much shorter to play, typically.

Today I will either do the dockhouse door, or the posts. Given my experiences with the door to the garage, I might do the posts as something I can walk away from without finishing if time runs out. Doors really need to be installed and working before you leave a property for a couple of weeks. Nothing is ever easy or quick, but even applying that rule the door in the garage caught me off guard.

I’ve improved function and security by replacing the door. I added a few pounds of venison to the freezer, and introduced the kids to delicious deer meat. And I played a bunch of games with the family. Good weekend in my book…

Keep stacking, but find your joy where you can.


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Sun. Nov. 19, 2023 – maybe today…

Cool and damp, but hopefully another clear day. Yesterday started cool, but got unpleasantly hot in the sun by later afternoon. It was still cool in the shade, but I was sweating when the sun shone…

I had planned to do some carpentry, and replace some support posts for the porch of the dockhouse. Instead we went to the local small town USA Christmas Festival. And it was exactly what I hoped and better than expected. It’s the kind of thing my family would go to all over southern Illinois and Indiana back in the day.

Close the streets around the town square and courthouse, have some vendors selling homemade stuff,and trinkets, and have food vendors-lots of food vendors with different meats on a stick, and of course funnel cakes. Mix in a small stage with a band or guitar player,and a bunch of local churches and charities doing stuff to raise money and you have small town USA celebrating.

In this case, there were several different biker groups raising money, one was cops, one was witnessing for Jesus, never figured out what the other was doing. County Sheriff was raising money for new radios, Search and Rescue was there, along with the local ham club, and all the churches and charities. I lost track of the number of gun raffles after 12. Very popular fundraiser apparently. I have a half dozen tickets… no one called yet.

The vendors were mostly local people doing some sort of craft as a side hustle or retirement project. Lots of little crocheted stuffed animals. Lots of artisanal soaps. Several woodworkers with cutting boards, or laser etched signs. One guy with a bunch of CNC’d plaques with various subjects. Hand made jewelry. Supposedly hand made knives. One guy with rocket stoves,which were very well made, and a sturdy design. Lots of food.

One interesting thing was a couple of guys with 3d printed objects for sale. They’re local and doing it as a business. They’ve got a couple of lasers too. Resolution of filament printers has gotten so good the little toys and knickknacks looked traditionally manufactured. D2 bought an articulated dragon about 18″ long that was printed in one run. Really neat, like a spiky plastic snake.

We spent a few hours walking around. Meatspace baby. It was an interesting crowd too. Mostly white, but normal proportions of blacks and hispanics. A couple of asians, and surprisingly two different food vendors from the subcontinent. Lots of older folks, but a large number of young couples and families too. Wiry young men with wives that made me think “modern homesteading”. BIG men with BIG wives that made me think “skilled trades” for the men, loudmouth trailer trash for the women. One stick figure woman with meth sores on her face and some bedraggled kids. Mostly people looked happy, and healthy.

No Biden supporters visible, but one or more vendors selling Trump merch, and other MAGA stuff, like FJB hats.

All in all, a nice afternoon.

Then it was home to work,but since it was late I decided to work on replacing the man door in the garage. Got that 90% done, shot some pool with the wife and kid, then we played cards for a couple of hours. It was pretty late but my fishing buddy called and he came by with his wife to give us some deer meat. He got a buck and doe last week. It’s a half dozen meals worth, and I’m looking forward to eating it.

The result of all that was an early night without the fire I’d laid in the pit, or a tiny little fire.

Today I’ll get the posts replaced and maybe the door of the dockhouse too. And finish unloading and putting away the stuff I brought up this time and last.

Always be working to improve you situation. And stacking, that has to continue too.


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Sat. Nov. 18, 2023 – a fine day to do some work…

Cool and clear. Like yesterday. After all the predictions, it ended up clear with a blue sky. Hopefully today will be the same and I can get a bunch of work done.

Did my running around yesterday. Picked up a kayak. Strapped it to the roof rack. It kinda cuts through the air, and it’s kinda like a brick being pushed at 70mph… My Ranger can’t quite find a gear at the speed limit with the brick on top. So I could drive 10 under, or 10 over. I chose over. Well, until I got on the dark country roads. Then I was happy to go slower.

Given that it is a DWI enforcement weekend there were a surprising number of idiots driving VERY fast. And more than usual pulled over. The cops have something new, a white light bar on the front to light up the scene, and it’s FRICKEN bright. In fact I found a lot of bright lights shining in my eyes making it hard to drive. I can’t be the only one that thinks super bright LED parking lot lights shouldn’t be pointed at the freeway. And yet.

Today I’ll unload the truck, and maybe do some carpentry. There are some support posts that need to be replaced under the patio roof. I’ve had everything I think I need in place and ready to go, just lacked the time to start a project that has to be finished before I can move on. We’ll see how it goes. And if not, there is a long list.

Always be working…

and stacking.


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Fri. Nov. 17, 2023 – getting ready to head out…

Cool and overcast again, some possibility of rain. It was misty in several places as I drove around Thursday. No real rain though. I don’t think it ever got hotter than about 64F either. Pretty depressing and dreary overall. And today should be the same, joy.

Did my pickups in 3 of the 4 corners of Houston. Lots of driving. Almost all of it for resale, although a couple of items might end up in my stacks. Received some packages that I was waiting for too. Mostly it’s stuff to fix stuff for resale or my use. I like fixing stuff, but the endless list can be oppressive.

Plan for today is try for a minor dropoff, try to take some stuff to my secondary, do one pickup, and load for the trip to the BOL for the weekend. I scored another kayak, only $73, so I’ll be strapping that to the top of the other stuff on the truck… which will mostly be patio furniture, but may also include a loveseat. I should be a right proper Fred Sanford, or Jed Clampitt when I’m fully loaded up. Hope I can find enough straps.

I’ll be on the end of a thin pipe for a few days so if stuff is happening, go ahead and link…

I’ve got a list of stuff I’d like to get done this weekend. We’ll see what the universe has in mind. I’m hoping to get at least some of it done but I never can predict…

I should hit Lowes for some stuff before I head up too. I’ve got what I need for the main project, but maybe not for a couple of secondary options. And my wife needs some 1/4 round for her flooring project. A right Fred Sanford…

Always be working to improve your situation. Always be learning and trying new things. Keep meeting new people. And stack like your life depends on it.


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