Category: personal

Thur. Nov. 23, 2023 – 112323- Happy Thanksgiving Day

Cool and damp. Chance of rain? Same as most days. Part clouds and light rain in the local forecast. We had all kinds of weather yesterday, with the exception of heavy rain.


Another year has gone by and we’re still here. Slightly worse off. Slightly more broke. Slightly fewer freedoms. But. We have much to be thankful for. Family. Friends. Time to get ourselves ready for what is coming. Robert believed that would be a slow slide into economic collapse. I believe it too, although the shape of the slope and how long it can take are up for grabs.

I’m thankful the slide is slow. That we have time to try to improve our outcomes. That we can mostly just live our lives.

I’m thankful that you all keep coming around and sharing in my life, and sharing your lives with us. It’s a pretty unique place on the web, and I like it a lot. Thank you to Rick for the help and support. Thank you to the others with the ban hammer for your help. And thank you to Barbara who lets me continue to keep the doors open and lights on.

Take some time today to count your blessings, because even the most wretched among us is still blessed compared to about 99.999% of those who have ever lived on this earth.

Take your joy where you find it. And keep stacking.

nick flandrey

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Sat. Nov. 11, 2023 – 111123 – non-prepping hobby day, then BOL

Cool and wet again. Hopefully not actual rain, but it is possible. It did stop raining for a short while yesterday. I took the Expy for my pickup anyway as I didn’t want to rearrange the pickup in the rain. Good thing, as the rain started back up.

So I did get the pickup done, but barely. Expy is full… and then I needed to unload some at the secondary on my way home to get D1 from school. Except that there was a massive traffic delay. Took me 2 1/2 hours to get 15 miles, and that is with my aggression turned to 11. Had to skip dropping off at my secondary in order to not leave the kid too long past due. Still picked her up almost 2 hours late. By that point I was WOUND UP.

Got pizza and calmed down. Did some auction sorting to make up for my slackitude. Spent some time working on pipes and watching youtube videos. They are going through some really aggressive attempts to monetize the audience. Listening to music in the car was maddening. Ads in between every song. Music paused when another app took focus, with a super smarmy message popup… “Do you want your music to keep playing when the app is in the background? Just buy a subscription!” They are making the user experience miserable to sell the subs.

Oddly when I watched last night, I didn’t get the “Oh you’re using an ad blocker, that’s not allowed” message. Guess some lawyers got involved. Louis Rossmann had some things to say about it on his channel. They might have been in violation of EU rules about running code on users’ machines without getting permission first. And in the US, I’m pretty sure the rePlay TV case determined that you can’t FORCE people to watch commercials.

Getting a pi-hole set up is moved up the priority list too.

So many things on that list.

Non-prepping hobby meeting today, with our quarterly swapfest too. I’ve got some things to sell, so I don’t want to miss it. Then it is ‘load the truck and head out’ time. In fact it’s ‘load the truck and trailer.’ I’ve got enough stuff for this trip I’ve rented a small trailer too. It’s much cheaper than gas for a second trip, and takes less time. I just need it to not be raining… I can still get most of it, but not all, if it’s raining.

Lotta preps involved, lotta stacking. Time to get busy.

Stack some yourself.


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Thur. Nov. 9, 2023 – still not quite right…

Cool to start, warming later, and some chance of rain. It didn’t rain on my yesterday, but there were dark clouds in various places at various times. I think today might be even more threatening.

I did do my pickups, after emptying my pickup. Got some building materials. Got some household stuff. Got some stuff for the BOL. Picked up the kid and did her stuff in the late afternoon.

Started listening to the audiobook for “Live and let Die” by Ian Fleming… It’s an interesting timecapsule. 1 ounce gold coins from pirate treasure were only $20 each. Bond rides an express train from NYC to Florida. The word “negress” is used more than once… The whole modern EMS and hospital system doesn’t exist. Q smokes a pipe, Bond smokes 3 packs of Chesterfields a day and drinks Old Grandad. I’m 2/3 of the way through the story and I’ll probably finish it while driving around today.

I’ve got some driving to do to pickup a few more things.

One thing that I’ve been noticing and thinking about is “where did all the pipe smokers go, and WHY?” Every old story has most of the men smoking pipes. I just finished listening to Ann of Green Gables, and there is mention of it. Ian Fleming mentions it in what, 1959?. The book of bohemian poetry I was reading mentions it constantly. My uncle smoked in the 70s. Many of the dads involved in scouting when I was a kid smoke pipes. You used to see signs prohibiting “pipe and cigar smoking” while allowing cigarette smoking. Almost every old advert featured a man outdoors smoking a pipe, all the entertainers did, and frequently had pipe models named after them. Pipe racks and humidor jars were common in homes.

As I learn more about pipe smoking, estate pipe buying, selling, and refurbishing, I’m struck by the number of brands and manufacturers. There were hundreds in the US alone. Where did the smokers go, and why? When and why did smoking a pipe go away while cigarette smoking flourished? I was the wrong age during the transition, so I didn’t particularly notice, but maybe some of you did and can comment.

I’ll add that there are still enough pipe smokers that my HEB has pipe tobacco and cleaners in the locked tobacco merchandise area with the rest of the smoking stuff. There are dozens of youtube channels dedicated to the pipe despite not being able to monetize them, and the youtube demographic for pipe hobbyists is definitely “younger men”. From the content and comments they clearly think it’s part of lost manhood and better days. So as an observer of culture, and being suspicious by nature, I ask “what changed?”

I’ll offer this observation- pipe smoking is relaxing and contemplative. You do it too fast, hard, or carelessly and you burn your mouth and tongue. Cigarette smoking is NOT relaxing, had a lot more nicotine, and is chemically habit forming. Cigars have a more ‘celebratory’ feel, have always been the symbol of success, and ‘fat cats’ or wealth, while pipe smoking has been the realm of the common man. The corn cob pipe is ubiquitous in US folklore and history. There was a huge cultural shift, and most people didn’t notice.

From a prepper standpoint, smoking tobacco is easiest to prep for with pipe smoking. The tobacco can remain sealed without ill effect (and with some benefit from aging) for years, maybe even longer. Pipes are simple and can be made from almost anything. Treated well, they also last for years, and can be refurbished. Pipe tobacco is much cheaper, in general, than cigars or cigarettes judged by amount of smoking time per dollar too.

Whether you approve or disapprove of smoking in general and or in particular, people have been doing it for a long time, and will likely continue. As a trade good it grew the wealth of nations and changed the course of history. Liquor, tobacco, sugar, coffee, and spice. Those were the things people wanted, were willing to risk everything for, and they are currently astonishingly cheap compared to any other time in history.

Think about it for a bit, then put that in your pipe and smoke it…

Consider your stacks of ‘trade goods’ and luxuries… and then decide if you need or want to add something, and stack it high.


NB- of course Robert smoked a pipe, but I left him off the list because he didn’t stop.

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Wed. Nov. 8, 2023 – Ok, this time for sure…

Cool and clear, warming later, with a chance that we’ll be moving into some rainy days. That’s from the national forecast, which is generally useful. FWIW, if I want anything more detailed than that I use I don’t usually need it, but sometimes the kids ask for something more specific. Of course, this being Houston, the weather is completely different in different parts of town and my joke is that “20% chance of rain” means that 20% of Houston will get wet…

Didn’t do much yesterday. I was feeling a bit off from the colonoscopy, and had enough “gastric distress” that I didn’t want to be far from the comforts of home… and then I fell asleep. Dunno if there is any lasting effect from the sedation, but I didn’t get much sleep while worrying about “leakage” so I was and am pretty tired.

I did get some domestic bliss stuff done. Did laundry, including folding and putting away! Voted. Made an appointment to get my Expy serviced and inspected for registration. My old guy shut down his business, and I’ve been reluctant to find a new guy. Yesterday I just said “F this, we’ll try this guy…” The office area was clean, guy was nice and told me honestly they were too busy to do the work this week. Read the code from my Check Engine light, and cleared it. Quoted for the work we know about, and we set a time for me to come back.

Spent an hour and a half getting kids from school to home. Made dinner. (Steamed the broccoli in turkey broth- since I have a bunch of broth open… it was tasty.)

All in all, the day was eaten by ducks (as JEP might have said.)

Today I’ve got the stuff I put off yesterday. I have an additional auction pickup to do that is in the same area as the others so that actually works better today than it would have yesterday. I’ll have to make some room in the pickup truck before I head out. I won’t be able to just leave the stuff for the BOL loaded like I hoped. And I’ll try to do at least a small drop off at my selling auctioneer. So, normal busy day. Oh, and get back in time to pick up D1 from school.

Beats working for a living.

And it helps with the stacking… which you should be doing too…

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Tues. Nov. 7, 2023 – voting day in the US, and a busy day for me…

Cool to start, warmer later, and mostly sunny. Today and yesterday. Lovely Fall weather, finally.

Spent all day yesterday getting my guts poked and prodded, videoed and violated…

So today I’ve got stuff to do. And I need to find time to vote. The important race is city of Houston Mayor, but there are proposals to vote on too.

Hopefully my guts will rearrange themselves and reacquaint themselves with food on their own. So far, there has been a lot of rumbling and “air” movement. At least I can eat normally.

I’m grumbling, but it is a miracle of the modern age to have the medical resources I’ve used in the last month available to me. I like civilization, western civilization, modern technological civilization. I like a capitalist system that causes GE to make as many CT scanners as they can, so that they are common as can be (in America you can get a CT scan for your pet they are so common). Ditto for whole surgical centers devoted to looking inside you one way or another. The only delays in my care were due to sequencing of appointments with specialists, and my preferences to spread things out a bit. I was offered appointments within a week of first identifying the need, sometimes less than a week, and usually with the exact doctor my GP wanted (although one time was with another doctor in the same practice.)

I have had a massive amount of gear and research and training available to me, with a truly unimaginable amount of the same waiting to act and treat any issues found. Houston is home to an astonishing amount of medical expertise and facilities. It is not something that can be easily replaced once it is gone. There are fools who want to burn it all down… and seem unstoppable. I hope they are not. I hope those far above my pay grade have a plan to fight back, to reclaim and rebuild. I’m not sanguine about it though.

Take care of yourself while you can. Rice doubling in price is something you can deal with. No more access to diagnostic labs, and CT scans, and nuclear medicine means stuff that could have been dealt with will have to be endured.

So many things are outside of our control, and outside of our reasonable response or responsibility. Yoda had it right, “Save you what can.” Do what you can to help save the rest. There are still Romans in Rome, and most of us will make it through whatever comes next. And who knows? A golden age may result.

In the mean time, stack.


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Mon. Nov. 6, 2023 – on which our hero gets prodded and violated in unspeakable ways…

Cool and clear again, although we had some threatening clouds in the afternoon yesterday. It was well into the 80s and sweaty to be working outside. Probably more of that today.

But I won’t be working outside. I’ll be inside trying mightily to keep my insides inside me… as the evil clean out stuff does its job cleaning me out in preparation for an up close and personal inspection.

It’s something we all must endure as we get older, and it’s truly a modern miracle that we even have something like this available to us. I’m sure countless lives have been saved, or prolonged, and the quality of life improved for many. Still doesn’t make it enjoyable.

I did get a couple of things done yesterday before drinking the devil’s spit cup. Got some more of the Halloween decor put away. Got a couple more things sorted for auction or BOL. And then spent hours sitting. Gah.

I’ve got more of that to do today. 6am, second dose. Followed by lots of fluid. Eventually I’ll head to the facility. General anesthetic and cameras inserted from both ends, some indignities perpetrated against me, and I should be home for dinner…

There is always that slight risk though. It’s been on my mind. No way through but through at this point. I’m convinced of the necessity to rule out any serious issues, especially when things in the world are so unstable and no one knows what the future will hold. Hopefully, after some short period of time, I’ll know what my personal future doesn’t hold. That’s the goal anyway.

Meanwhile, fix what you can. And stack.


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Sun. Nov. 5, 2023 – “low residue” diet and drugs, the horror, the horror…

Cool and clear, maybe someone in Houston gets some rain… warm later. It got into the 80s yesterday. Had to turn the house AC back on. Fall can be crazy with needing heat overnight, and AC during the day.

I did my pickup, and while I was on that side of town, hit a couple of estate sales. One was great, I spent over an hour in the garage picking tools and supplies. The other was mostly a bust, but I did grab a klein wire stripper and a pair of Channelok pliers for $2 each. The only other thing in the whole house I might have been interested in was an original Atari 2600 with accessories and games, and an enclosure with a dust cover. I’d never seen the enclosure before but it turned out they aren’t particularly rare or valuable. Sellers were unorganized, distracted, and prices were at retail… They kept saying they’d be open again next weekend. Not gonna be getting much return business would be my guess.

If you’ve got some special stuff and you want it to bring the money it’s worth or go to a good home, make the plans now. I’m a big fan of estate sale companies but they vary wildly in knowledge, skill, and focus. Some are predatory. No one loves your stuff like you do.

Today I’ll be stuck at home, close to the smallest room. I’m starting the prep for my colonoscopy on Monday. I’m led to believe it’s very unpleasant and I won’t want to be too far from the facilities. We’ll see if I can get anything done around the house. Fortunately I’m a prepper, and we didn’t use the last roll of TP in the house last night, just the last roll before opening a new bale. There was a moment though, where I doubted my memory, and I was worried about sending my wife out for TP… which would have been bad on so many levels. But the garage DID have another bale waiting for use…


I’m working on getting all the medical stuff up to date and out of the way. Venezuela levels of collapse could make it very difficult to get care if you found out you needed it. If I can get around to it, you can too.

Get the niggling little thing checked out. And stack. Meds too.


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Sat. Oct. 28, 2023 – weekend is just two more days to work…

Warm again, and damp, but maybe not raining… although we are still in the “could rain” area according to the national forecast. I didn’t see any rain yesterday, but it might have rained in other parts of town.

I got some stuff done. Stopped by my favorite gub store and dropped off some mags to consign. I picked them up at the state surplus store on my quick trip to Austin last week. Normally there isn’t much margin in them, but these were Kimber, and Kimber stuff is priced like it’s dipped in gold.

I did manage to hit Costco. F’me, prices are high. Charmin was $16-18 when I started shopping at Costco. It’s $30 now. Kleenex was $1 per box, now $2. What’s odd is what hasn’t increased. Australian lamb is the same price. Canadian maple syrup might even be a dollar a bottle cheaper. Spiral sliced ham is only up a little bit over the last 4 years, maybe 10%. Filling the Expy was a bit easier this week, 87 octane was $2.75. Rice is still up, and has increased a bit, and selection is way down. Christmas stuff has been in the store for a couple of weeks at least. Halloween candy was marked down. My tab for a cart that wasn’t even very full, and didn’t have meat, but did have a few heat and eat meals was over $500, and I passed on the TP.


Wife and D2 were supposed to be doing Girl Scout things this weekend but bailed on it. D2 has things closer to home she wants to do, and my wife wasn’t super thrilled to be volunteering to do a bunch of work at camp anyway. When one of the other girls bailed that was enough to kill the weekend.

I’ve still got most of what was on my list to do today. I’m hoping to get more done without having to pick up kids in the middle of the afternoon.

We’ll see.

I don’t really see how you can go wrong stacking, in light of inflation, especially if you stock up when stuff is on sale. Even normal prices will probably look pretty good 6 months from now. NOTHING is cheaper than it was…

So stack.

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Mon. Oct. 23, 2023 – 10232023 – Fun but pointless? Pointlessly fun? Of just funny…

Cool to start, but mid to high 80s later. That will be warm. It got uncomfortably warm yesterday as I was working in the attic and garage, even though it didn’t seem that warm outside. I guess I’m starting to adjust to the cooler temps.

I got a few things done yesterday but didn’t get much decor up. I had to clear a path to it, and that was probably the cause of my reluctance to get started- the 10 things that needed to be done first. I’m still not completely ready to even start getting the stuff out of the garage attic. I did get a few things out of the house attic, some flags and bones for the yard, and some decor for inside the house.

I got sidetracked for a bit working on getting the laser engraver set up. It was on the kitchen table, needed to be moved (stored for a while), and in order to do that, I wanted to see it make some smoke…which it eventually did. I did some cuts in paper, some burning on cloth and paper, and some surface removal on a multi layered piece of a food box. I probably won’t do much more until I have a place for it to live, and an enclosure to make it safer. I tried burning a pattern onto a piece of ham, but didn’t do much more than get a blurry soft outline of grey-er cooked ham in the middle of the pink piece. I have no doubt that it would burn me though…

Cleaning up that, getting stuff into and out of the attic, and some other general cleaning pretty much filled my day.

Today will get some more decor, some auction stuff, and some drop offs if everything goes right… and maybe that trip to Costco.

Until the deflationary spiral sets in, this inflation is starting to really have an impact on people. I looked at the take out menu from our local chinese place, and prices have gone up 2-3$ on 6-9$ items, in a very short time. Unfortunately the menu isn’t dated, but it was in the cabinet with the other menus and it can’t be that old. The weekly ad flyers from our local grocery stores have been getting smaller and smaller. The Randalls ad was only a half width single sheet. The Kroger ad was missing, and the three hispanic markets were either a full width single sheet, or a half (newspaper sheets.) That’s down from multi pages and full size sheets. The Aldi ad was at least 75% not food items and was half what it used to be. I think the companies don’t have enough sale items to fill the old ad sizes, and they don’t want to spend the money on extra pages. Both bad indicators.

Stack what you can while you can. War gets worse, someone starts sinking shipping, or interdicting it, and prices will got nuts. Ditto if the middle east oil stops flowing and shipping becomes more expensive. Too high and the trucks stop moving. We were really close once already. I know I’ve been banging this drum for a while now, but look around and tell me I’m wrong…

So stack. Prep like your life depends on it. It might.

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Thur. Oct. 19, 2023 – getting closer to All Hollows Eve, and I’m not ready

Slightly warmer forecast for today. Yesterday was another beautiful day. Clear and cool, with a breeze. Today should be mostly the same.

I did get a bunch of auction stuff done yesterday, and took a load to my auctioneer. He ran a report and printed me all my lots and sale prices for the last few weeks. I’ll be looking through those today and the rest of the week. I want to spot anything that sells well consistently that I might not realize. It’s always a crap shoot, sometimes one thing sells well, the next time it doesn’t. I’m trying to maximize return though, so I should look.

Today I’ve got a couple of pickups, household stuff mostly, that I didn’t do yesterday. And I need to hit Costco for candy, and the local grocery for milk and cream, and any meat that might be on sale. I’ve also got a follow up appointment with one of the specialist doctors, who will be reviewing the PET scan results with me. Hopefully I’ll get an all clear, at least until the colonoscopy.

It will be a busy day, when all that can’t even start happening until after 10am. But that’s life. I take it as it comes, and do what I can with it.

And I’m always stacking or thinking about stacking…


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