Category: prepping fail

Thur. Dec. 21, 2023 – not many secrets left on the Advent calendar…

Cool and clear, maybe. Forecast says – no rain. But it’s Houston. Yesterday started nice, warmed up, then got a bit overcast, with patchy clouds late in the day.

I was at home all morning, then picked up the kid. Did my pickups, mostly BOL stuff with a bit of Christmas mixed in. Came home, chauffeured D2 to an appointment, then worked on adding some decor to the yard display.

I got three cheap artificial trees, put them in the yard, and overloaded them with lights. There are colored and white on each tree. Adding the white really gives the trees shape at night, and stands in for snow, right? In any case, they look good and help fill out the yard.

I also got a couple of Star Wars inflatables at Goodwill, the droids and a Chewbacca, both about 5ft tall. I think they are pretty cool. Wife is less enamored. I have just a couple of things I will add, and then I’ll be happy. I’ll try to get to it today, so I can relax.

Today I’ve also got a pickup, or two. I could do them Friday but my wife wants to head to the BOL for a couple of days before Christmas. I’d like to too, but have auction stuff going on that I’d have to move. Since she waffled instead of planning, we’ll probably stay home. Getting the pickups out of the way today gives me options though, and I like options.

Last night while getting dinner ready I discovered that between taking stuff to the BOL, spoilage, use, and a lack of sales for replenishment, I’m almost out of pasta… Hard to believe, but the kids eat a lot of it, and it really hasn’t been on sale in a long time. I must have taken more to the BOL than I thought, as I should have a bucket or two… Maybe they’re at the secondary. Stuff is still scattered around as my ‘clean up and reorg’ project stalled, and hasn’t been completed. FAIL!

While opening buckets I also discovered one of white flour that has water intrusion. So that one is done. I think I’ll pop lids on several buckets and check on the contents. The red beans bucket has an odd smell. Not bad, or offensive, but not neutral like I expected. I’ll have to look at it in daylight.

Check your stacks people! Rotate your stock, and try to use it as part of your daily life. I budget for and accept that I’m going to have higher than average spoilage as my storage conditions are terrible. You should be able to do better than me.

And even if you can’t, more stacks will help compensate. Be like the Quakers, when you plant your garden, plant 10% extra for God’s creatures, and don’t sweat it when they eat.

nick

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Wed. Aug. 9, 2023 – another hot day, filled with exciting white hot action…j

Hot and humid. Yup. Again. Sunny too with no relief in sight according to the national forecast. Oh well. Summer. I will say it’s bloody hot. Better to do inside work than outside.

So I spent all afternoon yesterday finishing up outside work at my rent house*. Fence, parking space, roof flashing, all hot and in the sun. Sweated until I was soaked to the skin. Not kidding, feet were pasty white and wet, same for my ‘undercarriage’. Not quite waterlogged with wrinkles, but dang close.

Today will be a bit different from the last several and more like my normal day. I’ve got several pickups to do, mostly stuff for the BOL and household items. I’d like to do an auction drop off, if I can fit it in, and I’ve got to make a Costco run too. I haven’t been making them as often as I used to and it shows in the state of my stacks.

Last night I had to go to the store for TOILET PAPER. Yup, prepper fail. Kids have been burning through it so fast I thought someone was stealing it, and my normal storage areas are being used for other things (so my inventory management by looking at the stacks isn’t working.) Then we took some to the rent house, and I’ve been taking bulk packages to the BOL to build up stores there. I have TP at the secondary. If the stores were closed I’d hit that backup… but the bale I thought was TP in the garage was Bounty paper towels. So down to the last roll in the house, and that won’t cut it. HEB was open late. Funny though, it’s more expensive, with fewer rolls in the “mega pack” and they are narrower than the Costco sourced Charmin.

Oy, I’m so ashamed. Had to make a special trip just for toilet paper at 10pm… I’d have felt pretty stupid if I got myself shot or robbed doing it, or if I’d had to drive around looking for some and an open store. You let your guard down for just a bit, and it’s amateur hour all of a sudden.

[hangs head]

Well, needs must… I’ll hit Costco today or tomorrow.

There’s a bunch of domestic bliss to attend to also. Normal everyday life. Best if I get started sometime this morning.

Stack it up, and make sure of your inventory!

nick

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Tues. May 2, 2023 – you say you want a revolution, weeeellllll ya know….

Cool and clear, warming later… kids had great weather for their field trip yesterday.   The whole school went, and they had a great day to be outside.  Today should be more of the same.   Cool, but hotter in the afternoon.

I got some of my stuff done.   Did two pickups.   Had an interesting chat with the auctioneers.   One I hadn’t seen in a long time, that does mostly salvage and municipal surplus, said she is seeing the beginning of another bankruptcy cycle.   She’s had a couple of businesses call her to sell all their stuff before it gets seized and sold, and a bank looking to do the seizing…   There are definitely cycles in the economy, and if she thinks she’s seeing the beginning of a downturn, I’m willing to believe it.  She’s been in the liquidation business pretty much her whole life, and that’s several decades as a successful business herself.

I am waiting on a part, so I won’t head to my client site today.   I’ll be doing stuff here, mostly sorting and stacking, but also I better get started on the cleaning and upkeep stuff too.   I’ve let it go far too long out of distaste and other things to do, but I really can’t let it go much longer.

Sometimes we just have to pull up our big boy pants, and man up.

I used to have a quote on my wall, credited to Goethe, but I never could find the source,  that resonated with me.    “Who must do the difficult things?  – He who can.”    There is a slightly different version credited to the author Trevanian in his novel ‘Shibumi’  – “Who must do the harsh things?  He who can.”    My teenage self could have gotten it mixed up, although why I’d have attributed it to Goethe, I can’t imagine.   (Loved ‘Shibumi’ btw, don’t know if it would stand up now, but I re-read it many times. JerryP would sometimes mention Trevanian…)  ANYHOW…

Cleaning up the possum mess in the garage and on the canned goods shelves barely qualifies as “difficult” or “harsh” but not only am I the only one who can, I’m the only one who WILL do it.  Eventually.   Today.  Maybe.   When I have no more chance to procrastinate.  Or later.  If I get to it.  Someday.

Stack it up.  And keep it in good shape.

nick

 

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Thur. Mar. 16, 2023 – two is one, and one is none…

Cool, possibly cold, and rain in the forecast.  Yesterday sure got nice once the sun heated up the day.   I was in shirtsleeves for most of the day.

We are supposed to get really cold, maybe freezing and possibly get rain later today.   Didn’t look like it was coming when I went to bed.  We’ll see later, I guess.

Spent the day doing stuff.   And stopping because of failures.

First challenge o the day was my wife working from here.   Cell as hotspot, VPN, applications running on back end servers in the office, and a lot of latency.   Not a good combination.   Lazy programmers, assuming everyone is on a fast connection, erroring out if something takes too long….  not a pleasant day.   The real problem was laptop battery life though.

It’s good.   So good she doesn’t think about it most of the time.   So when she got the low battery alert and went to connect the power brick… and didn’t have the AC cord, it was suddenly an issue.   I’ve got cords up here.   I’ve got cords in my other truck.  I’ve got BOXES of cords at home.    I didn’t have the one that looks like mickey mouse here though.    She ended up going into town to try to find a cord.   Walmart SAID yes, but was wrong.   Dollar Store, everywhere else, no dice.   Last chance, and why not, the pawn shop had one.   She paid $15 but didn’t have to drive a couple hours round trip to get one.   It is DIFFERENT up here in the country.

My day was similar.   I decided that knee high weeds instead of lawn wouldn’t do, so I got the mower charged up and started cutting.    I didn’t do my annual maintenance first, thinking I would bang the snot out of it one last time, then start my season with new stuff.    Well….    While I was waiting for the battery to charge, I got out my string trimmer and started clearing edges and flower beds.   Ran out of string.   Since I didn’t have a gas string trimmer here, I took the string home to use with the trimmer there….   and brought that trimmer up but didn’t bring any string.   GAHHH.

However, I have a trimmer here, new in the box, not even assembled yet.   It probably came with string… so I took the time to set that up.   Called my wife and had her get some string while she was at Walmart.   Used the new trimmer until it’s string ran out.   Started the mower up and SLOWLY began cutting grass like plants.   Tall and tough plants.   I ended up cutting only a 1/4 of the width of the deck on each pass.   More would bog the mower down.   It took a long time to make progress but I was about 85% done when the drive belt for the mower deck failed.

No more mowing for me.   A belt was not one of the maintenance items I bought for the annual.    (It will be next year.)   Wife came home with some line, and I went back to work.   It only fit the old trimmer head.   Which was fine until I dropped the trimmer and broke the gas tank…   OK, switch the head to the new trimmer motor and get back to work.  At least until I ran out of string again, because my wife bought a whole lot less than I hoped and asked for.

So switch gears again.   Put the blower attachment on the new trimmer engine and cleaned up where I could.  Until I ran  out of 40:1 premix fuel…

That’s a whole lotta gum flappin’, but it shows the value of having two (the trimmers) and the pain of only having one (the drive belt.)   And the value of a simple cord when you need it but don’t have it…

Hopefully, either my fisherman buddy or one of the stores in town will have a belt to get me back up and mowing.   I’ll probably end up going in to town in any case to get fuel and string for the trimmer.   If they have the belt, I’ll buy it and return my buddy’s (assuming his spare will fit my mower.)

None of this stuff is critical, but it could have been.   Have spares.   Have maintenance items BEFORE you need them.   Have duplicates of critical equipment.   Barring that, have good contacts and local help.    There might be someone up here that has the power cord my wife needed, but I didn’t even think to ask until afterwards.   One of the neighbors who is a full timer has a sign business, and probably has computers and a junk box of cords.  Next time, I’ll ask him if we need something similar…

Stacks.   You need them, even if you don’t think you do.

n

 

ps.   Wife was able to D/L and use a phone app for access to the database for work, without the latency of the pc connected to the hotspot connected to the nearest cell site…not ideal, but she can work with it.

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Sat. Dec. 24th, 2022 – Christmas Eve

Still cold.   Still damp.   Still windy.   26F when I went to bed, and likely still pretty close to that at the start of today.  It did get above freezing, at least in the sun, for a bit yesterday.

We had some frozen pipes.   Namely the cold water supply to the on-demand water heater, which we moved from inside the house, to outside when we replaced our tank water heater.  All the lines were insulated at install, but for whatever reason, 8 inches of galvanized pipe coming out of the house and a valve were not insulated.   The bypass valves at the heater unit were also not insulated.  Predictably, that is what froze.   It took a while to slowly thaw, using an incandescent light bulb applied to the big valve and cold water line, and then later adding a ceramic ‘personal’ heater under the pipes and the unit, but we escaped without damage to the pipes or the heater itself.

Some lessons were learned.  I forgot about the hot water heater.   I forgot it was hanging out in the wind on the side of the house, and I didn’t even check to see if the pipes were insulated.  When my wife thought of it, I was already in my jammies ready for bed, and didn’t go out to check in the 17F wind.  I decided to go to bed and let fate take its course.  LAZY!  Of course I woke up to no hot water.   I don’t know if the additional insulation would have kept the pipe from freezing.   I don’t know if the “skirt” I’d planned to build to enclose the lower half of the unit and cover the pipes would have been enough.   The combination probably would have been, especially if I put a lamp bulb in there to raise the ambient temp.

So ‘prepper fail’ for sure.   If the job of installing the heater had been properly finished, likely no issues.  If I’d checked, no issues.  We got lucky.   Now, I did have the propane fired on-demand water heater we’ve been using for the outdoor shower at the BOL I could have plumbed in if the heater got damaged.  Or I could have used one of the two used on-demand heaters I’ve got stored in the attic at my rent house, or even the used on-demand heater I’ve got stored at the BOL, because if the heater got damaged, there would likely be a lot of people with damaged heaters and zero in stock to buy.   That happened last time.   I didn’t want to be in that position, so I bought the used one at the BOL as a spare.  NOT breaking the heater would be the best option by far.  And I didn’t take the steps I should have taken.

I also have most of my plumbing supplies and tools at the BOL.   I would be hard pressed to do more than very basic stuff here, and probably wouldn’t have the fittings.  I certainly wouldn’t be in a position to help other neighbors like last year.  Now my neighbors at the BOL- them I could help, and I let two of them know where the stuff was and how to get to it if needed.  It’s clear  that managing stores and logistics for this house and the BOL, making decisions about what and how much to stack at each location, is going to involve duplication and some compromise.  I need to get more serious about equipping the BOL with its own set of tools and supplies.  Can’t compromise the place we live most of the time, and don’t want to be moving stuff back and forth all the time.

That goes for food, water, meds, household supplies, etc.   I really need to make a place for a lot more stuff to be transferred and stored up there.  That is why I bought the shelving units from the circus estate.  Need to execute on the plan…

The biggest difference between this cold snap and the last one is that we didn’t lose power.  That makes all the difference.   Also, it’s going to be a much shorter event.  Probably.   Touch wood.


Today I’ll be in last minute present wrapping and food preparing mode.    Then we’ll open most of the gifts tonight.   Some will be tomorrow morning.   We’ll eat Christmas dinner here, then head to the BOL later Christmas day (probably.)  Or we might just stay here, and mom will see the BOL next visit.   Don’t really know.   I might end up driving up by myself to unload my tower, and check on everything.   It’s all kinda fluid at the moment.

Enjoy the days.   I hope you get some good preps from the jolly fat man.

nick

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Fri. Dec. 2, 2022 – just when I’m getting used to typing 2022 …

Cool and damp again, hopefully the clear will hold for another day or two.  We are in the rain zone in the national forecast today and tomorrow, but that will suck for driving to the BOL with a loaded truck. It was clear most of the day yesterday but a front came in very dramatically and it got dark early… no rain but SOLID cloud bank.

I did my errands, and a few other things.  Like starting to put out some decorations.  I got some more of the Halloween stuff put back in the attic too.   Didn’t make sense to put it away in front of the Christmas stuff.

Then in the evening I had a prepper fail.   Wife and kids will be at Girl Scout camp this weekend so she told me to fill up a couple of 1 pound propane bottles.  No problem.   Except that I have one full BBQ tank and 4 empties at the moment.   I’ve been moving tanks to the BOL, and only taking a couple at a time to get refilled.  And I got behind.   Compounding the issue, the full tank leaks when I put the transfer hose on it.  So that was a no-go.   The tank in the grill was almost out and didn’t have enough left to fill even one small bottle.  10 empty small bottles, two part full, no way to refill.   Yeah, I moved about a dozen to the BOL, but I should  have seen that I was leaving home short.

So I need to fill the BBQ bottles I have here.  Then determine if the refill hose is faulty.   Then fill or replace a bunch of 1 pound bottles so we can fuel the stoves and Mr Heater Lil Buddy heaters if needed.   And all in a hurry because I lost track of it.   In my defense, it seems that my wife used the hose to refill some small bottles at some point in the past, without letting me know.  I don’t know if the hose leaked at that point or if something  failed or is missing as a result of it being used.  I’m not happy about the whole mess.  I should probably bite the bullet and buy a case of 1 pounders just to be sure we have some.

Cut my hair and trimmed the beard.   That wahl trimmer kit has paid for itself in money, time, and convenience many times over.   It helps that I wear a crew cut and am comfortable with that.  It’s a straightforward clipper cut.  My barber is asking $20 per cut now.  He was $12 when I started with him in ’03.

All my running around is complicated by the freezer and dishwasher in the back of my  truck.  I might have to just run around town with them loaded to get everything done before heading up.

It’s always something.  Need to get some groceries too.  On the plus side, Costco had gas for $2.49/gal.  Filled the Expedition.  THAT ain’t cheap.

And since we’re on the topic of fuel, I need to start rotating my stored gasoline and cleaning up any that has gotten contaminated with water over the summer.   More joy.  I did pick up a new 5 gallon jug for storage.   The 5 gal. plastic Blitz cans have a definite lifespan.  The welded seam at the top of the handle always seems to fail eventually, so I need to start replacing cans too.  Commander Zero likes the nato style metal cans, but they are a bit spendy for my taste.  I’ll make due with plastic, and just replace them when they  fail.

I better get the kids out the door and get started on something.

Stack what you need.   Check your stacks.   Replace what has failed.

 

nick

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Fri. Aug. 19, 2022 – so MUCH stuff to do…

Hot and humid, but definitely less so today after all the rain and the cool front yesterday.   We got a smattering in the early afternoon, like a snow flurry, only wet.  A little later the temperature dropped 20F, the sky darkened and the wind picked up.  Picked up stuff and flung it around!   And that was when the power went out.

Took  a little over 2 hours for power to be restored.  It was pretty dark with the storm clouds.   The FLASHLIGHTS and mini lanterns got used.  The rain crashed down.   One of the nearby monitoring stations got 1″ in 15 minutes.   Of course the rain put an end to me working in the yard.   I did manage to get one gas powered string trimmer running.   It needed new fuel lines, new primer bulb, and a good carb cleaning.   I put the string trimmer attachment on it and attacked the back yard.   It’s been a long time since I ran the trimmer in back, and I had some real bushwacking to do.   Trimmer ran great for a whole tank of gas.  The engine part had a $6 sticker on it.  Fuel rebuild kit was $12, and a can of carb cleaner was $3.  I don’t  remember but I think the string trimmer attachment was probably less than $12.  I don’t count the cost of the string since that’s an expendable.  It took time of course, but still pretty cheap over all.  I’ve got a pole saw attachment for trimming limbs, and a blower  attachment for sweeping leaves, as well as extra string trimmer attachments.   If I can get another one of the power units running, I’ll leave one as a trimmer and one as polesaw.

In hindsight, I should  have been working on the gennie, either the propane conversion for the Honda inverter, or cleaning the carb for the bigger Generac.   But I couldn’t find the conversion kit- it got ‘cleaned up’ and moved.  And I got focused on getting one of the trimmers running so I could cut the grass.    I did find the kit later in the evening so it will be going on the gennie this week.   I’ve decided to ask a neighbor for an extension cord to keep the freezers running while the electrical work is happening.  I’ll send the gennie with my wife next week just in case.   Thought I’d have more time before the next hurricane to get the Generac prepped…  Prepper fail.

Today I’ve got a ton of stuff to get together and load, scattered in a couple of different places.  I think I’ll be driving around most of the day, and then driving to the BOL, with a pickup or three on the way.  Wife and kids have more Girl Scout Mariner stuff this weekend, and I have to get some stuff done at the BOL before the electricians get there.

Subsequently I’ll be away from the keyboard most of the day.  Hope they can keep the world together a few more days…

I need to stack some more, and so do you!

nick

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Sun. May 22, 2022 – 05225022 – meh, not a cool number

Hot hot hot too fricken hot… maybe some rain later.

And humid.   Soaked to the skin, and brains boiled working in the back yard yesterday.   I did find some shade under a market umbrella, and that saved me.  Did I mention it was hot?

After working on my gennie for a few hours, since I was soaked through anyway, I cut the grass.  It was overcast and a bit cooler anyway.   I still love that Toro battery mower.

We spent the evening celebrating D1 becoming a teen.   That will probably be the last time we’re happy about that, LOL.  Didn’t get time to play any games yesterday so we are supposed to play some today.  AFTER the clothes shopping.

I”m going to finish the gennies, if I can.   And go through the stored gas to see if any of the stuff in the cabinet also got ruined.  I did discover a point source failure, potentially.   I use a hand pump to move gas around.   It’s a cheap Harbor Freight thing, but it works really well and it lets you quickly transfer gas from a heavy can to your gennie, or suck all the old bad gas out.   I’m going to get 4 more, put two at the BOL and leave the others here.   I will dedicate one to water, and  have the other for gas.   It’s so much easier than holding 5 gallons in the air while attempting to control a pour into a small gas tank.  Recommended.

 

So USE some preps this week.  Find out if you have what you need to make it work, or not.  And stack it up.

 

n

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Tues. Mar. 8, 2022 – busy day. Busy week.

Cold again.  Probably just cool and damp later, but cold this am.   We got drizzle yesterday, despite the weather liars at openweathermap.org assuring me that we would not.  The national forecast had us in the rain zone.   It wasn’t bad really, or long, and as I headed north I was back in sunglasses pretty quickly.

Gas prices are rising pretty quickly even here in Texas.  Markets are pretty distorted, and demand is all over the place.   I don’t see any reason for it to get better anytime soon, and lots of reasons for it to get worse.

In fact, that sums up my outlook on pretty much any subject at the moment.  I don’t think sanity and practicality are going to break out.   I see a doubling down on the insanity instead.  And I see it building to a head, and then coming apart kinetically.

Now some people around here have chided me (in the spirit of goodwill, I believe) that I was too negative-  “the end is nigh” ” the end is nigh-er”…   but I don’t think it’s “the end” that’s nigh, but a massive disruption, a massive change in pretty much everything, except human nature.  I did not know the mechanism, but pestilence, war, and famine are always good bets.    Current world events seem to be supportive of that belief, if not yet settling on the mechanism.  And don’t forget to embrace the power of ‘and’ when it comes to mechanism.

I find myself wondering if I was negative enough.  My recent lull in prepping and lack of enthusiasm in the face of everything would seem to indicate that I wasn’t taking it seriously.  Well, now we seem to be at the elbow of the curve for  a lot of things, food prices, gas prices, violence, and I’m feeling a bit anxious that I let too much time slip away.

If you are feeling that too, I think we need to shake it off, take the time we have and USE it.   Anything that improves our position is worth it, with any prep being better than none.   I’m still living by my requirement that nothing I do can be irrevocable, but I’m willing to burn a bridge or two if I have to now.  Nations are starting to do the same.  Several have now announced bans on export of food, or fertilizer, or fuel.  If shortages are coming, nations and people are acting to secure their own needs first.   I recommend doing the same.   DON’T be that guy, faced with empty shelves, crying “why didn’t you leave any for me?”

Unless you are someone’s minor child or legal ward, no one has any obligation to put your needs ahead of their own.  That is not the way many of us are used to thinking of the world, or even living our lives, but that is the base reality.   No one is coming to save you.  Plan to save yourself.  After that, if it’s what you want, plan to save others.

All of it is a lot easier with stacks of needful things.   Get busy.

n

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Sun. Oct. 3, 2021 – maybe today will be a busy day

Humid. Very humid. Slightly less hot than summer, but humid. I don’t think it got above 80F yesterday but it was so humid I was dripping sweat just standing in the garage.

I slept late. I actually got up early but my back hurt, and I’d been up way too late, so I thought I’d lie down for another hour. Two hours later, I got up again. Back pain is weird, it’s more spread out than normal, is closer to the skin in some way, and sharper. Usually it’s very much down in the bones, and the tissues close to them. Weird.

Fed the kids breakfast (hash browns fried in bacon fat) and spent the day doing things that needed doing, but not getting out or to my secondary to work there. I’ll try again today. The auction pickups that would normally get me out the door didn’t happen because the auction host company has been down for 2 days so far as victim of a ransomware attack. All of their auction customers nationwide are affected, and so are THEIR customers. Lots of disruption to what are usually small, local businesses.

Cut the grass, restocked the house, did some ebay and auction stuff. Poked at the computer and kibitzed about the changes here as our unsung hero Rick bangs on the machinery trying to bend it to his will. He’s had some successes. The goal is increased reliability, which is worth some disruption. Chasing the internal server 500 errors was getting to be a big frustration for him and all of the commentors alike. We will likely continue seeing tweaks and changes for a while. Be kind. Assume positive intent. Remember it’s an unpaid and unloved job that he’s doing, and it’s not one I’m competent to do, nor do I have any desire to do it. It would be nice to have some backup for Rick so if you have the skills or interest, leave a note.

It would be nice to have some backup for ME, so if you have a comment that is going to be long and self contained, consider emailing it to me for use as a guest post. No promises, guarantees, warranties, or predictions, at my sole discretion. If I don’t want to use it as a separate post, you can still post the comment… and if you have something to say or contribute but would rather not say it yourself, email me and I’ll use it like Bob did when one of the prepper couples would email him. I’d love an update from anyone Bob featured that way too. Email is my first name at aol dot com.

Comms, networks, information, all important, and all bear some additional thought. Might be that dial up BBSs come back in vogue. Takes more legally to mess with actual phone lines… but of course WROL that’s not much of a consideration. Might be worth looking at data over ham radio to mailing lists or BBSs… possibly some combination with the ip based linking and conference repeaters…hmm. Shortwave with a data stream embedded? Weather fax single sheets like the broadsheets of old? SSTV on ham freqs? Time, probably past time, to start thinking about long term and worst cases, at least as thought experiments. Alex Jones is certainly glad he has his show on shortwave radio, after being shut out of all other media. Just saying.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking.

nick

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