Category: prepping

Wed. Apr. 26, 2023 – sometimes I wonder what I’mma gonna do….

Cool and clear?  Maybe clear.  Maybe not.  It did clear yesterday, in places.   Typical Houston, with threatening skies but no rain where I was.   I could see rain in the distance…

So I used the Expedition for my  errands.  Didn’t want to get rained on in the pickup.  Dropped stuff off at one auctioneer.   Picked stuff up at two others.   Some was resale, but most was actually sprinkler system parts.   I’ve got a lot of work to do on sprinklers at the BOL.

Today should be working here at home.  I found more exploded cans and they leaked all over.   That led to other cans being nasty.  I’ve got to do some sorting and triage.  And cleaning up.   Of course there are ten things to do first to make room and time for that…  it’s fractal.

But I’ve been putting it off for a while, so it’s time to deal with it.   Unless it’s raining.   Then I’ll have to find other stuff to do.  That shouldn’t be an issue.   😉

Stuff needs maintenance and that takes time.  But the proverb about ‘a stitch in time’ will prove itself out one hundred fold if you ignore it.  Don’t be like me, stay on top of important stuff.

Anything spoiled will have to be replaced, and that will take away from your stacking.

And what do we say about stacking?   Stack it up!


Sun. Mar. 26, 2023 – work then home…

Chilly until the fusion fire warms the air.   54F when I went to bed.  Probably about the same when I get up.  It was clear and gorgeous when I got here yesterday, and I expect the same today.   High of 80F would be nice.

Before I left Houston I loaded the truck.  Since I had room, I decided to move a bunch of stuff I’d stacked at the beginning of the lockdown.  Kinda disappointed by the condition.  Granted stuff was stored in bad conditions, hot, cold, etc. some stuff failed long before it should have.

EVERY can of Hill Country Fair (our HEB grocery cheap house brand) fruit failed dramatically.  EZ pull lids popped.  EVERY CAN.  That is less than 3 years to complete failure.  None of the veg or soup popped.   A couple of flats of cans failed due to rust though.   When the fruit got everything beneath it wet….  FWIW, I have other brands of canned fruit stored under similar conditions and while they often fail early, none has failed so completely in such a short time.   No more HCF fruit in my long term storage.

Also, no more cardboard flats.  While they do help organize, the cardboard holds moisture and leads to rust on the bottom edge of the cans.  It’s ok indoors, in the proverbial cool dark place, but no where else.

There was also some spoilage due to animals.   Something chewed the plastic bottles, and ruined 3 gallons of cooking oil.  It was fine for a couple of years, but I’m guessing once the fruit was everywhere it attracted the possum.  Wasn’t rats because they’d have eaten all the oil too, and left the bottles empty, while these were still half full.

Oh, and in the fridge both bottles of heavy cream from Costco were swollen up and ready to pop even though they were still in their sell by time.  I’ve had issues with their milk this year but the cream  thing is new.  No more milk products from Costco.  Too much dairy has failed early. That joins my boycott of bagged veg from Costco too.  It never lasts as long as it should.

This seems to be my week for bad luck with food.   When I got here, I found the freezer door on the garage fridge ever so slightly ajar.   Everything was still firm, and had frost on it, but I’ll be cooking it all when I get home.   Since I was up here last week, it basically slowly thawed until today.  Glad I caught it in time.

Today will be attic work to connect the last sink and shower.   If I have time, I will also connect at least one hose bib.  I’m pretty sure we’re past risk of a deep and prolonged freeze.

Check your stacks people.   I let some things go, and lost extra stuff I shouldn’t have.  Also rotate your stored food.   It’s hard if you store more than you eat, and I know that and accept that I’ll have losses, but it’s still worth trying to rotate as much as possible.

Stack it up.  But monitor it too.



Tues. Mar. 7, 2023 – pickups and drop offs… maybe.

Cool and damp, possibly overcast.  Maybe rain?  We’re right on the edge of the national forecast, so probably not, but no one really knows.   It stayed overcast most of yesterday, and got kinda warm in the afternoon.   I was a bit sweaty working outside.

And I did eventually work.   I had to clean up and move some stuff in the garage to make room for the hamfest stuff that was going back in there.   I pulled out some stuff I wanted for the BOL, and I threw out almost all the boxes I was keeping for ebay shipping.   I wasn’t using them and they take a lot of room.   A full pickup bed worth of room, as it turned out.  Re-stacking and moving some stuff to close up gaps got me some more space too.  All the hamfest stuff, and a couple of black and yellow bins went back in the garage.

One of the things I wanted to dig out is my drain camera.   Years ago I bought a drain camera to look under my concrete patio, and under my slab.  Still have the camera.   There is the mystery drain for the RV pad at the BOL that I want to snake and see where it goes… and the cam should do that no problem.   I have to find the display (or add a connector for an analog video display- like one of the portable flat TVs I have stacked.)   The display was some kind of Creative labs recorder with a built in screen, but all I really need is a way to see the composite video output.  There is a lesson in there.   The camera and snake were fine, but the proprietary display/recorder wasn’t made in enough quantity so when it went EOL, the drain cam did too.   IF the maker had provided a composite video connection, and let people use any old analog tv device, it would have had a longer life.  Standards people, use them.  And preppers, if you want the gear to last, make sure you can get stuff to work with it for a long time, especially standard stuff that is widely available.

It’s worth repeating, custom connectors and breakout cables are a point of failure.   Even if the companies are still around, the cable probably won’t be.  Remember all the custom and unique cables that pcmcia card devices used?   Those modem cards are landfill without the cable, but the ones with the x jack built in are still in service.  Ditto for the Dell dual head video card that needed a special Y cable.   You can still get a DVI cable.  Very hard to get that high density plug to 2 DVI cable splitter.  I get it  that the manufacturer doesn’t care if you still want to use the device, but YOU should care.  Power cords are an issue for everything.  Don’t buy devices with uncommon plugs or jacks.

I mentioned recently that I was able to find a new cutter for my manual meat grinder.   Widely used, simple design, durable, and industry standard.   100 years later, you can order a new part to fit.   Ditto for Mokapot coffee makers, the filter and sealing rings are easily available.   There is a good reason to buy what everyone else uses and not the thing with a unique aspect, that might not last.

Today I’ve got a steel cabinet to pick up, so I’ll combine trips and do other pickups too.    I’ll dump my pickup load of cardboard and trash.   I might even use the cardboard recycle dumpster at the school if I have time.    Then it’s off to the auction houses.  Besides my pickups, I’ve got an item for consignment at a house I haven’t used before.   They’ve been getting great money for it in past auctions, so since I’m going there anyway, I’ll try consigning it with them.   Hope it does well…

All the rest of you, stack it up, but stack things you can get parts for…


Wed. Mar. 1, 2023 – welcome to March.

Yup, you guessed it, damp and warm.   The sun came and went yesterday, probably depending most on where you were in town.  I could see the rain in the rays of the sun off in the distance.   I never got any though there was some heavy overcast at my secondary location.

I made my first trip collecting stuff for the hamfest yesterday, winkling out some stuff (road cases and equipment racks) that has been sitting in the same place for at least 4 years, maybe longer.  Mostly filled the back of the truck.   There’s no doubt now that I will need  a trailer.  A box van would be even better, but that would eat too much money.

So much cr@p to load.  So many prices to check.   I may just wing it like I usually do, only checking ebay if needed.  I’m going to be basically giving the stuff away in most cases anyway.

Today will be more of that, combined with a trip to my client’s house to install the cell booster, but only if it’s not raining.    I’m not climbing on a roof in the rain.

If it’s raining, I’ll be pulling together stuff from my house and garage for the hamfest, and checking prices on major pieces.   I’m also debating whether to take an inverter and a couple of batteries or the honda inverter gennie.   The batteries would give me 12v for the stuff that needs it, but might not have enough power for the bigger 120v stuff.   Messing around with gennies isn’t how I expect to spend the time I have onsite though.  I need to take a box of AA batteries too, so people can test stuff if they want to.   NOW it feels like an onrushing train…

Hey I’ve got an external deadline.   Time to get stuff done.

And stacking has been woefully inadequate this week.   I’ll need to take a bit of time and do some thoughtful catching up and re-shuffling of current stacks.

Just because I’m slack, doesn’t mean you should be, get to it.


Tues. Feb. 28, 2023 – ah February, I hardly knew ya…

Another warm, damp day, but hoping for a bit of sun.   No pre-assigned tasks to break up my day, so I should be able to get stuff done.  If it doesn’t rain.

Did less than I’d hoped yesterday.    There were bills to pay and paperwork to update, as well as the vet visit.   Poor doggie has a very sore backside from his shot, and spent the day whimpering and looking at me.   The LOOKING, and the little pathetic yips are very hard to resist, so I spent some time on the floor comforting him, until his girl got home and took over.

I had to get on the phone and wait for about half an hour for the ability to pay for insurance with a check… reading the numbers to a human.  Gah.   Did the same with the gas bill at the BOL, but that at least took a credit card.   Three sets of humans I didn’t expect to talk with and it felt like the 80s all over again.

I did receive my new driver’s license.   Shiny.   Lots of new security features.   Texas went RealID some time ago, despite very real misgivings and a public anti- stance, but this new card has even more anti-counterfeiting features than the old.   Got my FCC renewal a couple of days ago, so just waiting for the CHL (or LTC as it’s now known) to come  through.  Need to do my passport too, but that isn’t a priority.

Did some cleanup prep for pulling together my hamfest stuff.   Made a bunch of lists and started remembering where everything was, and WHAT everything was.   I’m pretty sure I will order a uhaul trailer today so I can take all the extra stuff I want to unload.

One thing about finally having a BOL is that it collapses some uncertainty states and solidifies some of the needs and wants.   I don’t just need a tower, I need legs for the tower I have…  A lot of just collecting potentially useful things is solidifying into WHICH useful things will be useful at this particular BOL, and not some hypothetical BOL.

And some of my “enthusiasms” have passed.   Which means stuff I stacked in the throws of that “enthusiasm” are now surplus to needs.

I should be able to take a whole bunch of stuff to the swapmeet.   Whether it will sell, depends on whether people still have money and the desire to spend it on ham stuff.    I’m going to price pretty aggressively to encourage them to buy.  That is really all I can do.

So take a look at your stacks.   See if the stuff is still fit for mission.   See if the mission still needs doing.   And adjust.  Stack what you need NOW, instead of what you thought you needed a year ago.



Mon. Feb. 27, 2023 – and a new week gets started

Damp.   Warm.   Springtime for Houston.   Today should be just like yesterday with a bit more cloudiness and maybe more damp.   Even if the sun wasn’t burning the sky and the heat wasn’t tightening my skin, it was kinda uncomfortable outdoors yesterday.   Right on the edge where every movement brings sweating…

So I did some stuff outside, more than I did the day before, and then called it quits and came in and read.   No chance of whinging on about not having time for what I need to do when I don’t use the time I am given.

For reasons I’m not going to go into, this past week has been loaded up with stress, which was suddenly relieved, but I’m feeling some whiplash.  Add to that today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday, and I’m feeling a bit out of sorts.  It’s leaving me filled with a certain lassitude that isn’t helping things.

Still, have to keep moving and push on through.

This week I am UN-stacking things and piling them up to sell at the hamfest.   Do I need to be able to equip a neighborhood with 2 way radios?   Do I need to be able to equip more than one neighborhood?  There is probably a reasonable limit to the stuff I really need to have on hand, and I’ve crossed it in some categories.  Blister pack GPRS and FRS radios is one of those categories.    Motorola handie talkies is another.   I can’t program them, so do I need bins filled with them?  No.  I need radios I can program.   I can use the money to buy those radios, or to improve some other area of preps.

It’s a bit like the guys who bought 22LR as “trade goods” or to “sell when the price goes up”.   Only they never do sell.   They never sell the cheap ARs or the Pelican cases of pistols they bought just to sell later either.   It’s far too easy to hold on to them, thinking the time isn’t right or that now that the drought has come, they need them more than they need to sell them.

It’s and easy trap to fall into.

Anyway, I’m hoping to sell far  more this time than I normally would be ready to sell.

Which will let me stack something else… or improve my position elsewhere.  Which is ultimately the goal.


Fri. Feb. 24, 2023 – in which our hero discovers another week has flown by…

Warm and humid.  No rain in the forecast but maybe some more overcast.   Yesterday was mostly overcast, but we didn’t get any rain in the places I visited.   I’ve got stuff in the back of my truck that I don’t really want to get wet before I can get it put away…

Did get pickups done.   Last pickup for the one auctioneer, who is calling it quits.   We may be at the same stage of returns and overstock reselling as house flipping was just before that collapsed.   New players with no experience are paying too much to buy in, thinking it’s easy money, while more experienced players are finding it hard to stay in the game, or no longer profitable.   A crash and consolidation seem to be headed this way for this nascent but quite large market activity.

It is actually a new version of an old business.   There have been resellers, wholesalers, surplus outlets, auctions, and fire sales for a long time.  Probably since the first failed product in the market.  But the old business model of insiders and somewhat disguised markets (Ross Dress for Less did pretty well selling the stock other retailers couldn’t move, ditto for Marshalls and the “outlet store” fiction) expanded and shifted and combined with online auctions, cottage industry, and the idea of the side hustle to spawn a whole new crop of reseller businesses.   There has been a huge increase in the size and scope of the market, as new sellers pop up and buyers become aware of what’s available.

Shakeout and consolidation is probably inevitable.

One consideration is that it has broken the traditional retail model, and opened people up to the idea that goods don’t have to come from a store (or a big company  — I mean selling platform– like Amazon).   As the general economy worsens, there will be an increase in bargain hunters, of necessity.  That means more person to person selling, more non-traditional venues (like swapmeets, black and grey markets, permanent yard sales, etc.)   If it happens it means I was right to advocate learning about this way to shop before it became a necessity 😛

Anyway, consider your own habits and routines for getting the stuff you need and use.   What if those options are not available, or not available at a price you can afford?   It’s always easier to learn a new skill while you still have the backup option of doing things the old way.

Get out there and start learning about the secondary economy, or the “informal” economy.   Use the practice to increase your stacks, and kill two birds with one stone.



Tues. Jan. 31, 2023 – where does the time go?

Cold. Wet.  Cold.   37F at midnight, so probably at least that this morning.  Yuck.   And rain throughout the day if we’re unlucky.

There was a soldier whose blog I read way back in the day, when the powers that be had no idea about blogging or the web.   He used to try to keep up OPSEC and would say that he “went somewhere and did some things…” and that’s pretty much  what I did yesterday.   Sounds a lot more interesting if you put it that way, than saying “I took the kids to the orthodontist, then school, then did some online stuff before I took a bunch of stuff to my auctioneer.  Oh, and I sold a thing to a guy from Craigslist.”  But that’s what I did all day.

Went to Goodwill too.   Picked up a really nice Sony amplifier (wooden sides tipped me off, usually Sony isn’t very collectible) that could be worth as much as $600.   Picked up ONE Bowers & Wilkins shelf speaker, that has seen better days, but should still be worth $200-300 and maybe much more.   The pair is over $1500 in good condition.  I looked through the whole place twice hoping to find the match.   Crazy stuff shows up at the outlet.  Clearly it’s time for me to start listing stuff again.

Gotta fund the BOL somehow.

Dinner last night was frozen tilapia filets, broiled with ginger, garlic, lime and butter.   Garnished with thin lime slices, pickled sushi ginger slices, and super thin sliced red onion.  Drizzled with melted butter.   Pasta for a side dish.   Nothing on the table except the onion and lime was less than a year old. Kids and wife loved it.  Who knew?

Pasta was from a bucket I’d sealed and put up some time ago.   Opening the bucket broke the rim though.  It’s been outside in the shade, but still seems to have gotten brittle as if it was in the sun.  I couldn’t pry up the lid by hand, so I used a bucket tool.   The lid was trashed in the process.    I think I’m gonna have to recommend having more lids than buckets if you think you will be re-using buckets.   And you can never have enough buckets.

So stack the things you need to stack the other things!




Mon. Jan. 16, 2023 – at the BOL, working…

Cool and damp, but not cold.   Hoping the wind blew yesterday’s patchy clouds out of the area.   Some sun and warming would be nice.

I spent more time getting out of the house yesterday than I’d hoped, so I got up here a bit late.   Did some small things, basically decided not to start anything big I couldn’t finish on time.   Broke up and moved some concrete.  Literally chipping away at that task… move three wheelbarrows full before I lost the light.

Did some more planning for how to reshape the grades around the house to better deal with water  and drainage.   It must have rained up here because there was evidence that my channels from last visit drained a bunch of water.   That gives me some good contour lines for how the grades need to be.

Lake is up some more toward normal levels, but still a bit low, maybe 6″.   The waves make a lot more noise when the level is up.  I must have forgotten that.

One of the things I listened to on the shortwave last night was two western journalists living in Peking talking about their bouts with chinkyflu and the changes in the city since the restrictions were lifted.   They both had mild cases, in bed for a couple of days despite being fully vaxxed and boosted  (so- worse than most recent cases here).  They were excited to ‘just get on a train and travel’ without having to register, get tested, show vaccine passports, plan ahead, quarantine, etc.   That is for domestic travel this week.   I almost never even think about restrictions or getting wuflu any more.  What a difference.   And an interesting ‘slice of life’ I wouldn’t have come across if not for shortwave listening.

Maybe having been burned so badly, now china will be a bit more cautious?  Naw.  It’s not in their nature.

I’m sure there will be another plague that spreads around the world.  It’ll likely be worse too.   Don’t get complacent with preps.  45 days without leaving the house would be a nice level to have…anything really nasty should burn itself out in that time.  And if it’s less nasty, that level of preparation will stretch and be supplemented with whatever you can get, just like the past three years.

It’s funny, youtube put a gardening video from 2 years ago in my recommended list, and I watched it day before yesterday.   It was a guy in the UK, who decided to start a garden, since he (and everyone else) was essentially locked in his house due to wuflu response.  [he was pretty successful, but that wasn’t what caught me.]   We were never confined to quarters.   I had enough exemptions that I was able to go out if I wanted to, being a landlord, among other things.   Most people had no problem moving around if they wanted to.  I can’t imagine what it was like in places where they heavily restricted movement, and I have trouble believing that people COMPLIED the way they did.   But they did.  And they will again.  Except in the US.  Unless people are dropping in the streets with their eyes bleeding and skin sloughing off, I don’t think we’ll comply.

Stack your stuff high.  Ordinary stuff.   Extraordinary stuff.  Stuff that would be ‘nice to have’ and the stuff you need every day.  ‘Cuz I’ve got a feeling we’ll need it.






Sat. Jan. 14, 2023 – non-prepping hobby day, and heading out…

Cold and damp.   It was 44F when I woke up yesterday, didn’t get much above the mid 50s in the shade all day, and was 38F when I went to bed.  I expect that to continue today.   At least it is supposed to be clear for a couple more days.

Did my pickups.   The damage to the scratch and dent freezers is less than I thought, so hooray.  One is perfect, one has the dent mostly confined to the access panel over the mechanicals  (easy to straighten), and the last one has about 6 vertical inches of the back corner edge pushed in a little bit.  They should all work fine, with only one even having noticeable damage.

I’ve been chatting with various of my sellers and I think I can say that this economy is wearing on them.   They look tired and beat up.  I’m pretty sure that isn’t a good thing.

Today I’ve got my non-prepping hobby meeting in the morning.   Then I’ll come home and take down the Christmas stuff that’s outside.  I don’t have to be at the BOL at any particular time, and the decorations need to come down.  I haven’t managed my time well enough to do it before now, but time is up.   Then I’m headed out.   I will probably stay until late Monday.  The kids have Monday off, but my wife doesn’t, so they will not be joining me.  It does make certain tasks easier if I can cut off power or water for an extended time.  And if the weather gets any colder I’ll feel better about being up there and having an eye on the situation.  It’s almost always colder there than here.

I’m moving some more food up there too, frozen and canned, and some bulk buckets.  It occurs to me that salted pork would need a whole bunch of salt.  And some buckets.   Hmm.  More for the list.  If every bucket you have is in use, how do you replace one that you dropped and broke?  Or what can you brine that ham in?  Or put up some windfall food?   The bucket is the unsung hero of prepping, but how many do you have that aren’t in use?  What if you couldn’t just run to Lowe’s for another few?  EMPTY buckets are important preps too.

So  stack up a few!



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