Tues. Oct. 19, 2021 – gaps in shelves, gaps in preps

Cool, dry, sunny and nice. Like Monday was. This is the great Fall weather we look forward to. I hope we get a bunch more of it.

Spent the day yesterday messing around. My productivity is poor. I did get one sold item packed and shipped. Got a few items listed. Picked up D2 for our afternoon together, and hoped to get just a couple things at the store on the way home, and then work on our shelf painting project.

The store turned into a full grocery run. I went to the “big” HEB in the area. I haven’t been there in a while, and I figured they’d have more choices and stock, and they have some items our “little” store doesn’t carry that I needed. I was wrong.

They did have more choices for some stuff. They carry a large selection of non-alcohol beers and it got even larger. The whole display is 6ft x 6ft, but they cram a lot of choice, if not a lot of actual bottles, into that area. I stocked up on beer that I haven’t had in months. I was also able to get the diet ginger beer I love, and they had 4 six packs on the shelf (in the ‘mixer’ section). It’s imported and always low stock. So that was good and accomplished about 80% of what I went in for.

The other stuff was either targets of opportunity, or “while I’m here I might as well grab another gallon of milk” stuff, except for soda for the kids (and me, diet Dr Pepper is a vice.) Thinking that the big store would have more stock, I was very surprised by the limited choice in the soda aisle. Soup was the same. Few varieties of Campbells, a few varieties of HEB brand, and that was it. The little store had more choices, more brands, and more stock for soda and soup.

There were empty shelves all over the store. Most aisles had at least one section with a couple of empty shelves, about 6ft at a time. I had the noisy and inquisitive child with me so I didn’t deep dive into it, but it was more than normal daily restocking issues. That store is some sort of test bed for corporate. They are always messing with the layout and moving things around. There are always groups of corporate weinies standing in clumps in the aisle armwaving and ‘directing’ something. I was still surprised that they rearranged most of the store, outside of the edges and freezers. The location of 70% of the SKUs must have changed. It was therefore hard to compare with previous trips whether aisles were wider, or number of ‘faces’ for each type of item had changed.

I guess the moral of the story is, we are still seeing shortages of food. There was a store full of food to eat, but there were missing items, and missing categories of items. I can see that expanding very easily. My freezers are full. My wife thinks we have too much food. She doesn’t think the US will ever be generally short of food, SOME kind of food will be available, but she does expect that you might not be able to get exactly what you want when you want it. When I pressed her for WHY she thinks that, she didn’t have a good reason, except essentially, “Murika Yea!” I’ve got LOTS of reasons and arguments to support my point of view on the subject. She just can’t imagine America short of food. My feeling is, it’s happened before, it can happen again. It’s happened elsewhere, it can happen here. I hope I’m wrong. Honestly, I do.

But I’m still gonna stack…

nick

Fri. Oct. 15, 2021 – the decline of Western civ continues

Hot and humid, maybe cooler and wet. Yesterday was rainy all day, so technically cooler than hotter, and wetter than notter…

Did some auction stuff through most of the day because of the rain. The lost item appeared at the buyer’s door today. After I refunded him, and after he’d bought a replacement from someone else. Didn’t make sense to ship it back and he didn’t think to refuse delivery. It never did show up in the USPS system. That’s 11 days to get from Houston to Virginia without Christmas rush…that ain’t great.

Sold another couple of items on a ‘make an offer’. Usually if I can do 2 or more I can combine shipping and pass on the reduction in cost, but UPS and the Post Office both raised rates and I couldn’t quite make it work until I countered. Surprisingly he went for it. My experience has been that 99% of the time, the offer is the max they want to pay, a counter almost always fails.

I’m surprised by the sale, as I usually get shut out when my store has been on vacation hold…glad of it though.

Got out to Costco in the late afternoon and put some observations in yesterday’s comments. A year and a half later, we are still seeing shortages of stuff like paper products. Had an interesting chat with a lady in the TP area. She’s very aware of shortages, “saw it reported”, is stacking extra food (“I never liked canned food but I’m buying it because you never know”) and when I mentioned planting a garden, she wholeheartedly agreed because “there might not be any food”. Nice lady, and well outside of my demographic… so it’s not just white middle aged men prepping.

I’ll have to get some Charmin blue out of my storage if I can’t buy any at Costco.

I’m buying masks at auction too. People are too quick to unload and there are some real bargains on PPE at the moment. This is the first of the plagues, not the last, and I need to restock stuff I’ve used now that it’s available again.

Some gub stuff and tactical gear in the estate auctions this week too, but it went for too much money. Lots of bidders looking for that sort of thing.

I rounded out the afternoon by swinging by one of my favorite ‘high end’ thrift stores. It’s an independent run by a collection of churches in a very affluent neighborhood. Not much for resale, but lots for personal use. VERY STRANGE to see shortages in a thrift store, but there were. This store can be counted on to have the same sort of stuff from week to week, and there were departments that were WAY under normal levels of stock. Kids toys was almost bare. On the other hand, someone raised prices in electronics and small appliances so there was a LOT of stock in that area.

Stuff is weird all over.

Secondary market is getting patchy too.

Time and past time to be stackin’. Get to it.

nick

Mon. Sept. 27, 2021 – another sad anniversary

This date marks three years since Dave Hardy, aka OFD, and long time friend of the blog passed away. He was old school church folk, so if the spirit moves you, say a prayer for the repose of his soul, and the health and safety of his loved ones. If it’s spirits that move you, raise a glass to Absent Friends.

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The weather in Houston this week is supposed to be reverting to normal, with more rain and more heat on the way. I guess we’ll see. Yesterday was still gorgeous. I did get some stuff done outside, but not as much as I could have. I moved stuff, found some more to send to auction, and cleaned up. It was pretty dang hot by the time I got out there which limited me.

One thing I did get done was to apply the Home Defense Max to the perimeter of the house. We’ll be seeing live and dead bugs for a week as it does its magic. I got a couple extra gallons stacked up for later too. I need to reapply about every 6 months, when I get tired of hearing the shrieks from the others in the house.

Pest control. It’s gonna be a thing when stuff goes pear shaped.

Plan for today is more ebay stuff, grocery shopping, including Costco, and more cleaning. If the weather holds, there will be painting with my youngest to move our daddy/daughter project along. If it is raining, we’ll do something else. I really hope it doesn’t rain.

Oh, and I’ve got a couple of pickups to do. Mostly household stuff, but also one or two needful things to add to the stack, and one cheap item for resale.

We’ll see what the grocery stores look like today.

Use this time, stack the things.

nick

Sun. Sept. 26, 2021 – another sunny day

Forecast calls for another great day just like yesterday. It started at 68F and got into the high 90s, and then below 70F again at night. It was sunny and clear with the most cloudless sky I’ve seen in a long time. I’m hoping for today to be the same, if maybe a little bit cooler. Then I can really get some work done!

I did get some stuff done, although I didn’t start the day with pressure washing in mind. I started attacking a pile in the driveway so I could get to part of the house and spray for insects. Dead leaves, damp earth, and darkness do provide habitat for the local fauna… had to relocate two toads and a pair of earthworms. Once I had the stuff out of the way and saw the filth, I had to do some additional cleanup. And when it got hot, I decided to keep cleaning. As a plus, the area I started with will need to be clear when the plumber puts in the whole house instant hot water heater, if we can find anyone to do the work. At least I have a jump on that.

I’ll have to get stuff rearranged and put back today, ahead of any rain in next week’s forecast. It won’t hurt to find some more stuff for auction either.

All the stuff under tarps and plastic sheet needs new protective sheet. The sun breaks down all the plastics these days. Save the oceans I guess. I found one bucket, two translucent gallon jugs, some poly rope, and the plastic sheet were all either brittle or turning to dust. If you leave it in the sun, it will be destroyed. If you need it, you better have some put away for later.

Buckets, jugs, rope, plastic sheet and tarps, these are prepper staples. It might be a good idea, if your planning horizon is long, to have some that AREN’T plastic. The poly sheeting might be hard to substitute, but the other stuff has good material choices available. Canvas or nylon fabric might substitute. Cloth painter’s drop cloths are very sturdy. The stuff they make billboards out of is available as surplus online from billboard companies. It’s very durable and designed to resist the sun. It might be that a return to old materials like tar paper is called for. It’s certainly cheap enough to have a couple of rolls stuffed in an attic space or between ceiling joists.

If I had the room, I’d put a pallet of 3/4″ plywood, a pallet of 8ft 2x4s, and a couple hundred square feet of roofing shingles in a barn… Add a couple of boxes of appropriate fasteners too. If I lived on that sort of a property, a few rolls of chicken wire fencing would probably already be in the pile. Some stone, chicken wire, and actual pallets and you could improvise Hesco barriers. I’ve seen pics of small scale versions of the Hesco barrier used to define seating areas at a restaurant, and I’ve seen stone delivered to the jobsite packaged that way. Improvised bastions, delivered to your door! Of course, that’s something you are more likely to see in prepper fiction than real life.

One of the things you might be called upon to provide for yourself is shelter, and having the stuff to maintain your current situation is a good thing. It might also mean you can build small animal cages, window covers, or other useful things around your home.

Think about long term and worst case. Even if after considering it, you decide it’s not something you are worried about at this point, the exercise of ‘wargaming’ it will be good for you.

There are more things you can do when you have the supplies, than you can do without them. Stack up what you might need.

nick

Sat. Sept. 25, 2021 – what did you do this week to prep

Cool and sunny, cold fronts are lovely. Spectacular weather on Friday. Hopefully more of the same today.

Got a bunch of stuff done yesterday. Posted some listings on ebay. Sorted some stuff. Picked up some stuff.

I’d been thinking about the difference between prepping and using your preps. I’ve also been thinking it was time to shift back into a “prepping” mindset. Aesop asked the question, “What have you done this week?” and I realized I’d stopped doing the quintessential prepping posts.

Opsec has become more of a concern than ever, so you might not want to say, or you might think it unwise to say. Mention that if you will.

If you share or not, keep stacking.

n

Thur. Sept. 16, 2021 – no rest for the wicked

Cooler, damp, maybe rain, maybe sun. Freaking Houston weather. Yesterday was cooler but also humid with part sun. It’d definitely the end of summer transition. Not quite Fall, but getting close. Mid 70s at night suddenly, when the past month was solid 80s at night.

Since my craigslist buyer flaked out on my yesterday, and my back was still hurting, I did small things here at home. More cleaning in my office. More ebay stuff, including a couple of easy listings. I’m working on doing at least one listing a day, even if it’s just a book so I can get the attention of the algorithm and start actually selling again.

And one big thing, I finally got the inversion table assembled. That first time, when my guts all moved inside was very odd. Then I could feel stuff in my back moving. I’ll need to find a place to put it, probably outside, and I’ll try to get on it a couple of times a day for a bit to see if it helps.

Today I need to finish up a couple of the small things I started around the house, then get out and pickup some stuff. Later in the day, I’m supposed to meet the craigslist guy too. All in all, I’ll be out and about most of the day.

This weekend all the girls are at GS camp so I’ll be working at my secondary location. It would be nice if my back felt strong by then and if I didn’t mess it up. I’ve got a plan, now I just need to execute.

Meanwhile more and more people are noticing that there are still shortages and disruptions in the supply chain. My wife confirmed that she’s seeing it in construction and building projects, but people are currently trying substitutions and work-arounds. When she didn’t mention was what will they do when those run out too.

If you will need it, you should be trying to get it now. You should be thinking about substitutions and alternates. And maybe you should be looking in unlikely places. Some of those places might be a bit on the less legit side of things pretty soon. You guys will remember me suggesting getting some experience in the secondary market… it’s still early, go to a flea market/farmers market/estate sale this weekend. Take cash and keep your eyes open for stuff you might need.

When you find it, stack it high.

nick

Tues. Sept. 14, 2021 – Welcome Czar Nicholas…

Probably hurricane conditions today, although who knows? Nicholas became an official hurricane last night. We’ll see where it came ashore and what it did this morning.

Yesterday was overcast with misty drizzle interspersed with downpour…

I got wet on my ‘last run’ to the grocery store. Being the good prepper I try to be, I didn’t really need to go to the store and we’d have been fine but it was time for my normal grocery run. The bonus was getting a bunch of prime steak on serious discount, and even grabbed some pork chops on sale. It’s been a while since I had a good meat score, so I was due. And it never hurts to top up the fridge.

As of midnight, we still didn’t have any real weather at the house. I watched some youtube footage of it coming ashore in Surfside TX, and it was blowing pretty good, with some storm surge. Definitely 2-3ft flooding in Surfside.

This guy in his house is better than network coverage by a factor of 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC2Xh_dvAo4 Ryan Hall, Y’all. His Ida coverage was great. He must have an iron butt and huge bladder because he’s in the chair for a long time. His setup is stunning. Interesting to see the future of ‘citizen journalism’. One guy, education and skills, a lucky break, and good follow through, joined to a crowd funding model. Ain’t technology grand? And some people are ready to burn it all down.

Opportunities are everywhere.

Keep your eyes and mind open, your powder dry, your head on a swivel, and your stacks high 😉

nick

Mon. Sept. 13, 2021 – bad weather inbound

We’ll start the day normally, hot and humid, chance of rain. We’ll see where it goes from there. Yesterday was sunny and a bit cooler than summer, but still plenty hot in the sun. But then, in the late afternoon, the sun went away and it was uniformly overcast. It cleared briefly for a very pink and orange sunset which was very nice.

I got the yard trimmed and mowed. Weeded the raised beds in the back yard. Moved some stuff around. Filled 4 big water jugs (that I had cleaned after the freeze but never refilled.) Other than that, I took it easy. My back issue was borderline bad all day. I was right at the point where it could get a whole lot worse very quickly, so I didn’t want to strain too much.

WRT to water jugs, one was a Coleman 5 gallon, two were 7 gallon aqua-tainers, and one was a 7 gallon Reliance jug in a more NATO style. One of the ‘tainers was new to me, just picked up last week, the other had been out in the sun. Well, I stacked the new one on the old just to see, and the old split open on the bottom corners, which had been exposed to the sun… I’ve noticed before that the ‘tainers will get brittle from the UV. Keep them in the cool and dark and you will keep them longer… The coleman and the other Reliance jug are much heavier plastic, and a different type. I’m sure they could deteriorate too, but they seem sturdier.

I have replacement caps and vent covers that I bought some time ago for the aqua-tainers. The spigots break and let air and junk into the jug. Fortunately the caps usually don’t, and the thread for the spigot is a standard US NPT pipe thread. I’ve used a hose bib in place of the plastic spigot before, but this time, I just used plastic pipe plugs and removed the spigots that had broken.

To prep the water, I rinse the containers out with straight bleach, empty that out, and then fill with tap water. There is plenty of bleach left to treat the water. I had some treated that way that were still drinkable after 7 years. Bigger containers will need more bleach added. When I use the water, I put it through a Britta filter pitcher just for taste. You can also remove any chlorine taste or smell by aerating the water (pour it back and forth between pitchers a couple of times).

I’ve got lots of water stored, but the 5 and 7 gallon jugs are very convenient for daily use when you don’t have city water. You can easily bring them into the kitchen, or your ‘camp kitchen’ and dispense water as needed. It was past time to get them filled and back into service.

I’m sure there are other aspects of my preps that need a similar review and refresh. One more thing to add to the list… we’ve got time, until we don’t. Time to get cracking on inventory and double checking that everything is still in good order.

Stacking is the easy part. Don’t neglect the other aspects of maintenance and rotation like I’ve been doing.

nick

Sun. Sept. 12, 2021 – big storm coming, better get ready

Nice day in the forecast for today. Cooler and sunny, not crazy hot. Sat. was similar, although it did get hot in the afternoon.

Went to my meeting, had a good time. Went shopping. Came home.

Plan for today is sleep in, then either do some stuff around the house, or sort stuff in storage and get it ready to take to the auction.

There is a big storm coming. Both literally and figuratively as it turns out. The Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, and even parts further east are about to get up to 20 inches of rain if the forecasts are right. That’s several days of downpour and flooding with lots of damage.

So I’ll be topping up the day to day and getting ready to not have my pickup truck for moving stuff that can get wet.

In the figurative sense, we’ve been talking about the coming troubles for a while. I don’t see any way to avoid it at this point, and these things tend to kick off with very little warning. Use what time you have well. Hey, maybe it will be months or years. Good. Our stacks will be higher.

I quoted author Larry Correia yesterday, and I think one part of his advice bears repeating. Make yourself useful to your community. I’ve been slowly coming around to the importance of this. RBT thought he could position himself as resident wizard, but I thought that trying to do this AFTER the Fall was pretty difficult. (We had one discussion about this wrt ham radio.) He did get out into the community more at the new house than he ever mentioned at the old.

Other people in the blogosphere have been hammering on ‘tribe’ and community for a while, and on the folly of being a ‘lone wolf’. In our isolated and fragmented and mobile lives, it’s a difficult thing to do- becoming part of a group, part of a community IRL… we’ve found online substitutes but too often neglect the local, local, local aspects.

Hence part of my push for meatspace activities, real world training opportunities, group activities, and civic participation. We don’t have lodge brothers anymore. We don’t have high school friends nearby, or even poker buddies. Use what opportunities arise. Get out there and meet some people. Leverage what you have.

And stack it high and deep.

nick

Fri. Sept. 10, 2021 – some days these write themselves, others? Not so much.

Probably hot and humid, although if we’re lucky we’ll get a little less of each. Yesterday started cool but ramped up to over 105F in the sun at my house… that is pretty hot. It was less in the shade, but still, pretty hot.

Did my pickups. Had to get D1 from school. She stayed after for some math tutoring and the bus situation for late buses isn’t great. That cut my day short. I did get stuff into appropriate bins and I have an appointment to drop off those bins at my auctioneer today. I have to load up a few at my storage unit too.

I did a small amount of additional cleanup of my patio pantry shelves. Another box of instant oatmeal, and two more big round cardboard canisters of regular oatmeal went in the trash. There will be some more spoilage when I get the shelves fully cleaned. I’m sure there is another ugly surprise in the garage shelves too, when I get to them.

There was some discussion of Best By dates and stored food longevity over at Borepatch’s blog. I made a comments about some of my successes and losses. This week we ate ham I froze a year and a half ago, Knorr pasta in a ‘sorta’ foil pouch from 6 years ago was fine, and 5 yo cake mix tastes great. IDK when the crumbled bacon is from, nor the butter. It lives in the freezer until needed, and I’ve got a lot of it to rotate through. I’ve let some stuff draw down a bit, and I’ll be fixing that in the next couple of weeks. I already am ahead of replenishment on several items once again. Still, balancing is needed.

Other stuff needs to be looked at and rotated or refreshed too. Gasoline is my biggest question mark and I need to spend the time to go through all the cans and check on their condition. I’m pretty sure I will need to siphon the gas off the top and leave the water behind in several cans. Getting the dual fuel kit for my Honda inverter gennie would take some of that pressure off, but it’s one more thing to do.

Oh and I’ll be doing plumbing today. Got the shower part too late in the day to do the repair last night. Hey, it did get here in one day, just too late in the day on that one day…

Gotta get a bunch of work done so I don’t feel bad about doing my normal monthly non-prepping hobby meeting tomorrow. My biggest observance for 9-11 is living my life NORMALLY for that day. And remembering the dead. But trying for normal.

Keep working on your stacks. Might want some extra buckets. There’s a plastic shortage headed our way. And buckets are crazy useful.

Stack all the things!

nick