Thur. Oct. 29, 2020 – getting so close I can taste the candy

Cold.  Damp.  Winter in Houston.

Tuesday it was high 40s most of the day, with overcast and misty drizzle.  The sun did come out briefly in the late afternoon.

I turned on the heat for the first time last night.  It was still 74F inside at 7pm, but by 11pm it had fallen to 72F.  That’s too cold for everyone here.  My hands get really stiff when it’s cold.  I know it is winter coming because the skin at the end of my thumbs and side of my first finger gets thick and starts to crack.  My dad’s fingers did the same thing.  I’ll probably have cracks for the next couple of months, most of the time.  Sealing them with superglue can help, as can packing them with AB gel overnight.

I had a fairly productive day, although mostly on a personal level.  I got some more stuff moved and organized in the garage.  Dug out some more stuff for ebay and auctions.  Tested a couple of things.  Got the basic shape cut out for my daughter’s COVID costume (she’s going as the virus, wife will be in yellow tyvek, daughter one will have her ‘I’m smart’ glasses, a lab coat, metal clipboard, and stethoscope.  I don’t dress up, but I might throw on some tyvek and my new chainsaw hardhat and face shield…

I got my candy dispenser working.  It’s a 5 foot long by one foot wide conveyor belt.  It started life as some sort of UV curing tunnel, but the UV light was missing.  It sat in my storage for years, waiting for me to use the motor and controller for something… so I’m using it as a conveyor belt.  Whodathunkit?  I need to dress it up a bit so it looks like a fantasy candy maker.  I’ve got a little tiny fog machine, some blinking lights, a plasma ball, and if I have time, I’ll do some sort of moving thing on top.  I’ll sit behind it and feed candy into it, which will then be conveyed to the kids…Fun!  I hope the rain stops before Halloween.

I’ve got a couple of other things I want to add this year too, but that will be dependent on time…

And all the normal life things don’t stop while I’m making Halloween decor…

Like disasters, fortunately not happening to me, but unfortunate for Louisiana and Mississippi.  Cat 2 hurricane, historic number of storms, 3rd in a row for New Orleans, aaannnndddd….. WAY down the page on news sites.    I miss the 3 days of breathless modeling and speculation.  Anyone here who is affected, reach out to us.

What a year when a Cat 2 hurricane barely rates a mention.

Keep stacking.  If this is normal, think about what ‘worse’ looks like.

 

nick

 

Mon. Oct. 12, 2020 – Columbus Day.

Hot and humid.  Because why not?

Happy Columbus Day.  Without whom we might still be serfs in Europe.  And because FYTW.

The air was saturated all day Sunday, to the point that water in the driveway didn’t dry.

I worked on little things all day.  Got ready for the roofers.  Did some stuff in the house to make my wife happier.   Did a little bit of stuff in the garage.  Set another rat trap for whatever is roaming my food shelves.  There was gnawing on a bucket overnight so the visitor is still coming.  Nothing in the glue traps, so I moved them around a bit.  I’ll add more if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in a day or two.  I may add more anyway.

Spent an hour in the pool with the family.  It was a good day.


I’m starting to see stuff online that is adding to my concerns about the insurgency.  People are noticing and identifying the Command and Control structure for the socialists driving the protests and riots.  Well, not the structure, but that there is one.  Things are starting to show up in the live streams, and during the incidents that are clear indicators to people who know what to look for.   There is an organization at work.   They are training.  They are supplying.  They are escalating.  They are exploring tactics.   The latest incident is the “security guard” shooting a ‘patriot’ protester in the face and killing him.

There is evidence that the security guard/ bodyguard is more than he seems, or at least a fellow traveler.   There is some video that looks suspiciously like the event was instigated and controlled and provoked.  What happens with the guy next should be revelatory.  Spicy times are here for some people and in some places.  Don’t be there applies.

What would your life look like if your movements were constrained by real, well considered fear/concern over being physically attacked in public if you just happened to be in the wrong place?  The baying mob can make your supermarket a no-go zone.  Or your bank.  Or the mall where your kid works.  Or your block.  What if they decide your day care or private school has too much ‘privilege’ and mobs it?  Can’t happen?  There are places where the private school kids don’t wear uniforms anymore because it marks them for kidnapping.  There are places where having a sticker for your kids’ school on your vehicle can set you up for all sorts of bad things.

Do you have a company parking sticker or hang tag on your vehicle?  Does your neighborhood have parking stickers?  Do you have a school or team sticker on your car?  What about your license plate trim ring?  A school sign in your yard?  Any political slogans?  Vanity plates that are easy to remember?  How easy would it be to dox you from a picture of you or your car?  There are people on the right making note of campaign signs in people’s yards, I’m certain the left is doing so too.

I don’t want to believe that is the direction we’re headed, but I see escalation wherever I look.  We all know the end state of marxist/socialist government- people kneeling next to an open grave.  As I pointed out at dinner to my kids, it has happened within living memory and on this planet.  100 Million dead.  There are wealthy and powerful forces at work here trying it again.

Yes, resist.  No, don’t stick out.  The best partisan is the guy no one would ever suspect.  It may come to that.  I hope not, but because hope isn’t a strategy, I’ll keep working to improve my situation, and to keep stacking.

nick

 

added- note too that whenever there is an incident like this now, someone finds the pics that link X person to other protests, other gatherings.  Often it’s their own social media that provides the link.  The cops and three letter agencies are using social media as the world’s most pervasive intelligence gathering tool, even our locals mention it on the scanner.   Don’t feed the beast.  And don’t be complacent.  If your smartphone, vizio tv, or alexa can hear you talk about vacations and you start to see targeted ads, it can certainly hear political speech too.  Is anyone doing that today?  Will they be in 6 months?  6 years?  The recordings never go away.

Sat. Oct. 3, 2020 – stuff to do, so much stuff

Cooler and sunny.

Yesterday was nice.  Even in the sun, there was a nice cooling breeze.

I picked up my auction stuff, mainly shelving.  There was a bit of other stuff including 24 rat snap traps.  I paid 50c each.  I’m stocked up on rat traps now.  Funny thing is, I originally bought rat traps to catch squirrels for dinner if SHTF big time.   Then I used them on rats.   Who knows where we’ll be in a year, but I sure hope squirrel isn’t a staple on the dinner table.

One of the other things I got was a small fire safe.  It’s a little one, about the size of a dorm fridge.  There are videos online showing how to decode and reset the combination.  The door is currently open, so it should be a simple matter to get it working again.  I’ll either resell it, or find a place for another safe.  Maybe at my secondary location, although I’ve got several ‘security containers’ there already…

Today I’m going to continue chipping away at the list.  The flood lights I was waiting to replace have died.  I’ll change them out to LED today.  There will also be some more cleaning and organizing and putting away.

I’ve got the meat to still break down and freeze too.

All after getting my covid test.  Fun times.

There were some disturbing late reports before I went to bed suggesting Trump’s health was deteriorating.  I REALLY hope not.  We do not need the added distraction and uncertainty.   The speculation that there might have been sabotage or deliberate infection is hard to consider, but I’m taking it as a sign of the state of things that it even occurs to so many people.

No matter what happens, it’ll be better if you have big stacks.

nick

Sun. Sept. 27, 2020 – hey, growing things are growing

Nice and cool compared to just a couple weeks ago, still damp.

Saturday was really nice out.  Cool-ish except in the late afternoon sun, with a light breeze.  I did get some stuff done, but if you sleep through most of the morning, you get a whole lot less done.

I got some more cleaning and organizing done in the garage.  It was only a little bit, but still some progress.  I moved some stuff out of the house,and moved stuff around in the house to put it away, or put it in the ‘to be sold’ pile.

On most days what I did outside would just be ‘piddlefarting’ around, but some things DID get done.  I pruned the grapefruit and orange trees.  I intend to keep them about 10ft tall and 2-3ft thick to fit in the narrow bit of my yard between the house and my  neighbor’s driveway.  I also need them to be small enough I can cover them when it freezes.  The grapefruit has about 10-12 fruits, the orange 5-6.  They are starting to get ripe too.  That will be my best yield to date.  I’m hoping it gets better every year now.

Pruned a bit off the grape vines.  They are basically done for the year anyway.  Never got a single grape this year.

Moved my weather station from the north side of the house (my driveway) to the south side (neighbor’s driveway.)  That puts it in more natural air, and closer to both displays.  It’s still too close to my roof and will continue to read higher than if in shade.  I changed the batteries again, and now I can see it on the displays in my office and bedroom.

I used the Garden Weasel ™ on the bare spots in the lawn and seeded them.

I didn’t get more seed in the garden though.  That is on the agenda for today.  Root veg.  Lots of root veg.

My peas are already sprouted in the side garden!   I better get some steel mesh over them before the tasty sprouts get eaten.  I really hope that I’ll get some viable plants and a crop this year.

Spent some time cleaning the pool.

Went through some stuff I’d squirreled away.  I keep finding stuff tucked here and there.  A lot of it really needs to be sent to auction.

Won a couple of auction items.  Another really nice battery charger.  If I’ve got a forklift to keep charged, I need a good charger to leave with it.  If I end up with a lake house, I’m sure I’ll need at least a charger there.  Having good ones makes a difference.  I’ve really increased my ability to charge batteries lately.  I also won a boat battery selector switch, and some 10gauge jumper cables.  I will look at wiring my inverter into my batteries now, with the AC charger and the switch to choose charge or discharge through the inverter… or something like that.

Found 3 laptops in the trash at my secondary location.  Grabbed them.  I had a charger for one, a dell inspiron with win7 installed.  Someone shut it off during an update and now it’s boot-looping.   It’s a nice widescreen machine in good condition.  I’ll set it aside for now, but will likely get the OS fixed, or use a linux bootable to see if it will run.  There are a lot of ham related things to do with older laptops.  One was an older compaq that probably isn’t worth even booting and I didn’t have a psu handy for it, the other is a really big Toshiba gaming machine.  I might order a psu for that just to see what it’s all about.  I think it has discrete nvidia graphics, and about a 17 or 19″ HD screen.  It’s a giant with full sized keyboard.  Funny that 15 year old machines are still usable for something.

What can I say, I like older stuff that works.  It’s cheap.  I like fixing and using it.  If it lasted this long, it’ll probably last for a while longer.

“Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without!” a plan for the coming unpleasantness.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

 

Today is the two year anniversary of the death of Dave Hardy, or OFD as he was affectionately known here.  There’s not enough Moxie and pretzels in the world for what’s coming.  Miss you.   -Absent friends-

 

Fri. Sept. 25, 2020 – month and week are almost gone by

Cool and overcast.

Thursday was both cooler and overcast.  I did some cleanup in the driveway, which mostly involved dumping out water from any place it accumulated.  I’m pretty confident that we got slightly more than 12 inches over the last few days.  Three different containers had that much water in them.

I managed to get a bunch of little things done.  Mostly cleaning and organizing, but also ordering some stuff.  I ordered the weird N size batteries for one of my night vision devices, and moved that case out of the house into the garage for storage.  I ordered the switch for the drain cleaner machine I bought.  I have to clear our main kitchen drain line twice a year.  The machine will pay for itself in one year or less.  I’m hoping the current snake is a good size to work with my pipes.  I’ll see when I use it I guess.  One less thing to call a specialist for, or make the trip to the rental yard.

I received the power switch for my new mower, just in time to cut the grass this weekend.  Hope that goes in without difficulty.

The national security situation continues to fluctuate locally.  The rioters in STL went right to shooting and firebombs this time.    That’s an escalation.  Riots in other uninvolved cities too.

I never did hear what our local disturbance was about.  The coppers did chase the guy around my neighborhood, and the FB group says “low speed chase”.     The disturbance at the neighbor’s house a couple of nights ago seems to have been a domestic.  His girlfriend was the one in the squad car, and she hasn’t been back around since.

I did a bit more research on the possible lake house, and surrounding area, looked at some historical topo maps and current maps.  There is a 2 acre lot for $24k with lake ‘view’ that also caught my eye.  There are smaller lots for $9-14K 1/4 and 1/2 acre, unimproved, in the same area.  If there are lots still around this lake, there are probably lots around others not too far away.  You might be surprised if you go looking.  Better to have somewhere definite to go, if you have to go…

Speaking of my lake house stay, I had a couple of lessons learned to share.

–the matches I’ve been carrying in a tube in my Dopp kit for the last few years didn’t light.  They weren’t damp exactly, but they weren’t dry either.  I didn’t have a lighter due to air travel restrictions.  I DID have a bunch of fire starting stuff in my wife’s car in the ‘bail out kit’.   The commercial fire lighter sticks that look like square slim jim sausages work very well, even if they are years old.  I will be adding some of the big brick of lighters to all sorts of places, including my carry on bag.

–I have been carrying one of those cheap hotel corkscrews for years.  Used it for the first time last weekend.  It was pretty flimsy, but got the job done.  Happy wife, happy life…

–I like to carry my little shortwave radio on trips to the country.  I forgot it.   I was a tiny bit disappointing.

–one of the neighbors was a ham with a big antenna setup.  They aren’t subtle, if it ever turns out to be a liability.  If I needed help, I would consider a fellow ham before random strangers.  Conversely, I’d be willing to help if approached by another ham.

–I know NOTHING useful about fishing in Texas.  I need someone to help me go through all the fishing gear I’ve accumulated and help set me up for salt and fresh water fishing.  Some lessons would be useful too.  The kids have expressed interest in fishing, and I’d like to be able to encourage that.

–Modern kayaks are inexpensive and fun.  I looked at a map once and discovered that I could get from my folk’s house south of Chicago, all the way to Peoria IL and beyond by water… probably all the way to New Orleans although I didn’t map that.

–there are pipelines everywhere.  If you know what to look for while driving you will see the markers, and the cuts through the forest.  Pipeline rights of way might be an easier and less traveled path if you ever had to walk out, or ride a dirt bike, or atv.  Look for them if you think things might get that bad.

–I had no cell service at all in the rental house, except one room upstairs.  My wife has a wifi calling app so she barely noticed.  I don’t.  It was radio silence for me.  I don’t think I’ll be ebaying the cell booster I have sitting here at the house.

–I’ve been stacking stuff for a second home for a long time.  It would be nice to actually use it.  This lockdown has proven the wisdom of having stuff, and backups to the stuff, to me and to my wife (not that I needed convincing, but she’s always been skeptical past a certain point.)

Well, that’s it for now, I’ve got auction pickups and gardening and repairs to do.  Maybe I’ll get some of it done…

Meanwhile, keep improving your position, and keep stacking.

 

nick

Thur. Sept. 24, 2020 – Rain seems to have moved through

Warmer and humid.   Some sun.

Sun came out yesterday for a bit, depending on where in town you were.  I was by Hobby Airport and it was grey and looked like rain was imminent, while on the NW side, it was patchy clouds and sun.

I did my auction pickup, 15 lots of mold and virus remover, and a couple of personal items.  Two weeks ago, the lots were going for over $36, this week I got a bunch at $6.  Weird.  I also took some stuff to my secondary location.  If we end up with a lake house, I’ll have another location to stock and maintain.  And secure.  Sweet, more preps.

The kids had MAP testing, which is a measure of how well they are doing for the District.    They were not thrilled.   It’s an adaptive test so it gets harder and harder until you stop succeeding.  In any case the testing messes up the normal school week and the kids come out feeling dumb.

Speaking of dumb, the Brionna riots have started.  STL started off the night with cops getting shot, and the NG in the field.  The guy streaming ends his stream with “that’s tha way ya do it, if you’re gonna do it, that’s the way you do it….”

Riots/protests have broken out in other areas too.

If you aren’t making plans for how you will deal with a variety of likely scenarios, and some unlikely ones too, you are gonna find yourself behind the eight ball if and when things get sporty near you.  I think it’s pretty likely they’ll get sporty.

Today I’ve got a bunch of my normal stuff to do, tomorrow I’ll have some auction pickups.  SKS, ammo commonality, say no more…  and some household supplies.  I’m stacking as it comes to me.

And you need to be gap filling, and stacking it high.  Can’t hurt, might save your life.

nick

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020 – some people are getting flooded

Cooler, rainy.

Looked at the pictures from the Gulf Coast yesterday.  Lot’s of places I’ve been were under water from Beta’s storm surge.  Not much in the news though.  Twitter and FB for the on scene pix.  Trad media is dead.

We got a steady rain most of the day.  Kept me inside.

I did a bit of work on the possible lake house.  Some research in public records, and some time in Sketchup addressing my wife’s main concerns about the house.  Virtual remodel is a lot cheaper than actual…  The lot is great.  The house is a big weird mess.

Gave a buddy some supplies for his security cam install.  He’s got a neighbor problem.  Also gave him some stuff for his kids to play with – some “take aparts” (old mech and electronics), and some learning toys (soda can robot, potato clock, solar crawler, etc)

I’ve got stuff to do today, since I spent yesterday on other things.  Auction pickup, maybe stop by my buddy’s store, who knows?  Maybe something crazy like drive thru food.

Or not.  Cooler weather means more work in the attic and bathroom.  There’s always something to do.

And that’s all in addition to stacking it higher…

 

n

Mon. Sept. 21, 2020 – back home, back at it…

Less hot and humid, but hurricane coming?  Who knows anymore.

Spent the weekend on a small lake about 2 1/2 hours north of Houston.  Kind out in the country.  Still within one tank of gas, so not ideal for avoiding mutant biker zombies, but judging by the number of Trump flags, the zombies might find it a tad inhospitable come the day.

And now we are really actually ramping up to find somewhere to GTFO to…  ‘cuz my wife is a pretty smart cookie and while we sometimes take different routes, we usually end up in the same place.   And that place says, having somewhere to go that isn’t in a potential riot zone is a Good Idea ™.

Lots of people out there preaching that it’s long past time to get out of the cities.  The argument is getting more compelling by the day, and there are a lot of people out there, and a lot of them are paying attention.    The little lake we were on had more than 5 houses for sale last month.  This month, there is one left.  It’s been on the market for over a year with no takers.  As we left yesterday, there was another couple looking at it.

A short while ago I shared the thought that if the economy got worse, people would have to start selling off their toys.  I’m seeing that in the auctions.  LOTS of collections coming up for sale.  I thought that people under money stress would sell vacation homes, and that there might be a decrease in prices, and THAT’S when I’d swoop in.  What I didn’t consider is that there are a lot of people paying attention.  It looks like they are quietly acting like preppers, even if that whole idea is foreign to them.  Or maybe, because of hurricanes, BLM, and a whole lot of stuff coming to a head, it’s REALLY FREAKING OBVIOUS to anyone right of center on the bell curve– getting out of the cities is a REALLY GOOD IDEA all of a sudden.

The upshot is, I’m feeling like we already missed the boat.  I feel like I’m looking at the last package of TP on the shelf and I REALLY don’t like that feeling.   Inventory is shrinking before my eyes.

Sometimes this whole blogging and prepping thing can get to feeling pretty insular.  You all feel like a small circle of friends, especially the group of frequent commentors.  I get a little boost when someone who doesn’t comment frequently shares something and I remember that this thing is bigger than it feels, that there are a lot of you still coming by and hanging out.  (Thanks by the way, I am humbled and grateful that people still keep coming by, I credit that to the larger community that exists here in the readership and comments.)

Anyway, the pace of whatever is coming seems to be picking up.  There is a sense I’m getting that the herd is starting to stir and get restless.  I keep asking people to rebut the idea that we’re headed for worse, but no one does.  That adds to my sense of unease.   No one on either side of the political spectrum is saying “you’re nuts, better times are right around the corner.”  It seems to me that there is a large element of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ to this sort of thing.  Once the momentum builds to a certain point, people are just going to say “F it, let’s go” and then the dark age starts.

I don’t know what the timeline will be.   I’m not thinking deeply enough about second and third order effects.  I don’t want to see the country continue down the current path.  And I don’t have enough of anything for what’s coming.

Start stacking.  Keep stacking.  Move your stack somewhere safer.  Do more.  It feels like time is getting short.

nick

Wed. Sept. 16, 2020 – nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,….

Hot and humid.  Storm and rain possible.

Yesterday it never did rain on me, and it got stinking hot in the afternoon sun.  So I mostly hid from sun and work.

Pickup went well.  Everything needs some little thing to be complete, but given the money saved, I’m happy enough.  Really F’d up though, the way people are stealing through returns fraud.  One of the things I picked up was a Glock G19 factory magazine.   Got it today and someone stole the guts out of it.  They split open the cardboard  of the blister pack, stole the spring, follower, and base plate and re-sealed the cardboard.  It was a bit wrinkled but looked fine, like the packaging was crumpled.  Then they returned it to wherever they bought it, and it ended up in the auction.  Looked like an unopened package to me and everyone else.  I’ve got a couple of items now, I’ll take them with me next time I go to that auctioneer and see what he’s willing to do, if anything.  Technically it’s all sold as is, where is, with buyer responsible for doing an in person inspection before bidding.  Usually though, if not as described, the house will take it back.

One of my security trade magazines noted that retail “shrink”, ie theft by insiders and shoplifting, was up dramatically.   I’m guessing that as things get tougher for more people, theft and fraud will go up dramatically in all sectors.

Speaking of trade mags, one of the things I watch as an indicator of the health of the broader economy is the thickness of trade magazines.  If it’s a reliable indicator of supplier sentiment (you don’t spend money on ads when you’re broke, so the trade mags can’t afford to print the same number of pages) then we are majorly F’d.  Machine Design is down to less than 40 pages, and is just center stapled instead of bound.  Electrical Design is the same.  EC&M is as thin as I’ve ever seen it.  Some mags for the material handling, pipeline, and plant equipment industries are thinner than that.  Even Military & Aerospace is thin, but it’s still bound, not just stapled.  The mags are all thinner than I remember them being at any other time, even in the aftermath of 2008.  The publishers also tend to send out more mags and to more marginal recipients (like me) when times are tough.  They are trying to pump up their circulation numbers and capture more of the reduced business… I started getting some mags I’d never seen before just a few months ago, and re- started getting mags I’d stopped getting when times were great.  All in all, not good indicators of the state of American businesses.

And all the more reason to stock up if you can.  Manufacturers and suppliers are going to fail.  Their warehouses and existing stock will be blown out at auction, and then there won’t be any more.  In the last month, I’ve seen two large local wholesaler/distributors come through my auctions, a ship chandler, and a general industrial distributor.  There are two Chuck E Cheez stores being liquidated this week.  One auction has the contents of several CVS stores- which is especially telling, as that stock would normally just be redistributed to other stores, they must not want it.  Heck, a month ago, a major jewelry store chain had the contents of two stores seized and sold off to pay their school district tax bill here in town.

Everywhere I look I see signs of real trouble headed our way, outside of the trouble in the news.  Certainly there are going to be bright spots.  The rush to get out of the cities is producing some local boom times in some areas.  UHaul is probably making money.   Bankruptcy auctions are picking up.  Auto parts stores and used car lots will probably do well.  Optional services like housecleaning and yard maintenance will likely do poorly.  Repair should do well in general.    A lot of cleaning, repair, and remodeling already happened though.   And the secondary economy/grey market/resale is booming as people look for bargains, and sellers are unloading excess or closing out stock.

It’s gonna be important to keep your economic head on a swivel too, so to speak…

And keep stacking.  That will likely help, no matter what.

nick

Tues. Sept. 15, 2020 – still hacking away at the list

Hot and humid.  We’ll see about the rain, but with a hurricane in the Gulf we should get some.

I’ve got a pickup today that I really don’t want to do in the rain.  Every thing that has to ride in the bed of the truck will be ok if it gets wet, but it’s just a bigger mess to deal with.  I guess it beats 105F and sunny….

Yesterday I had lunch with frequent commentor and friend of the blog Ray and his wife.  It was a bit weird ‘de-cloaking’ from the semi-anonymity of the web, but I had a great time meeting them.

It was the first time I’ve been in a restaurant since March.  People seemed to be coping and accommodating themselves to the current situation.  No way would I call the pace of business in the place “brisk” but there were customers, and it was only a Monday afternoon.  For a place that mostly did a business lunch trade, I’d say that was ok for conditions.

Still overall, traffic is light, business volume is clearly down.  If the rest of the country is even worse off than Texas, the ‘new normal’ is going to settle out into a deep depression-absent a world war to encourage production and then destruction of all that production…

Or hey, after a Trump landslide, when he has the mandate of the people, maybe we’ll see a glorious renaissance and explosion of growth…  or get plunged into a civil war for the very nature of our country…  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to guess which one I think is more likely.

Food, water, shelter, security, skills, companions, resources.  You need more.  Keep stacking.

 

nick