Fri. Feb. 26, 2021 – “Timber!”

Cool and wet.   Probably raining.   All we got yesterday was dew and a very light misty drizzle.  Which was actually fine with me, but it did play havoc with the OTHER drivers on the roads around Houston.

I did my pickups, got some great deals on household stuff, and a couple of minor things to add to the “resell” pile.   Daughter 2 was thrilled with a new rug for her room.  It’s very pink, and VERY fuzzy.  I got a new in box 100% goose down comforter for my bed.   It was a bit chilly for the light blanket I normally use during the recent cold snap.  Yes, I know, we’ll probably never have the same problem again, but getting a light down comforter has been on my list for a while. $12.50.  Who would say no to that?

Before I left on my errands, I found the dead rat in the attic.    The trap got him.  First time for everything I guess.   Washing and soaking the trap with bleach hasn’t gotten rid of the odor, so I think I’ll be making another.   I can’t imagine the rat dumb enough to enter the trap if it smells like death.

Today we’re supposed  to have the tree guy taking down our half rotten pecan in the back yard.   The house will be hotter this summer, the grass will not grow as well, but my garden should benefit.   The squirrels are going to be upset.  I say “supposed to” because I don’t know what he’ll want to do if it’s raining, and the national forecast is showing rain for us.


Lots of people online talking about the coming collapse of the financial bubble, and the coming conflict between city and rural, and a lot of other stuff.   Not many talking about what to do if they are right.  One without the other is just distraction at this point, as far as I’m concerned.  LOTS of distraction out there.  FOCUS on what you need to do to get through whatever is coming.    Don’t get distracted.   Monitor, yes.  Obsess, no.

Speaking of distraction, it didn’t take long to bomb Syria did it?

You need stuff, knowledge, friends.   Stack them deep.

 

n

 

 

 

Thur. Feb. 25, 2021 – so much stuff to do, so little desire

Coolish, probably wet, or at least threatening all day.  It was that way all day Wed. except it never actually got wet.

I spent Wed. cleaning and putting away.  I got the gennies sorted for the short term.   I put all the extension cords away and covered them up.  Cleaned and organized on the patio and in the back.  Looks nicer now, but I still have to put the gas cans away.  Found and put aside some more stuff for the auctions or ebay.

Plan for the day is collecting some auction stuff.  It’s mostly stuff for use at home, but there are a couple of resale items as well.

One of the craziest/luckiest items is a Buffalo TeraStation that matches my failed RAID.   The pix show it on.  If it works, I should be able to pop in my old drives, and recover them.  Fingers crossed, and appropriate offerings to the hidden powers… maybe being lazy will have ended up saving me a lot of work.  I mean, maybe being too busy to learn about home RAID recovery, might save me the work…  *cough*

You almost certainly don’t recall that my TeraStation went belly up with a failed controller board.   That is why we back up a RAID to another disc.   Too bad I hadn’t done that recently thinking that drive failure was all I had to consider.  In the time since, I haven’t really needed anything from the failed discs bad enough to try recovering them so taking a low effort approach worked out so far.

That sort of describes my general approach to prepping and most things, low effort.  I try to get the most benefit from the least work.   Doesn’t always work out but it does more often than not.

That manifests in different ways.   One is that by having a more general idea of what I want, I can be open to getting something similar or equivalent if it becomes available.   My solar project is that way.   I didn’t go shopping for a specific solar panel, I watched for some in the auctions.   When the price was right and there were a bunch all at once, I bought them.   Now I have solar panels.   If I held out for some exact model or size, I still wouldn’t have any.

I’ve done the same with ham radios.  I bought what was available, not what I dreamed about in the catalog.   They are good, solid radios that more than meet my need and they were significantly less expensive than even ebay used.

I even stock the pantry with a version of this, buying what is on sale at the time, not rigidly following a list or a plan, believing that I can balance the inventory over time.

There is a downside- you need time.   If you are short of time, you absolutely can just determine what you want and get it.   Or just buy all the things in a great big hurry (so called ‘panic’ buying.)

Of course, real life is a mix of the approaches.    Going into the pandemic I had my pantry pretty well stocked using the low effort approach, but I still went out on the ‘last run’ and bought stuff I felt I was short of, without considering the cost.   I also stocked up on a much wider variety of OTC meds, believing that there might be shortages later.  I thought it better to spend the money on stuff at full price, regardless of immediate need, rather than not have it at any price later.

The current situation with guns and ammo can be viewed the same way.   You wouldn’t normally want to pay current prices, but time and supply may be short and getting something rather than nothing might be your most important consideration.

Whatever approach you prefer, get started if you haven’t already.  Don’t let ‘paralysis by analysis’ keep you from starting.   Any prep is better than no prep.  And if you are already on the path, keep stacking.

nick

Sun. Feb. 21, 2021 – 02212021 – I guess I just never noticed the weird date numbers before

Cool but not cold.  Sunny and windy.   I think.

Yesterday got up into the 60s and it was chilly shirtsleeves temps out in the sun.  And I took the day off.  Did some cleaning and putting away, but mostly wasted time on the internet with my friends.   Checked on a couple of friends.  Mostly though, had a down day to recover.

Now the actual recovery will commence.   Stuff needs to be cleaned, restocked, and put away.  Damage from freezing needs to be assessed and accounted for.   Then all the normal spring stuff needs to happen too.    I’ve got a tree coming down on Friday, and I need to clear a path, and set up a spot for the wood we’re keeping.  Eventually a plumber will install our instant hot water heater.  That was supposed to be this week but I wouldn’t pull him away from emergency calls even if I could.  I’ve got stuff to get to auction, and delayed pickups to make.  LOTS of organizing to do too.  And gardening…

Some other notes before I forget…

–those one pound bottles of propane are supposed to be removable and re-install-able, but I have about 1 in 3 leak slowly when removed.  That’s one reason not to store them indoors.  Squirt the top with soapy water and watch for bubbles.  Bubbles = leaking.

–the lithium jumper packs from Costco, with S in the name might not be great for jumping cars but they are excellent as power packs to recharge anything with a 5v USB charger.

–buckets rock.  You should have a bunch of empty food grade 5 gallon buckets and lids in storage.

–black plastic sheeting.  Clear plastic sheeting.  BOTH kinds of plastic sheeting.   You need at least one roll in storage.

–space heaters of various types could save the day, even if you wouldn’t ordinarily use them for anything.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill the bathtub with water” is excellent advice.

–a working whole house generator would have made this whole thing almost a non-issue.  Water would have been my only concern.

–check your water.  check your preps.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill your vehicle gas tanks” is excellent advice.

–get some CO monitors.  Then get a couple more.  You’ll sleep better with them than without them.

–I was too busy or too tired to run any radios.  I left the scanner off.   I didn’t need any info we weren’t getting from the neighborhood through texts or groups on FB.   I did notice the local 440mhz repeater that covers the whole city was offline.   I didn’t even try any HF.  Longer event and I probably would have started firing up radios, but my concerns were local local local, and tribe.

–cell coverage went down and stayed down for more than a day.  Voice coverage and data were spotty before and after.   Texts came through, but could be delayed.

–the Middle Earth version of Risk takes two days.  Like the regular version of Risk.  Two very long and frustrating days.  Like regular Risk.  It did keep the wife and kids out of the way– for two long days.  Puzzles have a LOT less angst and conflict.

–hot chocolate is a comfort food.  And we ran out.  Prepper fail.

–bad stuff can happen any time.   Worse stuff can happen during bad stuff.

–having extras to hand to people means you can help others without involving yourself intimately.    That’s good for them and you too.

–there are knock on effects too, ie. second and third and fourth order effects.  Pipes freeze and break.   EVERYONE needs a plumber.  No plumbers are available so everyone heads to the store to try and DIY.  No plumbing supplies are left in the stores.  Pipes break and flood (why?  Because people don’t know or think to turn off the water and NOT turn it back on without watching).   Flooring, walls and ceilings are ruined.   Houstonians know how to deal with wet stuff, you rip it out.  But that means no dumpsters are available.   No dumpsters means piles of debris in front of the house.  I’m going to buy a dumpster bag and add it to my preps.  When one becomes available…

–stuff and systems fail at the worst possible time, because that’s when they are stressed the most.   People too.

–it’s always something.

 

All good reasons to KEEP STACKING.

nick

Sat. Feb. 20, 2021 – 02202021 – another funny number on a not so funny day

Cold again.   This is really starting to get old, ya know?  I’d hate for this to be the beginning of the new normal.  A whole lotta people are gonna starve if the US can’t produce and export a whole lotta extra food.  Global warming has always been a more human friendly trend than global cooling.   I guess that’s why they hate it so much.

Spent yesterday getting ready to go to my rent house, then coming home.  Don’t know what I’ll be doing today but it’s probably going to revolve around drinking water.

I opened two aquatainers last night and both were contaminated.     One had the spigot crack, which let air and ‘stuff’ into the jug.    There is nasty looking stuff on the bottom of the jug, and the water smells of mold or mildew.

The other jug was stored with the spigot reversed and inside the jug (as I learned to do years ago) but the screw cap had loosened.    Faint ‘stale’ odor, and some sand or sediment at the bottom of the jug.    Prepper fail.

Both jugs spent the summer and fall sitting in the driveway, heating and cooling every day, eventually pumping air into the jug.   Previously I’ve had water in aquatainers, treated with bleach, that was perfectly drinkable after 7 years.   That jug was stored in the proverbial ‘cool dark place’ though.

I didn’t find out until around midnight, since we haven’t had to even crack the stored drinking water to that point.  My interim solution was to put a pot of tap water on the boil, so I could refill the brita filter and make coffee in the morning.    That’s why I think I’ll be looking more closely at our stored water today, in the daylight.

I trusted the aquatainers to perform as they had in the past without considering that conditions had changed.  Prepper fail.

The aquatainers are generally quite good and I recommend having some.  They are about as big as can be reasonably handled at 7 gallons.  They have a couple of weaknesses though.  The spigots are fragile.   To combat that, I take the cap off, unscrew the spigot and rescrew it into the cap from the inside.    That puts it inside the jug when stored, which is safer for it.   It must be sterile and spotlessly clean when you do that though.   You can also replace the spigot with a plumbing fitting.   The threads are standard, and a simple plug can be screwed in.   It’s also a good idea to order and stock some replacements for the spigots, and for the cap over the breather hole.  I’ve got several of each.

Like most plastics, they will become brittle and crack if left in the sun long enough- so don’t.   The biggest downside, as far as I’m concerned, is you can’t stack them, and you can’t lay them on their side and leave them like that either for storage, or for dispensing.

When I fill them, I use chlorinated tap water and add plain bleach.  There are a lot of official and semi-official recipes for bleach to water ratio, but they all boil down to– mix in bleach very thoroughly, adding more slowly until you can just barely smell it in the water.  (this is for already potable water, follow the recipe and rules for treating suspected bad or dirty water).

Doing this, and keeping the container sealed and stored well, I had no problem with 7 years of storage.  The water was clear, and only a bit ‘flat’.   To fix that you can aerate by pouring from container to container a couple of times, or I just pour it through a Brita filter pitcher.   It’s easier to use and chill that way anyway.

I use the same method for all the water I store.  Scrupulously clean bottle/jug/container/tank,  already chlorinated tap water, add plain bleach until you can smell it even after thorough mixing, seal well and protect from air, light, and heat.

Worst case, I might have to use the Sawyer filter on the stored water, or some other treatment option, or just use the contaminated water for flushing and washing while  using the uncontaminated OTHER containers for drinking.    That is one advantage of multiple smaller jugs, if one is contaminated the others are usually still fine.   That’s one reason why I prefer smaller containers to one big tank.   That and mobility issues.  A 55 gallon drum weighs a lot, ~450  pounds.  You aren’t putting a 55 gallon drum in the back of your BOV.


Water is your first need, and you should have plenty on hand.   I think a minimum of 2 gallons per person, per day, half that for pets, is a good number for planning purposes.   More is better.   Plus you need the means to treat the water to make it safe to drink.  Hiking filters are good, if they have small enough pores, and the chemical means should be on your shelf too-iodine tablets for your personal cup of water, gallons of bleach for bulk treatment.

 


 

More on water storage and redundancy later, for now, keep stacking.

 

nick

 

 

Fri. Feb. 19, 2021 – 02192021 – is a bit weird…. the reality of the day is certainly weird.

Cold again, after temps rose above freezing for a WHOLE DAY in Houston Texas…  this globull warming is killing me.

It was 28F when I went to bed.

I spent yesterday doing silly things so you don’t have to.  Strike that, I’m too short to fill those shoes.

I did do some experimenting, which I duly chronicled in the comments yesterday evening.  The clothes came out clean and fresh smelling, and the kerosene heater I tested worked fine- except for being out of kerosene.   I swear I have a white and yellow round 5 gallon can somewhere, but I couldn’t find it when I went looking.  If I was desperate for heat, I’d siphon some from my other construction heater.  I’m not desperate at all though, so I’ll just buy some the next time I see it.  I like flexibility and redundancy for heat, water, and cooking.   Honestly, all the other things too, but especially those.

I helped out several neighbors with plumbing issues and did some of my own.  What made it possible was having the parts in storage.   The local stores are empty of the kinds of things people need right now.  Even pros can’t get parts.   I’m a firm believer in having stuff you might need close by where you can lay hands on it.  Like what?  You know your gear and your stuff better than me, but I’ll list some here to start you thinking…

Plumbing parts.

I think you should have a variety of fittings and some pipe on hand in a couple of pipe sizes.   They should be whatever you have in your house, and what is common in your area.   Besides fittings and pipe, you should have the glues, tape, solder, and tools to put the parts to work in a simple repair.   You should also have a toilet seat, toilet tank flush system replacement kit, toilet bolts, and a wax ring.  You should have some of the flexible hoses to connect faucets and the toilet.  Some of the quarter turn shut off valves, and a spare hose bib.   Plumbers putty.  Sprinkler parts if you have sprinklers, replacement heads, riser pipe, sharkbite repair fittings, and some sprinkler pipe fittings too, as well as at least one valve and solenoid.  You should have some garden hose repair ends, and some other hose parts like washers and nozzles.  If you have gas appliances, you should have at least one ‘gas appliance installation kit’.  All of this and more will fit in one flip top bin…

Electrical parts.

You should have a couple of light switches, outlets, and at least one GFCI outlet that match what’s in your house.   25ft of Romex or similar for wire.  Replacement ends for extension cords.   10ft of lamp cord and lamp repair parts, like a harp, a bulb socket, and a 2 prong plug.  You should have light bulbs for all your fixtures.   Tape and wire nuts.   Next level, have a spare 20amp breaker for your panel.

Automobile parts.

At least one complete oil change for each vehicle.  Replacement windshield wipers.  A tire plug and patch kit, and a tire inflator.  One headlight bulb.  One set of tail light bulbs (assuming your vehicle uses bulbs).  One complete filter change (air, cabin, oil).   Spare fluids, including the “leak stop” ones for each system.  Fuses that match your vehicle.  If you can swing it, one set of mounted spare tires, but at least one extra tire (can be used, or one you took off, it’s an emergency backup after all.)

General repair parts.

Screws, nails, bolts, nuts, washers, “plumber’s tape”, bailing wire (rebar tie wire); glues (white glue, yellow woodworkers glue, cyanoacrylate (crazy glue), gorilla glue, five minute epoxy, and JBWeld metal repair); tape- masking, blue painters, good duct tape, electrical tape (3M only), zip ties, aluminum tape for ducts; a couple of 2x4s, and half a sheet of 3/4 plywood.  Depending on where you are, you might want a piece of window glass and a glass cutter with a can of glazing compound and some points.  Drywall compound and a leftover piece or a patch kit.  And paint.  Kilz primer, and some spray cans in black, white, brown, tan, your house color, and one florescent color.  White latex interior paint or whatever your walls are.

Sewing and clothing repair parts.

This is a whole separate topic, but a selection of needles, stout black thread, a couple of buttons, shoe goo, a roll of velcro, some safety pins, and a few buttons salvaged off stuff you threw away are a minimum.  I have  18″ of black thread on a needle wrapped around the golf pencil in my altoids tin everyday kit.  SUPER handy to fix some web gear, or a tear.   I also have a kit of iron on clothing patches in my travel bag for quick fixes of tears in clothes.   ‘Fusible interfacing’ is like an iron on glue for cloth and can be used to hem pants, or attach patches.

And finally, buckets, lids, and plastic sheeting in clear and black.


It’s a big list but it doesn’t have to all show up at the same time.   I bought most of mine at yard sales and estate sales, or by picking up more than I need when I go to the hardware store for a project.  It took a while to build up a fairly comprehensive stack…

Ideally you already know how to use those parts to make simple repairs, but if you don’t, there are several good books on household repairs.  Home Depot and lowes both have a display rack with some of the books and you can leaf through them to see what level they’re aimed at..  and Goodwill almost always has several of those types of books on the shelf.  But even if you don’t have the skills, knowledge, or desire, you might need to have the part so that someone else can do the work.  That is certainly playing out here in Houston this week.

 

The usual caveats apply, seek out expert advice if you don’t know what you’re doing, read books, watch videos, watch home improvement shows on tv, and consider what could go wrong before undertaking something new.   That said, there is tremendous satisfaction in fixing things, and they are already broken, so sometimes you might as well give it a try.  And sometimes, you might be the only one available TO try.

Keep stacking!  It works!

 

nick

Thur. Feb. 18, 2021 – losing track of the days…

Cold again, supposed to get a hard freeze tonight.   Yesterday felt colder than it was.   With the sub-freezing temps, it was very dry, but with the advent of the melting and the rain, humidity was HIGH and the damp cold felt REALLY damn cold.   (srsly, some of you are laughing but it hurt it was so cold.)  35F at 930pm down from 38F and higher during the day.

As I figured I would, I got the chance to help out a couple of neighbors.  (We are a neighborhood.   I live on a cul de sac, and about half of us are ‘chat in the street, talk about the kids’ friendly, especially after the storms and hurricanes, etc.  The other half we just never see except to wave as they drive by.  And that is a bit of an issue but not one to solve in a day.)

I helped the family across the street get their 1950s era gennie running.   It ran in the summer but wouldn’t start now.   There were a couple of minor things, the metal piece you touch to the spark plug to shut it off was too close to the plug and was grounding it out and there was water in the fuel and carb.   Drained a half cup through the carb and float bowl, reset the idle speed, and it fired on the 5th or 6th pull.   Ran pretty well too.   Put my meter on it, 57hz and 115v – so, well within range to be expected.   Small engine repair is a real world usable skill and being able to get and keep your gear running could save your life.   Youtube probably has someone fixing exactly your problem, but to learn small engine trouble shooting and repair in general, and be entertained by a guy who loves what he does, spend some time watching Mustie1.

Did a welfare check on the elderly couple down the block and found out  they didn’t have heat, or a way to cook food because of the power outage, so I brought them a gallon of already hot water, a single burner coleman stove, and a Mr Heater Little Buddy .  Unfortunately it looks like that single burner Coleman is out of production.   That is a real shame because it stores easily and uses the same bottle as the Mr Heaters and Coleman lanterns.    My wife loves it for Girl Scout camping.   I’ve picked up a couple at yard sales or estate sales and there are two on ebay for crazy money.   If you were going to standardize on 1 pound propane bottles, I’d recommend a small stove that uses the bottle, one of the Mr Heater Buddys, and maybe a lantern (and only because you won’t be caught with dead batteries).

The lantern is iffy, because the Streamlight lantern is so good, I can’t really recommend anything else as a serious area light.   Anything you’re going to be moving around with you and setting in different places will always be safer if it’s not fire.   I have a dozen of the cheap little battery powered LED lanterns from Costco, the kids use them at camp and around the house as toys.   They actually work pretty well, and like cheap flashlights, buy a bunch and scatter them everywhere for convenience.  But for disasters, when you need light, I love my Streamlight Siege.  Mine normally lives on the floor beside my bed within easy reach.  My wife loves her smaller Siege too.

Later in the day I got a call from my buddy about borrowing a space heater.    I loaned him the one from the garage.   It would have been pretty hard to say no to a friend with kids just to heat the garage (not that I would have.)  It does bring up a point.   Having multiples of items isn’t just a good idea for redundancy, what with two being one and one being none.  Unless zombies are eating people on your front lawn, you are probably going to want to help people in your circle/tribe/etc if you can.  Unless it’s truly TEOTWAWKI, people WILL remember your help or lack thereof, and it would be an extraordinary individual that wouldn’t look for payback later.   Just sayin’.  Help where you can.  Build your community.   Later you can help them build their own resilience.

Plan for today is more of the same, with some additional experimentation if possible.   We’ll see if I get to it.  And I just realized I was going to do a “why the 5 gallon bucket is the preppers multitool” post, but got completely sidetracked by my life…   Jeez, it’s like I’m on instagraam jumping around shouting “look at me!!!” in a bikini.   Now try to get that image out of your head.  You are stocked up on eye bleach right?   😉

Keep stacking.   And ask yourself the question I never asked about storms in winter, “What if the disaster comes when I’m NOT expecting it to?”

nick

Wed. Feb. 17, 2021 – interim boring details, and hotwash

Ah, sweet sweet internet….

On my dual screen pc at that!

Ok, here’s the rundown on yesterday.

Big gennie (gasoline, generac) died around 4 am. I was asleep and didn’t wake. I had fueled both gennies at 230am before bed. Honda died at 808am and I got out of bed to deal with it at that point.

Wife was up after 4am and did the ‘run the hot water until the wall cavity warms up and the cold runs freely’ and ‘flush the toilets a couple of times to keep their lines moving’ dance until I got up.

She pointed out that across the street had power and I should try that before restarting the gennies. Did that and LO! we were back up. No cell or internet service though.

Got some breakfast and looked at the machines. I really expected ERCOT to rolling b/o us in a couple of hours so I wanted to be back up. Honda was dry, so that was just my bad-overestimated the run time. I did wake up at 750am and think “I should refuel before they die” but didn’t. I fueled it up and it restarted easily. I removed one load in the house but kept running the oil filled space heater in the garage. No need to add my garage heat to the TX baseload while people didn’t have power…

The generac still had fuel. About a half tank of milky fuel. It looked funny when I filled it at 2 am, but I put that down to weird lighting. The fuel seemed thicker, ‘oily’ in the way it flowed, and not clear. F me. Bad fuel. The honda had enough good fuel to run anyway when I added the bad, but not the generac.

Put the fuel issue to the side and did a bunch of chores. No cell or internet.

Gave one oil filled heater to the neighbor to put in his attic to thaw his pipes. They left around 130 in the afternoon so the house was cold for 16 hours… not good. Saw that my sick neighbor had his son over, and with power on, I didn’t worry about his breakfast.

Went back to draining the bad fuel. Very sluggish coming out of the petcock, so yep, it was nasty. My hand fuel pump took me a while to find, and it didn’t want to work so I just let the tank drain slowly. Made plans to go to my rent house and meet the tenant, thought the power was on and wanted to be there for the pipe test… but before I could leave, my sick neighbor’s brother came out and told me my neighbor’s wife had died that morning in recovery from her emergency surgery. (did I mention his wife had a ruptured bowel and needed to get emergency surgery? I think I did.) I would not be surprised if my sick neighbor didn’t just give up and pass in the next day or so. They were married 55 years and the chemo is killing him faster than the cancer.

Then before I could leave, the other neighbor had water pouring out of a light fixture… so they needed help fixing the busted pipe. I gave all the supplies to yet a third neighbor, who helped him do the repair (I checked when I finally got home.) It paid to have a bunch of plumbing supplies stacked and waiting…..

Finally threw 4 empty gas cans in the truck and headed out. Sweet jebus. Plenty of slick spots on the otherwise dry roads. As I got out of my area, the power was still out, and all the traffic lights were blinking red. SEVERAL cars managed to get wrecked, with one sideswiped and ping ponged up onto the median… I saw people just cruising thru lights too. LOTS of people on the street. When I got closer to my rental (Heights part of Houston) the lights were just out. That made for some interesting intersections…

Met with my tenant, house was 36F inside, no power, no heat. We shut off the water and drained the pipes. He headed back to a friend’s place, I went by my secondary to pick up a bag of snow melt salt. Yeah, why the he77 did I buy a bag of salt in Houston? No idea but I did- at an auction a couple of months ago… that’s how my life works. For what it’s worth, the box of Morton’s Kosher salt did the trick on the front walk, and where I needed it, just fine. It will be nice to have bigger chunks in places though.

Headed home on surface streets, but a different route than I took to get there. Any fast food place that had power had a line of cars out the lot and onto the street. Ditto for gas stations. I kept driving, figuring I’d eventually find a station without lines. I did. Got all my cans ready, reached for my wallet, and, I left it at home. Carry pistol too. I was so scattered trying to get out of the house I messed up. No consequences this time but of all the times to be driving through those neighborhoods, and to not have any resources with me…

Made it home, armed up and grabbed money and wallet and went back out. Took three tries to find a station that was taking credit cards. I had cash but didn’t want to stand in line, and didn’t know how much gas I needed. There were LOTS of angry people yelling and cursing that it was CASH ONLY. Worth taking note of that. Filled the cans and got home. I wanted fresh gas for the night. I’ll go through the stored fuel in the daylight and warmth, and cycle it through my truck if it is not too bad, or pump off most of it and leave the water in the bottom of the can… I just don’t have time today or tomorrow and there is gas at the store. Note to self, REALLY need to rotate the stored fuel more aggressively.

Back working on the generac. I really wanted it running before I lost the daylight in case we lost power again  (it’s the 220v that feeds the house so that we have heat).   There was still a LOT of bad gas in the tank that wouldn’t flow out. I took another look at my pump and fixed it, then used it to pump out the bad gas. Used the new gas to rinse the tank several times, then pulled the carb bowl and let the new gas flush the line and the carb. Put it all back together and it started on the second pull. That generac ROCKS once the carb is clean. It’s just unfortunate that you have to clean it before every use… I’m VERY familiar with that gennie since I’ve been fixing it since y2K… The note there is you should be familiar with your critical gear, and know how to keep it running.

Then it was time to do a bit of snow shoveling before a dinner of jambalaya with sausage… one pot meals are great when you have limited fuel or time or water for washing up. Delicious and filling.

And then I got caught up on the comments and wrote this…

Today should be more of the same, with more helping neighbors and less running around. I hope.

 


 

The honda EU3000i is quiet, started right up, runs well, is QUIET, and is worth every penny. The only down side is lack of 22ov output. You can get two and link them for 22ov and I will consider that. I’ll definitely watch for another in the auctions. The (out of production) generac is rock solid and has been my saving grace several times. I don’t take good enough care of it but it still performs when needed.  The liquid cooled commercial Generac whole house gennie is only effective if it’s actually INSTALLED. Procrastination is a b!tch. Resources and time are limited, but it makes no real sense that I’ve had it all this time without connecting it. That’s just dumb, and a huge fail. So much of the angst and additional effort could have been avoided if I could have just switched that on and let it run.

Having multiples of things and having repair materials ON HAND can turn a disaster into an inconvenience. I had the oil filled radiators for YEARS in storage and never used them, but they sure made it easier to stay warm during this disaster.

The Mr Heater Buddy series ROCKS. Absolutely the easiest way to get heat in a disaster, or when you are away from home. HIGHLY recommended. And buy a case of bottles per heater… if you need them you REALLY need them. A full bottle lasted about 4 hours on the low setting. Besides helping my neighbor, I used one in the back bathroom to warm ME when using the throne, and to keep a room that’s cool on the best of winter days warm enough protect the pipes. Grab and go heat. Super handy.

The aphorism that you must help yourself first in order to help others proved out during this disaster so far. We were able to feed, warm, and help neighbors with repairs because we were in good shape. Even for (crusty selfish old) me it feels good to be able to help.

We’re not through it yet, but so far we’ve kept up…

Even really unlikely things can happen, so keep stacking….

nick

Tues. Feb. 16, 2021 – it’s cold. Real cold.

Don’t know what it is in the am.   It was 19F at 7pm when I wrote this.  Wanted to get it up in case I had a problem.   Gennies never have problems on clear sunny days, but they sure seem to in the middle of the night when it’s in the teens.

After spending the day taking my neighbor food and heat, and getting my own heat up and running, every time the gennie stumbles my heart does too.

Currently (7pm Mon) have two generators running, the honda ex3000i running a couple of oil filled electric space heaters, and phone chargers, and the generac gasoline 4600 running the furnace and fan, fridges and freezers, and networking.   I damaged the idle control when fixing the carb today so it has  a piece of foam as a speed (and voltage ) adjustment.   It works very well, but occasionally hiccups.

House is warm, 72F and the garage is above freezing.   The gas fireplace helped a lot.  I even got a very quick shower.

I think we’ll have more of the same today, with added bonus misery as stuff starts failing.

WRT some comments, you can’t engineer for a 100year event.  No one can afford it.  This freeze is the very definition of an ‘act of God’ for planning and insurance purposes.  That’s why that phrase exists.   Sometimes the extremely unlikely thing happens.   Sucks to be us.

Preps have certainly helped.   Food is not an issue.   Lots of ways to cook it.   Heat has been manageable with the propane heaters, and the electric space heaters, and the gas log.   Lots of extension cords.   Generators.   Even enough to share.

It’s a disaster.  We are getting through.  That’s what we do and why we prep.

Much more detailed AAR after the disaster is done.

Until then, keep stacking.  And evaluate whether it’s worth it to cover an unlikely risk, especially if you can do so cheaply.  (Protip, yes it is.)

nick

 

And thanks t o everyone for sharing.  Connectivity has been spotty as has my available time.  Still here.  Still getting by.

 

Sat. Feb. 13, 2021 – Friday the 13th comes on a Saturday this month

Cold.  Low 30s.  Damp.  Dreary.  Winter.

It was cold all day yesterday too, staying pretty consistently 35F all day long.  It was 35F when I went to sleep.

Ran my errands, then headed over to pick up kid 2.  Very un-usually and disconcertingly, my truck died several times during the trip.  I first thought it might be low oil, but now I am wondering if the battery is dead from the cold.   It had a really hard time cranking, and I don’t know if the truck will run without a functional battery.   I’ll be dropping it off at my mechanic’s place as soon as I can.   Truck repair was not on my radar.   But hey, prepping wise, I had an extra quart of oil to add when it said it was low.   That got me going again for a while.

In the mean time, I’ll drive the Ranger to do my pickups today, after my non-prepping hobby meeting.    Yep, I’m going.   I have stuff to sell, need to renew my membership, and it’s time to re-elect the suckers I mean Board Members who make it all work.  Plus there is some crossover with my ham lunch guys, who I haven’t seen in months.   I can touch base with two of my meatspace groups at the same time.  If that’s not efficient use of time I don’t know what is…. 🙂

The wuflu restrictions make it much harder to meet and build networks in meatspace, and I don’t think that’s accidental.  Especially as this goes on, the political aspects are outpacing the medical ones.  Given TPTB’s other actions, it’s not hard to see the sinister in everything they do.

Almost every day I thank God I live in Texas, where we’ve been spared the most egregious of the nonsense.

Did an instacart order from Costco in the late afternoon.   It’s very convenient to place the order and then go on doing other stuff on your list until it arrives.

While I was waiting I got all three of my mature citrus trees covered, and the other potted trees and plants either under cover or indoors.   The citrus got heavy black poly sheet over them, secured like a big balloon, with a 50 or 60 watt incandescent bulb in the center to provide some heat.  I’m as ready as I can be garden-wise.   I am going to try to get some more gas cans filled just in case.  After hurricane season, I usually draw down my gasoline at home.  If we end up running a gennie, I want to be ready.  I’m kicking myself once again for continuing to put off the connection of the whole house gennie.  Money, time, and access- they all need to be there together, and I haven’t made it a priority.   That is a prepper fail.

I’m actually much more concerned about the plumbing at my rent house.  It’s pier and beam construction with no insulation, and the pipes are under the house.   We’ve had pipes crack from freezing there before.   I’ll be confirming with the tenants that they understand about leaving taps running and cranking the heat.  I may put poly over the screen that blocks the airspace under the house.   Normally you want the air to blow freely, but I think stopping the air would help keep the temps up.

The school district has already cancelled all in person learning for Tuesday.   They’re off Monday anyway, and the infrastructure is all in place for ‘learn from home’, so I guess it’s prudent.  It feels like a huge over-reaction.

It’s hard to believe that it could be as bad as predicted.  Like always, I guess we’ll see.

It may be we’re already sliding down the slope to civil war and economic collapse, but that doesn’t stop Mother Nature from putting the boot in.  Get your short term house in order, top up your supplies, and get ready for winter…

And keep stacking.  You don’t want to be one of the  ‘french toast people’ do you?

 

n

 

FTP- the ones that rush out before every weather event and buy milk, eggs, and bread.   Like they’re gonna live off of french toast alone….

Fri. Feb. 12, 2021 – what do you really need?

Cold.   Damp.  Dreary.   Like yesterday.

Cold all day.  Wet, with intermittent rain.  So I didn’t do much outside.  Everyone from my wife (who follows all the online weather guys for us) to the national forecast said the same thing- we’re not getting freezing temps in Houston until the weekend.  So I didn’t cover the trees as I’d have to do it in the rain.   It was 36F and falling when I went to bed.  Not freezing but way too close.

I spent the day dry and warm working on ebay stuff.  I had a bunch of speakers and vintage amps/receivers piled up that all needed to be tested, photographed, measured and weighed, etc.   I also needed to re-cover one grill.  So I did that.  Now that stuff can be listed, and the items themselves can go out of the house to storage.  Unfortunately some of it will be listed ‘for repair or parts’ that I was hoping would be in working condition.

A bunch of auctions closed yesterday and I was watching prices.  There was a lot of stuff that went cheap.   I am afraid that people might be done buying.  At some point, they will have other concerns than buying stuff they don’t really need.  I am hoping to get rid of a bunch more stuff before that happens.  I’m getting nervous about timing.

Which brings us to the question, “what do you really need?”

I could talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.   I could do the usual prepper list of categories -water, food, shelter, defense, health, welfare, hygiene, communication.  Instead I’m going to ask the question, What do YOU need for YOUR threats, in YOUR location, given YOUR resources?  And as a refinement, What do you STILL need?

The current world and US situation complicates the answers a bit.  We are in fact living through a disaster, the global pandemic.  The disaster has many different features and facets in different places and so like the blind men and the elephant, it looks different to different people in different places.

Further, in the US we have the unsettled political situation, with many people believing the current President is a usurper, and illegitimate; but even if he isn’t, his policies and party are anathema to half the population.   The continued polarization of the populous makes it far more of an issue in this time than in previous times.  This has many people considering the likelihood of a Civil War, or insurrection, or a massive increase in the police state and persecution of conservatives.

Pandemic and civil war are not normally high on the typical American prepper’s list of threats, but we’re currently in one, and facing the real possibility of the other.

On top of those, there is the very real threat of an economic collapse or prolonged depression, brought about or exacerbated by the pandemic, and the shift in US politics.  Again, not normally an urgent threat in the US, but here we are, MUCH closer than 4 years ago, or even 6 months ago.

Three really big, massive even, threats that were barely on the radar 2 years ago, and they are suddenly top of mind for preppers.   Add in the normal issues caused by human stupidity and Mother Nature, and it’s really hard to answer, What do I NEED?

Start with which of the threats do you think are most likely?  How will each affect you?  What do you want?  Those questions will lead you to answers to what you need.

I think some version of all three threats will be active at the same time.  I don’t know the sequence of cause and effect, but I do believe we’ll be engaged in some level of street fighting/terror attacks/low intensity conflict.   Whether because of it, or the cause of it, there is no way our economy, mostly built on gambling with other people’s money and constant buying, will survive a de facto Civil War.  Economic disruptions, with violence and civil unrest, coupled with restrictions on movement, speech, assembly, supply chain breaks, and a general breakdown in the social and civic structures we take for granted, will not be pretty.

What do I want?   I want to continue living my current lifestyle with as few changes as possible.  I want to shield my family from the worst aspects of the new abnormal.  I want to survive to get to the recovery and rebuilding phase.

Ask, What do I need to accomplish my goals?  And that will tell you what you need.

I need a safe and secure base (my home).   For some people, that will mean moving, now or later when it becomes a life or death issue.  Sectarian violence drives out the ‘other’.  You will not want to be the last of the “whatevers” to be in your area.  You can move while conserving as much of your assets as possible, or you can leave as a refugee, with nothing but the clothes on your back.   Lots of people have faced choosing one or the other throughout history, and some even face it today in other parts of the US and the world.  Don’t wait too long, and if you choose to stay, build your plan around that.

I need to accumulate  the resources now that will be unavailable or VERY expensive later.  That might mean food, a good education, medical supplies and Doctor friends, or a skill that will be hard to come by.  It might mean having the tools needed for an income stream.   If you weld, do you have wire, gas, and spare parts for your machines?  If you sew, do you have fabric, thread, buttons, zippers, patterns, etc?   Money is always good, as long as your “money” is something that will hold value in the future you see for yourself.  Bolivars didn’t do so well.   The dollar has already lost ~98% of its purchasing power since the institution of the Federal Reserve.  It’s not impossible that it will lose the rest.  No one is taking Confederate Dollars at the grocery store…

I need the support of other people.  I need people to feed me work, to buy anything I have on offer.  I need people to teach my kids.   I need people with the skills I don’t have, whether that’s medical, technical, or political.

I may need to change my politics, or my public persona.   That might mean going grey, it might mean running for the School Board.  The goal is to survive.  -To be here for my kids.  -To rebuild if it’s possible.  -To remind if it’s not.

Every one of those needs can be further unpacked into specific things to have, specific actions to take, skills to learn, or people to meet.  And each one of those things can be further unpacked, and once more, and again, recursively and fractally, forever.  But don’t let that dissuade you or dishearten you.  You are likely to be further along than you think.

Take a mental or physical inventory of what you already have.  What stuff have you been accumulating?  What skills do you have?   Who do you know?  What processes have you already begun?   Because BEGINNING is key.  Start work on filling those needs once you start identifying them.  Don’t wait until you have all of them documented in your 3 ring binder, start filling in where you know you are short WHILE assessing where you need to be.   Start extending and building on what you have.

Every project has tasks and milestones that need to happen serially and in order.  Every project has tasks that can happen in parallel.  Every project has tasks that can happen in any order.   Prepping is no different.  Identify which of your needs can be met by which sort of task, and proceed accordingly.  And when in doubt, the prepper basics are basics for a reason.  Get started with them, then keep building on what you have.   Always be working to improve your position.

And of course, keep stacking.

 

nick