Tues. May 24, 2022 – pickups, shelves, more pickups, and repairs

Hot and humid.   Maybe not TERRIBLY hot, but pretty hot.   Yesterday stayed cooler than the previous few days, but it was still instant soaked shirt in the sun.

Spent a bit of time on the gennie, but couldn’t keep the rust out of the tank.  Had the idea I could use Evaporust to kill it once and for all, but couldn’t find any in the garage.   Problem sorted when I picked up D2 from school.  We went to harbor freight.   I got Evaporust, one of the fuel transfer pumps (they’ll be on sale next month, 2$ off, so I’ll stock up then) and a cheap set of woodcarving tools.   D2 wants to learn to carve and whittle.

When we got home, I put the Evaporust in the tank, and got out some wood, the cut proof glove, and the self healing mat and we got started.

As expected the cheap tools were almost entirely unsuited to actually carving wood.   All the bevel angles are wrong for carving.   It’s as if they were all set up as lathe tools.  More disappointing was the Barlow knife I got out for her to use for the whittling.  I bought it new for $3 in the auction, and it turns out it is made in Pakistan.  Real cr@p.   Don’t know if they are counterfeit or if Barlow sold out.   Almost impossible to get an edge on the blade.  My dad got hundreds of Barlow pocket knives as ‘gimme’ trinkets from a sales guy way back in the day.  I lost almost all of them.   I was an idiot.  New ones are NOTHING like the old ones, except in appearance. If you squint.

Anyway… we ended up carving soap bars.   MUCH easier to work with, much safer for starting out.  We did a bas relief daisy, and a nose.    She had fun, got way more confident with the tools, and it was about the right length of time for a project.

I’ll know if my Evaporust experiment worked later today.  Other people online have had success.

Rust never sleeps.   Gear needs maintenance.

I’ll be doing pickups today.  I’ve got a big loop planned, and then pulling stuff from storage and building some Metro rack shelves.   I will use them as I move stuff around and sort it for sale, and eventually put some or all at the BOL or in my garage.  The work at my storage unit is contingent on a lack of rain though.   We’re still in the “could get thunderstorms” area of the weather map today and tomorrow, even though it got sunny and nice eventually yesterday.  Weather liars. Pttt.

Fix some of your broken stuff.   Check to be sure your stuff isn’t actually broken.   And stack some of the stuff you need to get it running again next time.  Because there will be a next time.


Thur. May 19, 2022 – driving around today

Hot and clear, some small chance of scattered showers.   But mostly it is likely to be hot and hot, with a side of hot.   My weather station said 102F in the afternoon yesterday.  Granted that was in the sun,but jeez.

Since my back responded well to the stretching, manipulation, and inversion table, I woke feeling pretty good.  I decided I didn’t want to screw that up by unloading trash from my truck or cutting the grass.  So I spent most of the day online.

Today I have to venture out and collect all  the stuff.   Metro shelves for the garage and storage.  Another bucket of freeze dried food, and a cell booster for my client’s place.  A bunch of stuff for the BOL.  Typical week.   Keep moving as the world does its thing…

Which seems to be continuing on the path we’ve already started down.  The drums of war are beating and they won’t stop.*  Various items are in short supply, and there are more of them, and the supply is shorter, from what I’m hearing.   The money markets are in turmoil.  People are starting to buy less, move down scale, and run out of credit card.  Home sales are slowing, which is normal when rates increase, but a lot of people are going to feel a lot less rich when they are making two mortgage payments, waiting for a house to sell.

There are HUGE new developments going in all around the Houston metro area in green field developments.  They are tearing down warehouse and industrial space to build apartments and condos, and clusters of houses closer in.   Everyone in the country seems to be moving to TX or FL.   This is historically a boom or bust town, and we’re seeing it again…

But there is a frantic quality to it.   People are in a big hurry to get done before the bad thing happens.  IDK which bad thing they individually fear, but there is starting to be a sense of wrongness in the population, at least the parts I interact with.   And I talk to everyone I can.  Store clerks, construction company owners, workers, yard salers, hustlers, professionals, tradesmen, small business owners, other random people.   Change is in the air.  Not hopeful, good change either.  More like dread, and trepidation.  Everyone is nervous and unsure, but soldiering on as fast as they can.

8 buckets of rice is 2 dry cups a day for more than 2 years.   Including the buckets, it’s about $400.  Don’t wish you’d bought them, BUY THEM.   You don’t have to get it all this week, but I wouldn’t wait too long.  Everyone has room for 8 buckets.   Throw a couple big bottles of multi-vitamin in the cart too.

Bob would talk a lot about “iron rations”, food that was enough to keep you alive, but not what you’d eat by choice.   There are a lot of details in posts and comments tagged with the keywords on the right.  Go and read the posts.   But at a minimum, buy and store the rice.  It will extend whatever else is available, and it’s the single simplest thing I can think of to recommend doing.   Of course there is a lot more, and I urge anyone who hasn’t already to read the stuff at the keywords.  Then ACT.   It’s really cheap insurance.

That’s the baseline.   Build from there.  Stack it all.



*”why are the drums going all night?”  ” when the drumming stops, the guitar solo starts…”

Fri. May 13, 2022 – Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month

Hot and humid, probably clear.   Mid 90s likely, both in temperature and humidity… summer is here in Houston.

Spent the afternoon doing a round of pickups.   I realize it sounds like I’m doing nothing but buying stuff at auction.  Well… that isn’t wrong, as such.   What might be missing is that I buy almost nothing from stores or online anymore unless it is something very specific that I need quickly.  For example, one of the stops yesterday was for cleaning supplies- two gallons of dish washing soap, 4 spray bottles of bleach/soap, and a couple of other things.   Was it cheap enough to drive across town?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Some flexibility was involved as the dishsoap was Joy lemon scent, when we prefer the blue stuff, but at only a buck or two a bottle, I’ll smell the lemon…

A stop at goodwill yielded a box of silver colored indoor door knobs because the universe still loves me.  I wanted to change out the gold colored ones at the BOL, as most are very worn after 40 years, and they weren’t high quality to start with.    I wish they were levers, but beggars blah blah…  Flexibility.  Anyway, not a priority, but doorknobs are something you touch every day and if they don’t work right, it’s frustrating.

A chat with another seller and he’ll send me advance pics of some of the stuff I’m looking for for the BOL before it hits the auction.   People, networking, meatspace.  Relationships are important.   I’ve been saying it, and I’ll repeat and I’ll repeat and I’ll repeat that you need practice in the secondary economy, just like anything else.  It could just be confirmation bias but I’m convinced that you or someone in your group of acquaintances will have to play the role of ‘scrounger’ or supply clerk, or whatever you want to call it, but someone will have to know where to get stuff, who to try getting it from, and what is worth trading.

A lot of preppers talk about stacking stuff ‘for barter’ but they’ve never dickered over a price, or shopped anywhere but a big box store.  I don’t stack ‘for barter’ but I do have stuff that I think I’ll need later, and if I need it, probably other people will too.  And since no one can go it alone, or stack every thing they might need, it might be that I end up trading or bartering or just plain selling some of that stuff.  A HUGE amount of commerce is happening in the person to person space already.  That is only going to increase.   Get some practice.   Hit some yardsales this weekend, and check out a thrift store…  driving around your area will help you survey the current conditions near you too.   Lots of benefits to getting out and looking around.


The best part of shopping in the secondary economy is saving money.   Second best is getting something you couldn’t get otherwise.   Leverage it to build your stacks…



Sat. May 7, 2022 – Ah work, I could watch it all day….

Sunny and hot, humid of course.  It’s supposed to be a very hot weekend.  Lynn has been watching the power generation numbers here in Texas, and the heat is going to drive some really high usage…  I’m kinda selfish normally, but if we are careful to reduce unneeded usage for the weekend, we’ll all have the power we need to keep cool.

I spent yesterday in the heat.   I might have spent too long in it, as I was feeling poorly by the end of the day.  I did a couple of pickups, then spent the rest of the afternoon sorting and stacking at one of my storage units.  I finished up by loading the truck for today’s run up to the BOL.

Our weekend commitments will come first, mainly swim team practice, but also lawn cutting and general weekend stuff.   Then I’ll find the last few things I need to get together for this week’s work – seeds, camping hot water heater, plumbing bits, hardware cloth, outdoor shower stuff…   wife has decided we will have an outdoor shower at the BOL until our septic situation is resolved.   Conveniently, I have a propane fired instant hot water heater stacked somewhere, as a prep against a long outage here.  I need to get it out, look at what is involved (a hose, propane tank, and shower head, presumably) and get those parts together too.

I’ll have some time in the morning to get that stuff done before we head out.

Then my comms will be spotty as before.

I’m testing out a prep this weekend, you should too.  Dig something out and use it.   Then stack whatever your test reveals that you lack….



Tues. May 3, 2022 – about to get even busier…

Forecast says “clear” for the next two days at least.   Monday started out very gusty, with spatters of rain while I was putting the kids in the car, but it soon cleared up.   Today should be clear all day, but I’m sure it will be humid and hot.

Because I’ll be doing some work in the attic.   HVAC guy came yesterday and did whatever poking around he needed to do to get the job actually started.  I’ve got a feeling it will be about 80% of what we want, it’s costing more than the luxury system quote from two years ago, and I think the work will be pretty haphazard.   BUT, he got the unit we needed, and the approved ductwork, and the system has been patched and babied along for two extra years past its failure point.   I NEED to get new stuff installed.  And for that to happen, I need to clear space in the attic for them to work.   That will be … difficult and a pain in my sweaty backside.

On top of that, I have the normal weekly stuff to do, and I am supposed to be taking stuff to auction today and tomorrow.   Which probably will not happen if I’m in the attic all day.

I did get a few things done yesterday.  Did a billable half day of work for my client.  AT&T has pushed all the conduit to his property, they just need to get fiber in it, and make the final several hundred foot push to the house.   It looks like they  hope to light up the rest of his neighbors too at some point.   There are lots of drops along the way to his house.

More food got put away.   The $2/pound pork loin got turned into three roasts, and one got eaten for dinner.  The others joined their piggy friends in freezer camp.   I opened a can of cajun style lima beans as a side, didn’t tell anyone what they were besides “beans” and not only did they get eaten, my wife actually called them good.   It must have been the butter and bacon crumbles.

Also got 40 pounds of flour into buckets.  20 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, a paper plate, and a couple of hand warmers to eat the O2.   Those buckets will go to the BOL.  My wife notably didn’t say anything about the 40 pounds of flour sitting in the living room until I could pack it.   I think she’s coming around to the idea of shortages.  It would be hard not to given the news and predictions from every direction.  Yet there will be people crying that ‘nobody told us’.   I’M telling you, there will be shortages, and some people are going to be very hungry, both here, and pretty much everywhere else.   Dust Bowl, Great Depression, soup kitchen levels of hungry, only without the civility of a homogeneous society.  That last point should be top of your mind too.

Ammo prices have come down slightly and availability has increased.  I’m even seeing sales on large quantities.  Some places have complete uppers for sale again too.  If you’ve been waiting, this is as good a time as any.

ATF has new rules ready to go into effect.   We may be facing whatever comes with what we’ve got.   And something bad, really bad, is coming.   The DHS created a department to police thought and word.   That’s how far we’ve come, and the direction we’re going.  They didn’t ‘float a trial balloon.’  They created it and staffed it.  Just like that.  With no lead up or indication ahead of time.  Once we’re on a war footing, even the token resistance from conservatives will be stifled in the name of the war effort.  It’s all happened before, it can happen again.

So stack it high. And hide it well.  You’ll need it.




Sun. May 1, 2022 – a day of rest. Oh, who am I kidding?

Moderate temps today with some chance of light rain.  So someone in Houston will be getting rain, I hope it’s not me.   Saturday was humid but otherwise very nice.   I am glad for the extra bit of Spring before the heat of Summer kicks in.

Did my dad duties, did some shopping for the garden and to close the wall where there water heater used to be.  Did some cleanup around the house, but really should have done more.

Wife and D1 will be home late this morning.  I’m planning to sleep in as long as possible.

Then I’ll do some more household chores and cleanup.  I should have a few minutes to dump the bags of dirt onto the raised beds and get the potted plants into the ground.  I’m going with a minimum here this spring as it’s already a bit late.  Peppers, zukes, cukes, small watermelons, and some beans if I can remember correctly.  The small pots that were $3.83 each last year are almost $5 this year.  Even the cashier at Home Depot asked me if I was sure I wanted that many plants…   But I use AMEX rewards for the garden expenses, so I was sure.   My wife already put in a couple of tomato plants, the collards are  from last year, and the herbs are either new or from last year too.  Gardening work is predicated on no or little rain of course.

I really need to get up to the lake and get the garden going.  I’ve got other stuff I need to do up there, and there are at least two pickups full of stuff waiting to go up.  The latest load includes an armchair, and a wheelbarrow, along with some long term storage food.   On the one hand, since we have a ton of work to do, we don’t want a ton of stuff in the way.  On the other, it’s piling up here, and needs to move.   On the gripping hand, I’m much more comfortable getting some back up stuff up there.

Diversification of location.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Supply chain is getting worse.   The shutdowns in Shanghai should start showing up in delays pretty soon.  Don’t get caught flat footed.  Stack what you need.




Tues. Apr. 26, 2022 – everyone should know how to tell at least one good joke, and a couple of bad ones…

Cooler and wet today as a followup to yesterday.   It did finally rain yesterday.   It was about 3pm when it finally hit my neighborhood.  Temps dropped 10 degrees and the wind picked up.   We had some pretty hard rainfall, and the gutters filled up.   My gauge says only 0.43 inches, but it certainly seemed like more.

It was raining cats and dogs by the lake, so countrygirl begged off delivering my crazy thick and heavy fence pipes.  I’m ok with that.   Whenever they get there, I’m not ready for them anyway.   I did spend some time looking over the old victory garden stuff to see if it would help me plan my garden.   I have an approach, if not an actual plan… and maybe it will refine itself over time.  Still no word from septic or structure guys.   At home, we can’t seem to get an HVAC guy to replace our system now.  Waited too long maybe, because they aren’t calling back.  We’ve got a short window before it gets really hot up in the attic again, so I’d think they would be anxious to get as much done before then as they could.  Maybe they are, and I’m just not on their list.

I also did not get anything done with my pickup not starting.

I did play a couple of games of backgammon with D2 before having to pick up D1 from school.  She’s got afterschool activities going on, so I get to be the taxi.  Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of driving my dad did to pick me up from MY afterschool activities.  My high school wasn’t close to our house at all, and there was a lot of snow and ice involved during the winter.  It explains why I got a license and a car at 16.  Also why I had so many tickets and wrecks.

Today will be some prepping, as I’ve got meat to repack and freeze.  Then some auction stuff if it’s dry enough for me to pull stuff out of the storage unit, and if the pickup truck is running to take the stuff to the auctioneer.  Then some pickups that are all things for the BOL.   Busy day in other words, although some may slip if it’s wet.

I’m trying to stack all the things.   For some reason, a bunch of auguson farms 30 day buckets have been in the auctions here.  I’ve gotten 2 so far.   They are not worth the money as they are very low calorie per day, and pretty much all plant based, and mostly carbs and sugar from what I can see.  Still, at the price I paid, they are a decent addition to my long term stores.  In other words, half retail or less.

Stack it up, it’s changing fast.  And not for the better.



Wed. Apr. 13, 2022 – ya put your right foot in, ya put your right foot out…

Warm and wet again.   It did rain on the plain in Spain yesterday, for values of ‘rain’ and ‘spain’ that are closer to ‘houston’ and ‘misty drizzle’.   Rounding error.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.   Today should be more of  the same, overcast, humid, rain in places.

Did my ‘south’ pickups.  Stuff for the BOL and gub accessories mostly.  “Why, no sir, I don’t have a single complete gub in the house….”   I might have a “few” parts in a box somewhere…

I’ve got my ‘north’ pickups to do today and tomorrow.   Looking at the map, I may not combine them with my trip to the BOL to meet the engineer.   One is WAY off the path.  It might make more sense to do the out of the way pickup today and just leave it all on the truck for the trip up tomorrow.  So many choices.

Americans are certainly used to an overabundance of choices.   We even have a branch of science* to study why having too many choices is bad in retail, and in life.   I’ve argued for a while that one of the main underlying and crucial differences between Americans and Europeans (well, really everyone else) is that we come from a culture of abundance and they come from a culture of scarcity.  It really does impact how you relate to almost everything.

With that in mind, the coming shortages and economic collapse are going to be very hard for Americans to accept and ‘deal with’.   I think there will be a lot of people whose brains just sort of vapor lock on the idea that there AREN’T any choices.  They are going to sputter, and deny, and b!tch, and fail to adapt to the new reality.

Don’t be one of them.  Get your head around the idea that things are not normal, won’t be normal, and it will be a long time before a new normal establishes itself.  This will free you to act accordingly.

Stacking up stuff so you personally still have choices might be a really good idea too.


*well, not ‘science’ exactly, but SOCIAL science…

(and Friday the Thirteenth falls on a Wednesday this month)

Mon. Apr. 11, 2022 – let’s go bran… flakes. Get ready for ‘meatless Monday’…

Windy and clear, not particularly cool.   Yesterday was nice until the evening when there was some misty drizzle.   Never got too hot, and the sun stayed behind clouds.

That was perfect weather to wash the truck.   I figured if it was time for an oil change, it was probably time to wash it too.  I’m really not interested in washing vehicles, but it occurred to me that for what I paid, I should take better care of it.   I’ll try to be better, I  swear.

I actually got a bunch of stuff done, and some stuff just had a bit of progress made, but even baby steps are steps, right?

Having someone over (our buddy the electrician) made me realize how far I’ve let some things go.   I still have the boxes of  Christmas lights sitting on the patio, because I didn’t put them right back in the garage attic where they belong.   So I did a bit of tidying.  Also got some plumbing supplies together for the BOL, and washed the truck.   Checked the oil and fluids in all the vehicles, and added wiper fluid to all of them.  When I bought the gallon of 1:50 concentrated windshield washing fluid, I thought it would be about a lifetime supply.  I’m down to the last inch and a half in the gallon bottle though.

As a side note, all three vehicles need DIFFERENT weights of motor oil.   What the what?  Honda’s is one I’ve never heard of and never even noticed in the store- 0W-20.   I guess I’ll get at least one oil change for the Honda, although my wife has been having a mechanic shop do the changes for her.  Oil changes for my trucks make sense to stock, as I’ve actually done a change on the Ranger, and on my old Expy.  I can do it again if I have to, but I don’t like to mess with it.

It does all sorta circle back to the idea of “timeliness”.   Changing oil, checking fluids, they are about catching or preventing problems.   Putting stuff away as soon as you are done using it helps keep it in good condition, and keeps it where it can be easily found later.  Acting once you’ve come to a conclusion about a course of action keeps the action timely too.  Wait too long and the conditions might have changed.   It’s not a new or profound concept, there are aphorisms and ‘rules of thumb’ galore that address it, from “A stitch in time…” to “for want of a nail” to “make hay while the sun shines…” and “strike while the iron is hot” among countless others.

I’m guessing I’m not the first guy to dither, or procrastinate, judging by the number and pervasiveness of the culture hacking aphorisms.  I’ll share with you that I feel like time is getting short and the ability to act in a timely manner is becoming more important than ever.   In Taoism, it’s the idea the you maintain yourself in a ‘centered’ state, equally ready to move in any direction.  Whatever tradition you come from, being awake, alert, and ready to move in any direction as needed (literally and figuratively) will be very important for your well being during the next couple of years.

If you’re not there yet, start practicing the mindset, and gathering the resources.

Don’t delay, stack something today.



Tues. Mar. 22, 2022 – 0322022 – think about infrastructure…

Rainy and wet, with an unknown number of bad things happening overnight.   Unknown because I was asleep, and if I don’t directly experience it, it must not have happened, right?  Oh, yeah, that’s not how my team thinks.

Spent the day doing auction stuff, while waiting for septic service guys and foundation repair guys to call back.   The good news is I have an appointment to meet the septic guy on site – Thursday.   I can even sleep in my own bed, and drive up there for the meeting.   And if the toilets flush and the shower drains flow, I might stay up there and work.  If I can get the foundation guy there during that time, I’ll feel like king of the world.

Today is pickups and a lot of driving around.   Lots of stuff for the new house, some ham/radio stuff to use and to resell, and various bits and pieces.    I have an item that I sold 16 days ago, shipped USPS Priority Mail, and it still hasn’t been delivered.    It showed as “unknown” until today when it popped back up in the system in St. Louis.   Hopefully it will be delivered in a day or two.    The buyer has been very patient.    He didn’t even let me know it wasn’t there yet until a couple of days ago.   I was going to ship replacements today, but since it popped up, he said to hold off on that.   Mail is getting weirder, and not just for me.


Breakdowns in previously reliable services are just one of the signs of a slow collapse.   If it’s really happening, you’ll be responsible for more and more of what USED to be provided by others, or you’ll have to be content with whatever you get, whenever you get it.  Think about the systems and what you can do to replace them or smooth the ups and downs.   I’ll look at this in a bit more detail later but my mind is foggy today.

Stack stuff you will need for infrastructure or services, even if you don’t put it into use today.  Stack it high.