Category: prepping

Thur. Mar. 28, 2024 – stuff to do, stuff to do

Cool, damp, and hopefully clear. Warming later with some sun would be nice. That has been the pattern for the last week, so all I really want is some continuity, right? Actually, I’d take a little rain today and tomorrow if it left the weekend clear.

Did my errands Wednesday. Picked up the needful thing. The forms have changed yet again. I need to hit another store and get some “food” to “feed” it… Stopped by my auctioneer and chatted for about 40 minutes. I’m slowing my sales through them for a week or two while they concentrate on other estates. They make more money on an estate than on consignment, and they need the cash. I really need to get back to listing and sell some of the high value items I’ve been holding back. This lull would be a good time to finally do that.

I didn’t win anything in the ham radio estate auction, so I could go to the BOL tonight with the family. I might delay until tomorrow anyway to do some shopping. We’ll see what I get done today. I’d like to have a bunch of stuff for projects so I can maybe knock one or 6 off the list, if I get motivated. Plus, I hate to make the trip without being fully loaded up. I’ve got a bunch of stuff from the auctions this week, but I need some actual building supplies too.

Today is all about getting ready for the long weekend out of town. Groceries, Home Depot, dig through the stacks and move some stuff… The usual.

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Peter over at BayouRenaissanceMan touched on one of my preparedness points this week when he mentions not putting all your preps in the same place. I’ve been talking about that for a long time, going back to Cali’s recommendation that earthquake preps be kept in sealed bins outdoors or in a lightweight shed structure. Been a while since I talked about earthquakes, so I know I’ve been talking about it for a while. More recently I’ve been talking about using a storage unit on your way out of town, and the balance of what to keep where if you have a BOL. (Keeping stuff with trusted friends or family is another option, but one I haven’t mentioned since the last trip to sibling’s place in Michigan.)

There were some devastating hurricanes in OK that really prompted me to start an offsite “secondary” location with preps stored there. If you lose your house, you will likely lose your preps in the disaster too. It’s IMPORTANT to have some stuff elsewhere.

The BOL serves that function well, but it adds the question of balance. In a world with limited resources, what do you put where? I have lots of stacks here in Houston. Since we got the BOL, I’ve been moving stuff there too, but — what if we can’t get there? I don’t want to strip our primary residence, the place we are most likely to be when (certain flavors of) S hits the Fan… I also don’t want to bail out to the BOL and leave all my resources behind. Taking them with me might not be an option.

In an ideal world both would be equally well equipped, but that is VERY unlikely and essentially “wastes” half your preps.

So, what to do? “Waste” the preps and stock both as well as possible is my compromise solution. I’ve already acknowledged that given the poor storage conditions, I will have higher than average “breakage” or losses. So I just have to acknowledge that if both locations are well equipped, in most scenarios I’m going to “waste” one, by using the other. In reality, there is nothing that says the other location won’t be used at another time, or that someone else won’t benefit from it. If I can’t get to the BOL and the world as we know it really does “end”, I’m happy to think my neighbors up there might be able to survive a bit longer with access to my stuff. Same for the ones left here, if we get out of Dodge, and leave it behind for good.

What I am not interested in is having it confiscated to be given to the wastrels who should have been making their own plans. This is a bit tougher if you are an advocate for prepping. If you are known to have taken an extra step or two, people will remember, they will say something, or they’ll come themselves. Peter is likely F’d. I’m not well known IRL, but I’m not quiet about telling people about “hurricane preparation” either. IRL far too many people know I prep, at some level, although there are plenty who dismiss me because of the somewhat “goofy stay at home dad” persona. When you pull stuff off the stacks to help people, they hopefully learn a lesson so they don’t need help next time, but they CERTAINLY learn a lesson that you are someone with resources…

So I have stuff here, I have the secondary location, and I have the BOL. I have my online persona, my “goofy” grey man persona, and my actual IRL serious persona, and mostly they are separated…but still. There is leakage. Which could come around to bite me on my hairy white a…

I think I’ll probably have a lot of preps I never use, no matter how everything plays out, and that’s ok. I can afford it. I don’t feel like I can afford NOT to have it. I’ll keep reassessing the state of the world, and my response to it, and I’ll adjust my plan and resource allocation accordingly. There may come a time when we are at the BOL more than here. Or I may give up the secondary location, moving that stuff to the BOL, or a different place. It’s not exactly in the right direction to grab from if we were headed out of town. On the gripping hand, if we had to head in that direction, there is some stuff along the way… it’s not cached in the traditional sense, but it’s “stashed”…

Think hard about how to protect and keep what is yours in an environment that allows others to come looking for it. There are lots of strategies and techniques that can help.

Stacks and stacks, and some other stacks to distract them with, can help. Stack!

nick

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Thur. Dec. 7, 2023 – A date which will live in infamy…

Cool and clear again. Cold even as anything less that 50F feels pretty cold to me. It did warm up over the course of the day. Flaming nuclear fire in the sky helps with that.

Spent the day driving back and forth. First to do my pickups, then Costco, then D2 pickup from school, deliver to appointment, rush to pickup D1 from school, return to D2’s appointment, then gas fillup and home… Running from 1130 to 530 without a break. Mostly stuck in heavy traffic too. Yuck. 1 star, cannot recommend.

Costco was odd. Prices have come down on some stuff, but remain high on other things. Pork was cheap and they had the standing rib roast cut I love, which they only carry for Christmas and Easter. Bought two big ones that I’ll cut in half and vac seal for the freezer. The imported Australian lamb was LESS than it has been in a while, and that’s saying something because the price has remained pretty steady for years.

Rice and flour were still higher than they were, and selection was limited. My favorite shelf stable take and bake loaves of bread were damaged. Many of the packages showed mold in the packaging, on the loaves. They were well within sell by too. Weird that staff didn’t pull the bad packages, and weird that it was usually one loaf of the three in the box. They still haven’t gotten the frozen cheeseburgers I like back in stock. Prices for paper goods were high. No sales this month on paper. List price for Charmin blue is now double what it was pre-wuflu.

There was also more chinese prepared food from china than there has been in the past. Dunno if that’s significant but I’m not a fan of food prepared in china for safety reasons.

I’ve stopped buying vegetables and milk products at Costco and I was a bit rushed so I didn’t even stick my head in to check stock levels. I’ve also decided to not buy more of the Kirkland bacon, even though the price is now competitive with HEB. The Kirkland bacon leaves a hard crusty black film in the bottom of the pan. I think it’s burned sugar. It needs to be scraped off the teflon, and it’s bitter so I can’t reuse the fat either. The bacon tastes fine, but the other things are too negative.

And hey, they had both the socks I like and the underwear so that was a score. Set for a year or two now. Stacks…

It wasn’t a cheap trip, but then my average ticket had increased 50-100% even though I’m not buying bulk to stack anymore. I’m not going as often either. In fact I’m shorter than I’d like to be on TP again, and I kept kicking myself and wondering why this has happened again… and I think it’s because I only buy it when it’s on sale, and it hasn’t been on sale as often, so my two bales run out before the next sale. Girls might be using more too, but the frequency of purchase definitely contributes. I need to run to my secondary (for a number of things) but I’ll also be grabbing an extra bale of TP out of deep storage.

Our usage patterns for a lot of things have shifted with time and changes in our lives. I’m not making the kids’ lunches anymore, so I haven’t bought peanut butter in a long time. Same for white bread. D2 is making her own ramen so I’m not making soup for her. Kraft mac and cheese consumption is way down… take a look at your assumptions and see if they still are a good match for your real usage. Adjust as needed.

Today I’ll be doing some more domestic bliss, and household errands, as well as picking up TP and dropping stuff off at my secondary location. Got kid pickup duties in the afternoon too. Might hit the HEB and see if there is any meat on sale, and get D2 some eggnog. Normal stuff. Auction stuff will happen too, and I’ve got a few things I still need to get for my party this weekend. Busy day.

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Whilst in the midst of your ordinary everyday stuff today, take a minute to consider this day in 1941. People all over the world went to bed with the world in one condition in their minds. They woke up and everything had changed. Plenty of people saw US involvement in the war coming. Plenty of people from individuals to companies to the government worked for or against our seemingly inevitable involvement. Almost universally I bet they thought they would have more time. Despite all the time they’d already had.

It’s my contention that we are living through one of those times in the world where everything changes. Not all at once, and not in obvious ways, but the world of 1950 was completely different from the world that rang in the century. Most of that change happened in a very short time, from ~1911 to ~1946. And you could argue that the big chunk happened in an even shorter period between those years. We know change is coming. We think it’s probably gonna be bad change for a while, but we hope it will get better. It’s likely to be very disruptive to the way things have been for all of our lives.

Do what you can to ease your way through this coming disruption. That’s what I’m prepping for now, the local or regional disaster will happen but they will have to be considered against the bigger picture of the complete realignment of the world order. Be flexible, be cautious, be wary, and be as prepared as you can think of ways to be.

And stack. It’s easy and likely won’t hurt.

nick

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Tues. Dec. 5, 2023 – and I’m off…

Cool and clear today. Should be a nice day. It was very nice yesterday but I’m not feeling like doing anything outdoors when my head is draining through my nose. Today I’ve got no choice.

Spent most of yesterday doing auction things. I really wanted to get a bunch of stuff in an auction before Christmas. I also spent some time fixing some stuff. I did get to my auctioneer and dropped off about 6 tubs of stuff. A drop in the bucket, but the mightiest river is nothing but drops, right??

Made some slow cooker carnitas for dinner, portioned and vac sealed the other 6 pounds of pork shoulder for later, did a load of laundry, picked up both kids from school, and cleaned parts of the house. I’m a regular domestic terror…

Today I’ve got to get D2 to her orthodontist, then I’m headed to my client’s house to do some minor stuff. I’m hoping to get out of there before the end of the day and get some shopping in. I’ve still got stuff to get together for the non-prepping hobby Christmas party I’m co-hosting this weekend. Don’t want to leave that to the last minute.

At some point I need to figure out a Christmas gift for my wife too.

… don’t falter…

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The question for the day is “how do you dress?” Not in the traditional tailor way, but in the “what do you wear when you leave the house way”.

I’d bet money that most of the people here are wearing the same stuff, sometimes literally, they’ve been wearing for the last 20 or more years. I’d bet that you are pretty set in your routines, have a closet full of clothes, and mostly wear the same few outfits. You might have “work” vs “home” vs “dressed up” but I bet the range is pretty narrow.

I realized I don’t have any blue jeans. NO jeans in any color in fact. I might have mentioned that here recently because I picked up a couple of pairs at the Goodwill. Why would I do that if I haven’t worn any in over 20 years? Well, I’ve been giving it some thought lately.

For a long time I’ve treated clothes as a uniform, or more accurately as a costume to be worn to match what I was doing. Working in a corporate environment? Tan or black Dockers, logo’d golf shirt. Doing construction work in that environment? Cargo pants, collared shirt over t-shirt. Corporate training or live event outdoors? Tan shorts, logo’d golf shirt… No t shirts. “We do not wear T shirts, because we are not T shirt guys, and don’t want to be paid like T shirt guys.” That was a lesson from one of the first bosses I had doing all sorts of temporary labor in the entertainment field. It’s a variation of “dress for the job you want,not the job you have.” It served me well over the years.

Since I no longer run in the rat race, I dress only for me. And yet… I dress pretty consistently. Cargo shorts or pants, so I can carry a bunch of stuff. T shirt under a casual collared shirt to hide my EDC. Shirt must have a collar and a pocket for my glasses… which give an excuse for the shirt, which is really there as a “cover garment” as the trainers say. Clip knife front pocket strong hand side, FLASHLIGHT rear pocket weak hand side, decent shoes, sturdy watch…

The main difference between what I’m wearing and the tacktical tommy is I’m wearing Wrangler cargo pants and not high speed tactical pants, my watch is simpler, and my beard isn’t as glorious… but I still have the look. Less so now that my mustache is growing, and my beard (goatee really) isn’t very ‘operator’, and definitely less so when I’ve got my old man hat on, but still, the ‘tells’ are there. My bearing is also noticeable, not as twitchy as a cop or operator, but still pretty alert compared to most people. Head up and looking around, certainly. I tell myself this is by design, to be open to meeting other like minded individuals, and to fit in with that culture, but it’s really because I’m comfortable dressing this way.

Given all that, I’ve been advocating that people might want to build out their wardrobe a bit. And I have over time.

You might want some oversized clothes. They will disguise your relative health and robustness when you go to the .gov food line for your handouts. They can cover a vest, or a second layer of clothing, or some contraband if things get really sporty… they can disguise the gender of your loved ones, who will be particularly vulnerable as rule of law, and social norms collapse.

You might want some clothes in patterns that will work as camo without being actual camo. There are usually a TON of suitable shirts at my local Goodwill store. It’s more about a pattern and combination of colors than WHAT the pattern is composed of. You might even want a set or two of clothes that are smaller than your normal size if you expect to get lean when the lean times come- although I’d guess that most of us already have clothes we no longer fit, but could again after a certain amount of ‘austerity.’

You will want your clothes to look well worn, but you might have occasion to dress up or down. Looking shabby can help you fit in better in some places, while the khakis and golf shirt are like a ghillie suit in other environments. Fitting in and NOT drawing attention are your normal goals. Grey man isn’t about the color, it’s about not standing out. Some places that will mean camo, and lots of it. Not .mil or surplus anymore, but faded realtree is pretty common outside of big cities. Carhart jackets, ball caps from different companies (I’d avoid teams unless you are really a fan, and the local gangs don’t use the colors or logos), and maybe even T shirts might be the uniform of the day in other places.

Depending on your goals and plans, you might want to take it even further. There are many costumes available in thrift stores. Most of the time, all you need are tan or black pants, and the right logo’d golf shirt. Delivery companies, local utilities, counter and wait staff for local and national food chains or retail stores, all have signature looks and they all end up on the racks at the thrifts… don’t forget footwear, most of the time black sneakers will work. People tend to see the uniform and not the person, which can certainly be a plus in some circumstances. You might just want styles or colors you don’t normally wear, for those occasions that you don’t want to wear something that will go back into your closet when you are done doing whatever you do… I’m sure there are people who went to a rally or event and wish they’d worn some clothes that they don’t normally wear, and maybe a hat and a face mask…

You might want a high visibility safety vest and a hard hat. Don’t forget your clipboard, gloves clipped to your belt, and even better, a walkie talkie… that outfit will let you walk into almost anywhere…

And for a pro level tip, sometimes you WANT to stand out with a clothing choice. When I’m working an event, I often wear a distinctive hat or shirt. People that need to find me can be told to “look for the guy in the bright yellow shirt” or “the guy wearing the hat with bunny ears” (this was a community Easter egg hunt)… or conversely you might want to get people to focus on and remember an easily changed item of clothing, so that someone else might be looking for “the guy in the Cubs hat and white hoodie”, long after you’ve left them in the trash. Current security cameras and VMS or Video Management Systems recognize and tag images so that it’s possible to find all the video around the office building of “a man wearing a red hat” so use the strategy best suited for your activity.

It all comes down to having two goals when thinking of your wardrobe as a costume. You want to fit in with the other people around you most of the time. That takes observation, and mimicry. Other times you might want to project a certain image, looking like someone you are not. That is mostly having the right visual cues, and an appropriate demeanor. Both goals take a bit of preparation and observation, and I’d say a certain amount of practice too. This is a great time to start, when the stakes are not as high as they might be later. But even if things don’t get worse, not standing out can save you from becoming a victim of crime, can easy your way through life, and can even save you money and time.

So, why did I buy some jeans? Because I realized I didn’t have any pants that weren’t “me”. I didn’t have anything that was out of character for my everyday persona, that people are familiar with and recognize. I thought it might be prudent and useful to have something that didn’t say “that looks like Nick”. And I bought jeans because they are versatile, common, and ordinary– unlike parachute pants, or tweed dress slacks…

Take a look at your closet. If your circumstances changed, if the world changes, if you had to shop in different places, walk through different areas, ride a bike or a bus, could you dress in a way that didn’t draw attention, that didn’t mark you as an outsider, or a potential victim? If you wanted to be out and about but still remain (relatively) anonymous, could you? If not, get busy. You have some shopping to do.

nick

(and stacking)

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Thur. Nov. 30, 2023 – The best time to plant x is 5/10/15 years ago…

Cool to cold, grey, with a chance of rain. Avoided rain yesterday, which was nice, but I don’t know if we can avoid it today. I’m still hoping so as I’ve still got things to do with the pickup truck’s open bed.

I was able to do my pickups yesterday but no drop off. I’ve now got a ton of stuff to go to the BOL, and no way to do so this weekend without a lot of “messing around.” Wife will be out of town, so I have the kids with me, so I can’t go up in the pickup. Her Honda is WAY overdue for a timing belt replacement, we both suddenly have bad feelings about driving it on a 300+ mile trip, way out in the country and far from home… the service is scheduled, and she’ll drive it as needed locally until then. Just don’t want to take the chance of blowing up the motor out in the woods. That leaves taking the Expy and a trailer. Which I will consider for the next day or two.

Today will be me moving stuff around and getting ready for the weekend, whatever that ends up bringing. I will try again to get at least a few things dropped off, and if I can’t, I’ll stack them with several other bins, ready for next week.

It’s not like I don’t have stuff to do at home this weekend if I don’t get up to the BOL. I’ve got plenty, including stuff that got pushed from previous weekends. Outdoor stuff, indoor stuff, ‘skull sweat’ stuff… maybe even fun stuff.

And there is the stuff the post title alludes to. It’s a joke, but also a truism, and SteveF reminded me of it this week. At it’s base, it’s an admonition to DO THE THING that needs doing. And to KEEP DOING THE THING that needs doing. Do it NOW and you will find in the future that you DID it 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. Planting a tree is an incredibly optimistic thing. It’s a statement that you spend some of your limited time and resources on something you may never benefit from. It’s the embodiment of your belief that there WILL BE a future.

Get out there and plant a tree. Start the training course. Take something apart and figure out how to fix it. Not all the planting is literal… Some day in the future, you will be glad you did.

nick

(oh, and stack. Always.)

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Mon. Oct. 30, 2023 – So close to Halloween…

Cool. Cold even. Front has arrived. Yesterday was hot, mid to high 80s with humid stagnant air. Nothing was moving and sweat was dripping off me as I worked on my decorations. Then the wind picked up, and the temps dropped. Mid 60s after dark, with gusting winds. Today should be cooler all day.

Yup, I finally got some decor set up. First I had to get a couple of pickups done. One pick up was some stuff to sell at my next non-prepping hobby swapmeet day, the next was for the BOL. The BOL’s was a couple of hundred feet of barbed wire. I’m not sure where I’ll use it, or if I’ll sell it to someone up there, but I’d rather have it than not. It’s used, but rolled neatly. I’ve been trying to buy some for a year but it goes for too much money. Finally got some.

Came home and started on decor in earnest. Felt a couple of drops of rain, but nothing real. Kept at it until dusk. Started lighting stuff, then the power went out. 3200 affected, mostly our neighborhood. Again. Freaking third world. One of the symptoms of a collapse is civic systems break down, and with increasing severity and frequency. We went years without a blink, and now we have lost power for more than an hour several times in the last few months. They are doing a ton of infrastructure, pulling high tension lines everywhere and building out and up… but we’ve never had issues like this before.

Since their estimate was for a 3 hour outage, I decided to fire up a generator. The whole house gennie is still not installed. My trusty generac was fueled and ready, so of course the pull cord broke. The Honda 3000 started on the second crank, once I’d connected the propane bottle. Didn’t use it, because I can’t feed the house with it– no 220v output. Power came back on shortly after that anyway. We used a Jetboil backpacking cook system to make some hot water for the Mountain House chili mac… we could have made just about anything in the house or pantry, but that stuff was sitting in the kitchen from my wife’s aborted GS camping trip and neither of us wanted to cook.

Wife fired up candles because she wanted to, and because her streamlight lantern is DOA due to leaking batteries. Mine is fine, and the big coleman LED lanterns worked well too. I got out a little oil lamp, and proceeded to fight with the wick. I don’t have any small wicks here… took them to the lake. I didn’t feel like trying a propane coleman, or one of the bigger kerosene lamps. I’ll be bringing a wick home as backup…

Not a bad little dry run, and I’m moving gennie maintenance up the list, along with trying to find an electrician for the whole house install. Maybe they’ll be a bit slower this time of year, and more willing to do the work without selling me anything.

Today I’ve got more pickups, and some more decor to do. If it isn’t raining. It’s showing 50% chance of light rain, with the cold snap continuing. We’ll see…

So it’s time to check your critical systems. Batteries in the smoke detectors, and in the gun safes. Fresh fuel in the stuff that uses fuel… Spares close at hand.

And stacks.

nick

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Sat. Sept. 30, 2023 – “nuttin’ to do Abe, nuttin’ to do…”

Definitely cooler now than a month ago. A bit of chill even in the morning air. Plenty of damp though. Extra helpings of that. Although it threatened to rain with patchy dark clouds, it missed me all day yesterday, and the clouds helped with the sun too.

It was cool enough to work on the roof getting the downed limb cut up and off the roof. Did so, and the roof is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of ridge vent shingles that I should replace and one or two roof shingles. I probably won’t, as I think it will be more disruptive to the roof to tear out the old and install the new, than to just live with the lumpy damage. Unless it leaks, then we’ll fix it.

Spent the evening with a small group of dads from the kid’s school who support a couple of the extra activities by selling concessions. Nice group of guys, I’ll do what I can to continue participating. Several I already knew from other school and community groups. There was a time in my life that I was ready to move cities if I ran into someone I knew while out and about. Now I understand the value of community a bit more.

Whether you are sizing up your competition, trying to find allies, or just looking for friends, getting out and meeting people in your area is going to be critical if you don’t already have ties to your community. I know my thinking on this subject has changed. Let’s say it’s “evolved” or “become more nuanced.” Whatever you want to call it, I’m convinced you need to know them, and they need to know you. It might be a carefully edited version of you, (but don’t think you can fool people), but they need to believe they understand you to trust you. You will also likely benefit from being able to trust (at least under a limited set of conditions) other people. Or you’ll know that they will never trust you, or that you can’t trust them. Knowledge is power.

And of course, so are resources. Keep stacking.

nick

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Thur. Sept. 7, 2023 – boy howdy, it sure is hot

Hot AND humid. Like that was gonna change… It was extra hot yesterday though, and so I was moving a bit slowly for anything involving exposure to the flaming fusion fire in the sky.

I did my doctor appointment in the morning and was only a little late. Had a chance to talk with a neighbor about one of the other neighbors- I took the opportunity to get an update on his health and that of his ailing wife. They’d both gone into care and we hadn’t heard much. Unfortunately she died, but he’s doing OK for values of OK. Anyway meatspace put me behind, and google made it worse by not knowing exactly where the office and entrance were. Then I couldn’t find the office in the building. Normally I’d have arrived with plenty of time to get sorted, but meatspace…

Involving ourselves with other people sometimes has costs, large or small, and is sometimes messy. Still needs to happen.

I am more convinced of this than ever. You need to be a part of a group/community/circle of acquaintances. It’s like the root level certificates, someone will need to vouch for you at some point, and you will need to be ABLE to vouch for someone else… people will need to know who you are and think well of you, or at least have no reason to not think well of you. To succeed, the right people need to be in your circle. That has always been true on many levels and there isn’t any reason to think that will change. What makes them think well of you might change.

John the forensic accountant may not be valuable to anyone but John the hobbyist leather worker might. Johnny the hobbyist gunsmith might be of some use, but Joan the goatherd and part time vet tech is certainly going to be. And Juanita the cheesemaker is going to be a hero. Depending on how this whole collapse/reset/global realignment thing goes, of course. Maybe the ‘freedom squads’ will need John the forensic accountant to find the stolen money and the next step in the network of traitors most of all.

In any case, strengthen your ties to people in the real world. Know who is selling what, what they need, and where you might get it for them… Do people favors. Let them do some for you. Build some trust. You don’t need to know their kids’ names, but if they tell you they have kids, it’s helpful to remember that and ask about it once in a while… normal in-person stuff, that I’m sure isn’t that normal for many people here, or even out there in the modern world. Build some connections where we’ve been intentionally isolated and fragmented.

And stack stuff. Having stuff can’t hurt, and might make a real difference in your life, or someone else’s.

nick

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Sun. Sept. 3, 2023 – more work, some play if I’m lucky…

It started out reasonably warm, and then got reasonably hot. Not scorching, but hot enough that I tried to stay in the shaded areas most of the day. Didn’t manage it when I was doing all the grass cutting though. I was seeing low 100s most of the afternoon and evening.

So after getting a bit crispy weed whacking and riding around on the mower, and blowing all the debris off the concrete driveways, patio, and various other hardscapes… I switched to playing with water to try to get some more areas covered by sprinklers. Some of it went easy, some, not so much.

I found several breaks by backfeeding the area I wanted to get working. One was a buried valve that had been leaking for some time. The retaining wall above it had sagged at that point, so it must have been years. In the same hole I found a drainage pipe completely filled with a 5″ root. Takes a while for a 5″ root to grow. There was another broken drainage pipe right next to it, but it only has dirt and stones in it. I might try waterjetting it, but I don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. Probably joins the other one that ends up in the lake. That might be a case of letting sleeping dogs lie.

Old boy ran several valves for zone control of his irrigation system, but he buried them near the zone and ran the control wires to the valves. Most installations have a manifold with valves in one place, and then run the zone pipes from there. I guess he thought running more conduit and wire was easier than running the water pipe. Seems nuts to me. And both control and supply are run willy nilly, without any logic that I can discover.

I’m a fan of DIY, and I’m sympathetic to “making do” and “making it work” and even “I know it’s not exactly right but it’ll last long enough..” but there are GOOD REASONS for doing stuff the way other people do it, and the way code requires it. NOBODY buries valves in the middle of the yard. Repeatedly. They might cluster them in the little hand hole boxes, or the big boxes, but they aren’t designed for direct burial. They need service and attention, which is difficult if you have to dig up the yard to find them. And if they leak, you won’t know it (as he and I found out.)

Systems should be ‘discoverable’ meaning someone else should be able to figure them out later, based on what they can see, and what the system does as they manipulate it. They also need to be maintainable. And if there is a standard, formal or informal, they should follow it as much as possible. The parts are designed to fit together and make it easier to use them in a standard configuration.

From a prepping standpoint, you might not be there! All your preps do no good if whoever is there can’t use them. From starting a generator, to running a water filter, or operating a solar system, or even accessing your secure storage (physical or cyber), make sure your systems are documented, discoverable, and maintainable. If you hide stuff, SOMEONE else should know where. If you have stuff, someone else should know it’s there somewhere. You don’t even have to be dead. You could be stuck somewhere else and your family needs your preps. You could be sick, or incapacitated, or on the run…

I admit that I’m deficient in this area. My wife could start and run the gas gennie. When I switched it to propane, she got a tour and demo, so she knows it’s different, but she hasn’t had to run it. She knows there are food, medical, cooking, and water supplies, but might not know the extent. She knows where to look though, and she knows how to use the individual pieces, or the instructions are on the gear and she’s used similar. I’m even starting with the kids, showing them where stuff is, and what it’s for.

Ideally, there is time to train everyone on everything, but in reality, even if they are willing, and you are willing, there always seems to be something more critical, or desirable that takes priority. If SHTF happens, their focus will change, and hopefully you’ll be there to walk them through it then. REALLY HOPEFULLY you never have to use any of it. We know that chances are, you’ll use some of it at some point though.

So stack it up. But also make sure you aren’t the nail that is missing from the horseshoe..

nick

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Sat. Sept. 2, 2023 – I’m going to try to keep my Labor Day commie free…

Much cooler at the BOL than in Houston. I’m sure it will still be hot in the afternoon, but it’s very nice in the evening, and got chilly last night.

I got through my errands yesterday and finally got the truck loaded, and my butt in the seat. Made it to the BOL without incident. It’s a DUI “No refusal” weekend in Texas, so there were a lot of cops out and several people pulled over. I just locked the cruise control and drove like normal.

Of course it was dark when I got here so I don’t know for sure what I’m facing today for maintenance, but I’m assuming all the normal things- cut the grass, blow the leaves, then start on the projects. I don’t mind the work and it feels good to look at the completed job and know I did it. Still, there is a lot of work…

There’s plenty at home too, and sometimes there is something extra. I had to clear ice out of one of the freezers before I left home. It was keeping the door cracked open, and everything had defrosted except the roasts. Fortunately I saw the water on the floor and investigated. We didn’t lose much, one bag of pot stickers, and we might lose the bread when it re-freezes. That particular fridge/freezer is mostly convenience foods and they are all vac sealed and pre-cooked so should be fine as they never got warm. We’ll be eating the roasts soon anyway, just to be sure. Could have been bad to come home to it in several days so I’m glad to have caught it. Still, it was a task that wasn’t on the list and pushed everything back.

One thing I don’t recall sharing is my belief that you should have enough empty coolers to move one whole freezer to coolers if you have a problem. I buy them cheap at yard sales, estate sales, and occasionally in the returns auctions. We use them to move food between home and the BOL, we use them for drinks for the kids’ sporting events, and if we have a party. You can use them for “hay box” cooking too in bad or in normal times. It’s a great way to cook corn on the cob, for example.

Coolers are an essential prep. If you don’t already have several, think about stacking a few more. At least keep your eyes open for them. And BTW, all the parts that break are available and fairly cheap, so it’s easy to rehab one if it needs a latch, hinge, or drain plug. I keep parts for Colman and Rubbermaid in stock, and I always buy them if I see them at a sale. I consider cracks in the interior to be a no sale, but you can just seal them with marine sealant, if you are looking for a really cheap one, or you fix and keep one for backup. I also don’t think it’s necessary to buy a yeti or similar. Ordinary Colman, especially the better models, work just fine for a day or two.

Backups for your major systems are a Good Think ™.

Stack ’em up.

nick

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Tues. Aug. 1, 2023 – ti- ai- ime AIN’T on my side, no it ain’t

Hot and humid. Hit 114F in part sun. Hit 106F in the shade. More of the same today, I think. It was so hot, I sat in the shade and in the house talking with my fisherman buddy.

At some point he saw a squirrel in the yard and pointed it out. There is a guy up here that hates squirrels and shoots them, which my buddy hates. As he put it, that is food for when things get really tough. That led me to bring up season 9 of “Alone” which I’ve mentioned here recently. They were shooting and snaring squirrels, pretty successfully, and still starving slowly. At 250 calories per squirrel, there isn’t much food on them. I pointed that out, and that everyone up here would be hunting the same squirrel, deer, and piggies if it drops in the pot. He was convinced he’d be getting plenty of game, so I played along. Who’s watching the wife and grandkids while he’s hunting? More extended family.

Oh, so now you’re feeding 20 people on squirrel and other game, same as everyone else up here. Yeah, but we aren’t JUST eating that… OK, what else are you eating? We’ll be eating from the garden. Which garden? We’ll plant one, we’ve got seeds stored up. OK, what do you eat for the months you are waiting for the harvest? Got six months of food stored? Hmmm. No. Ok, got six weeks? Hmmm. No.

So how do you feed the guards? What about all the other folks who show up looking for food? We’ll tell them “no”. What if they insist? They can try, we’ll shoot them. And what about the next ones? Shoot them too. And if they are hungry kids? Hmmm. OK, now you are the bad guy, and everyone decides you don’t deserve to have your food and stuff so they burn you out and take it.

Hmm.

There has been a lot of what Bruce Schneier calls “movie plot” thinking going on up here. One response, but no thought for second or third order effects.

I still think this is a lot better place to ride out any trouble, but some people haven’t given it enough thought, or considered the reactions and actions of other people. Hopefully he’ll do just that now that I’ve planted a seed.

Today if I get a chance I’ll ask him for a rough census of the deer and piggy population. That should get him thinking about how viable living off the land might actually be. He does know the area intimately, and the people that he knows he knows well. He didn’t know there was an outlaw biker clubhouse only 12 miles away though. And there are lots of places out in the country to do bad things without anyone noticing. I’m betting that at least some of the “abandoned” buildings have occupants, or users that you wouldn’t want to meet, or know what they are up to.

If I can get him to think beyond “I’ll hunt and so I’ll have food” to the idea EVERYONE will be hunting for that same food, maybe we can make some better plans.

The problem is bigger than here and what to do here. The wuflu panic had people in cities buying any piece of land in the country they could get, especially if it was near an amenity like a lake. Everyone that knows anyone in the country will be looking to head there if they can. Everyone who has been to a boy scout or girl scout, or church retreat camp will think it might be a better place to be than a burning city. But the countryside, by and large, doesn’t have the resources for a massive influx of people.

And the folks already here won’t be super happy to share. Which brings me neatly around to the idea that IF you think you might end up wanting to ‘head for the hills’ you better do it NOW and start getting yourself established. At least get your foot in the door, so you aren’t part of a wave of refugees. You’ll still be the new guy, but if you work for it, when they circle the wagons, you might be inside the circle, instead of outside.

I’m trying hard to be in the circle, and I think it’s paying off. Get busy working a plan. And stack, so you don’t show up empty handed.

nick

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