Thur. April 8, 2021 – things are coming to another head

Wet and cooler, or possibly wet and warm. But probably wet.

Wednesday was mostly overcast with bits of sun poking through every now and then. The light rain started late, 10pm or later, and was really just a heavy mist. And it was still 68F so pretty dank.

Mostly did housework, then got the youngest from school. Did my auction pickup with her riding along. She was not amused. I got some fishing gear, and another propane camp stove, and a bunch of ebay stuff that sells well, but only in spurts. Been a bit slow lately but it won’t spoil and doesn’t take too much space. It will sell later.

Got a quote back from the electrician. He’ll install the transfer switch for $450 but doesn’t want anything to do with the gennie. That’s fine, I’ll get a plumber to do the gas, and I’ll do the hookup once the switch is in place. I won’t have to do anything live, or inside my panelboard that way. Just need to find the time and schedule him.

Today should be more of the same, especially if it’s raining. Plenty to do indoors.

And I’m getting anxious again. Biden is going to try his luck with Executive Orders that infringe the right to keep and bear arms. Weird stuff is going on in world finance. It’s possible that the MN cop won’t get railroaded, but there will certainly be riots either way. People are starting to talk about inflation the same way they have started to talk about Civil War- both seem increasingly inevitable. The chinaflu lockdown only suppressed and delayed those things, while also exacerbating them. When the tinder lights, it’s going to get really ugly, really fast. People will surely say “It happened so suddenly, it came out of nowhere” and for them, it will have. For the rest of us though, it’s been coming for a long time.

Thoughts like these make me want to stack all the things.

n

(I had a thought today- if you were watching this, and prepping through it for the last year, and LIVING actively and consciously, you probably lost weight or stayed even for the last year. If you were just sitting idle, waiting for the all clear, pissed that your tinder matches are all disappointments, you probably gained weight. I’d be interested to see the ant vs grasshopper distribution on gaining or losing weight….)

Tues. April 6, 2021 – what am I paying you for???

Cool and clear, warming throughout the day. I hope.

Monday was partly cloudy and warm, with a hint of cool in the breeze once I got out of town. My client is about 30 miles outside of Houston, all freeway or country road, and the weather out there is always cooler than in town. They got through the freeze without much trouble. He’s got a big whole house generator, that FAILED to start, but they were only dark for 3 hours. The company that maintains and services the gennie, specifically so it starts when needed, sent out a guy right away and solved the issue, but they never needed the gennie again. Some switch was left in the wrong position. Anything can fail. Standby generators with automatic switches seem to be especially prone to failure, maybe for the same reason that “emergency food” universally tastes horrible- no one really expects to use it. In this case, they lose power frequently. The gennie gets used. It gets ‘exercised’ every week automatically. A service guy comes by regularly and maintains it. And it still failed to start automatically.

They had one outside plumbing line break during the three dark, windy, and very cold hours (no power, no well pump, no trickle for the faucet). There are a couple of lessons in this whole tale, including one that isn’t very obvious. His plumbing is all pex homeruns from a manifold in the attic. He could have simply closed the valves on the lines leading to outside faucets, and then opened the faucets to drain, without affecting the rest of the house. His plumber had him do that afterwards to stop the leaking at the faucet until he could come by and fix it. Simple right? But if you don’t know how your systems work, or what their capabilities are, even very smart people can miss straightforward preventative measures, and simple fixes.

So how did my actual work go? The problem was two pieces of gear got out of sync, probably during the power outage, and a reboot cleared the issue. While I was there anyway, I cleaned the outdoor TVs and cleaned all the camera domes. We talked about the rip and replace, and that will be going forward now. Just have to work out the design, get all the gear ordered, and find the time for an install, and we’ll be good to go.

Today I’m hoping for a dropoff at my ‘industrial’ auction house, but IDK if that will happen or not. I’m sure I can find more to do. Like paperwork for taxes- I spent the first part of my day yesterday doing Jan-June. Plenty more in that pile that needs doing.

In fact, plenty of stuff to do. I should really get started.

If you don’t have a list of what you need to do before CWII or the economic collapse really get going, you might want to make one. Just sayin’. Then you’ll have a better idea what to stack. And you KNOW you need to get stacking.

nick

Thur. Mar. 18, 2021 – whew, missed the green beer again…and all the puking

Comfortable, sunny, breezy, and nice.  That’s what I’m hoping for, we’ll see what we get.  We had all the kinds of weather yesterday.  Overcast, thunderstorms, drizzle, sunshine, wind and rain.  We even had a few minutes of ‘very nice.’   Today, the national forecast has Houston in the clear.

Didn’t get a whole heck of a lot done yesterday, that couldn’t have been done more efficiently and more quickly by someone who was motivated.  Keeping my motivation up, and keeping moving forward is harder some days than others.  But Summer is Coming, and with it the most common threat around these parts- hurricanes.  Also on the way are un- somethingly hot and humid days.   I’ve got a limited time to do a bunch of stuff that is SO MUCH easier when it’s not in the 90s for both heat and humidity.

I feel a bit like I’m going through one of those periods like RBT did when he kept posting that he probably wouldn’t be posting  much, but then he posted more.  I keep saying the same thing every day- “I’ve got so much to do” but then I don’t do it….   grrrr.  External deadlines… I need them.

I built three or four careers around meeting externally imposed deadlines.  It’s in my blood.   Internally imposed?  Not so much.  I’ve never been good at that.  My 10 year plan took me 15 years.   I did eventually accomplish it all, but it was both simple and complicated.   Get my finances in order.  Find a good woman and marry her.   Buy a house.  Start a family.    Simple right?  15 years to get there from where I started.

Live through whatever is coming and get my family through it, doesn’t have the same concreteness, and yet it’s an arguably simpler goal.  After all, it’s mostly just “continue living”.  And how hard can that be?  Weeeeelllllll, that depends, doesn’t it?  And it strikes right to the heart of a preparedness lifestyle.

“Live through” – but implied is not just survive, but do it with style, without drama, with simplicity and grace.  Succeed, not just endure.  Coming out the other end as a starving refugee is better than not coming out, but far from the ideal of being in a position to thrive when things get better.

“Whatever is coming”- bad things are ALWAYS coming.  Good things too and sometimes people forget to prep for them, but mostly we prep for the bad things and figure the good things will work themselves out.  Hurricanes and floods are the most likely natural disasters here.  But personal bad things- job loss, accidents, illnesses, death of a loved one- are the most common disasters everyone faces and if you aren’t prepping for them, you should be.

What other bad things are coming?

–Global pandemic was on the list but not top ten.  Ebola convinced me to take the possibility seriously and to prep for it ‘for realz’.  H/T to Aesop for that.  And HEY LOOKIE!  Global pandemic is here.  I’m in restocking mode, but I could still be comfortably pulling TP from stock after a year, and that’s with three females in the household.  How much is too much vs now you have none?  You will have to find your own balance, but I’m usually on the side of ‘more’.

–Slow economic collapse, worldwide depression.   RBT changed my mind about this, and changed my planning horizon.  Now I think we’re already started on this one.   It’s harder to prep for because the length of time involved is so great, and because the number one prep – piles of money – doesn’t work so well with the most likely cause, ie. hyperinflation.  There are steps you can take and preps you can make though.  Unless you like the taste of domestic animals and the local fauna, food is your best prep.  Putting your stored up life energy (ie. the product of your work) in something that will survive a currency collapse is a good idea too.  If you can’t get your stored up life (money) somewhere safe , or if you haven’t managed to store much up, you need to look for ways to use what remains  to continue working through a collapse.  Rental income streams were my go-to plan for that, but I didn’t factor in a government that would steal from the landlords.   I’m busy rethinking and looking for additional streams.  Skills involving making and repairing are looking pretty good.

–War.  Internal or external.  Both are bad.  Both involve hardship and privation.   Internal would also include economic collapse.  External might involve a currency collapse, or might be triggered by more monetary trickery, or it could pull the economy up out of the dumps.  So many flavors are possible, with contradictory effects.   Very little of it is likely to be good on an individual level though.   Internal war is looking more and more likely every day, with Balkanization being the most likely outcome.   Where you are is going to be VERY important if that happens and your number one prep.

There are other bad things that could be coming, some far more unlikely than others, but not impossible.  First contact with aliens would be a game changer, for example.   It’s also unlikely to go well for us, but most of the things that would be likely to happen get covered by preps for the other biggies.  Room temperature superconductors, fusion energy, radical life extension, those might fall into the ‘good thing’ column but would also be disruptive as heII.  True AI, self aware machines, grey goo, killer plagues, all somewhere on the list of things to consider, and then usually discount.  CME, EMP, space debris impacts, other ‘hand of God’ events, well, we’ll do what we can if something that big happens.  Having preps won’t hurt.

And then there is that last part of my goal- get my family through.  The everyday part of this is just to raise my girls to be competent human beings, and to make sure they have a good foundation for their lives on their own.   The prepping part is a bit more specific, but mainly for me it comes down to skills, attitude, and foundational beliefs.  What I think those should be would fill another few thousand words, and maybe I’ll spend the time to write those words down, but that will have to wait.  Right now, getting my family through means the physical stuff- preps in the traditional sense.   It means making sure we have the basics to survive and thrive in the most likely scenarios, and even some of the much less likely ones.   It means resilience and flexibility and adaptability.  It means stockpiles of stuff, and collections of skills and reference materials.  It means paying attention to possible threats, local and national and global.   It means engaging in the world around us with our minds and eyes open.  And it means planning for what comes next and putting resources in place to support those plans.

And of course it means STACKING.  Start stacking.  Keep stacking.  If you can’t stack stuff, stack knowledge and skills.   Stack people, relationships, networks.  Do it as a hobby.  Do it as a social activity.  Do it with passion, or with calculation and focus.   But Do It.

It’s never too late to start, it’s always too early to quit.

nick

added— welcome to any new readers!  Most of the best part of this place is not me, it’s the people who come together here and the conversation that happens.   Keywords are on the right, and may refer to the comments not the post, so always take a look at the comments.    Comments are always welcome, join the conversation if you like.   There is an astounding breadth and depth of knowledge in the people who come by and visit and hang out.  If you have questions or answers, please feel free.   There is an About link at the top of this page to explain why this place is the way it is.  Again, welcome.

Sat. Mar. 13, 2021 – Friday the 13th falls on a Saturday this month….

Today should be mid-80s, sunny, and dry.

Yesterday was beautiful like that, and I didn’t do or think of anything worth writing down.

Today I will work my list.  After sleeping in.   I’m so tired I can’t think straight and I’m falling asleep at stop signs.  So I’ll skip my non-prepping hobby meeting and sleep.

It’s a bit worrisome how tired I was this week…  we’ll see if plain old sleep helps.

Then I can get back to stacking…

 

nick

Thur. Mar. 11, 2021 – nothing on my mind

Cool, overcast, and damp.   Hopefully no rain.

Yesterday saw 70s with misty drizzle in some parts of town.   I got my windshield wet a couple of times while driving around.

Did my pickups.   Honda 6500 looks complete.   Gas and water in the gas tank.  I’ll take a few minutes and drain it soon.  I’ll need a few parts if it runs, but it’s in better shape than it looks.  The ladies who run that auction company and their families have avoided wuflu so far.  I gave them a big heads up before we got going over a year ago.   They had one employee positive, but it didn’t spread.  Masks and distance work.

Today I have to get over to my mechanic and get the rest of the stuff off my old Expy.  I need the roof rack, the xm and ipod interfaces for the radio, and the car seat.   There are a few other small things left from last time too.

Then I need to check out a couple of the links you guys sent me.  Lots of eyes make it easier on me, and I’m thankful for the help.

Short shrift today.   Nothing on my mind.   Kinda interesting seeing the Royal trainwreck  and the Doxy Duchess instead of Donald Trump in every news cycle…

Keep stacking needful things.

 

nick

Mon. Mar. 1, 2021 – glad that’s over with. Oh noes!! Here comes March!

We are supposed to get scattered T-storms, cooler temps, and locally heavy rain today.   I hope not.  I’ve got a dryer to install…

Yesterday was warm and moist all day.   Sweat dripping and uncomfortable with any exertion moist.  The wind and lack of sun were the only saving graces.  Yeah sure.  I guess I could have said, the warmer weather was a welcome visitor after last week’s record cold, with a springlike breeze providing a cooling action for any outdoor exertion.   I guess I’m not a professional liar like the folks on the Tee Vee.

I’m also not getting $2K to use my social influence to sell the city’s message like the cool kids in MN…  What am I doing wrong??  NO Russian media spend, no chinese bribery, no misguided city council money…   I guess I must still have my soul despite all those youthful attempts to trade it away.

I did get some stuff done around the house yesterday.  I’m almost finished with about all the yard work I’m willing to do.   I still have to run the sprinklers if we don’t get that “locally heavy rain” (and if they work), and spread some grass seed.   I’ve got most of a bag left and might as well use it.

I did some clearing out and organizing in my office.  Some being ‘very little but it’s a start’–  well, a continuation of what I started by moving my radios (a project I haven’t actually finished either.)  Still have plenty to do there…

Today, in theory, I’m installing a dryer and troubleshooting an A/C system at my rent house.  I’m hoping for a straight swap on the dryer, and something simple like a bad capacitor on the A/C.   The dryer died before the cold snap, the A/C might have been killed by cold, or the power going on and off.  I hope it’s just normal wear and tear though.  And of course, this is all inserted into my existing list of stuff that needs doing, without expanding the days in a week or hours in a day.  On the other hand, as long as .gov stays out of my business, rental property should be a pretty good hedge against inflation, if we’re not tied to a crazy long lease.

I think we’re going to need hedges against inflation.

And the way things are going, I’m making book on when we’ll see the first case of ebola outside of africa.  My record isn’t great, Biden made it to March… and the euro never did collapse, although Brexit did happen.  On the other hand, we are in the middle of a global pandemic.

The best advice I can think to give is HAVE REAL STUFF.  In other words…………… keep stacking.

nick

Sun. Feb. 28, 2021- no rest for the wicked…

Cool and probably raining.  High humidity if not rain.

Yesterday was mostly overcast with occasional sun, but got misty drizzle in the late afternoon.

I did some more cleanup.   Stacked some of the cut pecan tree.   Washed some stuff.   Raked.   I am going to be sore today.  Very glad the pressure washer survived being frozen.  It’s common for the pumps to split if they freeze with water in them.   I guess mine sat long enough before the freeze that it was dried out.

Headed over to the rent house later today to look at the A/C and see if I can diagnose what the problem is, or at least decide if a pro needs to be involved.  I hope I don’t need the same part that everyone else needs.

Supply lines continue to be disrupted in Houston, and there are shortages of plumbing stuff you might not even think of.   People are offering crazy money for outdoor on demand hot water heaters.   And I have one new in the box… but.   It would set our own plan back 3-6 months, and any profit selling it would be eaten up when we needed to replace it with new for our install.   It’s going to continue sitting in storage, because we can’t (in good conscience) get a plumber to do the work now anyway.  We had one scheduled to give us a bid the day everything froze.   Seems like a waste to let it sit though while people don’t have hot water at home, so I might do some more thinking on the subject.

It occurs to me  that it is a bit difficult to tell if the high prices are organic supply vs demand driven or if it is inflation starting to take off.    SOME of it is organic, but I’m getting worried that we’re about to see inflation really take off, and that the rapid increase is masked by genuine real demand driven increases.  Historically the strategies for dealing with rapid inflation are simple.  Borrow money that you will pay back with devalued money and spend it on durable goods that you know you will need later, or that you can sell.  And spend every dime as soon as you get it on the same things.  Savers get destroyed by high inflation.  People who own real stuff have a buffer.  Those on fixed incomes get destroyed.  Make some plans.  Start moving on them.

I’m no financial genius, but gold isn’t crazy high at the moment (compared to some other things), if you can find some, and that makes me wonder what’s going on.  I mention it only in passing, and not as advice.   And I point out that Ferfal talks about the value of broken gold necklaces and bracelets in his book.  With a bracelet or necklace, you can just cut off an inch at a time… and Selco points out the value of wedding rings, you can feign a great deal of reluctance with a ring, and no one wonders if you have more stashed away.  Give some serious thought to a world where your savings are gone.  It happens all the time in other places.   It can happen here.   Our ‘reserve currency’ status won’t save us forever, foreign powers are working as hard as they can to obviate that advantage.  At some point they will succeed.   Think hard about this.

Stacking can help.   Stacking will help.   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

 

 

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

Mon. Feb. 15, 2021 – winter is here!

Cold, cold, cold.  Windy and cold.

22F at 1am when I got to bed.

Spent Sunday running around getting ready.   Details are pedestrian, and in the comments late yesterday….

We’ll see how today goes and if the forecast changes much.   I will probably add to what I’ve already got in place, and run the gennies just to be sure.   I might get some of the heaters set up too.  I’ve got a couple of Mr Heater Big Buddy heaters in the cabinet, and I have the hoses and filters to attach the BBQ bottle.  I should probably set at least one up like that just to see if it works.

I’m hoping the hype doesn’t play out, but if it does, I am doing what I can to be ready (above my normal readiness level anyway.)  The rest is out of my hands.

This is why we stack, so we can focus on the additional stuff, while the basics are covered.  So keep stacking.

 

nick