Fri. Oct. 16, 2020 -busy day

Hot and humid?  Or the cold front gets here and it’s cool and humid.  Either way, humid.


edit–  cold.  61F and misty drizzle at 7am.

Thursday was mostly nice, with some nasty moments of humidity.   I got all of my antennas back up, which meant I was up on the roof.   Even in the shade, with dead calm the humidity had me dripping sweat off my nose.

I cleared some shelves and moved several bins of auction stuff out of the house and onto the shelves.  I can’t have it just sit there while waiting to go to auction.  I’ll take the cleaning supplies and paper goods back to my secondary location.    It helped.   There are 4 bins that aren’t sitting in the foyer…

I did some small things in the garage.  Had to make some adjustments to the roll up door.  Somehow the cables got off their guide grooves on one side and the door wasn’t closing parallel to the ground.  It only took a half hour, but it’s always nerve wracking working around that spring.  Slow and steady, carefully considered- that’s the way to do it.

One advantage of working on stuff is getting a much clearer idea how it really works.  The first time working on the door had a bunch of discovery.  This time, I saw what was wrong very quickly and just fixed it.

I had to do a bit of repair on my discone scanner antenna.  Somehow during handling it I broke off two of the ‘cone’ elements.  They are hollow tubes with a threaded stud inserted into one end.  The stud pulled out of the tube.  I couldn’t re-crimp the tube, so I silver soldered them back together.  Worked well, and that’s another thing I bought far in advance of need.  I have no idea where or when I got the silver solder and flux, but I knew it was exactly what would be needed to fix something.  The antenna probably would still be 90% without the two elements, but it didn’t take long to fix them, and I had the stuff ready.  I’ll screw them back into the antenna today or tomorrow.  I’m listening to the scanner now, so some degradation didn’t make too much difference.

I finally got the feed line attached for my UHF antenna that I intend to use to D/L weather maps from the satellites.  (That’s the plan anyway.)  All the talk of using the SDR dongle for other things motivated me (since I was up on the roof anyway) to complete that antenna install.  Now I just have to get a PC set up with the software and get the dongle running again.

I got my Instacart grocery deliveries today too.  I found some cuts of beef on sale, although not the killer deal of the last couple of times.  More food in the freezer makes me feel better.  I added frozen fruit and vegetable mix as well as more bread.   My wife is making smoothies for breakfast and likes the frozen fruit for that.  Now that I have the additional freezer space, I can accommodate her.  (frozen fruit is a definite  luxury in prepping terms, if push comes to shove, I’ll reclaim the freezer space for meat or other protein.)

Today I’ll be doing some auction pickups.  I got a bunch of household stuff, and what I believe to be an RV sized battery charger/inverter.  It was $3 so worth the gamble.  I also got a small Dometic camping toilet, suitable for in vehicle use and at least part of a Dakota Alert driveway monitor.  There was a lot of camping stuff in the auctions this week, but I’m full up.  I’m actually looking to sell several coleman lanterns and maybe a stove or two.  I’m a whole lot less interested in keeping them in my “here you go, here’s a disaster kitchen” boxes than I was.  My teats are running dry of the milk of human kindness at the moment.

I’ll leave you with that unfortunate image burning in your brain, and suggest that you take what time and resources you have, and keep improving your position.  The easiest way is to keep stacking!



Wed. Oct. 7, 2020 – nothing clever left to say

Cool and dry, hurricane headed right for us, although the model says it’ll turn.

Which is good because I’ve got stuff to do. Roofer will be back Monday, ready to finish by Tuesday unless there is rain or the storm track is wrong. That means I’ve got stuff to move and clear away from around the house.

Add it to the list.

Home all day because my wife’s at work. I’ll have plenty to do.

Making room for the next load (or just making room), keep stacking.


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

Hot and humid.  Storm and rain possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thur. Sept. 10, 2020 – getting close to the day

Hot and humid, hopefully less so than yesterday.

Yesterday,  when it was hot and humid.  Until the rain came, then it was hot and UNBEARABLY humid.  Bah.

I got the grass cut.  I did my errands.  That was it.  Rain killed the rest of the plan.

Today, I was going to do a “ok you just realized you don’t have enough stuff stacked, what do you do?” post but I fell asleep.  I’ll do it in comments.

Cuz y’all need to keep stacking.



Wed. Sept. 9, 2020 – still stuff to do

Hot and humid, but less so.  I really do think we may be over the hump.

I mostly spent yesterday afternoon driving.  I picked up a couple of things I probably could have easily done without.  I’m backsliding.

It was too wet to cut the grass or work outside.  We got little showers throughout the day.    I spent the morning sleeping.   Too beat to consider almost 3 hours of driving around.  Not a productive use of my time.

Today I’ve got pickups, and some of the stuff is preps so there is that.  I got mortar, cement, other project stuff, and various sundries.  The guns and ammo went for too much, but they did have some.  556 brought 70c/rd before adding fees and taxes.  One box of 100, name brand FMJ 9mm went for $53 plus about 25% for tax and fees.     All the rifles went for big money, and the pistols went for more than gunbroker prices.  There were a couple of accessories to be had cheaply though.    I should be able to get the auctioneer to commit to my consignment arriving tomorrow.  I’ll get that loaded up later in the afternoon if he will commit.

And if the rain stays away, I’ll get the grass cut.  Fingers crossed.

My ag extension planting guide says it’s time for fall beans and peas, and almost time for fall root veg.  I’ll get some beans and peas in, and get the beds ready for the roots.  Dark green leafies are due too, but I don’t know if I’ll try them again this fall.  Geez I feel like Charlie Brown and the football with this gardening business.

But hey, social unrest, civil war, crime, disease, economic collapse, famine- all possible; some almost guaranteed.   Time’s a wasting.  Keep stacking.



Sat. Sept. 5, 2020 – In which I go out on a limb…

Hot and humid, but maybe less so than last week.

I basically wasted the whole day yesterday.  Some very minor stuff got done, but I spent a bunch of time sleeping at my desk.

Today I’ve got yardwork and all the stuff I didn’t do yesterday.  Joy.


I’ve stopped checking covid medical news daily, or even weekly. If something catches my eye, I’ll scan it, but for the most part, now that the disaster is here, I’ve switched from “getting ready” to “deal with it” mode.

My wife is keeping an eye on the medical news for both of us.

Funny thing is happening. I’m seeing articles confirming stuff from WAY back at the beginning of this. Like this article

Coronavirus can spread throughout apartment blocks by flushing the toilet: Three Chinese families on different floors all became infected after virus spread through plumbing

Or the stuff about HCQ with azithromycin and zinc- there was a guy in the comments at Aesop’s blog VERY early on with a lot of info about this.

The reports of heart and lung damage that were dismissed early on, are now backed up with evidence from infections here.

The idea you could get it again was there as early as Feb/Mar with reports from China, and yet this is just now news?*

My observation is that there was plenty of good info very early, at least in some circles, and that much of what got reported after that was trying to downplay (or wishfully deny) what was known; or it was interpreted thru a political viewpoint. That is also why I’ve stepped back from following every report obsessively, once politics got involved everything became distorted. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. There is a virus, it is here, it is killing some people, and I don’t want to get it.


Some things are still true:

If you are old or sick you are more likely to have a bad outcome. If you need to be hospitalized your chances of dying are high. (Just on its face this makes sense- you only hospitalize serious cases.)

There are long term effects, and some of them are serious. Since we didn’t have long term survivors we didn’t (and don’t) have a good handle on what those are. The ones we are seeing are potentially life changing.

Random interactions don’t seem to have high transmission, but if you are unlucky enough to come in contact with a ‘super spreader’ your chances of getting sick and having it bad are much higher. There are a lot of ‘super spreaders’ but they seem to be widely dispersed.

Enclosed spaces and groups are a bad idea.  Wherever we see groups together for any length of time, we see cases.  Oddly to me, about 15% of the group seems to get sick, where I’ve seen good numbers.

This is going to be with us for a long time, basically until everyone who can get it does.

<strong>Consequently, the only official high level strategy goal that matters was and is to manage the number of concurrent cases to try to keep from overwhelming and destroying the health care system.</strong>** Everything else is opportunism or revisionism.

Finally, it bears repeating that there is no one “coronavirus”. There are dozens of different strains spreading and they have different aspects and different outcomes. Just because Johnny got strain x and had no real problems doesn’t mean that if he’d gotten strain y he’d have had the same experience. And it doesn’t mean that if Jane gets strain x she’ll be fine.

We are going to be living with this for a long time. Accept that, get used to that, adjust to that, and get ready for what’s next. The social and economic effects are just getting started. No matter how you feel about the medical effects on you personally or on the country and the world, the social and economic changes WILL affect you. That’s the next storm I see coming, and it’s what I’m preparing for. I sincerely hope I’ll be OVER-prepared, just as it turned out that I am over-prepared for the covid pandemic.  Not only am I replacing used or spoiled material,  I’m adding to the pile, including materiel.  I kindly suggest that you too keep stacking- skills, knowledge, connections, and stuff.


*yeah, no one trusts the chinese, and scientists don’t trust anecdotal evidence, and now finally they have cases in the Western world that absolutely can’t be arm-waved away, or ‘what about’-ed to death.

**This goes all the way back to the initial briefings by CDC and their pandemic flu planning. And it worked. NYFC lost control, didn’t take the necessary steps, and did have bodies pile up outside of overwhelmed hospitals. That could have been everywhere (although worldwide it seems to be worse where the population density is higher than the average US density), and it could have continued longer. The ONLY realistic goal has been to try manage the number of active cases.


Thur. July 23, 2020 – “I fell in love with her ______ ______”

Hot and raining, at some point today.  Hot now.

Yesterday was both too…

I did my auction pickup, and arranged for my auction drop off next Monday.  That’s a delay in when I wanted to get the stuff out of my place, but it works better for the auctioneer.  I’ve got more auction pickups today.  One of them is another fridge, that can be set so that top and bottom can be either fridge or freezer.  Pretty cool.  Might flip it.  Might keep it.  Haven’t decided.  Seems a bit like overkill.  But since there is no such thing*… I must be wrong.

Hurricane season is (maybe) offering us a glimpse of the future.  Gaylord or Gaspacho, or Gazprom, or something anyway is headed right for us.  Supposed to just be a warm up storm.  Just a bit of a reminder to replenish any supplies used up during the lockdown and top up the preps for the season.  Just a warm up, the real storms are yet to come.

Random thought, I miss having a calendar blotter on my desk.  I’ve got a couple of sheets of paper that I jot notes on, but I just realized that what I really want is the blotter I used to have.   I miss my old paper schedulers too.  I used to go through them every couple of years and remind myself what I accomplished.  Just moving the birthdays and anniversaries to the next year’s book forced a review of the year.  I spent some time going through my dad’s day books when I cleared out his desk.  I really don’t think anyone will be sifting through my google calendar to get a feel for the beginning of my marriage, or the first few vacations with my wife and kids.  I can’t imagine them sifting through terabytes of files named like img0056-2020-09-21-1941.jpg either.  Most likely none of it will even be readable.

Meanwhile, the march to war continues under the radar, until the smoke from burning espionage darkens the horizon.  THEN it seems sudden and reckless.   We see only the fin, rarely the shark, sometimes only the ripples in the water.  Sometimes we only feel the pressure wave as it passes by.  And sometimes, you’re bleeding out from your stump.  Bad times are coming.  Moderately bad times are already here.

Start building up your reserves.  Of what?  Everything.  Patience and stamina most of all.

Keep stacking.



* Maxim 37. There is no ‘overkill.’ There is only ‘open fire’ and ‘I need to reload.’


Oh yeah, the title.  A song lyric I can’t get out of my head.  It probably isn’t what you think, but points to the first one to nail it…

Thur. July 16, 2020 – I think that’s right…

Hot and hot and hot today.  Overcast in the morning, scorching sun in the afternoon.   That’s MY prediction, without even looking at a map or satellite images.

‘Cuz that’s what it was like yesterday, and the day before too.

I spent most of the day alternating between cleaning in the garage, and working on my daughter’s dresser, and doing other auction stuff.  I had to water the garden, the sprinklers weren’t getting enough water where it was needed for the melons.  I’ll have to take a look today and see if they’ve changed, or if it’s just that dang hot.  The pool was noticeably lower so my wife topped it up this evening.  And then started reading the newest Harry Dresden novel… while the hose ran.   Sometime around 11pm I noticed the water running.  Oh my, the water bill is going to be high this month too…

One of the things that is hard to stockpile effectively is two part epoxy adhesive.  It will eventually kick off in the tube over time.   I try to pick up a package every so often so I have a fresh one if I need it.  I haven’t picked one up recently enough I guess.  I’ll be using other glues on the dresser, but it would have been nice to use some epoxy on certain of the repairs.  Super glue will also get hard in the tubes, and super glue is incredibly useful.  Eventually, if things go downhill enough, some things just won’t be replaceable.

And because of the chemistry of soft plastics, lots of otherwise functional things either crumble (like the shoes I’ve been wearing this week), get sticky (like half the radio stuff in the garage, and the cruise control buttons in my Ranger), or turn white and corrode to powder.  There’s a reason .mil gear looks like it does, and not like consumer product.  Consumer product just won’t last anymore.  I’d like to think that no one expected cheap FRS radios to last more than a couple of years, so it wouldn’t be a big deal when the antenna covers and plastic knobs failed.  On the other hand, I suspect they see it as a feature and not a bug.   If you’re looking for long term use and longevity, avoid soft plastics and overmolds.

Dinner was chicken tacos, from canned costco chicken, lawry’s chicken taco spice pouch, and fixin’s from the fridge.  The pouch spices were in date, the chicken was BB 2017.  It was just as good as when it was made.  The canned white chicken chunks and a variety of easy meal spice packs makes for a lot of tasty and easy food.  Mexican, indian, chinese, and others are all things I’ve made and pouches I keep on hand.  Add some rice and you can stretch for another 2-4 people or get two meals out of it.

Today will be more of the same.  It’s like Groundhog Day here at Casa De Nick.   Keep stacking.  Neatly if you can manage it…




(and if you haven’t already, drop Barbara a card… addy is on her site.)

Wed. July 8, 2020 – lots of errands today

Hot and wet.  Possible storms.  Joy.

Tuesday was a bit cooler in the afternoon.  We almost got some rain in the morning, which should have increased the humidity but actually didn’t do too much.   Overcast helped keep the temps down.   The attic at my client’s house was only 96F and had a max high temp of 112F recorded.  Cool really.

I did go over to my client’s to chase internet and networking issues.  Found more lightning damage.  The Silicon Greybeard has shared some of his lightning strike travails on his blog.  Basically, everything in the house is suspect now that we’ve established that there was damage on some things.   I’ll be swapping out gear for the next year as it dies early and mysterious deaths.

Dinner was ribs from the freezer.  My wife did the honors while I was working.  Sides from the fridge, and pasta.  Not much long term storage, and no canned corn…

Today I’ve got to pick up a truck load of auction items.  Shopping for the wife’s list kinda got out of hand.  I ended up getting some stuff to resell, and some stuff for my various hobbies.  I took a gamble on one item I hope is a light bar for my truck.  Couldn’t quite make it out, but I wasn’t the only one bidding it up.  Hopefully the other guy was sure it was something desirable and not just following me 😉

The news hasn’t been screaming about cases this week, but they are still going up.  Deaths are up a bit, not enough for a trend but basically right on time.   Aesop has his hands full at his ER in Cali, and reports are that the ERs here in Texas are about full.  Florida is headed there too.

Economic impacts and real world effects are starting to hit locally.  Our city councilwoman told one of my neighbors that the city might have to hire contractors to catch up with heavy trash pickup.  They’re 2 weeks late this Friday.  She said too many city employees were out sick.   I’m seeing a lot more shuttered businesses this week too.  LOTS of empty storefronts in some parts of town, where I don’t expect to see them.  Even the Habitat for Humanity reStore on the north side of town  was closed down to “help keep everyone safe”.  And FFS people, update your website if you close your business.

Tomball Ford was running their $20K off list ad again, only this time they included Expedition, along with F series trucks.   Lots of lesser deals on other vehicles too.

If there are things you think you’ll need in the next year, you might want to start getting them while you can.  Maintenance parts, cleaning stuff, “just in case” like toilet rebuild kits, rake and shovel handles, etc. are all going to be in short supply if this keeps up.  I don’t see it getting better soon.  Think about how many batteries you’ll burn through if you have a community watch in your neighborhood running those little GMRS or FRS radios…   Start thinking about clothes too.  You probably have closets full, but do they fit?  Will they fit if you lose or gain weight?  Most of the clothes and cloth come from China and other far away shirtholes, as do most of the shoes and boots.

Anyway, the knock on effects of closing down our economy are starting.   The effects of our third world suppliers losing big chunks of their workers, either temporarily or permanently, are just starting to show up.

Time to stack it high…