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…



Sun. July 5, 2020 – more of yesterday, with fewer fireworks

Hot again, although we are supposed to be on the edge of a weather system, so that might mess things up.

Yesterday was hot.  Humid and hot.  Some relief in the shade when the breeze was blowing, but overall, hot.

I got several little things done, or moved along a bit.  Got a log storage rack built and in place.  Stacked all the logs and sticks that were already cut to length.  I’ve still got a couple of limbs to cut to length and stack but I didn’t want to get the chainsaw out yesterday.  I’ll probably do that today.

I worked on getting some of the garage cleaned so I can get the new freezer in, and that wall of the garage rearranged.  It’s gonna take some work, and it’s hot.  All the stuff has to come out into the driveway for a while.  Some of it wouldn’t do well in the sun, so I’ve dithered.  It’s hard to stay focused and productive when it’s so hot.

I did pull two more bins of stuff to go to the local auction.  So many more to go through.

The daughter’s new bedroom paint color is purple.  REALLY purple.  She likes it.  That’s the important bit.  I love that she’s growing up, but I miss the little kid too.  Change.  It keeps happening, no matter what the world is doing around you.

Businesses are adapting to the current conditions.  Sherwin Williams has you order online, then do curbside pickup.  Lowes and Home Depot have online ordering with curbside too.  I waited about 10 minutes for my load of pool salt at HD.   The only downside is when an item isn’t really in stock, or when you would normally browse to what you want/need.   We’re used to instant or very near instant availability to almost everything.  That seems to be changing too.  Our pizza place was very busy.   The only obvious change is that their newly renovated dine in area was empty.   Some businesses will adapt, some will die.  I’m sure some completely new businesses will arise too.

After all, change is the only constant…

And the certainty that some sort of bad thing WILL happen.  So keep working on skills.  Keep building relationships.  Keep stacking.



Sat. June 27, 2020 – tired, stuff to do at secondary

Hot and humid.

Yesterday stayed relatively cool, and overcast with occasional sprinkles.  It made working in the attic doable.

Spent most of the day either getting ready to go to my client’s house, or at his house.  Got  a bunch of work done, but no tasks done.  I’ll be back over there on Monday.

Came home to dinner of Costco ‘heat and eat’ lamb shanks from the fridge, broccoli, and pasta from the pantry.  Yum.

I’m tired an sore from crouching in attics and being in the heat, moderate though it was.

Today I have to get out and do some stuff.  Also have yardwork and pool cleaning.  And an auction pickup.  Won a hobby item with a bid that I thought wouldn’t hold up.  Gotta pick it up, or they ban you.  So much to do instead of spending the drive time to get it.

At this point, I’d prefer to not be going anywhere or seeing anyone.

But I gotta keep stacking… and you should too.



Fri. June 26, 2020 – starting to get real…

Supposed to be cooler, but still humid today.  Mid 80s.

Yesterday stayed cool for a while but was still up in the high 90s in my driveway by early afternoon.  It was overcast until late in the day, which helped me by keeping temps in the attic down somewhat.  Still HOT, just less hot.  I didn’t have a thermometer with me, but last time I was up in this attic in summer it was 142F iirc. It started raining heavily around 2am, and added a couple of inches to the pool.  I’ll actually have to drain water out as soon as I get a chance.  We’ve gotten a ton of rain in the last few days.

I spent the morning messing around.  The afternoon and evening were spent at my customer’s house.  And I’ll be back there today.  I hope I get done.  He wants everything done before the 4th, and so do I.   They are having a ‘small gathering’ and I have no interest in being there after that, not for at least 3 weeks.

Dinner was two cornish game hens from the deep part of the freezer, at least a couple of years old.  Baked, stuffed with oranges, covered in jerk seasoning and garlic powder.  Delicious.  And so preciously tiny!  Sides were cheesy pasta from a pouch, BB 2018 and fine, and of course canned corn…  Dessert for me was more of the cookies from yesterday.

My buddy the hospital exec says he’s not worried.  They’ve got capacity, and the press and TMC hospitals are fearmongering.  Since TMC had to ‘clarify’ their earlier statements and reassure the audience for the 6pm news that “we’ve got plenty of resources to care for Houstonians, and there is too much panic in the community at the moment”, he is probably right, at least for now.  I’ll point out, it was panic which they helped whip up.

On the other hand, the Governor is getting briefed by someone, and he just pulled back on loosening restrictions.   Closer to home, my sometimes business partner thinks he’s caught a case of sweet and sour sicken.  He works in a hospital, and trusts their processes, but he’s definitely sick with flu like symptoms.  He’s running a fever and the symptoms have been getting worse.  I hope to know something from him in a day or two, and I hope he doesn’t have it.

Sun. June 21, 2020 – Fathers’ Day

Hot and humid.  Possibly rainy.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads.  Becoming a dad and raising my kids has been the best thing that ever happened to me.  It definitely changed my planning horizon  🙂

Yesterday did finally cool off a bit late in the day, but otherwise was hot and oppressively humid.  I was north of the city running my errands, and could see the storm cells south of me.  I did finally move south and got hammered by rain at my secondary location.  As I moved away from there, only a mile west, it was dry as a bone.

I stopped at an estate sale, with a seller that I like whose prices are always good, and LO! the upright freezer they had listed was still there.  Second day, discounted to $200.  It’s older but a good brand and was plugged in and very cold, so I grabbed it.  I’ll have to move even more stuff around in the garage to accommodate it…  Funny thing was, as I was chatting with one of the helpers (who I see and talk to fairly often at sales, and is a friend of a friend) he looked at me and said “how you gonna fill it with meat? Cuz prices are crazy and you can’t get a lot.”   It’s funny because I’ve been wondering the very same thing.  If nothing else I’ve got some redundancy and excess space for a while.  I am going to try to fill it though.

Dinner was beer brats on the grill, with cookies and cupcakes for dessert.

Followed dinner with family game night.  One easy quick game of Sequence, and one long three way battle that ended in a draw.  It’s a fun board game that uses playing cards, and even younger kids can play effectively with adults.  Definitely recommended, and best played with two teams of two.

Sequence is one of my favorites, and I also really like Ticket To Ride.  I’m always up for one or the other.

Later I got an email update from Frances.  They have decide that Barbara has a staph infection and they are going to treat that with antibiotics.  It will be a couple of months if everything goes well until she’s finally done, but hopefully she’ll see some improvement right away.   We’re still holding off on cards and flowers.   I’ll let you know if that changes.


Out in the wider world, we’ve moved to full on third world behaviour.  Mobs are pulling down statues of our country’s founders and military heroes.   Armed insurgents have captured and barricaded off an area inside one of our cities.  They’ve held it, and plan to continue holding it.  Make and adjust your plans accordingly.

Keep stacking.



Tues. June 2, 2020 – headed out of the house today

Hot and humid, possible rain.

Yesterday was overcast and humid most of the day.  90F in the shade.  I spent too long in the driveway and got a bit overheated.  I’ve got to watch that.  It’s harder to keep track when the sun isn’t beating down.

One of the things I had to do was go through the onions I’d stored outside.  A lot of rotten onions and potatoes, and the smell was pretty bad.  Cleaned up and salvaged the potatoes the day before, had to do the onions today.  About half were rotten or something had snacked on them.  The other half just needed to have the outer skins pealed and everything washed.  I’m a bit surprised that I lost basically half or more of the potatoes and onions, which should have been good for months longer, after only two and a half months.  It points out the importance of ‘cool, dark, and dry’, which I don’t have.

I made some very small progress in the driveway and garage.

Today I’ll be taking a load of stuff to my secondary location.  I’ve got a bunch of cardboard to dispose of (got a recycle dumpster there), and some stuff that needs to be moved from here.  Also my pool test kit is there and my wife is getting anxious to test the pool.

And I’ve got a couple of auction pickups to do.  Started back watching the auctions.  Yup.  Trying to get back to normal.  I’m bidding on a couple of freezers.  If the stores are out, the auctions might be the only way to get one.  I certainly don’t want to pay what the last auction got for their uprights, over $500 each.  I don’t really want an upright at all, but it would fit better in the garage, and there aren’t any chest freezers listed at the moment.  If I’m right and we’ve started the big change, having another freezer to fill with food will be a Good Thing ™.

Kids spent a lot of time in the pool, despite the overcast, maybe more than if it was sunny.  I might rig a shade for them once the water warms up in the sun.  I don’t want them crispy with sunburn.

Swim team practice this am.  It gives the kids a chance to really stretch out and use up some energy.   I’m not happy about the contacts, but got outvoted.   I’m trying to keep my distance while I watch.  Normally I’d be selling in the concession stand or doing maintenance around the grounds.

Speaking of watching, I spent an hour watching live streams of various protests.  Lots of noise and movement, not a lot of action.  Not many cops in the videos I watched live.  Just a bunch of people in a mob wandering around.   No sign of it dying out anytime soon.  Not many masks.   And if the wuflu is contagious at all, we should be seeing some big spikes in a week or two.  If not, then there won’t be any legit reason to continue with full lockdowns.

However, everyone should continue with their heightened awareness, and think seriously about increasing their security stance…  you never know where the stupidity will break out.  Or you could just continue to stay home…

Dinner last night was costco prepared lamb shanks, from the freezer, with homemade mashed potatoes with onion and bacon crumbles.  Canned peas and some naan bread from the freezer made it a meal.

Oh, and our old friend ebola is back. Congo-Kinshasa has a new outbreak on the other side of the country from before.

Keep learning, keep planning, keep stacking.



Sat. May 30, 2020 – and the beat goes on…

Hot. Sunny. humid. Man, I need to change the batteries in my weather station.

Yesterday was hot, and humid, with lots of fluffy clouds and some blue sky. No rain at home or my secondary location.

I did auction pickups today, and went to my secondary to meet a guy about some stuff he bought but never picked up. It was buried, and I couldn’t get to it. Conveniently for him, it’s enough unburied that it could be pulled out for him. However, he stood me up. Rescheduled for this morning.

That made me late to our “Fifth Grade Graduation Parade.” I was a bit skeptical of the idea, and thought a 5th grade graduation was hokey anyway… but I’m glad I made it. I waved from the side of the road as dozens of decorated cars and trucks drove by with the kids waving back. I’d forgotten that I know all these kids from my Hands On Science class, and they think of me as a teacher, who some I’m sure wanted to see one last time. I was very happy to see the kids, and when they recognized me waving, they smiled and sat up and waved. It felt really good. I wasn’t thinking past my own kids, and that was a mistake. My daughter was in a great mood afterwards too.

Hit the takeout lane for our favorite greek casual dining and ate restaurant food for the first time in 2 1/2 months. And it was good.

That led right into story time, and bed, and then me checking the news.

Holy moly, the riots are coming. I hope everyone had been getting ready. I almost flubbed it myself. I’ll be carrying my bear spray today as I go back out to meet my buyer.

And I might stop by my favorite toy store and do a bit of meatspace relationship maintenance.

Then it’s back home to see if the pool has everything we need to set it up. Savvy readers will note that I skipped rotten potato cleanup, and delayed the pool project. Delayed but can’t avoid.

Dinner was restaurant food, and dang it was good.

Avoid crowds, keep your situational awareness higher than mine, and keep stacking.


Fri. May 29, 2020 – fifth Friday this month…

Hot and damp, possibly sunny.

Yesterday was a dog’s breakfast. Depending on where you were in Houston you either got no rain or were dumped on. I got dumped on.

Got my errands done later than I’d have liked, and then went to my client’s house. And the tale of woe continues. More issues with connectivity both on the internal network and externally to the internet.

The AT&T tech was NOT good. He failed to save the account credentials to the DSL modem (which he replaced, as the other one got hit by lightning.) He also used the wrong account and failed to test it with the client’s devices. Seems that AT&T DSL will accept almost anything for account name and password, and tell you it connected to the internet. You can even use the built in tools to ping or traceroute, and they work. But if you launch a browser, you get an AT&T “fix the problems with your connection page” and a wizard that bombs out because of java errors when using Ipads. Iphones and laptops work, but not ipads. Much time was spent trying different combinations of account and password, until finally I got two to match. Before I could do that though, the wizard broke another way. I’d changed the default local lan IP address and gateway for the router to match our internal scheme. The wizard NEEDS you to have not changed any settings in the box for it to complete. SO MUCH SUCK.

After finally getting the DSL box configured, ports forwarded, rules created, we could finally get out to the internet, but some of the local lan stuff didn’t work… specifically our ipads couldn’t talk to our AV control system. After thinking it was a config issue, and wasting a bunch of time looking at that, I looked at the switch.

Some blinkenlights, not enough blinkenlights. Turns out, the lightning strike on AT&T’s line came in through the copper, smoked the DSL power wart (which shut down the UPS it was plugged into) but not the actual modem, and also smoked the port on the network switch it was connected to. I moved it to another port and got that back up but still no connection to some local hardware. MORE troubleshooting and I discover more dead ports on the network switch. Swap it out for an old HP switch I brought ‘just in case’ and viola, we’re back up. Score one for ‘hoarding’ gear.

Now I’m wondering what gear might have gotten a ‘tickle’ through the network switch and will be failing over the next year…

Moral of the story, lightning strikes have weird consequences. Everything connected to the piece that got hit should be considered suspect. And, AT&T DSL support sucks dead bunnies.

I got home very late, but with a working system behind me. Dinner was more saute’d frozen shrimp, and some instant rice. My wife made it for the kids and I had a plate waiting.

Oh, I took the trash out and realized I’ve got a bunch of rotten potatoes stored. That is going to be my gruesome task today, after swim team practice… cleaning out that mess. Then see if the above ground pool has all the necessary parts, and get sidetracked building same…

But hey, we got an extra Friday this month.

Keep your awareness up, and avoid crowds.

And keep stacking.