Tues. Jan. 26, 2021 – references, they’re not just something that never gets checked on your resume’

Cool and damp again.  Maybe some rain, maybe not.

Yesterday was misty in places, overcast most places, and somewhat warm for a short time.  Just a pretty gross day.   So I spent it indoors.

Solved my client’s issues with a lot of technical help from my sometimes business partner.  A piece of hardware somehow lost its “IP Table” which tells it where the other parts that it controls should be found.  The fix meant downloading a current version of the IDE, then a firmware file, uploading the firmware (32 minutes), then downloading the control software files, and finally reinstalling them.  All that messing around followed by rebooting, restarting, and testing.  Still, it got him back up.   He’s getting a bit tired of piecemeal replacement of the stuff that got damaged by lightning.  I may be doing a complete remove and replace on the system.  That won’t be cheap.  Should be good for me though.

Lest anyone think I know what I’m doing with any of the above, I have good help.  I’m just monkey punching the buttons.  I’m the remote set of hands when it comes to the software side of all that.  Kinda like here, where Rick keeps it all working, while I’m the smiling face that people see.  I’ve been very lucky in my  career to have access to really good people to backfill my gaps…

I’m sure you have gaps in your preps and skills, and I can’t emphasize enough, that you need good people to help you fill them.  Consider how you’ll repay them for the help too, either through stuff or loan of skills of your own.   There is a great feeling too, when you can help someone else with your own expertise.  It’s about building a community, or network of resources and it helps in normal times, as well as bad times.

On the other hand, your normal network might not be available.  That’s why you need a reference library.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘rebuilding society’ library, but should cover the sorts of things you don’t know well, and it should also provide backup for the stuff you DO know well- because you might not be there.

It has to be offline too.  Consider infrastructure failures.  Consider censorship.  Consider the internet balkanized.  Consider search engines distorting results.  And consider your browsing history being weaponized against you.  Can’t happen?  If I’m an oppressive government and there is a general famine, and I want to seize the “excess” or “hoarded” food, I’m going to start with everyone who bought canning jars.  I’m going to cross that with searches for “how to can vegetables” and “beginning gardening” or “stealth gardening”.   After 9-11 there were stories that various agencies went on a terrorist hunt by collecting grocery store ‘loyalty card’ purchase histories, and looking for people that bought hummus, or falafel.  It’s part of their institutional knowledge now.   Even if they don’t have the resources to do it as a dragnet, they will certainly use it to build a case, or reduce the pool of candidates.  And they’re likely going to go for recent low hanging fruit, because they’re lazy.

Now that day may never come, and you and I will both continue doing searches for what we think of as normal or ordinary things.  We’ll leverage the beast for our own betterment with youtube and google.  Just keep in mind that you really really might not want to have watched a repair video, and then ordered a gun part, after having declared all your illegal guns to be sold or lost.   Much better to have a couple of books, picked up used, to answer your questions in what might become the ultimate in ‘non-permissive environments.’

With that cheery thought, I once again suggest that you keep stacking…


Sun. Jan. 24, 2021 – more of the same today

Forecast calls for heavier rain, T-storms, etc.  Given our microclimates, I’ll hope for the best, and find stuff to do if it rains.

Spent Saturday afternoon running around, and then doing cleanup and organizing, and re-stacking at my secondary.  Then headed home.  Not much interesting, except I’m going through a patch of increased serendipity and heightened coincidence…. and that usually gets weird.

Plan for the day is organizing at my nearby storage unit, in order to get more ebay stuff out of the foyer.  I need listed items close enough I can ship them the same day but I also need them out of the house.  The storage unit is temporary, as I clear out more space elsewhere.

Everything takes more time and more effort than you think.  That’s why it’s so important to get started.

Whatever you’ve identified as something to add to your preparations for the hard times ahead, get started.   Take the first step.

And keep stacking.



Wed. Jan. 20, 2021 – an unhappy anniversary…

Three years ago today we lost the founder and driving force behind this site,  Robert Bruce Thompson.  It’s been my honor and privilege to keep the conversation going since then.  Thank you to Barbara for her support and to Rick for keeping the lights on.  And thanks to all of you who continue to visit and keep this place alive and growing.

Absent friends.

nick flandrey



Cool and wet.  Possibly.  Maybe.  Could be a bit like yesterday, which was pleasant enough, and even nice in the mid-afternoon.

I ran my errands and spent the rest of the afternoon sorting and going through stuff.     Today I need to do some neglected stuff around the house.  I’ve been jumping from one thing to another, and now I need to jump back.

Number one prep is keeping my wife happy and on my page.  I have been letting that slide and that is a bad thing.

No further news about the possible BOL/Lakehouse cabin.   They want to sell to us, we want to buy, but there is a question of flooding, easements, and Army Corps of Engineers interactions…. next step is a survey to locate the potential issues.  From where we sit, it looks like there would be significant limits on what we could do in the future with the land abutting the lake shore.  Those future possibilities were a large part of the appeal as an investment.

On the broader stage… I don’t know what will happen today.  I’m hoping for ‘nothing’.   I fear a massive false flag attack.  I think it’s bad enough Biden will be President for some period of time, but to start off with a tragedy would be even worse.   There is too much that is just too weird in DC for me to feel comfortable.

Hopefully, by now everyone is an old hand at staying safe from the current threats, and is working toward safety from the escalating new threats.  Time to think much longer term, 4-10 years.   You can’t stack that much so what do you do?  What you can.

I’m not taking bets on when the war really gets going.   I have already said that I expect to have a Republic of Texas passport within 10 years.  I also have said that I don’t think patsy Joe will last through March.  I don’t see any reason to change either  prediction, but they could easily advance by half.

I sincerely hope this is all hyperventilating and fearmongering.   Best case, no new laws or restrictions, stalemate in the Congress, buffoonery from the White House.   Worst case?  Not gonna even go there today.

I was heartened to hear from everyone who reported on their successes to date.  So, what are you seriously lacking? What do you need to keep stacking?*



*moxie and pretzels to be sure….

Sat. Jan. 16, 2021 – Elephants. Dancing. Mice. Tucked away safe at home.

Cold and clear in Houston.

Yesterday started at 33F and didn’t get much past mid-60s at my house and despite the sunshine ended up being a nasty day for me.

My dog died. [deleted very sad paragraph] I spent the morning holding and petting him as much as he would tolerate, and after he spent a while laying in the sun and breeze, he collapsed and died in my arms hearing about what a good boy he was.  And he was a Good Boy.  That was about the best outcome we could possibly have hoped for given the aggressiveness of the cancer.  For now there is a giant hole in our lives the shape of an 18 pound chihuahua/dachshund mix.  Thank you all for your kindness and best wishes.

There are forces at work in the wider world that we can only get glimpses of- our awareness and perception is so limited that we are really like the blind men describing the elephant.  Our prejudices and hubris are not limited the same way.  The combination isn’t one that leads to much actual objective understanding when events are bigger than our immediate experience.

One blind man sees Jan. 6 in DC and thinks it’s an organized insurrection.  One sees a betrayal by a man he trusted.  One sees an opportunity to get his hate on and blame his enemy.  One sees the same old corrupted schemers playing out their own “Game of Thrones”.  Time will tell which man has seen with the clearest of mind’s eyes.

Right now, forces unknown but powerful are moving the blind men into position.   They are PICKING which blind men are there, and supplying the elephant.  Other forces are maneuvering to swap their OWN elephant in, or change out some of the blind men.  Still others are trying to put a hippo in place of the elephant, while yet others are busy proclaiming “There is no elephant, and blind men can’t see anything anyway!”

And yet.   After a hotly contested election, where the biggest players in the country, and possibly from all over the world, went head to head, and knife to back, we have a candidate no one wanted, with more issues than a news stand and more baggage than a third year student at Hogwarts, ready to take the oath   for what is arguably the most powerful office in the world.  And his people think they need 20-30,000 armed soldiers around him to keep him safe from — something.  And that they’ll need those soldiers “indefinitely”.

It looks like they are preparing to be besieged.

What could they possibly be planning to do that would provoke We The People to the kind of reaction that they are preparing for?

Or is it just theater, designed to convince people that they are being threatened and that anything they do is justified by the heinous nature of the threat?  You don’t think to include a field hospital if you know that it’s all for show and there isn’t a real threat to justify the defenses.*

Neither scenario, or any of a dozen more, bodes well for you and me.  The elephants are dancing  and there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to change the dance.   The mice are rightly worried about being turned into red jelly paste and should stay as far away from stompy feet as is possible.   And prudent mice should be prepping as hard and fast as possible to tuck into their safe little hidey holes and stay safe while the dance continues.  There may yet be a role for mice to play, other than floor lube, but you won’t be playing it if you are already toe jam… and you won’t be playing it if you are reduced to picking grains of wheat out of mounds of elephant dung.

Stack.  Stuff.  Friends.  Skills.  Mainly stuff, as something will be changing on the 20th.  Something big.  That’s not much time to build skills or networks.  So work on what you can.  Keep stacking.  Concentrate on what might be unobtainium in a few days.




*two other considerations come to mind- TPTB are sociopaths and don’t  care that the soldiers will need medical attention.  TPTB have never seen war and don’t know that their soldiers will need medical attention.  Either is horrific in it’s own way.  And don’t forget, sometimes you need to “embrace the power of ‘and'”.

Sun. Dec. 20, 2020 – 12-20-2020 hmmm more weird looking numbers

Cool but clear.  That’s the forecast.   I’m hoping it’s correct because I’ve got stuff to do.

Did some stuff yesterday.  The heavy rain put a damper (ha!) on my day.   My wife found a local food distribution scheme she liked so all the flats of food are out of my foyer.  I’ve still got bins of auction stuff there though.

A gingerbread house was constructed on the kitchen table.  Some cookies were decorated.   Kids played Skyrim and Portal2 all day and night.  Somehow we ended up with a very late bedtime.

The little one and I are halfway through the last Little House book, The First Four Years.  It’s hard to think of little Laura as a mom, especially when she wants to sled down the hill outside the house…  and it’s a bit daunting to read the books and see how much of their success was down to not having bad luck at a bad time.   Then when everything should come together, and they should ‘live happily ever after’, they don’t.   Real life, even through the filter of story, doesn’t always have the happy ending.  What is consistent throughout the books is that Pa’s attitude and depth of knowledge, and willingness to ACT when needed, carries the family through travail after travail.  The pioneers that lived and succeeded were TOUGH and yet FLEXIBLE.

That seems to be something to keep in mind and nurture in general, and in the coming hard times specifically.  Hard times are ALWAYS coming (shout out to the ‘nearer’ bois!)  It is the nature of the world that the wheel turns.  What seems more likely for the near and medium term, prosperity and good times, or hard times?  Show your work…

I’m gonna keep stacking.



Sat. Dec. 19, 2020 – 2021 ain’t gonna save ya

Cold and wet.  But not freezing.

Yesterday was cool all day but sunny in patches.

I got some stuff done.  Got out to my remaining client’s house and got him all back working.  Combination of failing gear, gear that got reset to initial state, and changing settings.

While there I learned that my client and his wife both got covid.  Mild and short cases, but classic symptoms.  He brought it home, likely from the hospital.  Protocols failed somewhere.  While working through the issues there with my sometimes business partner on the phone I learned that his actual business partner got it and died.  200 pounds overweight was probably the co-morbidity.    He was no longer inclined to joke about covid.  His partner was 42.   That increases the number of people in my circle, one or two degrees of separation, that had it, and it increases the number that died from it.  I’ve never had anyone I know die from flu.

Daughter’s school had a kid and staff member test positive this week.  That’s a small sample but it’s double the week before and 4x the two weeks before that.  IOW, it appears to be increasing in frequency.

The Solarwind penetrations look worse and worse.  NO way to every trust those systems again, the attackers had too much time in them.  And they were in everything important according to first reports.  Given that first reports are almost always wrong, it’s hella early to be calling for war with Russia.  Someone needs to be ‘reprisal-ed’ but we better be sure about the target.

Still two weeks to go in 2020, I’d like to get through them WITHOUT adding “hot war with Russia” to the list of unbelievable bad shirt happening.

It’s a list that includes actual honeypot physical spy stuff and assassination.

All the stuff set in motion this year will still be moving next year.

Anyone still doubt this is one of those times when everything changes?

From the masthead at WRSA–  “How will you improve the survivability of your people this weekend?”

Think about that for a while, then start working on it.  Keep stacking.




(anyone else think the timing of the Solarwind revelations is just a TAD suspicious?)

Sat. Dec. 5, 2020 – it all depends on the weather

And it will probably be cold, and damp again today, but maybe the rain will hold off.

It was cold-ish yesterday and certainly damp.   I put on a fleece jacket and I was sweating inside buildings and cold outside.

Someone asked a while back if I was still hitting the Goodwill stores.  No, not really.  I haven’t hit a thrift store in months.  I AM still hitting the Goodwill outlet.  I mask up, N95, and glove up, and maintain a distance from people.  I am hyper aware of what I touch and change gloves as needed.  I use the clorox wipes before getting back in the car too.  I’ve grabbed some great stuff lately, and it will mostly be going to the auction on Monday.   You can’t really beat a men’s Kenneth Cole leather jacket for $3.  Especially one that’s in perfect condition.  Or a lady’s wool trenchcoat from the mid 80s that still brings $85 on ebay.  Or 70 pounds of vinyl LPs that have been averaging 8-12$ apiece on ebay.  I’ll send them to my local auction,  and get a whole lot less, but won’t have to deal with shipping or returns.

The outlet gets the weirdest things.  I’ve found a low power ham radio transceiver kit, arduinos, gun parts, glock 43 magazine extensions- NIB, and today I found a milsurp cold weather sleep system and a watch battery change tool kit.  Not expensive, but exactly what I needed.  I could have a complete set of the Harvard Classics of literature.  I’ve grabbed all the ones I thought I’d personally like.  Some of the editions bring $10+ per volume…  One day I found a gun guy’s library.  A bunch of Paladin Press sort of books, and coffee table gun history books too.  “Modifying your MAC-10” kinds of things….  The funniest thing for me, I can find great stuff AFTER the locusts have gone through the bins.  They’ll fight over 25c t shirts and leave an ORVIS jacket, new with tags (headed to ebay or the auction this week).

My best estate auction score this week was probably a Western Mountaineering down sleeping bag for $4.  Even counting the half bottle of down tech washing soap, that is a stunning value for what was a $400+ bag new.  The kids and my wife have used the heck out of the expensive USA made down bags I got at an estate sale 2? years ago for $5.  There are certain things that people just don’t seem to recognize the value.  That’s where I come in 🙂

And some people do weird things too.  I grabbed a couple of fishing poles yesterday, one complete, with the last loop missing, one just the lower half.  I didn’t find the top half so I put it back in a bin, and the other one, I’ll just clip 1 inch and the existing loop will be the end one now.  🙂   Later I noticed a couple of young ladies standing to the side with a dozen poles.   They were looking up the poles on their phones.  They spent a while doing it too.  Obviously not experienced resellers.  The poles weigh less than a pound.  So they will cost $1.20 each.  BUY EVERY ONE.  There isn’t a new fishing pole with a reel for less than $20 anywhere.   These poles were new, still in plastic.  Grab them and GO!

The other customers are all masked, some even wearing them correctly.  Staff wears masks correctly.  As a side benefit, no one out in public is sneezing or coughing.  No runny noses either.

Today I’ll be going through stuff getting more ready for the new auctioneer.  And if the weather is good, I’ll finally get some Christmas decor up.  But that will be after sleeping in.

And then I’ll do my grocery order, and stack some more.  Because everything is changing, and we don’t know who will come out the other side.  If we’re distracted and weakened by a civil war, declared or not, someone else will have a chance to rise.  It might take a generation to recover.  Maybe more.  Gonna be hard times if that happens.  Think about that for a while.

And keep stacking.



Tues. Dec. 1, 2020 – it’s the final countdown… for the year anyway

Cold and windy.  Hopefully not below freezing.  [28F at 6am]

I spent yesterday getting ebay and auction stuff sorted into bins.  I also did a little bit of maintenance and finished the install of the range hood.

And cooked dinner- pork chops on the grill, thin sliced red potatoes saute’d in bacon fat with onion, and a steamed acorn squash for  a bit of sweet.  Family ate over 2 pounds of pork.  I’m glad I have girls, I couldn’t afford boys at this rate.  Range hood worked great with the potatoes.

Today I’ll be headed over to the rent house to meet the plumber.  If everything goes well, then over to the auction house to drop off 4 bins of stuff.  If it goes badly, I hope we’ll get everything fixed before my tenants get home from work.

So far, my tenants have been working and able to pay the rent.  When I was considering the advantages of an income stream from rentals, I didn’t consider the US going full commie and seizing landlords’ properties without compensation.  I’m glad I’m not in a state thinking about or engaged in rent forgiveness.  Like most commie schemes, the end result is the opposite of intended- you end up with no rentals available, or only run down shiteholes that no one wants to live in.  Formerly productive (and taxable) properties go fallow or become a burden on society instead of a benefit.

The slide has started.

Consider too, if you are rooting for a Biden win, what it means for our free and open society when people on the left feel emboldened.  Right now, when they think they are the underdogs, they are calling for an actress to be blackballed because her boyfriend might not be a Trump hater.  She was formerly a darling of the left,  supporting all the right causes.  They chase people off campus for what they MIGHT say.  They dox and hound and threaten anyone they don’t like.   How much worse will that be when they KNOW they are the protected golden children?  And the problem with radical orthodoxy?  No one is ever pure enough, or dedicated enough to satisfy the true believers.  So even if you are sympathetic, or supportive, you can still find yourself denounced and driven out.

And then where will you be?

Stack it high.  Prepare to pull back and close in.  If you’ve been free with your opinions, someone has already made a note of it, guaranteed.  If you aren’t prepared to recant, you better get ready to fight.


Sat. Nov. 28, 2020 – the end is nigh, well, nigh-er

Wet, cool, and wet.  With a side order of wet.

Yesterday was rain alternating with drizzle and misty drizzle.

Plumbing was accomplished.  Plumbers will be arranged.

Leftovers were eaten.  These are the good old times.  Make the most of them.

I came into a conversation mid-sentence.  My wife was suggesting to Daughter 1 that she get started with me learning how to shoot, first the BB and airsoft, then the real guns later.  WELL.  Ok then 🙂  That’s not a change of heart on her part or anything but it’s the first time she’s brought it up and the first time with a timeframe.  FWIW, I think she’s right and probably a bit overdue.

Today I’ll be working on the kitchen range hood, continuing my local auction prepping, and getting stuff picked up so we can get the Christmas decor up.  I’d like to do several new things this year but I haven’t decided on anything specific.  (Yes, if I think CWII is going to kick off, why worry about Christmas decor?  Because that is normal real life.  Kids need to learn the traditions and the stories and they need the memories.  I need the memories.  The bad thing ™ usually doesn’t happen, so I prep for it, but also make sure to live my life right now.)



Speaking of, power went out and I’m closing this on my phone.  Keep stacking. You’ll need it.



Sat. Nov. 21, 2020 – still in Houston

Cool, maybe a little rain, possible overcast, but generally nice.

Like yesterday.  I got the tiniest little spritz in the late afternoon, but otherwise a nice day.  Some sun, some warmth, shirtsleeves and shorts, no sweat dripping off my nose.

I am not feeling great, but still  have things to do, so I’ve been doing them.  More slowly to be sure, but still moving.  I took a couple of hundred pounds of scrap to the recycler after breaking down a bunch of electronics and a bunch of wiring harnesses.   I won’t get rich, but the stuff leaves, and I get some money back for it.  It does take time, but today paid me at better than $20/hr for the time.

Assuming that we can have our Hamfest in March, I’m planning to bring bins of salvaged electrical and electronic parts to the swapmeet.  I didn’t get a bunch of radios this year so I need something to sell, and I’ve got bins of “something” that need to leave.  The parts are things that seemed too good to just break up for recycle, like panel meters, power supply modules, connectors, fuse holders, stuff like that.  It sold well for me last year when I finally brought it out.  I’ve got spools of cable and wire too.  They always sell well when priced right.  Assuming we’re not in the middle of a guerrilla war, or facing terror attacks from the insurgency.

Plan and prepare for bad things, but continue living your life in case they don’t happen.

Still not feeling well.  Less of the sharpness in my lungs today, but still coughing and sore throat.  Still the feeling of being unwell.  No test results.  I did finally get the CVS online portal thing set up and working.  Some part of the process failed the first time, and I didn’t really get my account set up.  Now it is, and it says “no test results available”.  It also now says 3-4 days to process, up from 2-3.

Haven’t definitively called off the FL trip, but I’m 99% certain I better get a turkey defrosting here.

My third local auction company agreed to take a bunch of stuff on consignment next week.  I will fill up some bins for them.  My auction items seemed to sell well last night, but I haven’t seen final numbers yet.  I want them to do well so the auctioneer makes money and wants more of my stuff.  And I need to get it out of here.  The time from Thanksgiving to February historically has been a slow sales time for me, but maybe the old rules have changed.  I certainly hope so.

So much is changing now, or set to change dramatically, that it’s hard to plan for any specific outcome.  I’m trying to plan for the worst but still be ready if it doesn’t materialize.  My prepping can’t have irrevocable consequences.  That’s been one of my rules from the beginning.  That might change at some point, but for now, that’s bedrock.  It leaves a pretty broad range of choices still in most situations while hopefully protecting me from excess.   We’ll see I guess.

Meantime, I’m sleeping in a bit, then continuing to nibble away at the pile of stuff that needs doing.  Keep working the problem, keep learning, keep stacking.