Category: Random Stuff

Sat. Jan. 20, 2024 – an unhappy anniversary.

On this date in 2018, Robert Bruce Thompson left this earth. His memory and spirit live on in his writing, and this place, and in the lives of those he helped or influenced.

Consider how your life is better having met RBT here or in his other writing, and raise a glass to absent friends.

nick

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Thur. Jan. 4, 2024 – ah, that new year smell…

Cool and damp but maybe no rain? That would let things dry out a bit. There was still standing water last night after a full day without rain. There were some breaks in the overcast too, ‘poke your eyes out’ bright sun, but they didn’t last. Jacket weather all day. More of the same for today, most likely.

Did my pickup. Did some auction bidding. Really, low balling, so I didn’t win much. Bid on a 200w solar panel, but lost out. Bid on another 100w panel and won. I think I’m up to 6 100w panels now, still in boxes. Moving that project forward is now officially moving up the “do it when I can” list. I’m dropping out of the bidding at 50c per watt.

Moving my water collection and filtration ‘sorta plan’ forward is on the list too.

Immediate list items are more concerned with stuff around the house here in Houston. I’ve been neglecting some things too long.

The start of the new year is a good time to measure progress, reset goals, re-calibrate expectations, etc.

The high level pass at that is– I’m making good progress on the BOL, stabilizing what’s there, making improvements where we could, and most importantly, working to integrate into the community.

I’ve got food for us for at least 6 months with nothing coming in, and probably a lot longer than that. I don’t have an actual inventory, so it’s hard to say for sure, but there is a lot of food stacked here, there, and elsewhere.

I added to medical supplies, along a “community clinic” mode, and will continue to do so when it makes sense. For example, I don’t need 4 cases of sutures, but we might in aggregate. Ditto with some other things. I might not need an autoclave, but it doubles as a pressure canner…or maybe the other way around… I need to replace batteries in some of my AEDs, and I’ll be looking for more modern ones too. Science lab stuff might be ‘targets of opportunity’ if they fall in my lap.

I got as clean a bill of health as it’s possible to get this year, with tests and procedures to look for a lot of things- with no issues found.

I’ve been increasing our alternate power choices, adding to solar, gas generators, and storage. I need to go through the stored fuel and get that up to date, but that is less pressing than some other things.

I can provide drinking water from storage, and from stored materials, but I need to consider LONG term solutions too. Seems ‘one step too far’ but like most preps, there are benefits at lesser points too.

I’m looking to stack more butchery and processing stuff. I’m always looking for a Biro meat saw… and other things like tables, cutting boards, steam table pans, sharpening systems, etc. Also smoking, dehydrating, salting, etc. stuff for preservation. I’ve got some parts, some random bits and pieces, but no unified and tested method or system from end to end.

I have a dozen levels of redundancy in my cooking stacks, but not a solar oven. Maybe that will be the ‘add’ this year. Or maybe it will be more along the ‘smoke house’ line…

A lot of what I have is stacked here. Moving it to the BOL is going to be a priority. I won’t leave this place bare, but I need to acknowledge that we are building out the BOL to be a BOL and it needs to be equipped with what I’ve stacked up here.

There is a distinct lack of needful things at the BOL. I don’t have secure storage there yet, and that REALLY needs to be addressed. A friend might help out short term, and for a few things, but a real solution needs to be put into place.

Shelter, water, food, medical, defense, infrastructure, and social considerations, I’m working them, and encourage you to do so too. Get out of big cities. Start building or strengthening meatspace relationships. Increase your resilience and resources. Help yourself so that you can help others. Learn new skills, test old ones. Help the next generation, especially young men. They do the bulk of civilization building, and they have the strength and energy that we, more ‘seasoned’ individuals don’t have anymore. We can get through whatever bad thing is coming. And on a historical timeline, we are overdue for the next big bad.

Stack. It’ll help.

nick

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Thur. Nov. 9, 2023 – still not quite right…

Cool to start, warming later, and some chance of rain. It didn’t rain on my yesterday, but there were dark clouds in various places at various times. I think today might be even more threatening.

I did do my pickups, after emptying my pickup. Got some building materials. Got some household stuff. Got some stuff for the BOL. Picked up the kid and did her stuff in the late afternoon.

Started listening to the audiobook for “Live and let Die” by Ian Fleming… It’s an interesting timecapsule. 1 ounce gold coins from pirate treasure were only $20 each. Bond rides an express train from NYC to Florida. The word “negress” is used more than once… The whole modern EMS and hospital system doesn’t exist. Q smokes a pipe, Bond smokes 3 packs of Chesterfields a day and drinks Old Grandad. I’m 2/3 of the way through the story and I’ll probably finish it while driving around today.

I’ve got some driving to do to pickup a few more things.

One thing that I’ve been noticing and thinking about is “where did all the pipe smokers go, and WHY?” Every old story has most of the men smoking pipes. I just finished listening to Ann of Green Gables, and there is mention of it. Ian Fleming mentions it in what, 1959?. The book of bohemian poetry I was reading mentions it constantly. My uncle smoked in the 70s. Many of the dads involved in scouting when I was a kid smoke pipes. You used to see signs prohibiting “pipe and cigar smoking” while allowing cigarette smoking. Almost every old advert featured a man outdoors smoking a pipe, all the entertainers did, and frequently had pipe models named after them. Pipe racks and humidor jars were common in homes.

As I learn more about pipe smoking, estate pipe buying, selling, and refurbishing, I’m struck by the number of brands and manufacturers. There were hundreds in the US alone. Where did the smokers go, and why? When and why did smoking a pipe go away while cigarette smoking flourished? I was the wrong age during the transition, so I didn’t particularly notice, but maybe some of you did and can comment.

I’ll add that there are still enough pipe smokers that my HEB has pipe tobacco and cleaners in the locked tobacco merchandise area with the rest of the smoking stuff. There are dozens of youtube channels dedicated to the pipe despite not being able to monetize them, and the youtube demographic for pipe hobbyists is definitely “younger men”. From the content and comments they clearly think it’s part of lost manhood and better days. So as an observer of culture, and being suspicious by nature, I ask “what changed?”

I’ll offer this observation- pipe smoking is relaxing and contemplative. You do it too fast, hard, or carelessly and you burn your mouth and tongue. Cigarette smoking is NOT relaxing, had a lot more nicotine, and is chemically habit forming. Cigars have a more ‘celebratory’ feel, have always been the symbol of success, and ‘fat cats’ or wealth, while pipe smoking has been the realm of the common man. The corn cob pipe is ubiquitous in US folklore and history. There was a huge cultural shift, and most people didn’t notice.

From a prepper standpoint, smoking tobacco is easiest to prep for with pipe smoking. The tobacco can remain sealed without ill effect (and with some benefit from aging) for years, maybe even longer. Pipes are simple and can be made from almost anything. Treated well, they also last for years, and can be refurbished. Pipe tobacco is much cheaper, in general, than cigars or cigarettes judged by amount of smoking time per dollar too.

Whether you approve or disapprove of smoking in general and or in particular, people have been doing it for a long time, and will likely continue. As a trade good it grew the wealth of nations and changed the course of history. Liquor, tobacco, sugar, coffee, and spice. Those were the things people wanted, were willing to risk everything for, and they are currently astonishingly cheap compared to any other time in history.

Think about it for a bit, then put that in your pipe and smoke it…

Consider your stacks of ‘trade goods’ and luxuries… and then decide if you need or want to add something, and stack it high.

nick

NB- of course Robert smoked a pipe, but I left him off the list because he didn’t stop.

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Tues. Sept. 26, 2023 – Taco Tuesday! Just kidding. Thin gruel again.

Warm and wet. Fall in Houston. Soon enough it will be cold, but maybe we’ll get a bit of Fall in between. It was nice at the BOL until it got hot. And apparently there was a mini-storm at home yesterday evening, but I missed it. Weather. Bah.

I spent yesterday wrapping up some loose ends, and trying to knock off a few smaller projects. It got pretty dang hot in the afternoon, so I took a short breather. Sat in the shade on the dock and watched the hummingbirds for an hour. On of the things I like doing at the BOL is bird watching. I’m not “into” it, but I do think it’s fun to see who’s around and I’d like to encourage more feathered friends to come by. When I noticed the hummingbirds were back, I refilled the feeders. They were nosing around one of my kerosene lanterns (red, and hanging on the dock) which if you squint looks a lot like a feeder…

So I put a feeder down on the dock. They were chasing each other and running each other off of the feeder. The little bodies slamming into each other in flight makes more noise than you’d think, and they vocalize too. We have a little flock, at least 6, maybe more, all swarming that feeder on the dock. It was quite entertaining to sit there and have them just 5 feet away. I got a better look at them than I’ve ever had before, and I’ve never had a chance to watch them interact.

One lesson I learned years ago when I used to travel 100-250 days a year for work- you take your joy where you find it. It was a lot of fun watching the fierce little birds zipping around.

Today it’s “back to reality, back to life” at Casa De Nick. I’ve got to unload my truck, figure out what to do about the limb on my roof, load up more auction stuff, and generally do two days of stuff in one day, to get “caught up.” I should try to make some progress on getting the new “pantry” setup, setup. Or clean my office, or list some ebay stuff, or test some stuff for ebay, or any of the other 10000 things……. Something will get done, we’ll have to see what.

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The invasion continues, the political shenanigans are just getting started, the war drums are beating, and the people are pulling back and making plans while looking for someone to blame. Stack what you need. Or go hungry.

nick

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Wed. Sept. 13, 2023 – nope, I got nuthin’

It is a bit cooler in the morning now, several days in a row. I call that a trend, and might be the end of summer. Still getting plenty hot during the day, especially when the fusion furnace is in the sky irradiating all of us.

And hurricanes are coming one right after another, after a very slow start to the season.

Today the national forecast has us firmly in the middle of some possible rain, with the same for Thursday too. I wouldn’t mind, except that I’ve got drop offs to do, and the truck is open to the weather… so I’m hoping that it doesn’t necessarily rain on my patch of dirt. We could use it though.

I did auction stuff most of the early part of yesterday. Drove out and did a pickup. Did some bin shopping since I was in part of town I don’t get to all that often. I got some good resale items, as well as a couple of neat things for the kids, or me…

Did some domestic bliss, laundry, haircut, cleanup… there is a lot of stuff spread around the house as I pull stuff for the auctions.

Dinner was a box meal, cheese, mac, and chicken. Canned chicken was a year past ‘best by’ and was fine. Box meal kit was in date. The cheese will last longer than the date in a foil pouch, but the sour cream in the “seasoning” packet will get an ‘old’ flavor if you let it go too long. In general, prepared food with high fat content seems to age out before the other ingredients.

Vac sealed 6 pounds of hamburger. I pack 1 1/3 pounds into a square storage container to form it, then put it in a bag and vac seal. They sit on the shelf better that way, and I have just enough for dinner. All the recipes that call for 1 pound get the extra 1/3 to feed the meat eater, and they taste just fine. Still need to break down the pork loin, but since it is in the heavy vac pack, I have a bit more time. Still, better to do it right away than to delay. It’ll make roasts, chops, and a bit for pulled pork.

Today I’ve got to pull more for the auctions, and hopefully will do some settlement with my auctioneer after I drop off the next round of stuff. Frankly I could use the money. I should do some ebay listing too, but I’ve been dragging my feet on that.

One of the pickups from yesterday was a new old stock, Dell labelled Key Tronic full sized ps/2 keyboard. Heavy as a mother, clicky keys, F keys across the top… made in USA. It’s not super valuable on ebay, but there does still seem to be good demand. I couldn’t leave it behind… And that is my problem. Lack of discipline. Yup. Lack. Or sentimentality. Could be that too.

In any case, I’ve got a bunch of ebay stuff, some quite pricey, that I could list, and not have to grind on $20 items. Maybe today. If it rains.

Stack while you can. Do what you can to raise funds. Get your life in order.

nick

(share your story and inspire me!)
n

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Sat. Aug. 26, 2023 – month’s almost gone…

Hot and humid, no relief in sight, and I’m unloading trucks in the sun. Oh well, it beats loading my truck in the rain… and the venue is air conditioned.

Spent the day working and selling. Didn’t get to walk around and see if there was anything for me to buy. Probably just as well. We’ve got people from all over, mostly in the region, but Chicago, Cali, NY, and other distant places too. It’s always interesting to talk with them and see what they have to say about the state of things.

I’ll be talking with some more people today. Early start, as some people will be arriving this morning, then a day of selling, and some interesting presentations. IDK if I’ll be able to watch any of the educational stuff, but I will try. I’m training D2 as a sales person and she does a great job. Gives me a few minutes to walk the floor or use the restroom.

So far I’ve more than paid for the tables and most of my time (discounted because I have fun.) If I can sell some more stuff today and tomorrow it’s all in the plus column.

I’m gonna call this weekend “meatspace baby” and taking the tenor of the clans. With a side of clearing out some inventory, and making a little money to fund my hobbies.

Then it’s back to stackin’…

nick

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Sat. Aug. 19, 2023 – more whinging less work!

Hot. Check. Humid. Check. Houston. Check. Summer. Check. Good, glad that’s covered.

Maybe we’ll get a little break. It was all the way down to 87F when I went to bed. I’m not holding my breath though.

Did my pickups yesterday and not much else. It was crazy hot, and my head was still thick with whatever I was/am sick with. Could be the coof, got no idea. Not interested in testing.

I feel a bit better today, so maybe I’ll get a bit more done. I’ve got two pickups to do, stuff for the BOL and a small thing for D2. I forgot to get it for her yesterday. Wife decided to stay here and do work around the house instead of heading to the BOL. I was hoping for some time alone to really focus on work, but since my head is still a bit off, I guess that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

My plan is to do some of the stuff I keep putting off. We’ll see how that works out.

First thing is a decent night’s sleep.

And then the stacking and improving will commence…
nick

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Thur. July 20, 2023 – lots of driving today

Hot and humid again and still. Well over 100F in my driveway yesterday but I missed the peak. It was still 99F in the shade at 7pm. Today will likely be similar. Which should be miserable.

Didn’t do much yesterday. Got my trash and debris from the BOL disposed of. Took D1 to an appointment. Mostly caught up on auctions. Several things I need are in this week’s sales. Hope I get a few.

Today will mostly be eaten by picking up a trailer, heading to San Antonio, picking up a load of stuff there, and heading home. Should be about 7 hours round trip, once I have the trailer. I’ll be driving the Expedition as it has more towing capacity. It’s more comfortable, but drinks more gas. At least I’ll have the Jim Butcher audio book to listen to. Should be pretty close to the end by the time I get home.

I ordered a set of the first 4 books in the series since I’m liking this one so much. I’ve read them, some more than once, but I’m laughing at the humor and turn of phrase. There is a lot of detail in the books, and knowing where the story goes, it’s easy to see where some of the arcs start. One inconvenient thing is that the set is MP3 audio on CDs. I’ll have to convert and rip to regular CDs to listen in my Ranger, it doesn’t play mp3. I think it’s about 10 hours per book, so it will take me a while to get through the first ones, after I finish the current one. The MP3 sets are MUCH cheaper than standard 10 disc CD sets. 4 disks vs 40 is a dramatic reduction.

It might be easier to move them to my phone and play through an FM modulator. That’s how I have my XM radio attached in the Ranger. Or move them to a different phone… android really doesn’t handle concurrent audio from different sources very well. I’ll lose the turn by turn navigation, or the audio stream. Or I could swap out the older factory radio for something more capable. I’ve got the upgraded radio, that will play mp3s, on the shelf as a backup. Nothing is ever as easy or straightforward as it should be though, and I’ve got more projects than I can get to already.

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All the chattering aside, the work on the BOL will be eating up the majority of my time for a while. Somehow I’ll have to fit in the changeover to new tenants and all that entails at the rental house too. Got to keep that income stream flowing. That’s a backup too. And doing all the stuff around the house here, and the vehicle maintenance, and getting the kids started in the new school year…

Yeah. Don’t weaken. Don’t falter. Get ready. Stack.

nick

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Sun. Apr. 2, 2023 – hoping the weather holds…

It might be warm and damp.  Might not, but I’m betting on warm and damp.   Yesterday cleared to a beautiful afternoon and early evening, but got overcast and cooled a bit later.   There were even some spotty drops from the sky depending on where you were in town.   Nothing real at my house though.

I’ll have to move fixing the sprinklers up the list if it stays dry much longer.

Spent yesterday afternoon doing auction things.   Picked up at two houses, mostly stuff for the BOL and home.  One item was a needful thing that has been in short supply for a while.  Price was reasonable too.  Went by the GW outlet, and picked up a couple of handy things and a couple of things for resale.

Came home and looked as some of the stuff I got at the hobby estate.   I’ve still got some books and some more tools to go through, but I’m happy so far.

I also sorted some auction stuff.   I’ll do more of that today.

It would be nice to get a freezer delivered to make room in  my storage unit…   but I’ll settle for sorting more auction stuff, and maybe doing home maintenance.   I’ve got to stick close to home to get the child from her GS trip.  I should break down and vac seal some meat too.  Just my normal domestic bliss…

For the first time in a couple of years I was able to add to the stack of one certain thing in a meaningful way.   Look around, supply might be opening up a tad.

Stack whatever you can find.

nick

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