Category: solar power

Wed. May 22, 2024 – school days, school days, dear old golden rule days…

Hot and humid again. National weather forecast has stuff just north of us again, but Houston in the clear. Hot and clear. Humid and clear. It was 94F and sunny yesterday afternoon and that just killed me for working outdoors in the sun. Nope, not gonna do it.

So yesterday’s plan, such as it was, didn’t really work. I did computer stuff in the morning, getting partway caught up on my auctions, but then ended up running D2 over to a friend’s house to watch movies. I hit a goodwill and then Costco on the way home. Costco has Charmin blue on sale this cycle, and their French Roast whole bean coffee was <$5/pound. I also grabbed a two pack of prime sirloin cap roasts (picanha roast). We had one for dinner, and one went in the freezer. They were $6/pound which is a great price. I'm out of freezer space though. The Kirkland french roast whole bean is pretty good, and pretty darn good for the price. At the moment it's cheaper than the Community Coffee that I like.. I noticed that new EMPTY LP gas bottles are now $42 each at Costco. They were ~$20 pre-wuflu. That's a big increase in anyone's book. They had several varieties of rice but they are still short stock and choices with higher prices compared to 2 years ago. I made dinner and vac sealed the roast and some prime sirloin I'd picked up and just put in the freezer in the store packaging. It won't last long in the thin plastic, so I'm glad I noticed I hadn't done the bagging. A bit more auction stuff in the evening and it was time to retire and face another day. Today the kids have school again. Some schools are still without power, but the district decided to bring as many kids back as possible. I don't recall them doing that in the previous 8 years... it's usually all or nothing. Still have neighbors nearby that don't have power, and there are still streets that are partly or completely blocked. I went and looked at the one a couple blocks from me, and it is a HUGE tree with very thick branches. I think a couple of people could clear it in a few hours, at least to open one lane, but it would be a lot of work in the sun. I decided to let someone else work at it. Still doing cleanup and putting stuff back, but didn't receive my replacement carb yesterday either. I don't want to get elbow deep in generators until I can do them all. And I might set up the evaporative cooling fan first. I've got it, I should use it. And some sun shade would be nice. We'll see how today goes, with an early wrap to my stuff when the kids need rides home. Maybe I'll get a grocery trip in. Gotta keep stacking... nick

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Sat. May 18, 2024 – home, cleanup, generators, and maybe some solar

Starting cool and wet, and warming to steamy if I’m unlucky. Last night was nice and cool.

Started Friday at the BOL. Decided to head home to watch the house and manage the freezers, while wife and kids would bug out to the lake. So I set up a big dehumidifier and some fans, sprayed down all the exposed wet walls and floor in the dockhouse, and hit the road. I brought 25 gallons of gas and two propane bottles with me, a chainsaw, some parts, and my PPEs for chainsawing… Stopped half way home to top of the truck and buy some other stuff at Tractor Supply. Bought another 5 gallon gas can because they had plastic Spector jerry can style cans on sale for 20$ which is a good price.

I bought some 2 cycle oil too. Won’t be doing that at TS if I can help it. Their oil was 12$ to treat 5 gallons. Their premix was 25$ a gallon. Crazy high compared to Lowes, but might not be available at all in Houston, so I bit the bullet. Yes, I already had some, but more is good.

Got home, got the Honda 3000i running on propane. Got my trusty Generac running briefly but the carb is shot. Ordered on from amz to arrive Monday. I’ll try messing with it today and tomorrow anyway, but I’ve got the backup coming.

I’m writing this at 1130pm and the gennie has been running to power the fridges and freezers since about 7. They are cold again/still. Several people on my street have gennies running, one guy even has his landscape lights on. I’m shutting down overnight though. Can’t hear mine from the street, but I don’t want to waste the propane. I don’t have a good idea of runtime on a BBQ bottle…

Today will be cleanup, getting power sorted and organized for the long haul. I think it could be weeks before we’re up again. Ike had us running on generator for 14 days. At least we have running water, and while the gennie is running the instant hot water heater runs. I might set up one of the camp heaters but they use propane too and it might be hard to get later.

Speaking of, TS had MrHeater refillable one pound bottles, and the setup to refill them. Bottles were ~20. They had an extensive MrHeater display with lots of accessories. Watch for a closeout when the seasons finally change, or pick some up now…

I’m using my lappy and my cell as a hotspot so posting might be sparse. Share if you have any info or news as I’ll probably see it here first.

I did not expect a big storm this early and I’m not really ready. Paying the price for that…

But hey, the stacks are paying off once again.

Stack some of your own.


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Wed. Apr. 3, 2024 – life would be a dream, shaboom shaboom…

Cool and eventually clear? Yesterday ended up clear but started with overcast and even a spattering of rain. By the end of the day it was quite nice, even hot in the sun. Today could be the same and I’d be happy. I just don’t want rain.

Did a pickup yesterday afternoon. Got three more gas powered heaters, some propane, but one at least natgas. It’s spring so people are buying air conditioners. I was buying them in the winter. The auction items are either returns from people who decided they didn’t need the heaters after all, or shelf pulls as stores change out seasonal inventory. I think these were all returns.

I got two more solar panels as well. And then I found a whole auction of panels, distro, inverters, batteries, etc. It’s in town, and it all starts at $5. I’ll be bidding, and I hope I can get some stuff cheap. This auction is decommissioned complete systems, so at one point it all worked together. Just knowing that gives me a leg up on putting a system back together. It would be nice to score some stuff in industrial quantities.

Florida blogger Divemedic is looking into solar for his backup energy needs. It definitely has an appeal, as long as you have storage batteries on site. Grid tied is not a backup. I think it has a place in everyone’s preps, at least enough to run a freezer or fridge, and charge phones and batteries… That is doable for not too much money, and it is quiet, and will last as long as the battery takes a charge. I’ve got electrically powered versions of most things to take advantage of solar after the liquid fuels run out. Now I just have to get the parts together into a system.

Along with all the other things I have to do…

I’ll just keep plodding along, with occasional bursts of effectiveness.

And stacking stuff. That’s the easiest part.


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Sun. Mar. 10, 2024 – work, work, work, fish, work

Cold and dreary? Maybe cold and clear. Probably cold though. It was chilly in Houston yesterday, I changed from shorts to long pants before I left the house.

Had a good hobby meeting. My website design and work was approved as was my plan to continue. So there’s no dodging it now. I’m learning stuff, which is good, but it’s another project and a time sink at that.

Picked up my wind generator on the way to the BOL, and I’ll at least take a look in the box today. It’s not huge, but I don’t know the wattage yet. Looks like it was designed for a boat…

I’ve got a list of projects, as usual. It’ll be pick and choose based on weather, mood, and timing. And if I got all the parts together. Setting up starlink should be at least a little bit interesting.

We’ve got the in-laws up for the first half of the week, so that will add a layer of complexity and angst. Good for the kids though, in small doses.

And apparently the garden has sprouted. So I’ll probably do some weeding over the week. And I might get some seeds in the ground in my plot too. We’ll see. Meanwhile I brought up more meat for the freezers, and two cans of freeze dried for the shelf. My thumbs are not green. So I stack.

So how does your garden grow? If not, better add some canned veg to your stacks.


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Thur. Mar. 7, 2024 – the only thing we have … is the thing we have.

Warm and sunny, clear and beautiful. That’s the way yesterday turned out, and it would be great to have that again today. I guess…. we’ll see 😉

Spent yesterday doing auction stuff, and plumbing. I won a wind generator for a dollar. Looks complete, new in box. Not a huge one, but I’ve wanted one to play with, and there is a natural wind tunnel effect at the BOL so I have a good place to put it. I’ve been eyeing the spot since shortly after we bought the place, now I’ll have to find some time to put it up. Should be interesting.

Finally finished the plumbing repair to the drain in the bath tub. Used the parts from goodwill, with a few add ons from Home Depot. The goodwill assembly saved me about $80. Had to go and get a part I didn’t know existed until I tried to put the thing together. That was fun. Things don’t quite line up but I made it work. (They never lined up, and the previous guy made it work…) That should let us delay ripping up the bathroom for a bit longer.

Spring Break is coming up and we’ll be at the BOL for most of the week. I’ll be working the list and getting all the “spring” things going up there. Sprinkler system is top of the list at the moment. Stabilizing the hill and retaining walls is on the list too, but that will have to be other specialists. The tree guy still has to come by and do the trimming and removal. I’d like to get a couple of fruit trees planted, but I’m not finding anything in the big box stores. I missed the apple trees apparently. I’m not going to plant anything that isn’t cold hardy either, so the cherries at HD right now won’t do. I don’t care for plums, and HD only had one variety of pears. You need two to get good yields. I’m not planting citrus up there either. I knew I should have bought the apple trees when I saw them….

Oh, and I’ll be tasked with getting the starlink set up and wifi coverage installed.

Today I’ll be doing a pickup for the wind generator and some other smalls I won. I’ll probably do some more hobby website, and maybe unbox the starlink too. I would like to have all the net stuff ready to go when we head up. Minimum is the starlink and some additional wifi… I’ve got the gear, just need to do it.

Maybe I can find some time to fish during the week…

One can hope. In the mean time, I’m stacking infrastructure. Stack some of your own.


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Fri. Feb. 2, 2024 – ah the smell of cardboard boxes…

Cool and overcast, possibly wet… some chance of rain today. Yesterday ended up kinda cloudy, not really overcast, but pretty grey later in the day. No rain though, and the temp was very nice. Today should be comfortable, but wet.

Did my pickups. It’s been a while since I bought anything from the city surplus warehouse, but I got something I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s a bit of infrastructure that could be used surreptitiously around town. I intend to use one at the BOL, and sell a bunch. I also had a good chat with my other auctioneer, the one who wants to start prepping. Gave him some links from the old MD Creekmore site, and from his current site. Had an issue with pointing him here, as that would out me to him and I’m not sure I want that, at least not yet. While I was there he sold me a Renogy flexible solar panel. I won two more in auctions last night, so I’m spending money like crazy (and saving it too) but I’m advancing my solar project. I’m buying it when I see it.

As you can imagine, I’ve got a mish mash of panels, charge controllers, inverters, and batteries. I think I’ll end up with a bunch of small systems rather than one big one, but I’m not ruling it out yet. I just think it has to be easier if they are all similar panels, which is not what I’ve got.

One auction had a match to my Honda I3000 inverter gennie. I really wanted it so I can slave it to the other, and get 240v from the pair. Unfortunately, someone else wanted it more than me. I dropped out at $1k. IIRC I paid $500 or $600 for the first one, and put a couple hundred more into it to get it running. After buying the panels, I didn’t think I wanted to go higher than $1k for an unknown quantity.

I’m doing what I can to get my own infrastructure together, at least at a minimal level. You guys should be thinking about it too. One of the signs of the decline is that formerly reliable services become unreliable. Any armed strife, or terror act could add to that.

I think we’ll see both, for whatever it’s worth.

Get your ducks in a row, they’re tasty!

Stack like your life depends on it.


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Tues. Aug. 16, 2022 – and away we go!

Hot, humid, chance of rain… and all that noise.   It was a bit cooler yesterday than it has been, so maybe summer is winding down.  On the other hand, it was still 82F at midnight.

Got the kids off to school, kinda.   Turns out the bus drives by, then picks up some other kids, and returns to pick up mine.  As it was 20 minutes late when it passed the first time,  we didn’t wait.   Kids had a good first day.

I did some auction stuff then went shopping.   Dropped a bunch of money at Lowes on plumbing stuff for the BOL, then hit up Costco.   Dropped a bunch of money there, but got a bunch of meat too.  Freezers are full again, until I move more to the lake.

Today I’ve got auction pickups, home and rent house maintenance, and some other errands to run, but first D1 needs to have her braces checked.   That takes up most of the morning, by the time I’m back home. Oh well. Poor planning to schedule the appointment during the school week, when we could have done it last week, but we are getting near the end of her treatment.  ‘Bout time to get D2 started.

One of the auction items I picked up last week was a solar inverter.   Solar for the BOL is moving up the list.  I just have to figure out how all the pieces work together, and find the time to assemble what I have.   Seems like it should be more straightforward than most people online make it out to be.   Hmm.  Lotta things like that.


The other thing I have to do is some auction listings.   I’ve got some high value stuff just sitting here, getting older, without being listed.   Keeping up with listings is probably the hardest part of reselling, but there isn’t any “selling” without listing.   Seems like there is always something more important to do though.

Dinner yesterday was all from stores.   Sesame chicken “simmering sauce” from HEB, costco chicken from cans, and instant rice.   Came together pretty quickly and tasted good.  Every bit got eaten, and my wife said she’d eat it again…  Starting with the packaged food cuts prep time considerably, reduces cook time dramatically, and makes it easier.  All of those are good things in a disaster, or just when you can’t be bothered to cook from complete scratch.   All of the elements of the meal store for a long time too.

Bulk ingredients are great, and are an integral part of any long term plan, but consider some meals that use less time and energy for the times when you are short of both.

Then stack it up!


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Wed. June 30, 2021 – summer is flying by

Hot and humid, chance of rain. We did get rain yesterday, and sun, and heat (but not terrible heat). Today should be more of the same.

Spent the day mostly indoors, doing a bunch of stuff I’ve put off too long. Paid my toll invoices for driving around without toll tags in my new truck. Put the toll tag in the truck. Did a bunch of other paperwork stuff. Played with the puppy.

Today should be a bit more active. I have to do an auction pickup, and take both kids for their Girl Scout Camp physicals. I’ve got other auction stuff to do too. I was sorting through some stuff to sell in one of the local auctions last night. She’s got a guy who buys all of one particular item that she lists, and I’ve got a bunch of them. She’s waved me off on general items since she has a huge listing backlog, but maybe I can squeeze a dozen of these in. While going through that box of stuff, I might also have found a really good score. I’ll share with the guy who gave me the box though, I’d feel bad taking it all, it’s that good a score, and there were other things in the box that should bring good money on their own.

Part of the fun of thrifting/estate/garage/yard sale hunting is the treasure hunt aspect. You literally don’t know what you will find, and sometimes you do find the treasure.


Got my FCC license for GMRS about 10 hours after I applied. It’s a “pay the fee and get the license” application, and the license covers your whole family. The FCC isn’t issuing actual hard copies anymore, they just send a link to a pdf. I guess there is very little intrinsic value in the paper, that would make it worth forging. In any case, I’m current for GMRS again. FWIW, I got a new license rather than renew my lapsed one. There were two additional hoops to jump through and a huge fee ($210) to bring my old one current, so I just got a new one ($70 for 5 years) instead.


There are a lot of people that would make arguments against paying for the GMRS license, working from at least 3 different points of view. Don’t care. I don’t want to give them (.gov) that handle to use against me.


There are a lot of lists out there. My radio stuff puts me on one or more. My CERT training put me on another. My previous work clients put me on yet more lists. I’m a blogger, which probably puts me on a list. I am on lists with HPD and our Constable’s office, and the associated alumni groups. Purchasing certain items with background checks put me on a list. Visa and Mastercard probably maintain lists based on my purchase history. Amazon certainly does, and likely collaborates with .gov by compiling and selling lists. My school district has me on at least 4 lists. I’ve been to China twice so I’m on lists there, and I’m certain the US State Dept. has me on lists because of my travel to the middle east and the middle kingdom. I’m on a list in Canada, I had a work permit there for several years. I was working on a project subject to ITAR and had to go through that paperwork – that’s another list. At one point in my miss-spent youth, I’m sure I was on some other agencies’ lists as a “known associate”. There may even be criminal enterprises that have me on a list, if they do that sort of thing.

Don’t let the fact that you’ll end up on a list keep you from doing something. There are lots of us on lists, and the more there are, the more noise there is to get lost in. Use the lists to your advantage. I have access to more training activities now that I’m on a vetted list with HPD and the Constable’s Office. The CERT training is very broad based, and definitely worth trading for a spot on a list. So is ham radio. Medical training likewise.

If everyone’s the ‘biggest risk to the US’ then no one is.

Of course, be aware of when you really DON’T want to be on the list, and try to conduct at least part of your life so you don’t get on lists. Especially when it comes to stacking, you don’t want to be on the list of resources to be plundered. And since local is the new hotness, be very careful about getting on your neighbors’ lists… and consider making a few of your own.

You can think of the lists while you’re stacking.


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Thur. June 10, 2021 – wouldn’t it be nice to get something done?

Hot and humid. Yep, we’re in that part of the year. This opening paragraph will be an almost unbroken litany of hot and humid that will occasionally be broken by severe weather. Somewhere in the low to mid 90s yesterday, and somewhere in the low to mid 90s today. Humidity in the same range, 75 – 90 %RH. We didn’t get rain yesterday, and there isn’t supposed to be any today, which is a nice change.

Can I just say that I don’t like people in my house, or in my kitchen? I don’t like them moving my stuff around. And if they want to cook, they should frakking cook, not just make a mess and then hand ME stuff to cook. It was tasty, but it took 3 times as long as it should have, and wasn’t what I’d have chosen, given that we ate the same dish just a few days ago. Of course that was a prepared meal from costco and I just had to heat it in the microwave and make some rice to go with it.

I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. Daughter one did get to spend the day in the kitchen with grandma. Of course because g-ma likes the idea of doing these things more than the actuality of doing them, there was more frustration and yelling than I would have liked. The kicker for me though, this was a recipe from a magazine she’s made once before, not some family treasure. There are family treasures, but I guess we won’t get to learn them…

Puppy was very entertaining. He is learning to play with toys and it’s as cute as it sounds. Got outside in time more than once, so progress is being made with housebreaking too. He goes in for shots and initial checkup this morning.

After that, I have things to pick up. I’ve got the one item from last week, and some hobby and household stuff from this week. There were a lot of things I didn’t bid on this week and a couple I’m still watching. There is a 300w Jackery “generator” and a similar setup at 600w from another company. I’ll never consider a battery and inverter to be a “generator” no matter how it’s packaged. Handy, no doubt about that, but it’s not generating energy. It does look like a good solution for someone that doesn’t want to or can’t ‘roll their own’, and it’s cheaper than the GoalZero. If it goes cheap enough, maybe I’ll win the bid. If not, the inverter and batteries in the garage will have to do.

I will suggest that you get something to turn battery power into 120v, even if it’s just a relatively cheap inverter with alligator clips to attach to your car battery. I’ve got a small one in each vehicle, and several in the stacks. There might come a day when being able to plug in some device becomes critical. And if nothing else, it’s another tool in your box.

With that, I’ve got kids to feed, and doggies to take to the vet, and I better get started with my day.

Stack something!


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Fri. Dec. 18, 2020 – one week ’til Christmas.

Cold and dry or maybe cold and damp.  But certainly cold.

Cold all day yesterday but above freezing by mid morning.

I spent the afternoon doing pickups that I was going to do today, so that I can go to my client’s house today instead.  And I would really like to drop off a couple of bins, and pickup some stuff, but that auction house has pickups for yesterday’s auction and they’ll be busy.

I’ll also try to get my expired ID exchanged for current for the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association today.   The training officer will be close to somewhere I will be driving by, and is willing to make the exchange.

It will be a busy couple of days today and tomorrow.

On my way home yesterday I stopped in the Goodwill Outlet.  In the weird items category, I grabbed two new sealed tubs of Cascade dishwashing pods.  These are the very same ones I buy normally.  At ~$3 each, that was a pretty good deal compared to $19 each in the store.  I grabbed a dozen DVDs for me, and a dozen name brand ladies’ purses for the auction with the money I saved.  I should make good money on the purses, they’ve been selling really well.

The batteries I picked up will add to my future solar bank.  I now have 4 or 5 identical 65AH batteries, 3 or 4 identical 55AH batteries, and a mix of others mostly car or truck batteries.  I’ve got a 100w panel, and 70 panels at 10w.  I’ve got a couple of big inverters.  Still need charge controllers though, as the one that I have is NFG.  Once I have all the pieces, I’ll start on cobbling some sort of system together.  Or maybe 2 or 3 systems right next to each other.  Future project though.

If CWII breaks out and the Monkey Wrench Gang goes to work, solar and supplemental energy will be really important.  And if not, it will be an interesting project that I can use to run the air conditioner in my garage.

Cisterns for water, local solar and batteries, these are current tech and part of everyday life in places like Cancun Mexico.  I think we might see them here too, and too soon.  So I’ll keep stacking the stuff to make that work.

Keep stacking the stuff you think you’ll need.



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