Fri. Feb. 23, 2018 – What did you do to prep this week?

Friday again.  If time was passing any faster, it would be going backwards….

I’ve added an OFD Project page.  It’s link is in the black bar at the top of this page.  I’ll copy relevant comments or updates there as a record of what’s going on with that.  (Edited by RickH: that page now has comments enabled, so you can post comments here to be moved, or on that page to be shown on that page. All comments, no matter what page posted, are shown in the Recent Comments list over on the right [or below this post on smaller screens].)

And I’m bringing back Bob’s “What did you do to prep this week.”   It’s always the “quiet before the storm”, well, when the storm isn’t  “on the horizon”.  With that as a given, I’ll just say, “what can’t continue, won’t.”   We’ve seen examples elsewhere, and historically even here of how quickly things can change and how bad things can get.  This is a good time to take inventory, rotate some stuff, try some stuff out, get some more stuff, connect with new people, and learn a new skill.

No one knows the future, but in the last couple of years talking about it, we’ve seen Venezuela go from “man they have trouble coming” to “mmmm, tasty zebra.”

We’ve already GOT ‘Hoovervilles’ only with more drugs and crime.  We’ve already got social influencers touting “tiny homes” and normalizing reduced expectations.  Youtube “van life” to get a window to a whole culture of nomadic homelessness and reduced expectations. We’ve got a whole generation conditioned to socialism, envy, selfishness/narcissism, casual sex and violence, and most of them have really poor prospects.  They are gonna be REALLY ANGRY and ready to lash out when they figure it all out.

So what did I get done this week?   I got the first coat of cold galvanizing on my new HF antenna mast.  The rain came back so getting that done and the antenna back up is on hold.

I cleaned up my raised beds.  I need to add manure and soil, and get my spring garden planted.   I did move some onion starts to a window box, but I don’t know if they’ll prosper.  They are pretty lame looking.   I planted some herb seeds along with the onion, but it looks like I was just feeding the squirrels.  I’ll be doing more garden stuff this week.

I bought a used metal gate from Habitat and will adapt it to close off my driveway.  Another project that needs some dry days.  For now, I’m just mounting it simply.  Eventually I’ll add a better post and an electric opener for convenience.  It will control access to my driveway and garage, and visually hide all that stuff from the street.

My work on my ‘hurricane room’ continues slowly, but progress gets made.

I’ve got a rental house as a retirement plan and income stream, and I’ve got repairs and painting to do there after the last tenants moved out.  I made some progress on cleaning and paint prep.  Wife hired a painter, which just leaves the repairs for me.  Still more fair weather tasks though.

My battle with the rats continues.  I’ll have a whole ‘lessons learned’ but the short version is- they are extremely destructive and will literally eat you out of house and home.  Jump on them hard and quickly at the first sign.   Stock up on the supplies NOW.  If, like me, you have an environmental change that ends with a rat infestation, your neighbors are likely to have one too.  Rat traps and poisons are in short supply in local stores at the moment.  Rats are smart, social, and seem to pass on their learning.  They are not trapped more than once or twice with the same technique.  They will avoid peanut butter like death itself once they know it is bait.

Ebay selling is slow for big items and ok for smaller stuff.  I’ve sold a mix of industrial controls, collectibles, housewares, and public safety gear this month.  I’ve sold old crap and new old stock to police and fire departments and to individual cops.  They are looking for bargains on ebay, so I know budgets must be tight.  Even though my sales are slow, I’m encouraging everyone to get selling on ebay or amazon.  You’ve got crap you can get rid of as a starter, and it is a decent part time income from part time work.  You WILL need the income stream at some point.


With that, I’ve got another day of paying work today, so will be away from the pc for a while.

What did YOU do to prep this week?




Saturday, 31 December 2016

09:19 – Happy New Year’s Eve

2016 in Prepping

We closed on our new house in Sparta in December 2015. In the year since, we’ve gotten moved in and gotten things more or less the way we want them. Among the many things we checked off our to-do lists were many prepping-related purchases and activities. Here are some of those:

o We got moved into the house, got our house in Winston cleared out, and sold it. We’ve gone from living in a metro area with a population over 1,000,000 to living in a rural mountain county with a population about 1% of that.

o We installed a wood stove and laid in a supply of firewood sufficient to keep the house livable for at least a couple of months. We intend to double or triple our firewood supply in the near future.

o We’ve expanded our LTS food supply significantly. We’re now at the point that we could feed ourselves, Colin, Frances and Al for more than one year without any outside resupply.

o Rather than eating mostly fresh and frozen foods, we’ve started cooking and baking from scratch for a lot of our meals, using mostly LTS foods. We also greatly expanded our selection of cast-iron cookware.

o Although we haven’t yet started canning, we do have everything we need to can, including a pressure canner, several dozen new canning jars, re-usable Tattler lids, and so on. Early in the New Year, I’d like to get started canning meats, initially probably ground beef and dark-meat chicken.

o We greatly expanded our inventory of medical supplies, notably the most important SHTF antibiotics (doxycycline, SMZ/TMP, metronidazole, levofloxacin, and amoxiclav) from maybe a dozen courses total to more than 150 courses. All of those sit in the freezer, where they’ll remain usable for literally decades.

o We purchased the essentials for a small off-grid solar power setup: four 100W solar panels and a charge controller. I ordered a 2.5KW/5KW modified sine-wave inverter yesterday, which will suffice to drive the well pump. I still need to buy some deep-cycle batteries, although if TSHTF later today I could get a functioning solar power system going using car batteries.

o We installed a 330-gallon propane tank and a gas cooktop. That will suffice to allow us to cook and bake completely off-grid for literally years. There’s enough propane that we could also use it to heat water for bathing and laundry.

o We made a lot of new friends and acquaintances locally, including our immediate neighbors. Most of that is down to Barbara, who volunteers with the Friends of the Library and the local historical society, but I’m doing my bit as well. We’re both doing what we can to become part of the community.

So, what did you do to prep this year?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

10:00 – Email from Brittany yesterday, CC’d to Jen. Like many preppers, with only a couple of weeks until the election, Brittany is trying to make sure she has all her ducks lined up.

She’s been reading about fish antibiotics, and wanted to know which specifically I’d recommend she buy RFN. With the usual disclaimer that I am neither a physician nor a pharmacist and so as an unqualified person all I can do is tell her what I would store in her place, I mentioned the following, assuming that neither she nor her family has any allergies to any of these antibiotics:

1. Doxycycline — probably the most flexible of readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotics. The usual adult course of treatment is one 100-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 tablets is 30 days’ worth, or three to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

2. SMZ/TMP — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 400/80-mg tablet every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 800/160-mg tablets is 60 days’ worth, or six to eight full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

3. Metronidazole — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is also active against anaerobic bacteria and many protozoal pathogens. Although it varies with the disease being treated, the usual adult course of treatment is 2,000 to 4,000 mg total per day (at 7.5 mg/kg) divided into three or four doses for five to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets (30 grams total) is one to two full courses of treatment for a 150-pound adult. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

4. Ciprofloxacin — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 500-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for seven to fourteen days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets is two to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 6 to 12 courses on hand.)

Although it’s harder to come by than the antibiotics listed above, I’d also want to keep a few courses of 875/125-mg amoxicillin/clavulanate on hand. Resistance to plain amoxicillin is now so widespread that many physicians treat it almost as a placebo, so don’t bother stocking it or other beta-lactam antibiotics.

Friday, 19 August 2016

09:56 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket. Colin and I are doing kit stuff.

If you’ve been meaning to stock up on whole egg powder, you might want to visit the Augason Farms website. Today and tomorrow only, they’re having a 30% off sale on 18-pound buckets of whole egg powder. Regularly $248.99, on sale for $174.29. That 6-gallon bucket is the equivalent of just under nine of their 33-ounce #10 cans at $20/can, and is sufficient to provide a dozen eggs per week for a year. I’m not ordering a bucket because I already have quite a bit of AF powdered eggs in #10 cans and because I expect the price of powdered eggs to drop further any time now, but then I’ve been expecting that for months.

When we lived down in Winston, Kevin, our regular USPS carrier, would have someone riding along with him maybe every six months. That person was evaluating his route to make sure that it required about the same amount of time and work as all the other routes served by that post office. Lori, our carrier here, has mentioned more than once that the increase in volume from is killing her and the other carriers in the Sparta post office. They haven’t had anyone ride their routes with them since Amazon’s volume started ramping up big-time. As Lori says, that means they essentially end up delivering Amazon packages for free. The post office gets paid, of course, but the carriers are having to deliver much, much higher volume. That takes them more time and more work, and they don’t get paid any more for it.

USPS also treats in-town carriers and rural-route carriers differently. In-town carriers are provided with vehicles. Rural-route carriers, including ones that are actual USPS employees rather than contractors, have to buy their own vehicles. They’re paid mileage, but even so it’s a hassle that in-town carriers don’t have to deal with. Lori is still driving the RHD Jeep Wrangler she’s been driving for years. I actually emailed the postmaster general a month or so ago, and suggested he give Lori one of the new vans that USPS is starting to deploy. I haven’t heard back from him yet.

I’ve been so busy with science kit stuff lately that I haven’t had time to do any prepping to speak of. We do plan to make a big Costco run in the next couple weeks to restock on stuff we’ve used over the last few months and add more flour, sugar, oats, and other bulk staples.

Friday, 12 August 2016

09:35 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket. She spent the night last night at Bonnie’s our 88-year-old neighbor. Bonnie fell a few weeks ago and fractured her hip. Her local family are trying to keep someone with her 24 hours a day until she’s fully recovered, but providing 24-hour coverage isn’t easy for people who have their own responsibilities. So Barbara and Vickie, our neighbor on the other side, are doing what they can to help out. When she returned home this morning, Barbara said that Bonnie was doing well, and she thinks she’ll be okay by herself now. Bonnie does have a fell-and-can’t-get-up pendant, so she can summon help if necessary.

We made dinner again last night from only LTS food. Baked spaghetti, and we made up enough for at least two meals and probably three for the two of us. Baked spaghetti, which we made up in vegetarian form. It was quite good, even without any meat. After dinner, Barbara cooked up a pound of ground beef and added it to the leftovers before freezing them in two portions. I’ll be interested in seeing what it’s like with meat in it.

The recipe called for a jar of Cheez-Whiz or similar, so we made up some cheese dip with the Augason Farms Cheese Blend Powder. It tasted fine, but it needed more water. AF provides a recipe to make up cheese sauce and another to make up cheese dip. The latter specifies equal amounts of the cheese powder and water, and the former uses a higher proportion of water. I used 1.5 cups of the powder with 1.5 cups of water to make up two cups of cheese dip because I figured the cheese dip recipe would more closely resemble the Cheez-Whiz stuff. As it turned out, a 1:1 ratio is way too much cheese powder even for a dip. The next time we use the cheese powder, I’ll be mixing it with more water.

Prepping stuff from and is starting to stack up in the foyer. In the last week, I’ve ordered and/or received a 26-pound bucket of Augason Farms Brown Rice, several #10 cans of Augason Farms Potato Shreds, another can of AF Cheese Blend Powder to replace the one we just opened, several different kinds of canned mushrooms to test, some spices we don’t currently stock, two 24-can cases of Costco canned chicken, two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars, a Victorio apple corer/peeler/slicer, a Lodge 8-quart deep cast-iron camping dutch oven with lid lifter, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On our next trip down to Costco, I want to restock a lot of items we’ve been using for the last year or so without replacing. Stuff like spaghetti sauce, applesauce, canned vegetables, and so on, as well as more bulk staples–bags of flour, sugar, rice, oats, etc.

So, what did you guys do to prep this week?

Back to work on science kits.

Friday, 24 June 2016

09:35 – Good news overnight. The UK has voted to leave the EU, and that prog POS Cameron has announced his resignation. Apparently, Boris Johnson is likely to become leader of the Tories and probably the next PM. It would be more fitting if Nigel Farage became PM. He is, after all, the leader of the UK Independence Party.

I have a modest proposal. I think we should rename the North American Free Trade Agreement to the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, eject Mexico (which is in Central America anyway), and invite the UK to join the new NAFTA. Eventually, we could invite Denmark and Holland, most of whose citizens speak English anyway, and of course Australia and New Zealand. But the UK is most important. As Europe continues being muslimized, the day may come when we again need the UK as an unsinkable aircraft carrier.

I didn’t do much prepping this week, other than ordering half a dozen boxes of Krusteaz cinnamon crumb cake and a pail of Augason Farms brown rice from Walmart. I note that the Krusteaz product has gone up from $2.14/box to $2.25. Eleven cents may not seem like much, but it’s more than 5%. At least that’s not as bad as the Augason powdered eggs. The last time I bought them, they were $17/can. They got up over $50 last year, but are now down to $34.50, only twice what I paid.

More science kit stuff today, of course.

Friday, 13 May 2016

09:58 – Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month.

Barbara and I drove down to Winston yesterday to meet our realtor and get the house listed and ready to go on the market. It should be on the market today or tomorrow. That’s a big thing out of the way.

On our way home, we made a two-cart Costco run, which is unusual for us. Barbara filled her cart with $340 of mostly meat. I filled mine with mostly heavy, bulky stuff, which came to $130.

Not much prepping related stuff this week. We’ve been too busy doing kit stuff. I did pick up three 6-gallon packs of water at Costco, along with a couple large cans of Country Time lemonade, a 3-pound can of coffee, half a gallon of soy sauce, a bottle of vanilla extract, a cannister of cinnamon, and a 500-foot roll of Kirkland/Reynolds heavy-duty 18″ wide aluminum foil. Oh, and a 50-pound bag of sugar, which we’ll repackage today into PET bottles. In the past, we’ve repackaged our working supply of sugar into those Costco PET wide-mouth nut jars, which we keep in the kitchen cabinets. I suggested to Barbara this morning that we should re-purpose some of those nut jars to store baking soda. Those 12- or 13-pound bags it comes in are awkward to use, particularly since we normally use baking soda a tablespoon or two at a time. If we don’t have enough nut jars remaining to repackage the whole 50 pounds of sugar, we’ll just use 2-liter bottles. Or perhaps we’ll use clean, dry jars that formerly held applesauce to hold the baking soda. Either way should work better than those retort bags it come in.

Friday, 6 May 2016

10:08 – Barbara is working out in the front yard, spreading mulch. Colin was standing at the front door watching her work, and just let out a ferocious bark. Barbara came in the door and said that a deer had just come around the far end of the house on a dead run and passed her, heading for the neighbors’ property. We don’t see deer very often during the day, and certainly not that close. But we have a significant deer population, and I’m sure they’re out in our yard every night.

The plumbers came yesterday to switch out our sediment filter and show me what needs to be done periodically. He said the filters I’d picked up at Blevin’s yesterday were extremely fine and may need to be swapped out more frequently than the package recommends. It says they last for 8,000 gallons or two months. That’s 133 gallons a day, and I doubt we use that much water. The price at Blevin’s was $8.99 for a two-pack, or $0.80 cheaper than Amazon Prime.

I told him that the electrician said we had a 120VAC well pump. He refused to believe it wasn’t 240VAC until he looked at the main breaker panel. Then he said he wanted to take a look at it, so he went out in the front yard and pulled the concrete cap off the well-casing shelter and pulled out all the fiberglass insulation. We expected there to be a plaque in there with the name of the drilling company and details about the depth and well head, but there wasn’t one to be found. We’re going to have to check county records to find out what company drilled the well and hope they have the details on record.

Not much prepping this week. I ordered some monthly PetArmor Plus flea/tick treatments from Walmart. That ran only about $25, so I needed another $25 to qualify for free shipping. So I ordered ten more jars of Bertolli Alfredo sauce, which has gone up from $2.14 the last time I ordered to $2.23, a pack of Walmart house-brand egg noodles just to try, and some 15.9-ounce jars of Knorr beef bouillon. Walmart had those on sale, at $2.99 for a 12-pack, or about $0.25/jar. I thought it must be a typo, but they confirmed the order and shipped it. If they really ship me 12 jars, I guess I’ll be giving free jars to family, friends, and neighbors. The stuff keeps for a long, long time, but not long enough for us to use 12 jars.

Oh, and I read Surviving Abe. This has to be the strangest prepping novel I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. The author is a leftie/prog climatista eco-greenie true-believer. His event is a continent-wide storm, which the Weather Channel dubs Abe. It kills millions, but that’s the least of it. A sub-thread running through the book is that organized eco-greenie terrorists have been waiting for just such an event so that they can pile on by destroying infrastructure like the electric grid, water purification plants and so on. Their goal, which the author apparently approves, is to cause a mass die-off of humanity, reducing the world’s population from 7 billion to 2 billion in order to make things “sustainable”. The author is real big on sustainable, and apparently approves of mass murder as the way to get there. Geez. Don’t bother reading it. To add insult to injury, the book ends in the middle of the story and there is no sequel, nor apparently will there be.

Friday, 8 April 2016

10:17 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket, after which we’ll be building more science kits. We built a batch of the FK01A forensic science kits yesterday. Today, we’ll get another batch of BK01 biology kits built and at least get started on a new batch of CK01A chemistry kits.

Lori just showed up with the mail, including a box from Amazon. A couple of years ago, my workhorse Brother HL-5250DN laser printer started printing an empty line down the middle of each printout. The problem was the drum unit, but when I checked for a replacement, the only option was a Brother-branded unit for $180. I paid something like $225 for the printer originally, and there was no way I was going to pay that to replace the drum on a printer that had already had some heavy use. The 5250 even with the stripe was fine for most of what I printed as it was, so I decided to just use it until it dropped. Then the other day, I was on Amazon and decided to search for a drum unit. Sure enough, they had a third-party replacement drum unit with excellent reviews for $18. (They also had a different one with not-so-good reviews for $12.) I’ve had good experience with third-party toner cartridges bought on Amazon, so I decided to give the $18 unit a try.

Not much time available for prepping this week, and we’re being careful about unnecessary spending until we get the house on the market and sold, so the only prepping-related thing I did was buy a print copy of All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space 2nd Edition. The last time I had a garden of my own was about 50 years ago, and I want to try growing some herbs and vegetables on a small scale.

Friday, 25 March 2016

09:37 – Barbara, Colin, and I went down to Winston yesterday. We had an appointment with a realtor to look at the house. Barbara had errands to run and was meeting a friend for lunch. She had to leave not long after the realtor arrived, so I showed her around the house and got her recommendations about what to do to get the house ready to go on the market. Otherwise, Colin and I spent our time punching out wall anchors, dozens of them, and spackling the holes.

When Barbara returned mid-afternoon, we packed up more stuff from my lab, and then headed for Costco. I returned the Lenovo desktop system, which had stopped working. I booted it up once and went through the windows registration crap. The next time I tried to boot it, it simply sat there at a blank screen. No hard drive spin-up noises, nothing. So back it went and I got a credit to my credit card.

Meanwhile, I installed a new hard drive in my old main system, a Core i7 Extreme, and got Linux Mint installed without a problem. Well, other than the fact that I have no Internet connectivity because that system has no WiFi adapter and I can’t get the powerline Ethernet to work up here in my corner. I ordered a D-Link DWA-140 USB Wifi adapter the other day, and it showed up yesterday. It’s supposed to run with Linux Mint, so I’ll get that installed and can stop using this Mint notebook as my primary system.

Michael David, the electrician our realtor recommended, showed up at 8:00 this morning to look at our situation and tell me what needed to be done to run our well pump and pressure tank from our Generac generator. He said there were two options, doing it right or doing it cheap (but legal) and less convenient. I asked him to explain the right way first. That involves him installing a cut-over switch in our breaker box that in one position routes the utility power to our house and in the other position cuts the connection to the utility power and makes the connection to the generator. With that option, we can run anything in the house that the generator has enough power to drive, simply by switching regular breakers off or on. There’d be a sealed box on the outside wall with a connector for the cable from the generator. I asked him about how much that’d cost us, and he said about $350. That was a whole lot less than I expected, given that when I’d gotten a quote down in Winston 10 or 15 years ago, the electrician had told us $900 for just installing a Frankenstein DPDT knife switch to isolate the house from utility power. Just for giggles, I asked Michael how much the cheap option would cost and how it’d work. It would involve them installing a cut-off and receptacle at the pressure tank and then running a cable from the generator across the basement, throwing the switch, and connecting the cable. It’d also allow us to run only the well pump and pressure tank. He said that option would cost maybe $200 or $250, so the choice was a no-brainer. I told him to do it the right way and give me a call to set up a time.

Other than that, I haven’t done much prepping this week. I did put in a Walmart order for half a dozen boxes of Alpo Variety Snaps dog treats for Colin, a half dozen boxes of Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake mix, and (to get to the $50 required for free shipping) three one-gallon jugs of pancake syrup. Those arrived very early this morning. Barbara hauled in the boxes while I was downstairs with the electricians. When I got back upstairs, Barbara said we had a leak in the box with the pancake syrup and that she wished I’d stop ordering stuff that can be dented or leak from Walmart’s website. They apparently hire baboons to pack shipments. Except for glass containers, they use no packing material whatsoever, just throwing the cans/jars/bottles randomly into the shipping boxes for UPS to abuse in transit. Fortunately, the three jugs of pancake syrup were in their own box, and the leakage was minor. I’ll rinse off the stickiness in the sink and check to see if any of the bottles are leaking. If so, I’ll repackage the contents in PET gallon bottles.