Sat. Sept. 11, 2021 – Never forget. Never forgive.

20 years. I was in the Meadowlands, about 8 miles from Ground Zero. Some parts of it are clear as day in my memory, and some have faded. I still find it difficult to talk about the day. OFD said it was PTSD. If that means a strange mix of sadness and anger, a tendency to well up and choke up whenever I think about it too hard, or try to talk about it, then it must be true for me and about a couple hundred million other folks.

Never forget. Never forgive.

nick

https://911.wikileaks.org/files/messages_2001_09_11-10_35_2001_09_11-10_39.html

https://www.911memorial.org/visit/memorial/names-911-memorial

Wed. Sept. 1, 2021 – more water under the bridge

Hot and humid. I’m hoping for a bit cooler in the morning so I can get the grass cut. I waited too long yesterday and it did get over 100F in the sun. It was still 84F at midnight.

Spent yesterday mostly indoors. Despite having a lot to do, I ended up doing electrical work at the house. We had some outlets in the kitchen stop working. I was too busy to look into it until yesterday, although my wife ruled out breakers, and normal things, and we figured it was probably a GFCI outlet upstream of the others. Once I pulled the cover plate off, and could see into the receptacle I figured that I’d found the problem. You are not supposed to be able to see INTO the receptacle. I had spare GFCIs in the stacks, so I set about changing it.

Shortcuts are only short for the person making it originally, and probably not even then. Freaking 10 minute job took over 2 hours because the remodeler cut every corner. Loose wire nuts, wire too short (even after it had been extended) wrong hardware used, missing box extenders, it was all there. The working position was very awkward too. I got it done, redid what I could. Figured I’d also replace a tired outlet at the end of the chain while I had the power off. More cr@p work hidden behind cover plates. Money spent, 0. Time spent, 2 hours. Smoke released, 0. Swear jars filled, 3.* I had the knowledge, the parts, and the supplies stacked so I got it done.

Also modified the wire gate we’re using to keep the doggy in the kitchen. That went surprisingly well.

Cleaned up a few things.

Found a dead rat, possibly THE dead rat, in the garage. I’ll get that cleaned up today. Poison,not trap.

Cooked dinner (discounted steak from last year, frozen mixed veg from last year, canned red beans and rice.)

Played a game for family game night.

Lots of prep items involved in my day.

Hooray for stacks of things and the knowledge to use them. Keep stacking both.

nick

*not really. I was alone so the swears went unheard and if a guy swears in the kitchen but there isn’t anyone there to hear it, did he really swear?

Fri. July 30, 2021 – whew, I’m beat up today…

Hot and humid, possible rain. We didn’t get the rain yesterday, and I was north, south, and in the middle. It was a bit cooler with the breeze when the sun went behind a cloud. Otherwise it was hot.

I got my morning stuff out of the way, then got out of the house to do my pickups. Shelves mostly. Then I headed to my secondary location. Set up some shelves so I can move the stuff that’s on top of the shipping containers, and chop up the containers. I also decided to just trash everything, not save the stuff with aluminum frames for recycle. Let someone pull them out of the dumpsters, if they get lucky.

I filled my pickup 3 times and filled two dumpsters. Cut up two of the containers and emptied them. I am starting to see a big space, that will fill instantly as I start moving stuff around. Still, progress, right? It is beating me up though. I can do two of the containers before I’m stumbling and starting to not be coordinated and graceful. Working alone with saws and moving stuff, not a good idea when you get weary.

Part of that is being 55. Part is that it’s very hot. Part is that each container needs about 30 trips out to the truck while carrying the stuff. Since I started with the shelves and dumping the stuff that was on pallets in the parking lot, I was ready to be done after one container. I pushed through and got the second done too. I’m starting to get pretty scratched up too. Just handling and moving around the stuff has been beating up my arms, shins, calves, and hands.

Wah, wah, wah…. ok enough whining. I also chatted with my neighbor there, and sold him a metalworking tool. He’s going to assemble it, then we’ll finalize the price. Even if it’s beat up or missing fasteners, he should be able to get it working. Walking around his space, I realized I’ve been selling him stuff for years. He gets the machines and tools he needs, I get to move some inventory. Win win! And that is how meatspace is supposed to work.

Puppy had a good day, despite being home alone. No accidents in the house! He used the doggy door and went out during the day. Hooray. That is definitely progress.

Today I’ve got the kids at home, so my tired body will get a bit of rest, but there is still a lot do do here. Maybe I’ll get some of it done 🙂

And then I can continue stacking all the things!

nick

Sun. July 25, 2021 – hooray, pack is back together…

Hot and humid again. No rain in the forecast for today, although the edge of the zone isn’t that far away. Yesterday was over 100F in the sun and the humidity was high enough stuff didn’t dry outside. So of course I needed to be working in the heat. It was a little bit cooler at my secondary location, mainly because the sun was mostly hidden, and there was a bit of a breeze.

I just kept hammering away (or sawing and carrying) pulling a trade show exhibit out of its shipping containers and piling the pieces up for trash or recycle. Carry, cut, carry, cut, plod…. The end goal is worth the drudgery. The drudgery should have been done years ago, btw. Real Life ™ got in the way though. Danged Real Life ™, always making demands…

Before I could go do that work, I needed to be home to greet the kids on their return from camp. Lots of fun was had, some things were learned. Oldest didn’t quite make her ‘Mariner’ certificate. They try to fit a longer course into the week and it didn’t quite make it. Still, she now officially knows more about sailing small boats than I do.

I had two vehicle issues. My Ranger battery appears to have died. I’ll look at replacing that today or tomorrow. The heat here kills batteries and it’s been hot. I’m pretty sure I looked at the battery not too very long ago and decide it was near EOL. Poor timing, but not a tragedy as I have the other truck to backup the Ranger.

Took the backup truck to work, and on the way home the Expedition got a flat tire. There is some more detail in yesterday’s comments, but the 10,000 foot look is one of potential fail. I was all set to swap in the spare, which I had a high degree of confidence in, because I actually look at it fairly often, and thump it once in a while, and I’d done that when I bought the truck. It was fine, and I knew how to get it out from under the truck. I’d also checked that the jack and tools were there when I bought, and I added a couple of things to that compartment when I moved into the truck. I recognized that I’d run over something and was able to get to a safe and flat area- all set to be all self sufficient…

And then the lug wrench didn’t fit the lug nuts. Seriously? Upgraded ‘fancy’ wheels. They must use bigger nuts than stock and no one ever realized. Or whatever they did to compensate didn’t get transferred to me when the sale went through.

Here’s the prep part. I considered using the can of Slime Fix a Flat to just repair the tire and get home. Then I thought about the mess when actually fixing it and decide the situation didn’t call for it. I could have used my plug kit and 12v compressor to effect a repair, but it would have to be redone for ‘realz’ by my tire guy, and really, grid up. Only 6 miles from home. So I called AAA for help. I figured the tire tech would have the right sized lug wrench and it would only take a few minutes to change the tire. I was right, and was back on my way after about 45 minutes total.

Having a roadside service company is a prep. All the stuff in bins in the back of the truck is prepping. Prepping is really about having options. Prepping CREATES options. Absolute worst case I could have abandoned the vehicle and walked home. I’ve got a dozen different routes I’m familiar with between that point and home. I’ve got two cases of mountain house and water in the truck. I was wearing sturdy shoes, and armed sufficiently for most encounters. I had a wide continuum of choices because of my preps.

In the end, I didn’t use the stacks, I used the credit card… and my connections to society, because we’re still grid up, and it was the least disruptive choice as well as the second fastest. It also points out the importance of practicing and USING your preps. The spare tire is the prep for a flat, and as a system it failed when I needed it because I hadn’t tested it. New vehicle, should have been tested.

While I didn’t use the stacks this time, they were there if I had needed them. Stack some for yourselves…

n

Tues. May 25, 2021 – even Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lived through it

Warm and damp, but maybe not raining all day. Yesterday finally dried up in the mid and late afternoon, but by then everything was saturated and my day was shot.

So I stayed in and did cleaning and paperwork. I let it go far too long. Every year I think I will get a better handle on it, and every year I don’t. I don’t beat myself up too hard about it anymore, but it does lead to stress for my wife and me, that could be avoided by some more consistent habits. It also takes big chunks of time when I leave it to be done last minute, that I’d be better off using for just about anything else.

That points out two things- staying on top of a job by doing little bits as they come in saves the big effort later, and the flip side, you can spend a great deal of time doing stuff a little bit at a time, that you completely lose track of because it gets lost in the noise of your normal life. In other words, you can either piss away a lot of time on small tasks, or you can use the little bits of time efficiently and save a big continuous chunk for use later. I guess it depends on the task and your personality which is which…

Today I’ve got auction stuff to drop off if the weather is dry, an orthodontia appointment for oldest, and a Costco run, along with the usual errands.

———————————————————————————–

The idea that hyperinflation might be coming is spreading throughout the prep-o-sphere and related circles on the blogoverse Venn diagram. Peter has some interesting things aggregated over at https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/ I’ve linked to him before, his ongoing observations on irregular warfare and his experiences in failed states and conflict zones are well worth your time. He mostly blogs about gun stuff and writing with a healthy dose of preparedness (not necessarily ‘prepping’.) Lately he’s been addressing some of the basics as if they’ve just come up for him (which is odd) but it does lead to some good comments. There is also the usual bunch of “waddabout-ism”- “waddabout after the zombies eat your wife, what’ll you do for laundry then?” and shite like that that always crops up… This time it was “waddabout after your pile of stored food runs out? Waddabout then? Huh?” Go read the post and the comments for yourself, and then think about it.

My response there was that all your preps basically give you time and choices when it comes to adapting to the new circumstances, and that there are always more options. Which led to a comment about solar powered freezers and a company I’m not familiar with, SunDanzer that specializes in off grid freezers. I don’t have any experience with them, but they look the business, and it’s one more option, so I’m linking it here.

It is VERY common when talking about storing food, especially frozen food, to get the “waddabout”. What about when the power goes out? Get a gennie. What about when the gennie runs out of fuel? Go to solar and batteries. What about when you’ve eaten all the frozen food? Well, you won’t need to worry about powering the freezer, you’ll be too busy working on your garden, hunting, or roasting strays over gasoline fires… The “waddabout” thinks every option is the only one, the last one, and because it’s limited or has flaws, it’s useless. The “waddabout” is frustrating and can be infuriating if you’ve already asked the questions and considered answers.

It’s frustrating because asking the question the “waddabout” asks IS valuable, if you don’t ask it as a ‘gotcha’ but as a way to explore second and third order effects and their problems. Absolutely ask “what do we do when the fuel runs out”? but then find an answer that works for you. Then iterate again and again, as far as your time, money, experience, and imagination will allow. Just going through the exercise is valuable. Actually doing some of the stuff to mitigate the problems is even more valuable. The “waddabout” stops with the first question, and sits gloating with his triumphant ‘gotcha’ shutting down the discussion. It’s a lot easier than actually prepping.

Attitude is everything. Mine is that “I’m going to get through this.” “I am going to get my family through this”, for whatever the values of ‘this’ turn out to be. This illness. This job loss. This economic collapse. This worldwide pandemic. This civil disturbance. This race war. This gulag.

Whatever the S in the SHTF turns out to be, I’m getting through it. Skills, people, and stuff will help. You need some of each, and more besides. Keep stacking.

nick

(and not just get through it, LIVE and prosper afterward. Don’t forget that after you get through it, you’re just getting started…)

Thur. Mar. 18, 2021 – whew, missed the green beer again…and all the puking

Comfortable, sunny, breezy, and nice.  That’s what I’m hoping for, we’ll see what we get.  We had all the kinds of weather yesterday.  Overcast, thunderstorms, drizzle, sunshine, wind and rain.  We even had a few minutes of ‘very nice.’   Today, the national forecast has Houston in the clear.

Didn’t get a whole heck of a lot done yesterday, that couldn’t have been done more efficiently and more quickly by someone who was motivated.  Keeping my motivation up, and keeping moving forward is harder some days than others.  But Summer is Coming, and with it the most common threat around these parts- hurricanes.  Also on the way are un- somethingly hot and humid days.   I’ve got a limited time to do a bunch of stuff that is SO MUCH easier when it’s not in the 90s for both heat and humidity.

I feel a bit like I’m going through one of those periods like RBT did when he kept posting that he probably wouldn’t be posting  much, but then he posted more.  I keep saying the same thing every day- “I’ve got so much to do” but then I don’t do it….   grrrr.  External deadlines… I need them.

I built three or four careers around meeting externally imposed deadlines.  It’s in my blood.   Internally imposed?  Not so much.  I’ve never been good at that.  My 10 year plan took me 15 years.   I did eventually accomplish it all, but it was both simple and complicated.   Get my finances in order.  Find a good woman and marry her.   Buy a house.  Start a family.    Simple right?  15 years to get there from where I started.

Live through whatever is coming and get my family through it, doesn’t have the same concreteness, and yet it’s an arguably simpler goal.  After all, it’s mostly just “continue living”.  And how hard can that be?  Weeeeelllllll, that depends, doesn’t it?  And it strikes right to the heart of a preparedness lifestyle.

“Live through” – but implied is not just survive, but do it with style, without drama, with simplicity and grace.  Succeed, not just endure.  Coming out the other end as a starving refugee is better than not coming out, but far from the ideal of being in a position to thrive when things get better.

“Whatever is coming”- bad things are ALWAYS coming.  Good things too and sometimes people forget to prep for them, but mostly we prep for the bad things and figure the good things will work themselves out.  Hurricanes and floods are the most likely natural disasters here.  But personal bad things- job loss, accidents, illnesses, death of a loved one- are the most common disasters everyone faces and if you aren’t prepping for them, you should be.

What other bad things are coming?

–Global pandemic was on the list but not top ten.  Ebola convinced me to take the possibility seriously and to prep for it ‘for realz’.  H/T to Aesop for that.  And HEY LOOKIE!  Global pandemic is here.  I’m in restocking mode, but I could still be comfortably pulling TP from stock after a year, and that’s with three females in the household.  How much is too much vs now you have none?  You will have to find your own balance, but I’m usually on the side of ‘more’.

–Slow economic collapse, worldwide depression.   RBT changed my mind about this, and changed my planning horizon.  Now I think we’re already started on this one.   It’s harder to prep for because the length of time involved is so great, and because the number one prep – piles of money – doesn’t work so well with the most likely cause, ie. hyperinflation.  There are steps you can take and preps you can make though.  Unless you like the taste of domestic animals and the local fauna, food is your best prep.  Putting your stored up life energy (ie. the product of your work) in something that will survive a currency collapse is a good idea too.  If you can’t get your stored up life (money) somewhere safe , or if you haven’t managed to store much up, you need to look for ways to use what remains  to continue working through a collapse.  Rental income streams were my go-to plan for that, but I didn’t factor in a government that would steal from the landlords.   I’m busy rethinking and looking for additional streams.  Skills involving making and repairing are looking pretty good.

–War.  Internal or external.  Both are bad.  Both involve hardship and privation.   Internal would also include economic collapse.  External might involve a currency collapse, or might be triggered by more monetary trickery, or it could pull the economy up out of the dumps.  So many flavors are possible, with contradictory effects.   Very little of it is likely to be good on an individual level though.   Internal war is looking more and more likely every day, with Balkanization being the most likely outcome.   Where you are is going to be VERY important if that happens and your number one prep.

There are other bad things that could be coming, some far more unlikely than others, but not impossible.  First contact with aliens would be a game changer, for example.   It’s also unlikely to go well for us, but most of the things that would be likely to happen get covered by preps for the other biggies.  Room temperature superconductors, fusion energy, radical life extension, those might fall into the ‘good thing’ column but would also be disruptive as heII.  True AI, self aware machines, grey goo, killer plagues, all somewhere on the list of things to consider, and then usually discount.  CME, EMP, space debris impacts, other ‘hand of God’ events, well, we’ll do what we can if something that big happens.  Having preps won’t hurt.

And then there is that last part of my goal- get my family through.  The everyday part of this is just to raise my girls to be competent human beings, and to make sure they have a good foundation for their lives on their own.   The prepping part is a bit more specific, but mainly for me it comes down to skills, attitude, and foundational beliefs.  What I think those should be would fill another few thousand words, and maybe I’ll spend the time to write those words down, but that will have to wait.  Right now, getting my family through means the physical stuff- preps in the traditional sense.   It means making sure we have the basics to survive and thrive in the most likely scenarios, and even some of the much less likely ones.   It means resilience and flexibility and adaptability.  It means stockpiles of stuff, and collections of skills and reference materials.  It means paying attention to possible threats, local and national and global.   It means engaging in the world around us with our minds and eyes open.  And it means planning for what comes next and putting resources in place to support those plans.

And of course it means STACKING.  Start stacking.  Keep stacking.  If you can’t stack stuff, stack knowledge and skills.   Stack people, relationships, networks.  Do it as a hobby.  Do it as a social activity.  Do it with passion, or with calculation and focus.   But Do It.

It’s never too late to start, it’s always too early to quit.

nick

added— welcome to any new readers!  Most of the best part of this place is not me, it’s the people who come together here and the conversation that happens.   Keywords are on the right, and may refer to the comments not the post, so always take a look at the comments.    Comments are always welcome, join the conversation if you like.   There is an astounding breadth and depth of knowledge in the people who come by and visit and hang out.  If you have questions or answers, please feel free.   There is an About link at the top of this page to explain why this place is the way it is.  Again, welcome.

Sun. Feb. 21, 2021 – 02212021 – I guess I just never noticed the weird date numbers before

Cool but not cold.  Sunny and windy.   I think.

Yesterday got up into the 60s and it was chilly shirtsleeves temps out in the sun.  And I took the day off.  Did some cleaning and putting away, but mostly wasted time on the internet with my friends.   Checked on a couple of friends.  Mostly though, had a down day to recover.

Now the actual recovery will commence.   Stuff needs to be cleaned, restocked, and put away.  Damage from freezing needs to be assessed and accounted for.   Then all the normal spring stuff needs to happen too.    I’ve got a tree coming down on Friday, and I need to clear a path, and set up a spot for the wood we’re keeping.  Eventually a plumber will install our instant hot water heater.  That was supposed to be this week but I wouldn’t pull him away from emergency calls even if I could.  I’ve got stuff to get to auction, and delayed pickups to make.  LOTS of organizing to do too.  And gardening…

Some other notes before I forget…

–those one pound bottles of propane are supposed to be removable and re-install-able, but I have about 1 in 3 leak slowly when removed.  That’s one reason not to store them indoors.  Squirt the top with soapy water and watch for bubbles.  Bubbles = leaking.

–the lithium jumper packs from Costco, with S in the name might not be great for jumping cars but they are excellent as power packs to recharge anything with a 5v USB charger.

–buckets rock.  You should have a bunch of empty food grade 5 gallon buckets and lids in storage.

–black plastic sheeting.  Clear plastic sheeting.  BOTH kinds of plastic sheeting.   You need at least one roll in storage.

–space heaters of various types could save the day, even if you wouldn’t ordinarily use them for anything.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill the bathtub with water” is excellent advice.

–a working whole house generator would have made this whole thing almost a non-issue.  Water would have been my only concern.

–check your water.  check your preps.

— the traditional advice, “storm coming, fill your vehicle gas tanks” is excellent advice.

–get some CO monitors.  Then get a couple more.  You’ll sleep better with them than without them.

–I was too busy or too tired to run any radios.  I left the scanner off.   I didn’t need any info we weren’t getting from the neighborhood through texts or groups on FB.   I did notice the local 440mhz repeater that covers the whole city was offline.   I didn’t even try any HF.  Longer event and I probably would have started firing up radios, but my concerns were local local local, and tribe.

–cell coverage went down and stayed down for more than a day.  Voice coverage and data were spotty before and after.   Texts came through, but could be delayed.

–the Middle Earth version of Risk takes two days.  Like the regular version of Risk.  Two very long and frustrating days.  Like regular Risk.  It did keep the wife and kids out of the way– for two long days.  Puzzles have a LOT less angst and conflict.

–hot chocolate is a comfort food.  And we ran out.  Prepper fail.

–bad stuff can happen any time.   Worse stuff can happen during bad stuff.

–having extras to hand to people means you can help others without involving yourself intimately.    That’s good for them and you too.

–there are knock on effects too, ie. second and third and fourth order effects.  Pipes freeze and break.   EVERYONE needs a plumber.  No plumbers are available so everyone heads to the store to try and DIY.  No plumbing supplies are left in the stores.  Pipes break and flood (why?  Because people don’t know or think to turn off the water and NOT turn it back on without watching).   Flooring, walls and ceilings are ruined.   Houstonians know how to deal with wet stuff, you rip it out.  But that means no dumpsters are available.   No dumpsters means piles of debris in front of the house.  I’m going to buy a dumpster bag and add it to my preps.  When one becomes available…

–stuff and systems fail at the worst possible time, because that’s when they are stressed the most.   People too.

–it’s always something.

 

All good reasons to KEEP STACKING.

nick

Fri. Feb. 19, 2021 – 02192021 – is a bit weird…. the reality of the day is certainly weird.

Cold again, after temps rose above freezing for a WHOLE DAY in Houston Texas…  this globull warming is killing me.

It was 28F when I went to bed.

I spent yesterday doing silly things so you don’t have to.  Strike that, I’m too short to fill those shoes.

I did do some experimenting, which I duly chronicled in the comments yesterday evening.  The clothes came out clean and fresh smelling, and the kerosene heater I tested worked fine- except for being out of kerosene.   I swear I have a white and yellow round 5 gallon can somewhere, but I couldn’t find it when I went looking.  If I was desperate for heat, I’d siphon some from my other construction heater.  I’m not desperate at all though, so I’ll just buy some the next time I see it.  I like flexibility and redundancy for heat, water, and cooking.   Honestly, all the other things too, but especially those.

I helped out several neighbors with plumbing issues and did some of my own.  What made it possible was having the parts in storage.   The local stores are empty of the kinds of things people need right now.  Even pros can’t get parts.   I’m a firm believer in having stuff you might need close by where you can lay hands on it.  Like what?  You know your gear and your stuff better than me, but I’ll list some here to start you thinking…

Plumbing parts.

I think you should have a variety of fittings and some pipe on hand in a couple of pipe sizes.   They should be whatever you have in your house, and what is common in your area.   Besides fittings and pipe, you should have the glues, tape, solder, and tools to put the parts to work in a simple repair.   You should also have a toilet seat, toilet tank flush system replacement kit, toilet bolts, and a wax ring.  You should have some of the flexible hoses to connect faucets and the toilet.  Some of the quarter turn shut off valves, and a spare hose bib.   Plumbers putty.  Sprinkler parts if you have sprinklers, replacement heads, riser pipe, sharkbite repair fittings, and some sprinkler pipe fittings too, as well as at least one valve and solenoid.  You should have some garden hose repair ends, and some other hose parts like washers and nozzles.  If you have gas appliances, you should have at least one ‘gas appliance installation kit’.  All of this and more will fit in one flip top bin…

Electrical parts.

You should have a couple of light switches, outlets, and at least one GFCI outlet that match what’s in your house.   25ft of Romex or similar for wire.  Replacement ends for extension cords.   10ft of lamp cord and lamp repair parts, like a harp, a bulb socket, and a 2 prong plug.  You should have light bulbs for all your fixtures.   Tape and wire nuts.   Next level, have a spare 20amp breaker for your panel.

Automobile parts.

At least one complete oil change for each vehicle.  Replacement windshield wipers.  A tire plug and patch kit, and a tire inflator.  One headlight bulb.  One set of tail light bulbs (assuming your vehicle uses bulbs).  One complete filter change (air, cabin, oil).   Spare fluids, including the “leak stop” ones for each system.  Fuses that match your vehicle.  If you can swing it, one set of mounted spare tires, but at least one extra tire (can be used, or one you took off, it’s an emergency backup after all.)

General repair parts.

Screws, nails, bolts, nuts, washers, “plumber’s tape”, bailing wire (rebar tie wire); glues (white glue, yellow woodworkers glue, cyanoacrylate (crazy glue), gorilla glue, five minute epoxy, and JBWeld metal repair); tape- masking, blue painters, good duct tape, electrical tape (3M only), zip ties, aluminum tape for ducts; a couple of 2x4s, and half a sheet of 3/4 plywood.  Depending on where you are, you might want a piece of window glass and a glass cutter with a can of glazing compound and some points.  Drywall compound and a leftover piece or a patch kit.  And paint.  Kilz primer, and some spray cans in black, white, brown, tan, your house color, and one florescent color.  White latex interior paint or whatever your walls are.

Sewing and clothing repair parts.

This is a whole separate topic, but a selection of needles, stout black thread, a couple of buttons, shoe goo, a roll of velcro, some safety pins, and a few buttons salvaged off stuff you threw away are a minimum.  I have  18″ of black thread on a needle wrapped around the golf pencil in my altoids tin everyday kit.  SUPER handy to fix some web gear, or a tear.   I also have a kit of iron on clothing patches in my travel bag for quick fixes of tears in clothes.   ‘Fusible interfacing’ is like an iron on glue for cloth and can be used to hem pants, or attach patches.

And finally, buckets, lids, and plastic sheeting in clear and black.


It’s a big list but it doesn’t have to all show up at the same time.   I bought most of mine at yard sales and estate sales, or by picking up more than I need when I go to the hardware store for a project.  It took a while to build up a fairly comprehensive stack…

Ideally you already know how to use those parts to make simple repairs, but if you don’t, there are several good books on household repairs.  Home Depot and lowes both have a display rack with some of the books and you can leaf through them to see what level they’re aimed at..  and Goodwill almost always has several of those types of books on the shelf.  But even if you don’t have the skills, knowledge, or desire, you might need to have the part so that someone else can do the work.  That is certainly playing out here in Houston this week.

 

The usual caveats apply, seek out expert advice if you don’t know what you’re doing, read books, watch videos, watch home improvement shows on tv, and consider what could go wrong before undertaking something new.   That said, there is tremendous satisfaction in fixing things, and they are already broken, so sometimes you might as well give it a try.  And sometimes, you might be the only one available TO try.

Keep stacking!  It works!

 

nick

Thur. Feb. 18, 2021 – losing track of the days…

Cold again, supposed to get a hard freeze tonight.   Yesterday felt colder than it was.   With the sub-freezing temps, it was very dry, but with the advent of the melting and the rain, humidity was HIGH and the damp cold felt REALLY damn cold.   (srsly, some of you are laughing but it hurt it was so cold.)  35F at 930pm down from 38F and higher during the day.

As I figured I would, I got the chance to help out a couple of neighbors.  (We are a neighborhood.   I live on a cul de sac, and about half of us are ‘chat in the street, talk about the kids’ friendly, especially after the storms and hurricanes, etc.  The other half we just never see except to wave as they drive by.  And that is a bit of an issue but not one to solve in a day.)

I helped the family across the street get their 1950s era gennie running.   It ran in the summer but wouldn’t start now.   There were a couple of minor things, the metal piece you touch to the spark plug to shut it off was too close to the plug and was grounding it out and there was water in the fuel and carb.   Drained a half cup through the carb and float bowl, reset the idle speed, and it fired on the 5th or 6th pull.   Ran pretty well too.   Put my meter on it, 57hz and 115v – so, well within range to be expected.   Small engine repair is a real world usable skill and being able to get and keep your gear running could save your life.   Youtube probably has someone fixing exactly your problem, but to learn small engine trouble shooting and repair in general, and be entertained by a guy who loves what he does, spend some time watching Mustie1.

Did a welfare check on the elderly couple down the block and found out  they didn’t have heat, or a way to cook food because of the power outage, so I brought them a gallon of already hot water, a single burner coleman stove, and a Mr Heater Little Buddy .  Unfortunately it looks like that single burner Coleman is out of production.   That is a real shame because it stores easily and uses the same bottle as the Mr Heaters and Coleman lanterns.    My wife loves it for Girl Scout camping.   I’ve picked up a couple at yard sales or estate sales and there are two on ebay for crazy money.   If you were going to standardize on 1 pound propane bottles, I’d recommend a small stove that uses the bottle, one of the Mr Heater Buddys, and maybe a lantern (and only because you won’t be caught with dead batteries).

The lantern is iffy, because the Streamlight lantern is so good, I can’t really recommend anything else as a serious area light.   Anything you’re going to be moving around with you and setting in different places will always be safer if it’s not fire.   I have a dozen of the cheap little battery powered LED lanterns from Costco, the kids use them at camp and around the house as toys.   They actually work pretty well, and like cheap flashlights, buy a bunch and scatter them everywhere for convenience.  But for disasters, when you need light, I love my Streamlight Siege.  Mine normally lives on the floor beside my bed within easy reach.  My wife loves her smaller Siege too.

Later in the day I got a call from my buddy about borrowing a space heater.    I loaned him the one from the garage.   It would have been pretty hard to say no to a friend with kids just to heat the garage (not that I would have.)  It does bring up a point.   Having multiples of items isn’t just a good idea for redundancy, what with two being one and one being none.  Unless zombies are eating people on your front lawn, you are probably going to want to help people in your circle/tribe/etc if you can.  Unless it’s truly TEOTWAWKI, people WILL remember your help or lack thereof, and it would be an extraordinary individual that wouldn’t look for payback later.   Just sayin’.  Help where you can.  Build your community.   Later you can help them build their own resilience.

Plan for today is more of the same, with some additional experimentation if possible.   We’ll see if I get to it.  And I just realized I was going to do a “why the 5 gallon bucket is the preppers multitool” post, but got completely sidetracked by my life…   Jeez, it’s like I’m on instagraam jumping around shouting “look at me!!!” in a bikini.   Now try to get that image out of your head.  You are stocked up on eye bleach right?   😉

Keep stacking.   And ask yourself the question I never asked about storms in winter, “What if the disaster comes when I’m NOT expecting it to?”

nick

Wed. Feb. 17, 2021 – interim boring details, and hotwash

Ah, sweet sweet internet….

On my dual screen pc at that!

Ok, here’s the rundown on yesterday.

Big gennie (gasoline, generac) died around 4 am. I was asleep and didn’t wake. I had fueled both gennies at 230am before bed. Honda died at 808am and I got out of bed to deal with it at that point.

Wife was up after 4am and did the ‘run the hot water until the wall cavity warms up and the cold runs freely’ and ‘flush the toilets a couple of times to keep their lines moving’ dance until I got up.

She pointed out that across the street had power and I should try that before restarting the gennies. Did that and LO! we were back up. No cell or internet service though.

Got some breakfast and looked at the machines. I really expected ERCOT to rolling b/o us in a couple of hours so I wanted to be back up. Honda was dry, so that was just my bad-overestimated the run time. I did wake up at 750am and think “I should refuel before they die” but didn’t. I fueled it up and it restarted easily. I removed one load in the house but kept running the oil filled space heater in the garage. No need to add my garage heat to the TX baseload while people didn’t have power…

The generac still had fuel. About a half tank of milky fuel. It looked funny when I filled it at 2 am, but I put that down to weird lighting. The fuel seemed thicker, ‘oily’ in the way it flowed, and not clear. F me. Bad fuel. The honda had enough good fuel to run anyway when I added the bad, but not the generac.

Put the fuel issue to the side and did a bunch of chores. No cell or internet.

Gave one oil filled heater to the neighbor to put in his attic to thaw his pipes. They left around 130 in the afternoon so the house was cold for 16 hours… not good. Saw that my sick neighbor had his son over, and with power on, I didn’t worry about his breakfast.

Went back to draining the bad fuel. Very sluggish coming out of the petcock, so yep, it was nasty. My hand fuel pump took me a while to find, and it didn’t want to work so I just let the tank drain slowly. Made plans to go to my rent house and meet the tenant, thought the power was on and wanted to be there for the pipe test… but before I could leave, my sick neighbor’s brother came out and told me my neighbor’s wife had died that morning in recovery from her emergency surgery. (did I mention his wife had a ruptured bowel and needed to get emergency surgery? I think I did.) I would not be surprised if my sick neighbor didn’t just give up and pass in the next day or so. They were married 55 years and the chemo is killing him faster than the cancer.

Then before I could leave, the other neighbor had water pouring out of a light fixture… so they needed help fixing the busted pipe. I gave all the supplies to yet a third neighbor, who helped him do the repair (I checked when I finally got home.) It paid to have a bunch of plumbing supplies stacked and waiting…..

Finally threw 4 empty gas cans in the truck and headed out. Sweet jebus. Plenty of slick spots on the otherwise dry roads. As I got out of my area, the power was still out, and all the traffic lights were blinking red. SEVERAL cars managed to get wrecked, with one sideswiped and ping ponged up onto the median… I saw people just cruising thru lights too. LOTS of people on the street. When I got closer to my rental (Heights part of Houston) the lights were just out. That made for some interesting intersections…

Met with my tenant, house was 36F inside, no power, no heat. We shut off the water and drained the pipes. He headed back to a friend’s place, I went by my secondary to pick up a bag of snow melt salt. Yeah, why the he77 did I buy a bag of salt in Houston? No idea but I did- at an auction a couple of months ago… that’s how my life works. For what it’s worth, the box of Morton’s Kosher salt did the trick on the front walk, and where I needed it, just fine. It will be nice to have bigger chunks in places though.

Headed home on surface streets, but a different route than I took to get there. Any fast food place that had power had a line of cars out the lot and onto the street. Ditto for gas stations. I kept driving, figuring I’d eventually find a station without lines. I did. Got all my cans ready, reached for my wallet, and, I left it at home. Carry pistol too. I was so scattered trying to get out of the house I messed up. No consequences this time but of all the times to be driving through those neighborhoods, and to not have any resources with me…

Made it home, armed up and grabbed money and wallet and went back out. Took three tries to find a station that was taking credit cards. I had cash but didn’t want to stand in line, and didn’t know how much gas I needed. There were LOTS of angry people yelling and cursing that it was CASH ONLY. Worth taking note of that. Filled the cans and got home. I wanted fresh gas for the night. I’ll go through the stored fuel in the daylight and warmth, and cycle it through my truck if it is not too bad, or pump off most of it and leave the water in the bottom of the can… I just don’t have time today or tomorrow and there is gas at the store. Note to self, REALLY need to rotate the stored fuel more aggressively.

Back working on the generac. I really wanted it running before I lost the daylight in case we lost power again  (it’s the 220v that feeds the house so that we have heat).   There was still a LOT of bad gas in the tank that wouldn’t flow out. I took another look at my pump and fixed it, then used it to pump out the bad gas. Used the new gas to rinse the tank several times, then pulled the carb bowl and let the new gas flush the line and the carb. Put it all back together and it started on the second pull. That generac ROCKS once the carb is clean. It’s just unfortunate that you have to clean it before every use… I’m VERY familiar with that gennie since I’ve been fixing it since y2K… The note there is you should be familiar with your critical gear, and know how to keep it running.

Then it was time to do a bit of snow shoveling before a dinner of jambalaya with sausage… one pot meals are great when you have limited fuel or time or water for washing up. Delicious and filling.

And then I got caught up on the comments and wrote this…

Today should be more of the same, with more helping neighbors and less running around. I hope.

 


 

The honda EU3000i is quiet, started right up, runs well, is QUIET, and is worth every penny. The only down side is lack of 22ov output. You can get two and link them for 22ov and I will consider that. I’ll definitely watch for another in the auctions. The (out of production) generac is rock solid and has been my saving grace several times. I don’t take good enough care of it but it still performs when needed.  The liquid cooled commercial Generac whole house gennie is only effective if it’s actually INSTALLED. Procrastination is a b!tch. Resources and time are limited, but it makes no real sense that I’ve had it all this time without connecting it. That’s just dumb, and a huge fail. So much of the angst and additional effort could have been avoided if I could have just switched that on and let it run.

Having multiples of things and having repair materials ON HAND can turn a disaster into an inconvenience. I had the oil filled radiators for YEARS in storage and never used them, but they sure made it easier to stay warm during this disaster.

The Mr Heater Buddy series ROCKS. Absolutely the easiest way to get heat in a disaster, or when you are away from home. HIGHLY recommended. And buy a case of bottles per heater… if you need them you REALLY need them. A full bottle lasted about 4 hours on the low setting. Besides helping my neighbor, I used one in the back bathroom to warm ME when using the throne, and to keep a room that’s cool on the best of winter days warm enough protect the pipes. Grab and go heat. Super handy.

The aphorism that you must help yourself first in order to help others proved out during this disaster so far. We were able to feed, warm, and help neighbors with repairs because we were in good shape. Even for (crusty selfish old) me it feels good to be able to help.

We’re not through it yet, but so far we’ve kept up…

Even really unlikely things can happen, so keep stacking….

nick