Fri. Sept. 25, 2020 – month and week are almost gone by

Cool and overcast.

Thursday was both cooler and overcast.  I did some cleanup in the driveway, which mostly involved dumping out water from any place it accumulated.  I’m pretty confident that we got slightly more than 12 inches over the last few days.  Three different containers had that much water in them.

I managed to get a bunch of little things done.  Mostly cleaning and organizing, but also ordering some stuff.  I ordered the weird N size batteries for one of my night vision devices, and moved that case out of the house into the garage for storage.  I ordered the switch for the drain cleaner machine I bought.  I have to clear our main kitchen drain line twice a year.  The machine will pay for itself in one year or less.  I’m hoping the current snake is a good size to work with my pipes.  I’ll see when I use it I guess.  One less thing to call a specialist for, or make the trip to the rental yard.

I received the power switch for my new mower, just in time to cut the grass this weekend.  Hope that goes in without difficulty.

The national security situation continues to fluctuate locally.  The rioters in STL went right to shooting and firebombs this time.    That’s an escalation.  Riots in other uninvolved cities too.

I never did hear what our local disturbance was about.  The coppers did chase the guy around my neighborhood, and the FB group says “low speed chase”.     The disturbance at the neighbor’s house a couple of nights ago seems to have been a domestic.  His girlfriend was the one in the squad car, and she hasn’t been back around since.

I did a bit more research on the possible lake house, and surrounding area, looked at some historical topo maps and current maps.  There is a 2 acre lot for $24k with lake ‘view’ that also caught my eye.  There are smaller lots for $9-14K 1/4 and 1/2 acre, unimproved, in the same area.  If there are lots still around this lake, there are probably lots around others not too far away.  You might be surprised if you go looking.  Better to have somewhere definite to go, if you have to go…

Speaking of my lake house stay, I had a couple of lessons learned to share.

–the matches I’ve been carrying in a tube in my Dopp kit for the last few years didn’t light.  They weren’t damp exactly, but they weren’t dry either.  I didn’t have a lighter due to air travel restrictions.  I DID have a bunch of fire starting stuff in my wife’s car in the ‘bail out kit’.   The commercial fire lighter sticks that look like square slim jim sausages work very well, even if they are years old.  I will be adding some of the big brick of lighters to all sorts of places, including my carry on bag.

–I have been carrying one of those cheap hotel corkscrews for years.  Used it for the first time last weekend.  It was pretty flimsy, but got the job done.  Happy wife, happy life…

–I like to carry my little shortwave radio on trips to the country.  I forgot it.   I was a tiny bit disappointing.

–one of the neighbors was a ham with a big antenna setup.  They aren’t subtle, if it ever turns out to be a liability.  If I needed help, I would consider a fellow ham before random strangers.  Conversely, I’d be willing to help if approached by another ham.

–I know NOTHING useful about fishing in Texas.  I need someone to help me go through all the fishing gear I’ve accumulated and help set me up for salt and fresh water fishing.  Some lessons would be useful too.  The kids have expressed interest in fishing, and I’d like to be able to encourage that.

–Modern kayaks are inexpensive and fun.  I looked at a map once and discovered that I could get from my folk’s house south of Chicago, all the way to Peoria IL and beyond by water… probably all the way to New Orleans although I didn’t map that.

–there are pipelines everywhere.  If you know what to look for while driving you will see the markers, and the cuts through the forest.  Pipeline rights of way might be an easier and less traveled path if you ever had to walk out, or ride a dirt bike, or atv.  Look for them if you think things might get that bad.

–I had no cell service at all in the rental house, except one room upstairs.  My wife has a wifi calling app so she barely noticed.  I don’t.  It was radio silence for me.  I don’t think I’ll be ebaying the cell booster I have sitting here at the house.

–I’ve been stacking stuff for a second home for a long time.  It would be nice to actually use it.  This lockdown has proven the wisdom of having stuff, and backups to the stuff, to me and to my wife (not that I needed convincing, but she’s always been skeptical past a certain point.)

Well, that’s it for now, I’ve got auction pickups and gardening and repairs to do.  Maybe I’ll get some of it done…

Meanwhile, keep improving your position, and keep stacking.

 

nick

Thur. Sept. 24, 2020 – Rain seems to have moved through

Warmer and humid.   Some sun.

Sun came out yesterday for a bit, depending on where in town you were.  I was by Hobby Airport and it was grey and looked like rain was imminent, while on the NW side, it was patchy clouds and sun.

I did my auction pickup, 15 lots of mold and virus remover, and a couple of personal items.  Two weeks ago, the lots were going for over $36, this week I got a bunch at $6.  Weird.  I also took some stuff to my secondary location.  If we end up with a lake house, I’ll have another location to stock and maintain.  And secure.  Sweet, more preps.

The kids had MAP testing, which is a measure of how well they are doing for the District.    They were not thrilled.   It’s an adaptive test so it gets harder and harder until you stop succeeding.  In any case the testing messes up the normal school week and the kids come out feeling dumb.

Speaking of dumb, the Brionna riots have started.  STL started off the night with cops getting shot, and the NG in the field.  The guy streaming ends his stream with “that’s tha way ya do it, if you’re gonna do it, that’s the way you do it….”

Riots/protests have broken out in other areas too.

If you aren’t making plans for how you will deal with a variety of likely scenarios, and some unlikely ones too, you are gonna find yourself behind the eight ball if and when things get sporty near you.  I think it’s pretty likely they’ll get sporty.

Today I’ve got a bunch of my normal stuff to do, tomorrow I’ll have some auction pickups.  SKS, ammo commonality, say no more…  and some household supplies.  I’m stacking as it comes to me.

And you need to be gap filling, and stacking it high.  Can’t hurt, might save your life.

nick

Wed. Sept. 23, 2020 – kids have tests today

Cool with more rain.

Rained all day yesterday, and all night.    I don’t know how many inches we got here at the house but it was a bunch.

I was stuck in the house all day and not at all productive.   Eyes have been aching a bit.  Glasses were covered in a light film but I didn’t notice.  And I spent a lot of time in front of the computer.

Mostly I messed around with sketchup and the lake house, and watched auctions close.  Did help daughter 1 with some math problems.  The whole school was virtual due to the rain and flooding, and some people were not prepared, having left their stuff at school.  That’s why it’s a laptop folks, so you can take it with you.

Today both children will be going to the school to take a test.  There were online versions available, but we were told that the proctoring requirement was very onerous.  So the kids will be masking up and going in.  Assuming the rain doesn’t cancel school again.  Writing this in advance and going to bed.

I’ve been crazy tired lately, due to short night’s sleep.  I’m falling asleep in my office chair several times a day.  I’m trying to get to bed early, but it never seems to work out.

Other people have been full of energy- Bloomburg is buying votes in FLA, handing out $20M to clear the debts of convicted felons so they can have their voting rights restored.    Don’t worry, we’ll be able to use the ballot box in November… and the election will be completely honest and above board.

Anything short of a Trump landslide and I see the right picking up arms.  Anything short of a Biden Presidency, and the left will.  The great middle will try to keep their heads down, but will be forced to choose.    Add a stock market crash and there will be shooting and riots in the streets.

I’m hoping to stay home and keep my head down.  So I’m continuing to stack.  And continuing to beat the drum for you to do so too.  Even if I sound like a broken record, broken record, broken record.

n

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020 – some people are getting flooded

Cooler, rainy.

Looked at the pictures from the Gulf Coast yesterday.  Lot’s of places I’ve been were under water from Beta’s storm surge.  Not much in the news though.  Twitter and FB for the on scene pix.  Trad media is dead.

We got a steady rain most of the day.  Kept me inside.

I did a bit of work on the possible lake house.  Some research in public records, and some time in Sketchup addressing my wife’s main concerns about the house.  Virtual remodel is a lot cheaper than actual…  The lot is great.  The house is a big weird mess.

Gave a buddy some supplies for his security cam install.  He’s got a neighbor problem.  Also gave him some stuff for his kids to play with – some “take aparts” (old mech and electronics), and some learning toys (soda can robot, potato clock, solar crawler, etc)

I’ve got stuff to do today, since I spent yesterday on other things.  Auction pickup, maybe stop by my buddy’s store, who knows?  Maybe something crazy like drive thru food.

Or not.  Cooler weather means more work in the attic and bathroom.  There’s always something to do.

And that’s all in addition to stacking it higher…

 

n

Mon. Sept. 21, 2020 – back home, back at it…

Less hot and humid, but hurricane coming?  Who knows anymore.

Spent the weekend on a small lake about 2 1/2 hours north of Houston.  Kind out in the country.  Still within one tank of gas, so not ideal for avoiding mutant biker zombies, but judging by the number of Trump flags, the zombies might find it a tad inhospitable come the day.

And now we are really actually ramping up to find somewhere to GTFO to…  ‘cuz my wife is a pretty smart cookie and while we sometimes take different routes, we usually end up in the same place.   And that place says, having somewhere to go that isn’t in a potential riot zone is a Good Idea ™.

Lots of people out there preaching that it’s long past time to get out of the cities.  The argument is getting more compelling by the day, and there are a lot of people out there, and a lot of them are paying attention.    The little lake we were on had more than 5 houses for sale last month.  This month, there is one left.  It’s been on the market for over a year with no takers.  As we left yesterday, there was another couple looking at it.

A short while ago I shared the thought that if the economy got worse, people would have to start selling off their toys.  I’m seeing that in the auctions.  LOTS of collections coming up for sale.  I thought that people under money stress would sell vacation homes, and that there might be a decrease in prices, and THAT’S when I’d swoop in.  What I didn’t consider is that there are a lot of people paying attention.  It looks like they are quietly acting like preppers, even if that whole idea is foreign to them.  Or maybe, because of hurricanes, BLM, and a whole lot of stuff coming to a head, it’s REALLY FREAKING OBVIOUS to anyone right of center on the bell curve– getting out of the cities is a REALLY GOOD IDEA all of a sudden.

The upshot is, I’m feeling like we already missed the boat.  I feel like I’m looking at the last package of TP on the shelf and I REALLY don’t like that feeling.   Inventory is shrinking before my eyes.

Sometimes this whole blogging and prepping thing can get to feeling pretty insular.  You all feel like a small circle of friends, especially the group of frequent commentors.  I get a little boost when someone who doesn’t comment frequently shares something and I remember that this thing is bigger than it feels, that there are a lot of you still coming by and hanging out.  (Thanks by the way, I am humbled and grateful that people still keep coming by, I credit that to the larger community that exists here in the readership and comments.)

Anyway, the pace of whatever is coming seems to be picking up.  There is a sense I’m getting that the herd is starting to stir and get restless.  I keep asking people to rebut the idea that we’re headed for worse, but no one does.  That adds to my sense of unease.   No one on either side of the political spectrum is saying “you’re nuts, better times are right around the corner.”  It seems to me that there is a large element of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ to this sort of thing.  Once the momentum builds to a certain point, people are just going to say “F it, let’s go” and then the dark age starts.

I don’t know what the timeline will be.   I’m not thinking deeply enough about second and third order effects.  I don’t want to see the country continue down the current path.  And I don’t have enough of anything for what’s coming.

Start stacking.  Keep stacking.  Move your stack somewhere safer.  Do more.  It feels like time is getting short.

nick

Sun. Sept. 20, 2020 – headed home later today

Cool and pleasant.  I could get used to this.

Nice day yesterday.   Looked at the house, looked at some other areas around the lake.  Swam in the warm water.  Kayaked.  Pinata and special dinner with brownies for desert.  Very nice day.

Even saw an armadillo last night.  Cheeky bugger came up to the fire pit, snuffled around, then trundled off into the night.  I think that may be the first one I’ve seen alive?  Certainly the only one in the last 15 years.

Headed home at some point this morning or early afternoon.  Then it’s catch up for the next few days.

Oh woe is me…..

 

I better get stacking.  I learned a couple of things that I will mention when I have a full sized keyboard.

n

Sat. Sept. 19, 2020 – nice place

Hot but not HOUSTON hot.  So humid puddles don’t dry.

Arrived at the rental house early evening.   Nice place.   Great layout, great condition.  Kids and wife went for a kayak paddle first thing.  I worked on dinner.

Lovely dinner was had, and a firepit with s’mores.

Today is looking around at the area, and looking at a specific house for sale.  We’re 2 1/2 hours north of Houston, and pretty well off the beaten path, so if this ends up being a retreat location, well, I can think of worse.

RBG finally kicked it.  And the left, which applauded her for hanging on to the seat, is now condemning her for the exact same thing.  Did they really think she’d last another 5 years?

I find it to be maddening that they are perfectly fine with stacking the court in their favor, and in fact see it as the natural order of things, but lose their sh!t when the right does it.   The left is completely lacking self awareness.   I also don’t think there is any way to accomplish it before the election.  Not gonna happen.  Nice distraction though while wuflu decreases.

The crazy is just getting started.  Stack it high.

nick

Fri. Sept. 18, 2020 – week flew by

Cooler but still humid, probably.

It’s definitely feeling a bit cooler during the morning and evening.  I think we are on the downside into fall for sure.

I wasn’t super productive yesterday.  I did get some stuff done in preparation for our weekend trip/ wife’s birthday.   It’s definitely weird letting a big milestone go by without a big party, but I’m not going to be the next news article about 50 people getting sick from a get together.  Instead we’ll have a nice quiet family weekend, NOT in our house.  That is the important thing for the kids and my wife, a bit of change of venue.    I admit, I’ve been getting out way more than they have so I’m not so eager for the change.

About the only thing even remotely prep related was that I bought 12 gamma seal lids for $18 and a CB antenna in an auction.  I’ll be picking those up today before we leave home.

And of course nothing will be getting done while I’m gone…  but you gotta live life, that’s the whole point.

Lots to do before we hit the road,

 

n

(keep stacking)

Thur. Sept. 17, 2020 – getting close to my wife’s birthday….

Hot and humid.  Overcast with possibility of rain.

Yesterday was a little bit cooler but so humid that puddles in the driveway never dried out.  It was overcast which helped a lot for comfort.

I did manage to get some things done.   I got stain and preservative on my teak outdoor furniture.  It needs to be power washed and the oil renewed every year or so.  Looks great now and should last for years more.  Quality pays off in longevity, with a little bit of care.  The chairs will probably need another application, and all the bolts tightened.  Domestic bliss will undoubtedly break out.

I swapped out my weather station for a replacement.  I got one new in the box for $12 so I took a few minutes and changed it.  I haven’t seen an update on the display yet, so I’ve got more messing with it to do.

I also got some seeds in the ground.  I got snap peas, some sort of green bean, spinach, and radishes planted.  I made some more progress installing the drip system for my window boxes.  The feed line is in place now.  That was the biggest problem I had with the window boxes- I didn’t water them enough.  Having the drip system fed by the grass sprinklers will mean they get watered on a schedule.  That should help.  Ag Extension says next week to plant the turnips and beets…  If I had plants for my dark green leafies, I could plant them but I don’t have any this year.  I suppose I should have started some, or gone and bought them.  Too much else going on.

Couple of things to do today outside the house.  We’re going to a lake house for my wife’s birthday.  I need to get the presents, cake, decorations, etc today, and do an auction pickup that is entirely stuff she wanted.  The lake house is on a lake we’ve been looking at for a while.  We’ve got one family we know up there, and it’s nice.  It will give us a retreat from hurricanes and somewhere to ‘vacation’ that is close and not infected.  It wouldn’t be an ideal bug out location, but it would be one… and it turns cash into stuff which is a hedge against hyperinflation.

So I better get to it.  Hunter/gather mode engaged…

 

n

 

 

(keep stacking!)

 

Wed. Sept. 16, 2020 – nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,….

Hot and humid.  Storm and rain possible.

Yesterday it never did rain on me, and it got stinking hot in the afternoon sun.  So I mostly hid from sun and work.

Pickup went well.  Everything needs some little thing to be complete, but given the money saved, I’m happy enough.  Really F’d up though, the way people are stealing through returns fraud.  One of the things I picked up was a Glock G19 factory magazine.   Got it today and someone stole the guts out of it.  They split open the cardboard  of the blister pack, stole the spring, follower, and base plate and re-sealed the cardboard.  It was a bit wrinkled but looked fine, like the packaging was crumpled.  Then they returned it to wherever they bought it, and it ended up in the auction.  Looked like an unopened package to me and everyone else.  I’ve got a couple of items now, I’ll take them with me next time I go to that auctioneer and see what he’s willing to do, if anything.  Technically it’s all sold as is, where is, with buyer responsible for doing an in person inspection before bidding.  Usually though, if not as described, the house will take it back.

One of my security trade magazines noted that retail “shrink”, ie theft by insiders and shoplifting, was up dramatically.   I’m guessing that as things get tougher for more people, theft and fraud will go up dramatically in all sectors.

Speaking of trade mags, one of the things I watch as an indicator of the health of the broader economy is the thickness of trade magazines.  If it’s a reliable indicator of supplier sentiment (you don’t spend money on ads when you’re broke, so the trade mags can’t afford to print the same number of pages) then we are majorly F’d.  Machine Design is down to less than 40 pages, and is just center stapled instead of bound.  Electrical Design is the same.  EC&M is as thin as I’ve ever seen it.  Some mags for the material handling, pipeline, and plant equipment industries are thinner than that.  Even Military & Aerospace is thin, but it’s still bound, not just stapled.  The mags are all thinner than I remember them being at any other time, even in the aftermath of 2008.  The publishers also tend to send out more mags and to more marginal recipients (like me) when times are tough.  They are trying to pump up their circulation numbers and capture more of the reduced business… I started getting some mags I’d never seen before just a few months ago, and re- started getting mags I’d stopped getting when times were great.  All in all, not good indicators of the state of American businesses.

And all the more reason to stock up if you can.  Manufacturers and suppliers are going to fail.  Their warehouses and existing stock will be blown out at auction, and then there won’t be any more.  In the last month, I’ve seen two large local wholesaler/distributors come through my auctions, a ship chandler, and a general industrial distributor.  There are two Chuck E Cheez stores being liquidated this week.  One auction has the contents of several CVS stores- which is especially telling, as that stock would normally just be redistributed to other stores, they must not want it.  Heck, a month ago, a major jewelry store chain had the contents of two stores seized and sold off to pay their school district tax bill here in town.

Everywhere I look I see signs of real trouble headed our way, outside of the trouble in the news.  Certainly there are going to be bright spots.  The rush to get out of the cities is producing some local boom times in some areas.  UHaul is probably making money.   Bankruptcy auctions are picking up.  Auto parts stores and used car lots will probably do well.  Optional services like housecleaning and yard maintenance will likely do poorly.  Repair should do well in general.    A lot of cleaning, repair, and remodeling already happened though.   And the secondary economy/grey market/resale is booming as people look for bargains, and sellers are unloading excess or closing out stock.

It’s gonna be important to keep your economic head on a swivel too, so to speak…

And keep stacking.  That will likely help, no matter what.

nick