Mon. Mar. 8, 2021 – did some cooking and cleaning

Cool again today, and hopefully dry.   It stayed cool yesterday and was sunny and bright.   A beautiful day.  A day for . . . yardwork!

Well, my wife did some planting, and I did some cleaning.   She got some new plants into the herb garden and replaced some of the decorative stuff that froze.   She cut back the stuff we’re hoping recovers.

I raked some more leaves, especially by the citrus trees.   I shook and knocked most of the dead leaves off the trees and then I cleaned up around them.   I didn’t quite get everything bagged, I’ll have to finish later.  In the back yard my wife planted some tomatoes (and the herbs) while I picked up debris and ran the lawnmower.   Put the fire pit cooker back in the middle of the yard.   Pressure washed some spots on the patio and a few things I’d missed, basically just to run  the gas tank dry.  And then, because the firepit was just sitting right there, we decided to have a little fire.   And if we’re going to have a fire, might as well use it to cook dinner, says the 9 year old… wisdom from the mouths of babes.

So that’s what we did.   The firepit is enclosed with mesh all the way around and has a cast iron grill that you can cook on.   We re-heated beef stew, put some mushrooms in butter in foil, and grilled some kielbasa sausages.  I put a can of red beans and rice on too and that made a real nice meal with the sliced sausage.   During the blackouts we ate a couple of cans of the stuff, and gave some to the neighbors too.   Recommended.   Tasty, hearty, and easy to make.

(And of course dessert was s’mores.   We had the fire going anyway…)

Canned and ‘instant’ versions of food and ingredients should be high on your stored food list.   They take less time and less heat energy to prepare and you might be short on both of those things during your emergency.   I’ve got lots of regular rice, but during short term events, I reach for the Minute Rice.  Everything we had for dinner had already been cooked, and really just needed to be heated.

Speaking of shortcuts, for breakfast I made eggs, and biscuits with sausage gravy.   First time for me and the gravy.   It was from a can too.  Biscuits from a tube, gravy from a can, and eggs (ultimately from a chicken, but yesterday just from the store.)   The gravy was pretty good, the family all ate it and my wife got seconds.   It was FAR better than the white goo I got from a gravy packet last time I tried biscuits and gravy.  Younger daughter also got fried sliced spam.  She loves it.

So breakfast was from medium and long term storage, and dinner was from the pantry but cooked over a wood fire.    Eat what you store…   and store some stuff you don’t normally eat so that you have some novel foods if you get bored.

Cooking over a wood fire is fun when you don’t have to do it.  Practice using some of the different ways you have stacked to cook, clean, heat water, etc.  MUCH easier to do so in the daylight on a nice day, when the indoor stove is there for backup…

And of course, keep stacking the stuff you need.


Sun. Mar. 7, 2021 – always more to do…

Cool and clear.  I hope.   It got to be very nice yesterday.  Sunny and clear, not too cool.  It was a real shame not to be out doing yard work.  Or more of a shame to not be out enjoying some sort of leisure activity in the nice weather.

Instead, I spent a couple of hours at my secondary location gathering up stuff to take to auction next week.   Then I spent a couple of hours picking up some metal I bought, and talking to the auctioneer about bringing her a couple of loads of stuff.  She wants it, so I’ll bring it.

I did a bit of research (hit a couple of car listing sites) and at least have a better idea of what my options are for a replacement vehicle.   My wife is on board with spending a bit more for an extra couple of years without issues, so that expanded my search a bit.    Surprisingly, for Ford Expeditions anyway, mileage is much more of a factor for value than just about anything else, given that all the vehicles are running, and clean.  Age certainly counts, but much less than I expected and a year or two one way or the other doesn’t matter much.

It takes up time and energy, in an already crowded month.   Selling through local auctions gets some of that back, as there is much less of my time involved than just about any other way.   Less profit for me too, but that is a trade off.  Time is what I’m most short of right now.   Time time time, ask me for anything but time.

Funny thing about time.   We all have the same amount of time every day.  You can’t really “save” time for later, and you can’t store it.   It is very much “use it or lose it”.  I’m not panicked yet, but time feels very short.   I don’t know that I’m spending mine wisely, but I’m doing what I can.

Think about how you are using your time, and to what end.  Change is hard, but sometimes necessary.  Do you need to make a change?  Do I?

While you’re pondering, keep stacking.



Sat. Mar. 6, 2021 – no Hamfest for YOU!

Supposed to be a nice day today.   Yesterday started with light misty drizzle, got sunny and warm, and then ended with drizzle.  Don’t know yet how today will play out.  I’m cautiously optimistic.

Friday was full of the normal stuff.   I did a bit more cleaning up and putting away.

I consolidated some stored gasoline into fewer cans as I put them back in the storage cabinet.  I took the opportunity to get the water out of the cans too.   One I just stopped pouring before the water came out, the other I used my pump to suck it off the bottom of the can.   I’ve got a can dedicated to ‘dirty gas’ that collected the stuff left in the cans or pumped out.   In a pinch I can pump the gas off the top and avoid the water and sediment that settles.   Most of the time I just use it as a cleaner or hold it for disposal later.  The little hand pump has been so useful during this disaster that I am going to stock a couple more.  They’re cheap, and are a versatile tool.

Speaking of ‘cans’, I’ve had several plastic five gallon cans fail in the same way.  They are name brand cans, so it’s not a quality issue, but a design one.   The welded seam at the top of the can, in the ‘handle’ part, breaks open.   It’s hard to even tell that it isn’t sealed, and the can is still useful short term, but water and air can get in, and gas and vapor can get out through the crack.  I suspect that something in hand oils might contribute to the problem, or it could be a manufacturing issue, but they do separate.  If the can doesn’t puff up when hot, pressure is getting out somehow, and air can get back in.    Check your stored cans.   (and for this reason, I no longer buy them used to save a few bucks, because they’ve already got age on them and the clock is ticking)

The post title refers to the Greater Houston Hamfest, which was cancelled for 2021.   In 2020 it was the last public exposure I had before locking down for wuflu.  I was worried, but the swapmeet is outside, and I set up so my back was to the wind, blowing everyone else’s germs away from me.   In about 8 or 9 days it’ll be one full year of this pandemic.   Time flies and it drags.   I buy radio stuff all year with the intention of selling it on the one day at the Hamfest swapmeet in early March.  While I haven’t been buying as much radio stuff, I do still have  a bunch to sell.   I’ve talked to one of my local auction houses and he was agreeable to doing  a sale that featured radio gear, sometime this month.     I might sell stuff, but I won’t have the chance to spend the day chatting with other hams, and seeing some people I only  see at the Hamfest.  They’ve scheduled 2022 for March 4th and 5th.

As others have pointed out, the lockdowns have severely limited out ability to meet in groups, which has some benefits for an oppressive government, or a larger group that wants to limit the spread of information or ideas.   Without the ability to get together in an unmonitored environment and compare notes, the lies and lies by omission can spread and ‘soak in’ to the culture to the point where they are very hard to challenge or dispute.  When all your interactions with people are mediated (literally) they are also more easily controlled.   Consider too, that when people gather in larger groups, or public social environments, they are exposed to a much wider variety of beliefs, ideas, and experiences than if they are sitting at home on a computer.  I don’t think it was intentional at the beginning, but I think too many ‘powers that be’ realized the advantages and shaped policy and reality to their own ends.   This is especially visible in the inconsistency in applying the policies.   This activity is verbotten, but this identical situation is allowed if it’s something we WANT people to do.

There will never be a ‘return to normal’.   There never has been, and there really can’t be, because we are changed by our experiences.  Start planning and prepping for what comes NEXT.    Stacking will probably help.



Fri. Mar. 5, 2021 – another week gone by

Cool and maybe wet.   The national forecast has us in a possible rainy zone, but the edge of the front is very close by.   It’s been my observation that when the forecast has us on the edge, we don’t get the weather.  I guess we’ll see.

Yesterday was very nice.  Shirt sleeves and shorts weather with a gorgeous blue sky.   Which was nice for my walk home from the auto repair place.   It looks like my Expedition’s problems are deeper than a bad pressure sensor or worn out battery.  My repair guy will call me later with pricing and options.   It’s always something, and while my gut tells me there is a lot of life left in the truck, and I don’t want the expense and risks of replacing it, I also don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad.   I already put $4k into the motor last time and was pretty sure that was the last I wanted to spend on it.   Clean low miles ’13 and ’14 Expeditions are $10k to $20K depending on miles and trim.  New they are $60K to $80K… so that is VERY unlikely to happen.

My day will also involve some errands, probably cleaning up at my secondary IF it doesn’t rain.   I’ve got a dozen bins worth of stuff for auction if I can get the auctioneer to take delivery… she said she’d take a bunch, and I’ve got a bunch.  I’d love to get that started.

Looking at my stuff in auctions that closed last night, well,  it ain’t gonna pay for any gold coins.   I am starting to get concerned by the lower prices that stuff is bringing.  Not just my stuff, but stuff I’d be buying if I wasn’t already full up.  There seems to be a trend downward over the last few weeks.   I expect that as things in the economy get tighter and tighter, there will come a point where buyers just stop buying anything other than necessities.   They may continue buying daily living items, and shopping for bargains on ‘stuff’, but eventually there won’t be any  more money for ‘extras’.  I need to unload a bunch more stuff before that happens.

Still slowly chipping  away at about 10 different things at the same time.   It’s slow, but varied, and that helps is a couple of ways.  Just showing progress on some of the projects helps with domestic bliss.   And I can shift focus when I  find myself bumping into physical limits more often than I used to.

Today I was walking on eggshells because of spasms and something in my back that was “right on the edge” of becoming something really bad.  Simple bending movements were causing discomfort and apprehension all out of line with the actual exertion.   I’ve learned that I absolutely don’t want to aggravate that sort of thing.  So instead of doing a bunch of physical stuff, I was very careful and limited my movements.   Hopefully that was enough to be back to normal today.

There are several prominent bloggers in the ‘liberty sphere’ part of the web that have been hammering on physical fitness as a prep.  I’m not going to do ruck marches or calisthenics, or even jog, but it’s clear that I need to do something additional and that my normal activity level is not enough to overcome the effects of aging.  Anything effective takes time, and time is in short supply.  But clearly I’m losing time in other places, and don’t feel good while doing so, so it would be better to spend the time upfront and get the benefit of being in better shape too.  Knowing and doing are two different things however.

It’s always something.

Meanwhile, I’m organizing stacks, and adding to them in specific areas, mainly food and medical supplies.   I need to rebalance my camp stove and lantern stockpile in light of lessons learned from the deep freeze, and I need to go through some other stuff too.  Stored easily accessible drinking water is the next thing for me to tear into and rotate.

Plumbing supplies and gasoline stocks can be put away, replenished, and rotated too.  And I can’t forget the garden…

Stacking is the easy part.  Keep stacking, you can sort it out later.


Thur. Mar. 4, 2021 – I’m gonna be busier than a one armed paper hanger…

National forecast has Houston in the clear for at least a couple of days.   That will be great as I need the clear weather to move stuff around and work outside.   Today should be nice.   Yesterday started cool but ended nice and sunny.

I spent the day doing stuff- took daughter #1 to get her braces tweaked.  Then I stopped at the HEB after taking daughter one to school.   Added some food to the pantry and shelves.

Met the A/C guy and got that sorted out at the rent house.  Found several other things there that should probably be done soon, but I’ll try to push them off.  Picked up from one auction.   It was radios, hand sanitizer, and toilet plumbing supplies.

I’ve got stuff listed in two local auctions, and more at each auctioneer waiting to be listed.  I’m hoping to get a whole bunch of stuff to the new auctioneer this week, but she just closed an auction and won’t be done with pickup until Saturday.   She may not want my stuff until next week.

While doing all that other stuff and the normal stuff, I’ve got to get my Expy to the shop.   It stalls out at idle after running for 15 minutes.   It’s pretty consistent and it’s not the cold or the battery at this point.   It needs to be smogged and registered too.   THEN I can get the Ranger smogged and registered, maybe get the windshield replaced, and if I’m really ambitious, install a radio.  I’ve got a bunch of stuff to install in the Expy too.  Dash cams don’t do you any good sitting at home in a box.

Before you know it, hurricane season will be rolling around.   I would like to have the vehicles all in tip top shape before then, and the whole house gennie installed, and the plumbing for the hot water heater and master bath done.   Oh, and the A/C here at the house needs to be replaced too.  We’ve been lucky and have deferred it too many times.    Lots of stuff to do to Casa de Nick before it gets hot.

I’m going to have to figure out where the extra time is going to come from.

“First invent time travel”…

All this while a global pandemic continues, inflation starts to take off, our freedoms get further restricted every day, and the battle lines continue shaping up.

I better get started.   You probably should have a list too.  Stuff to do, and stuff to stack.   Time is flying by, get started on something.



Wed. Mar. 3, 2021 – half way through the week already

Cool and hopefully starting to dry out.  It did get very nice yesterday by late morning after starting as grey and misty.   It even got sunny with blue skies for most of the afternoon.  I think the high was around 74F.   Humidity must have stayed high though, I have lots of little puddles of water on the driveway that didn’t dry out.   It was 46F when I went to bed.

I took advantage of the nice weather and put down grass seed in the front yard.   Then I ran the sprinklers.   No problems in the front.   Stopped the test before the back yard zones ran as I wasn’t quite ready for that.   Did some more clean up inside.   Did some re-stocking- moved food into the house from the garage freezer, put paper products away, moved some stuff from the cold snap all the way back to where it lives most of the time.   Still not completely back together, but that’s due to a lack of effort at this point.

Still pretty sore in muscles and skeletal alignment, even though I slept with a rolled up towel as a pillow, and stayed lined up on my back.  I woke up feeling pretty good, most of the neck and shoulder stuff released and moved during the night.   If I catch it early I can save myself a bunch of pain and time recovering.   It’s a pretty clear sign I need to do more stretching and some strengthening exercises…  on top of everything else.

Body maintenance is starting to take work, and not just ‘happen’.  It’s a great life if you don’t weaken, right?

We’ll need our strength for whatever is coming, even if that is just celebrating a return to ‘normal’…  not that I think that is likely, but it is in my contingency planning.

Busy day today.  Oldest has an orthodontia appointment early this morning, then  I’ve got an auction pickup on the other side of town.   I’m meeting with an A/C guy at the rent house, and all the normal stuff too.  Wife will be working from home for the next two weeks.  They had two positive tests in her office today.   She doesn’t think she was exposed, but who knows.

Heard from an old friend last night that his dad just died from corona, and learned that another old friend in the Houston area had his own little super spreader event.   All 25 members of his family that got together for a party tested positive.   All but his wife have recovered, she’s a ‘long hauler’ and still isn’t back to normal months later.

It’s out there, and for some people it’s devastating.  Stay sharp.

And keep stacking.  No matter what’s coming, stacks will help.




Tues. Mar. 2, 2021 – some time this month I will complete my 55th orbit without an obit

Cold and wet.  Rain on the plain, and the plane, and the horse’s rein for that matter……

Monday was mostly cloudy, misty drizzle, and occasional patches of nice.  Temps were in the 60s most of the day.

Fairly early in the day heavy trash came and picked up the 11 bags of leaves and dead grass that I raked so the soreness from Saturday and Sunday’s exertions was worth it.  But I am sore.

I am really feeling every dumb thing I’ve ever done and every thing that ‘made me stronger’ over the years in weather like this.   Cold and damp when you have a ‘weather’ everything is no fun.   One of the reasons I live in a warm sunny place is that cold HURTS.  Cold DAMP hurts too.

Enough b!tching though, I’ve led a charmed life and wouldn’t be who I am today without the scar tissue and missing bits…  I did learn a couple of months ago that if I want to be productive, I need to continue taking my maintenance meds though.   55 used to be OLD.  Now it’s barely middle aged.  Except on cold damp mornings.  And when the NSAIDs run out.

Grid down lots of things will run out.   Even in a long slow collapse, many things that are easily obtainable today will be hard to get.  In my mom’s living memory, citrus fruit in winter was a luxury.   Getting a single orange on Christmas was a very special treat when she was young.   I remember as a kid getting a case of oranges or grapefruit from sales guys trying to bribe my dad at Christmas.  A nice box of fruit was still an impressive gift for people of his generation well into the 1970s.  That wasn’t that long ago.

War adds another level of privation and suffering.

The thing to keep in mind is that none of this worst case, or even ‘bad’ case is impossible.   And on a long enough timeline, it’s inevitable.  Humans haven’t changed.  Physical laws haven’t changed.  Things tend to continue on, mostly the same, until they don’t.  Then it all changes and usually very rapidly.

When that happens it’s important to keep in mind that ‘nothing lasts forever’ and most people will get through it.  That should be your goal, it’s mine- to get through it, whatever it might be.

Flexibility, preparation, strength, determination, knowledge, ‘tribe’, and stuff.   That will see you through.


Stacking is the easy part.   Get to it.




Sun. Feb. 28, 2021- no rest for the wicked…

Cool and probably raining.  High humidity if not rain.

Yesterday was mostly overcast with occasional sun, but got misty drizzle in the late afternoon.

I did some more cleanup.   Stacked some of the cut pecan tree.   Washed some stuff.   Raked.   I am going to be sore today.  Very glad the pressure washer survived being frozen.  It’s common for the pumps to split if they freeze with water in them.   I guess mine sat long enough before the freeze that it was dried out.

Headed over to the rent house later today to look at the A/C and see if I can diagnose what the problem is, or at least decide if a pro needs to be involved.  I hope I don’t need the same part that everyone else needs.

Supply lines continue to be disrupted in Houston, and there are shortages of plumbing stuff you might not even think of.   People are offering crazy money for outdoor on demand hot water heaters.   And I have one new in the box… but.   It would set our own plan back 3-6 months, and any profit selling it would be eaten up when we needed to replace it with new for our install.   It’s going to continue sitting in storage, because we can’t (in good conscience) get a plumber to do the work now anyway.  We had one scheduled to give us a bid the day everything froze.   Seems like a waste to let it sit though while people don’t have hot water at home, so I might do some more thinking on the subject.

It occurs to me  that it is a bit difficult to tell if the high prices are organic supply vs demand driven or if it is inflation starting to take off.    SOME of it is organic, but I’m getting worried that we’re about to see inflation really take off, and that the rapid increase is masked by genuine real demand driven increases.  Historically the strategies for dealing with rapid inflation are simple.  Borrow money that you will pay back with devalued money and spend it on durable goods that you know you will need later, or that you can sell.  And spend every dime as soon as you get it on the same things.  Savers get destroyed by high inflation.  People who own real stuff have a buffer.  Those on fixed incomes get destroyed.  Make some plans.  Start moving on them.

I’m no financial genius, but gold isn’t crazy high at the moment (compared to some other things), if you can find some, and that makes me wonder what’s going on.  I mention it only in passing, and not as advice.   And I point out that Ferfal talks about the value of broken gold necklaces and bracelets in his book.  With a bracelet or necklace, you can just cut off an inch at a time… and Selco points out the value of wedding rings, you can feign a great deal of reluctance with a ring, and no one wonders if you have more stashed away.  Give some serious thought to a world where your savings are gone.  It happens all the time in other places.   It can happen here.   Our ‘reserve currency’ status won’t save us forever, foreign powers are working as hard as they can to obviate that advantage.  At some point they will succeed.   Think hard about this.

Stacking can help.   Stacking will help.   Keep stacking.





Sat. Feb. 27, 2021 – sleeping in, still worn out….

Maybe the rain will finally get here.  It missed us yesterday.   The tree guys finished just as the wind shifted and the horizon turned black and ugly, but we didn’t actually get the storm that looked like it was headed right for us.

I did manage to get a few things done during the day.  I worked on the raised beds a tiny bit, pruned some trees, and organized and put a few things away.   Mostly just little tiny things, but trying to keep some momentum going.  One little thing, the brass caps for the 1 pound propane bottles came in, and I’ve been putting them on bottles and putting the bottles back in storage.   I bought a bunch of them, like 32?, and I’ll be refilling a bunch of small bottles now that I have a good way to reseal them.

The tree guys left some decent stacks of cut logs.   I’ve got nothing like enough wood to heat the house, but WAY more than needed for the backyard fire pit, so  I’ll share with one or more of the neighbors.  Pecan makes for good smoke in the smoker, and nice hot fires in the firepit.  One of the neighbors makes great sausage from deer and pig.   I’m hoping for reciprocity.  Meatspace!

I used instacart to get my HEB groceries and Costco order delivered.   There are many reasons to shop myself, but the main reason to use instacart is that it saves time and allows me to be home while waiting.    I was a bit surprised by how much of the stuff on my “buy it again” lists was out of stock.  The supply chain here is clearly still messed up from last week.   Costco was particularly short on meat.  HEB was short on bread and baked goods.

This is the first Saturday in a while that I don’t have any auction pickups, no appointments, and nothing that is critical to get done.   It’s not that I don’t have things to do or that I got caught up, but nothing HAS to be done today.  Since I’m still not feeling 100% I’m sleeping in.  Then I’ll get back to it.

Whatever you’re short of, keep stacking it.  And keep thinking about what you might need.



Fri. Feb. 26, 2021 – “Timber!”

Cool and wet.   Probably raining.   All we got yesterday was dew and a very light misty drizzle.  Which was actually fine with me, but it did play havoc with the OTHER drivers on the roads around Houston.

I did my pickups, got some great deals on household stuff, and a couple of minor things to add to the “resell” pile.   Daughter 2 was thrilled with a new rug for her room.  It’s very pink, and VERY fuzzy.  I got a new in box 100% goose down comforter for my bed.   It was a bit chilly for the light blanket I normally use during the recent cold snap.  Yes, I know, we’ll probably never have the same problem again, but getting a light down comforter has been on my list for a while. $12.50.  Who would say no to that?

Before I left on my errands, I found the dead rat in the attic.    The trap got him.  First time for everything I guess.   Washing and soaking the trap with bleach hasn’t gotten rid of the odor, so I think I’ll be making another.   I can’t imagine the rat dumb enough to enter the trap if it smells like death.

Today we’re supposed  to have the tree guy taking down our half rotten pecan in the back yard.   The house will be hotter this summer, the grass will not grow as well, but my garden should benefit.   The squirrels are going to be upset.  I say “supposed to” because I don’t know what he’ll want to do if it’s raining, and the national forecast is showing rain for us.

Lots of people online talking about the coming collapse of the financial bubble, and the coming conflict between city and rural, and a lot of other stuff.   Not many talking about what to do if they are right.  One without the other is just distraction at this point, as far as I’m concerned.  LOTS of distraction out there.  FOCUS on what you need to do to get through whatever is coming.    Don’t get distracted.   Monitor, yes.  Obsess, no.

Speaking of distraction, it didn’t take long to bomb Syria did it?

You need stuff, knowledge, friends.   Stack them deep.