Mon. July 13, 2020 – more work, little play

Hot and humid.  Of course.  Unless it’s raining.

Yesterday got hotter and hotter until it was 109F in the sun in my driveway.  It was over 100F in the garage.  I was moving, but sometimes a bit slower.  I tried to switch tasks, moving from the house to the garage to the sunny driveway to the shady yard, and back.   I drank 2 liters of lemonade, and some iced tea and some water.

I mostly was trying to clear out the four corners of the garage.  One corner blocks entry for the freezer.  One corner is where I want to put it.  The other corner is my main water and food storage area, now being re-purposed as my hobby area and storage for some bulk buckets, and non-perishables, as well as my fire rated file cabinet and a work area.  If I get to cutting the hole in the wall, that’s where the A/C unit will go too.  The last corner is the other side of the roll up door and completes a big U of clear space around the center of the garage, which is mostly full of stuff.

In any case, I made some slow progress.  Never got to my secondary location as I was on  a roll and didn’t want to stop.

Wife painted the new back door, and ordered dinner delivered from one of the local chinese food places.  It was pretty good, and I sure didn’t feel like cooking after being out in the heat all day.  It’s not the end of the world after all.  Except maybe for Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

I guess we’ll see, but the trends are worrying.  Our neighbor to the south seems to have completely lost control of the wuflu situation.  Their curve doesn’t look like it will flatten for some time.  The rest of latin america, africa, and india aren’t looking so good either.  Funny how little news we’re hearing from them.

I’m keeping on keeping on.  That’s the plan anyway.  One of the boxes I found in the garage cleanup was a bunch of wound care supplies from my mom.  Dad doesn’t need them anymore, so I’ll stack them and hope I never need them either.  Running into reminders like that is bittersweet.

But hey, while I was cleaning and organizing, I sold some speakers on ebay.  Turned around and spent the money on parts to fix the bandsaw in the garage.  If it’s gonna sit there, it should work.  One little casting broke, and the machine is NFG.  The casting was way under-engineered (or OVER engineered, and under-spec’d) and is an obvious weak point.  One of the medium term goals for the garage is to have a mini version of my bigger workshop close to hand.  Getting the little 9″ bandsaw running is a step in that direction.

Also found some airsoft and a CO2 powered bb pistol.  So I set up some cans in the yard and put a couple dozen rounds through them.  That was fun!  It was also a nice break from the heat to shoot in the 95F shade.   I’ve never shot a CO2 airgun before and I like it.   It’s way more like semi-auto and better ‘substitute’ practice as you don’t have to re-cock the spring, or pump up the air.  The pistol doesn’t jump around as much, the trigger is wobbly, and it’s a full sized handgun, but it’s still good practice for acquiring the target, getting sight alignment, etc.   I’ve even got retention holsters for them if I wanted to practice drawing and firing.  I’m not getting to the range any time soon, and ammo is expensive and hard to replace, so airgun practice it will be.  It does make a distinctive sound that carries quite well in the unusually quite suburbs…

So, even if you can’t do what you’d normally like to do, keep working on skills, and keep stacking.




Sun. July 12, 2020 – still plugging away

Hot and humid.  Sunny.  Hot.  Really hot.  HOUSTON hot.  🙂

Yesterday stayed hot all day.  It was 85f at midnight, but the garage was still in the high 90s, even with the door open and fans going.

I did get a bunch of stuff done, but it was plodding, and small victories only.

I got some of my recent bulk food purchases put up in buckets with O2 absorbers, and ready to go to my secondary storage.  I gave the freezer a couple more treatments with the disinfectant and deodorizer.   I might have to give it more.  I might try Scrubbing Bubbles tub cleaner next.  The smell is faint, but still present.

Got some more stuff loaded to get out of the house and sold.  Got tons more yet to do.

Back in the early days of the Blogosphere, someone observed that the majority of bloggers could be classified as either “linkers” or “thinkers”.   It was rare that you got both.  Ol’ Remus and his Woodpile Report were that rare combination of links you might want to think about, and thoughtful commentary.  He has apparently passed on suddenly from cancer, only recently diagnosed.  He never mentioned anything about it on his page, and frequently wrote about his plans to get through the next phase of this period we’re living in.  I don’t know anything about the man, except through his writing, but I will miss his gentle and thoughtful observation and commentary.    He joins the list of the ‘old guard’- Jerry Pournelle, RBT, Steven Den Beste,  and others.  Funny to think that blogging and this internet thing are old enough that the originals are passing from old age and infirmity.  No one gets out alive.

Today, I’m plodding along.  Small steps, but keep moving forward.  Maybe I’ll get some more work done and be closer to my goals.  I’m sure I’ll be closer to some of them.  And that is going to have to be good enough for today.


Keep stacking, keep making forward progress.



Sat. July 11, 2020 – continuing to sweat, and work, and work, and work

Hot and humid again.  Same same.

Yesterday stayed hot hot hot all day.  And sweat through to your skin in 5 minutes humid.

So, while I didn’t get much done in the garage, given that it was more than 109F in there, I did yard work.  Cut the grass, pulled a couple of weeds.   Cleaned up the rest of the mess the heavy trash guys left.  Cut and stacked the free firewood.  (Used the electric chainsaw.)  Pushed dirt around the bottom of the pool.

Then did my auction pickup.   Helped load the old bedroom furniture into a lady’s truck (3 trips to fit it all).  Cooked dinner.  Put the kids to bed.  Read more Tales of Alvin Maker: Prentice Alvin to the oldest.  Watched some youtube.

Dinner was some super scraggly and thin asparagus from the last supply drop, and almost 2 pounds of sirloin steak from the freezer.  My 9yo ate the biggest hunk, half a pound at least, and more than I ate.  She is a vicious little carnivore.  Last year’s girl scout cookies for dessert.

Today I’m really really really trying to get the freezer into the garage.  I’ve got to get a ton of shirt out first, and it’s hot.  But I need to get it settled and start stocking it again.  I’ve also looked at freezer temperature alarms, and they are either cheap and poorly reviewed, or pretty dang pricey.  I’ve got normal digital thermometers on the fridge and the chest freezer.  They don’t alarm though, but you can see at a glance the actual temps.  I’m going to look some more before deciding what to get.  I sure don’t want to lose another freezer full.

Speaking of a freezer full, with additional space I’ll be able to store more frozen fruits and veg.  I don’t normally keep much besides meat and butter, with some bread products in the freezers.  My wife has a bag of fruit chunks for smoothies in the kitchen freezer.  One of the observations someone mentioned about the covid lockdowns so far was wishing they had more frozen fruit.  I hadn’t thought much about it, and I have canned fruit and fruit pie filling, but I don’t have much frozen.  I think I’ll add a shelf of frozen fruit to the pile.

Always something more to stack, keep at it.


Fri. July 10, 2020 – well, another week gone, same old stuff

Hot and humid.  Maybe rain.  In other words, July.

Certainly got hot yesterday here in the Bayou City.  Despite being Tree City USA, the sun was crisping up everything it touched.  I burned my forearm on the new door I had in the back of the truck.  The glass was too hot to touch.

So I manned up, got it to the shade, and let it chill in the grass for a while.  I removed the back door with the broken window pane, and determined that it would be easier to rehang the new door in the old frame than tear up the molding and old doorframe to install the new, pre-hung door as a unit.  It meant cutting new mortises for the hinges and strike plates, but it was totally worth it.  I will let the painter (my wife) make the repairs to the door jamb and strike side.  The new steel door will be marginally more secure than the old solid wood one too.  Then I had to get all the little grains of safety glass up.   The old door went on the heavy trash pile, which still hasn’t been collected.

I’ve now upgraded all three exterior doors since we moved in, and both doors at my rent house.   We changed all the interior doors here when we moved in- from flat hollow core to 6 panel hollow core.   It’s not hard, the look was dramatically improved, and you get better at it with every one.  I also learned how to re-key Kwikset locks a long time ago, and I do that myself at the rental, and I did it here when we moved in.  Heck I even did it at my secondary location using commercial locksets.  Again, a great skill to have.  I am grateful that my parents taught me so much about remodeling and maintenance and DIY.  I’ve learned a ton since then, but the idea was planted when I was a little ‘helper’.

On the other hand, watching my dad do car repair in the dark, cold, and wet convinced me I never wanted to do it myself.  I WILL do it, out of the desire to save money, or if it’s not a particularly nasty job, but I don’t enjoy it the way I like working around the house.

Dealing with the broken door window stole some time from all the rest of the stuff I needed to do this week.  Dealing with the unplugged freezer stole some more.  My fingers still stink from just picking up the spoiled packages and putting them in the trash, and I re-froze them first!   Several soapy hand washes, and the bleach wash of the freezer couldn’t get the stink off.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to get the stink out of the freezer itself, so thanks for the heads up whoever mentioned it yesterday.  I took the time to bleach and wash out the freezer.  It still smelled ‘off’ after doing that a couple of times, so I got out the Mold Armor spray.  It’s a disinfectant, viricide, mildewcide, and odor killer.  It also turns yellow when in contact with rotten meat juice residue.   That last fact was a super handy surprise.  A couple of applications of Mold Armor, wiped up with paper towels, and then rinsed with water got it smelling ok.  I sprayed one last time and didn’t wash it out.  I’ve got the door wide open to dry, and today I’ll point it at the sun to get some UV into it too.  I started to total the value of the contents and then stopped.  Several hundred dollars certainly.  It would have been a lot more if it was full.

I need to quit putting it off and get the garage reorg’d so I can get the freezer in place.   I hate change in my personal life and will resist it.  I’m my own worst enemy in this case.  Well, I wouldn’t be quite so reluctant if the temps were mid-70s either instead of low 100s with humidity at ‘full’.

Today or tomorrow I’ll be picking up more auction items.  Namely a dresser and desk for my daughter’s room.  Did I mention that my wife now knows that I can buy stuff at auction?  Got the desk for 2/5ths of retail and the dresser for about 1/5th of retail.  Hopefully, they are both in great condition inside their shipping boxes, or it’s something I can fix if not.  There is a certain amount of risk involved.  Getting better quality for the same price as cheap, or saving big on decent quality (and high style) is the trade off for the risk that something is missing or broken.

Dinner was late, and needed to be quick and easy so I got shrimps from the other freezer and saute’d them with garlic and butter.  Served over 90 second ‘pouch’ rice for a complete meal 🙂   It was either that or ‘breakfast for dinner…’

Keep stacking, keep learning, save some money, save a life…



Thur. July 9, 2020 – catching up with stuff

Hot.  Humid.  Hot.

Yesterday was hot, and I spent hours in the sun going through my auction purchases.  Won some, lost some.  Only one $30 item wasn’t what I thought and was a total loss.   It’s surprising how quickly $1, $6, and $12 items add up to real money.  I’ve got to get busy and list the stuff for resale so I can keep the stuff I want to keep.

And pay for a new freezer full of meat.  ‘Cuz freezers only stay cold when they’re plugged in.  I can go through the whole ‘for the want of a nail’ chain, but the upshot is I didn’t get my  new freezer into it’s safe and forever home, and it got unplugged.   I WAS checking it at least every day to be sure it was cold but I stopped.  And now I’ll be replacing all the meat, butter, lard, and bread that I put in there.  F me.  At least the stores are still open and we won’t go hungry.  Still a costly mistake.

Lowes updated me that my replacement door is available for pickup.   It showed ‘in stock’ at my local when I bought it, but I immediately got an email that it wouldn’t be available until the 12th.  Since it’s only the 9th, I guess I should be grateful…  hopefully they’ll have my food safe buckets too.  Curbside pickup, here I come.

Projects.  I’ve got em’.

Time and motivation are what’s missing.

So I better get moving.

Stack it high, but keep and eye on it…




Wed. July 8, 2020 – lots of errands today

Hot and wet.  Possible storms.  Joy.

Tuesday was a bit cooler in the afternoon.  We almost got some rain in the morning, which should have increased the humidity but actually didn’t do too much.   Overcast helped keep the temps down.   The attic at my client’s house was only 96F and had a max high temp of 112F recorded.  Cool really.

I did go over to my client’s to chase internet and networking issues.  Found more lightning damage.  The Silicon Greybeard has shared some of his lightning strike travails on his blog.  Basically, everything in the house is suspect now that we’ve established that there was damage on some things.   I’ll be swapping out gear for the next year as it dies early and mysterious deaths.

Dinner was ribs from the freezer.  My wife did the honors while I was working.  Sides from the fridge, and pasta.  Not much long term storage, and no canned corn…

Today I’ve got to pick up a truck load of auction items.  Shopping for the wife’s list kinda got out of hand.  I ended up getting some stuff to resell, and some stuff for my various hobbies.  I took a gamble on one item I hope is a light bar for my truck.  Couldn’t quite make it out, but I wasn’t the only one bidding it up.  Hopefully the other guy was sure it was something desirable and not just following me 😉

The news hasn’t been screaming about cases this week, but they are still going up.  Deaths are up a bit, not enough for a trend but basically right on time.   Aesop has his hands full at his ER in Cali, and reports are that the ERs here in Texas are about full.  Florida is headed there too.

Economic impacts and real world effects are starting to hit locally.  Our city councilwoman told one of my neighbors that the city might have to hire contractors to catch up with heavy trash pickup.  They’re 2 weeks late this Friday.  She said too many city employees were out sick.   I’m seeing a lot more shuttered businesses this week too.  LOTS of empty storefronts in some parts of town, where I don’t expect to see them.  Even the Habitat for Humanity reStore on the north side of town  was closed down to “help keep everyone safe”.  And FFS people, update your website if you close your business.

Tomball Ford was running their $20K off list ad again, only this time they included Expedition, along with F series trucks.   Lots of lesser deals on other vehicles too.

If there are things you think you’ll need in the next year, you might want to start getting them while you can.  Maintenance parts, cleaning stuff, “just in case” like toilet rebuild kits, rake and shovel handles, etc. are all going to be in short supply if this keeps up.  I don’t see it getting better soon.  Think about how many batteries you’ll burn through if you have a community watch in your neighborhood running those little GMRS or FRS radios…   Start thinking about clothes too.  You probably have closets full, but do they fit?  Will they fit if you lose or gain weight?  Most of the clothes and cloth come from China and other far away shirtholes, as do most of the shoes and boots.

Anyway, the knock on effects of closing down our economy are starting.   The effects of our third world suppliers losing big chunks of their workers, either temporarily or permanently, are just starting to show up.

Time to stack it high…



Tues. July 7, 2020 – ay, que loco

Hot and humid, but maybe less so.

Yesterday was cooler in the evening than last week.  Hot during the day though.

I didn’t get much done.  Had to go to my storage unit to get an ebay sale item, then pack and ship that.  Grabbed some useful stuff from the unit while I was there.  On the way home, I cruised the heavy trash piles and easily could have filled the pickup with free firewood.  As it was I grabbed mostly 6-8 inch diameter limbs, all oak, and about 4 feet long.  I’ll get them cut and stacked soon enough now that I have the racks in place.  Having the pickup truck makes it easy to do some things that would be much harder without it.  Scavenging, and transporting building supplies are two that leap to mind.

Today I need to drop off a projector for service, hit the Habitat reStore to see if they have a door that will replace my patio door, and do a quick site visit for my client.  He lost about half his wifi in the house.  I think I probably messed up the PoE or net connection when I was over there last week.  I think I’ll mask up, or at least be back to wearing gloves on site, as I didn’t want to be there for a couple of weeks while the covid cooties died off.

Hopefully I can also find time to drop off some auction stuff too.  Most of my errands are in the Northwest metro area today.   I try to “clump” errands to save driving and time.  Can’t always, but I do try.

Thanks to whoever recommended the Alex Verus magic books, both my wife and I enjoyed them a lot, and are looking forward to the next one.   Harry Dresden and Alex Verus both have new books in the series out this Fall.  That seems a long time away at the moment.

Dinner was mostly leftovers.  A bit of ham steak rounded out the meal.   In times of hardship and privation, throwing out food is very undesirable.   Cooking portions that all get eaten is a learned skill.  Eating the leftovers just takes doing it.  So much easier, and yet I know people who don’t and won’t eat leftovers.  I hope they can continue to be so choosy.

In other news, I had a long conversation with Frances about Barbara’s condition and status.  Good news.  They are transferring her to a rehab facility.  That means that outside of the picc line, she’s off of IV meds, and the infections are taken care of.  The exception being the one in her spine that is causing the pain and disability.  She’s looking at 6-8 weeks of treatment for that, hopefully with prompt and continued improvement.  They are not setting a schedule for when or under what conditions she can return home, she needs to get more mobile, get daily living chores under control, and get the pain under control before then.  However, she’s making progress, and getting out of the actual hospital.   Once she’s settled into the new facility, I’ll pass along contact info for cards or treats.  She’s aware of and grateful for the concern and support from our community.  I should have another update in a day or two.  (and Colin is doing fine with Al as his personal body servant)

And that’s it for this morning.   Keep stacking.



Mon. July 6, 2020 – turn down the suck…

Hot and humid.  Probably overcast with a chance of storms.    I guess we’ll see.

Yesterday was hot and humid.  Not as terrible as Saturday but still unpleasant in the garage and outdoors.  Wife and kids spent the whole day inside.  I did some outdoors stuff and worked in the garage.  I’m pretty much going to have to make time to put the A/C into the garage.  Otherwise, I won’t get much use during most of the year.  I will tell myself it’s better for my food storage too.

Projects.  I got ’em.

Did get some small progress done yesterday.  Found some more stuff for the auction.  Sold a speaker on ebay.  Bought a bunch of stuff in the housewares amazon returns auction.  Watching those bids took a lot of time in 15 minute slices.  Did some small cleanup in the garage.  Fixed a fan.  Read a few chapters of a book.  I was a  bit wiped out after Saturday.

Dinner was brats and fixin’s.   Brats were fresh from the last Costco supply drop, onions and potatoes from the one before that.  Corn and ice cream were from the HEB grocery drop.  I’ve said it before, but it’s a damn peculiar zombie apocalypse when you can have food delivered to your door.

Another peculiar thing was transitioning from “prepping” to “using”.   After a while, I realized I need to go back to buying stuff to replace stores as they are used.  I don’t NEED to get toilet paper right now, but if I don’t there will come a time when I’ve run out.  Hoping to resupply at some future date is not a prudent or practical plan.  So far, we’ve been mostly eating out of current shopping with additions from the long term stockpile.  I’d like to build up some extra protein storage, and adjust some of my long term canned food.  I’m heavy on canned corn, just as an example, and I’ve only used up one case so far.  It’s going to be more expensive to replace the stuff I’ve used, as I bought it only when it was on sale, and there are few sales at the moment.  I’ll call it ‘dollar cost averaging’ for food and stuff instead of investments.

On the plus side, being well prepared for something that was nowhere on my wife’s radar has built up a nice store of goodwill toward prepping and some of my more ‘out there’ preps.  Having the stuff and having it at hand has made a big difference.  When you hit on a long shot, some of your other long shots look a little more reasonable.  I’ve also gotten a nice bump in tolerance for auctions now that she’s figured out that I can buy the stuff SHE wants…  now, if I can get my sales up, I’ll be golden.

I’m going to advise accepting that this is the beginning of how things are going to be for a while, and that we’re probably not going back to “the way things were.”  The sooner you accept that as reality, and start adjusting to it, the better off you’ll be.   A lot of the lost jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon.  There is a glut of autos on the market, I’ve seen a local dealer using the dead mall parking lot as storage.  He hasn’t even bothered to fence it in.  I’m sure there are other areas of oversupply too.  Air travel capacity comes to mind.  Shopping malls.  Theaters.  Fitness centers.  Party rental places.  Foreign workers. *

Start focusing on the basics.  You’ll be ahead of the curve and the pack.

Keep stacking.




*notice how quickly the furor over the H1B visas has died down?

Sun. July 5, 2020 – more of yesterday, with fewer fireworks

Hot again, although we are supposed to be on the edge of a weather system, so that might mess things up.

Yesterday was hot.  Humid and hot.  Some relief in the shade when the breeze was blowing, but overall, hot.

I got several little things done, or moved along a bit.  Got a log storage rack built and in place.  Stacked all the logs and sticks that were already cut to length.  I’ve still got a couple of limbs to cut to length and stack but I didn’t want to get the chainsaw out yesterday.  I’ll probably do that today.

I worked on getting some of the garage cleaned so I can get the new freezer in, and that wall of the garage rearranged.  It’s gonna take some work, and it’s hot.  All the stuff has to come out into the driveway for a while.  Some of it wouldn’t do well in the sun, so I’ve dithered.  It’s hard to stay focused and productive when it’s so hot.

I did pull two more bins of stuff to go to the local auction.  So many more to go through.

The daughter’s new bedroom paint color is purple.  REALLY purple.  She likes it.  That’s the important bit.  I love that she’s growing up, but I miss the little kid too.  Change.  It keeps happening, no matter what the world is doing around you.

Businesses are adapting to the current conditions.  Sherwin Williams has you order online, then do curbside pickup.  Lowes and Home Depot have online ordering with curbside too.  I waited about 10 minutes for my load of pool salt at HD.   The only downside is when an item isn’t really in stock, or when you would normally browse to what you want/need.   We’re used to instant or very near instant availability to almost everything.  That seems to be changing too.  Our pizza place was very busy.   The only obvious change is that their newly renovated dine in area was empty.   Some businesses will adapt, some will die.  I’m sure some completely new businesses will arise too.

After all, change is the only constant…

And the certainty that some sort of bad thing WILL happen.  So keep working on skills.  Keep building relationships.  Keep stacking.



Sat. July 4th, 2020 – Independence Day.

Hot and humid.  Like yesterday.  Possibility of rain.

Yesterday it was very hot and very humid.  The sun, when it was out, was set to ‘crispy’.  Just putting a few bins of auction items in my truck had me soaked to the skin.

I took the bins to the auction house, and got my settlement check from the last time.  It was short by half, as some numbnuts didn’t pay or pickup, and he bought a bunch of my items.  The auction will have to relist them and we’ll see where the prices end up.

My wife spent the afternoon setting up the salt water chlorination system for our pool.  I told her if she wanted to get fancy with the chemicals it would be her job, and she’s stepped up.

Dinner was frozen fish, baked on the grill, canned beans, and boiled carrots from the kids’ school lunches.

I noticed that the corn in the garden has at least two small ears started.  Hooray me.  We’ll see if I get them or the squirrels.

Today, however, is Independence Day here in the States.   Traditionally an unabashed good time.  The freaking wokescolds have got their bony fingers pointed at everyone this year though, and the wuflu got the fireworks shows.

Take some time today and celebrate independence, both our original departure from Merry Olde, and your personal independence.  If, upon reflection, you don’t have all you’d like, then by all means make a plan to get to where you’d like to be…  make big picture plans, and small personal plans.  Start accumulating the resources.  Declare your independence.

And get ready for what may be coming.  Lots of opportunity in periods of great change.

Keep stacking, enjoy the 4th, and please don’t shoot your guns into the air.  Shoot them into the targets.