Fri. Jan. 8, 2021 – the disaster is headed our way now for certain, just a question of how long and how bad

Cold.  Hopefully clear though.

Yesterday stayed cool all day.  It was clear and dry but never really warmed up.  It was 40F when I went to bed.

Didn’t really get much done yesterday.  Watched my local auctions throughout the day, and watched the news stories roll in.

Didn’t do super well in the auctions.  One was a disaster.  I had lots of items sell for a couple of bucks that should have sold well.  I even bought one of my own items the price was so low and I’d actually spent money on buying it originally.   I won’t be using that auctioneer again.   The lego sold well.  The k’nex sold badly, some bulk even going unsold.   40 year old concert T shirts brought $30-$50 EACH.  Crazy.  Hot Wheels and train stuff brought what I was hoping for.  Kitchen stuff- corel and pyrex sold ok, not super, but not bad.  Purses sold poorly.  The photos were really bad.  When a genuine Coach handbag, in simple black leather goes for $3 something is terribly wrong.

The stuff I dropped off Wednesday should list for next week in the better auction.   I’m supposed to take a load to my ‘industrial’ auctioneer today.  That’s why I’m hoping for clear weather.   It will get more stuff out of my storage and that’s a good thing.

I want to accelerate getting stuff sold.  I think the economy will not survive Biden and his plans.  Not at the ‘man on the street’ level, not in the financial markets.

It’s possible we might be going to look at a couple lake properties on Saturday.  I really want to accelerate that plan now too.

Lots to do, little time.  Hurricane in the Gulf time… gotta get ready.   Well, more ready.

Stack all the things.

nick

Thur. Jan. 7, 2021 – turns out it will probably live in infamy too

Cool but not so rainy.  Maybe.

Yesterday the rain held off until mid-afternoon.  Then came down with a vengeance.  Thankfully it didn’t last long.  I got a bunch of stuff dropped off at my auctioneer, picked up the kids from school, and went by the gun store to drop off a Christmas present and touch base.  Turns out a bunch of stuff did happen in DC.

We’ll know today or tomorrow just how badly it’s going to turn out.  Until then, I think a bunch of people got played.  They still thought they could exercise their rights, petition for redress, make themselves heard.  And they got punked.   Those are going to be some angry people when they realize how badly they were done by…

 

Which brings me to the rest of this post.  I wrote it last night in response to a comment from a long time, educated, engaged, and knowledgeable commentor here.   It’s TO him, but not ABOUT him, and it’s also to everyone else who might be feeling the same way.  Because I think feeling like that is REALLY shortsighted.  I’m also breaking one of the informal rules here.  Bob discouraged swear words not from any prudishness, but because he didn’t want to trip any nanny filters and deny people access to the good information and discussion here.   We’ve been pretty good about keeping up the tradition and it does make a difference in tone.  This is not a change in policy or intent.   All that said,  I’m gonna swear a lot below.  Because it’s an evocative word and really the best way to convey my meaning and feelings.  It’s a bit less than ‘polished’.


“This was a riot by Trumpkins.”

— even if it was a riot, and was ‘trump supporters’, you don’t get to pick your supporters, anymore than the lefty bands get to control who plays their music.

A few dozen attention seekers get suckered into entering what is normally a very secure building without any real resistance (except for the AF vet that they essentially murdered- unarmed and not a threat) and they take selfies. Did they destroy the artwork? Paint ACAB on every surface? D/L anything from the completely unsecured computers? Start any fires?

And SO WHAT? What about the [really huge number because I don’t want to debate what it was or wasn’t] of ordinary people that were there? They don’t count for anything because there are a couple of grandstanding jackasses? That’s internet argument technique #12, find one reason to dismiss everything else…

I find it hard to be gleeful about the destruction of the country I love, because it will also take down Trump. Destroying faith in the electoral process has destroyed something that can’t be put back together. This stopped being about Trump a long time ago and started being about the kind of place the US would be for the rest of my life, and probably for a good chunk of my kids’ lives.

70 MILLION people feel some degree of the same thing. NO ONE ANYWHERE that I’m aware of has suggested that Trump’s votes weren’t legit. So. 70 million. How many have to say “fuck it” and do something before it ALL goes to shit? Wrong tank cars get added to a train, no corn syrup for you- or the few hundred thousand boxes of cereal your plant makes. Fuck it. Tape measure gets dropped into the grinder at the packing house. All of the last 48 hours of production needs to be destroyed because there is metal in the hamburger? Fuck it. Time to run the TPS report so the line workers can get checks? Drop_table what? Fuck it. Mercury thermometer gets dropped into the bioreactor at Merck? Fuck it. That was baking soda not chlorine? Fuck it. Hello UPS? Someone called a tip line and says they shipped 6 bombs to random people. No, we don’t know who or where from. Fuck it. EVERY Fusion Center in the US got a package full of white powder? NO SHIT? Fuck it. Someone is taking pot shots at the big spherical tanks along I 10 in Baytown? Fuck it. Every three days someone throws 5 pounds of roofing nails off an overpass onto the freeway at rush hour? Well, fuck it. Every tip line and fusion center in the US gets calls about bomb threats. And six bombs actually go off. Rinse and repeat. Fuck it.

I could do this all night, but fuck it, I’m not that motivated right now.

70 million people. Mostly in jobs that actually do something besides moving electrons or money around. LOOK at the pictures of the “protests” all over the US. Those are some serious looking folks who are just about fed up. Not the tacticool tommies with their guts hanging out* a baofang radio and morale patches on their airsoft web gear. Look at the guys in gimme hats from trucking firms or ag supplements, guys in carhart jackets or company windbreakers. Women standing next to them looking just as grim. Those women don’t care about some guy on a tape talking trash about tramps sliding up to money, they are worried about where their kids will work when NAFTA II ships the rest of the factory jobs to third world slavers. They’re worried about raising their grandkids while their sons or daughters are passed out on chinese fentanyl or doing time for possession while inner city “youths” get a free pass.

So if you’re inclined to dance a jig, because the wicked witch of the west is dead, you might want to think about what comes next. And pray that the guy at the water treatment plant, or the pharmacy, or the rail yard, or any number of invisible but important places, doesn’t just say Fuck it.


And since we/I spend a lot of time talking about preparedness issues, it’s time to get serious about stacking what you can’t do without, if you aren’t already well along the way.  I was stream of consciousness when I listed the ‘inconveniences’ above.   It took almost no actual thought at all, and I really can do it all day.  I’m surely not the only one.  70 million.  A good portion of them aren’t going to be looking for inconveniences, but for deadly consequences.  The only real thought I put in was to avoid that for now.

This has the potential to get really ugly, really fast.  If it starts, it WILL escalate.  It always does.  The irish didn’t start out throwing hand grenades into lines of school kids waiting to go into class, but they got there.

Oh, and the rest of the world isn’t likely to just stand idly by either.

So keep stacking.

 

nick

 

*a PSA rifle that’s never been sighted in and will only fire once before jamming will still kill you dead when fired into a crowd.  So will a .38 revolver from the sock drawer, or a $150 HiPoint from the pawn shop.  You don’t have to be able to ruck for days with 2x your body weight to snipe from your car, or throw rocks off an overpass either.  Something to keep in mind.

Wed. Jan. 6, 2021 – some stuff happening. Some stuff not happening.

Moderate temps, decent weather.   Well, yesterday and tomorrow, but the national map was calling for rain in Houston.   I will wait and see.

Spent part of the day yesterday doing auction stuff.  Went to my industrial auctioneer and got him to take some more stuff.  I’ll be delivering a pickup or two Thursday or Friday.  I went and made a mental list of what would fit, and I’ve got enough stuff for two loads, easy.

Today I’m supposed to take a few more bins to my other local auctioneer.  I have NO TROUBLE AT ALL filling those bins.  I’m going to add some of the Mr Buddy heaters I picked up last year that didn’t sell.  They should do a lot better now than in June.

Spoke to my troublesome neighbor last night.  They’re moving out.  He has a conflict with the landlord.   I get the feeling he has conflicts with people all the time.   The landlord is a nice guy, but hates the house for emotional reasons, and really doesn’t want to be a landlord.  He should sell it and be free, but he won’t.   FWIW, if you remember the weird incident with the ‘contractor’ in the front yard and then climbing up onto the roof?  The landlord says it wasn’t his guy.  So some stranger was just hanging out in the yard, and then got up on the roof?  Yeah, the camera pointed that way just moved to the top of my ‘do this next time you are at home long enough’ list.  The license plate camera and bluetooth logger are moving up the list too.


 

I don’t have anything at all to say about the DC ‘meetup’ from a philosophical point of view.   I’m going to be busy but will try to check the sites to see what’s going on throughout the day.  I don’t think there is anything good that can come from this.  A whole bunch of people are about to get entries in their files, and a bunch will be getting files for the first time.  Some others are probably going to need stitches and dental work before this is done.  Avoid crowds.

Camo and group maneuvers in the field aren’t going to be the way forward.  Grey men, snipers, arsonists, and most of all partisans are probably the way to go if you are inclined toward action.    Paris or Ireland, not Red Dawn.  And it won’t be long before someone moving around without a cell phone will get highlighted automatically, and moving around WITH a cell phone will be just stupid.   It’s wouldn’t be impossible, but I’m thinking Bracken’s idea of one person, one action, and then never again is the only way to do it.  I’m not advocating it, just making an observation.  You will need to stay aware of what’s going on around you so you don’t get stuck in the middle.  One way or another, we’re past the point where this can  end without bloodshed.

Interestingly, in a  sort of ‘meta’ way, SUDDENLY the alt-right blogosphere seems to have woken up to the idea that the cops are probably not going to be on the side of light in what comes.    Hmm.  Coulda told ’em that.  “Remember that the people hiding Anne Frank were breaking the law, and the people who turned her in were upholding it.”

And isn’t that a cheery way to start the day?

Keep stacking.  Really.

nick

Tues. Jan. 5, 2021 – nuthin’ ta do Abe, nuthin’ ta do…

Nice and sunny, reasonably warm and some breeze.  That is my fervent wish anyway.   Basically I want it to be just like yesterday.

Monday I got a slow start to my week.   Kids were home, wife was home, and my plan was to not be home.   I did my instacart orders from Costco and HEB.   No bulk meat this order.  Prices were a bit high.   I did try to buy a turkey from Costco, but once again they were out when the buyer actually tried to get one.     I was supposed to head out after that, but for ‘reasons’ it took longer than I wanted to to get clear of the house.

Once out and about one of my tasks was to meet with my barber and pick up some things.  He was trying to sell some stuff for me (we split the proceeds) and then wuflu hit, and anyway, it was time for me to get the stuff out of his store.  I’ve been going to him regularly for about 18 years now, and consider him a friend.  He’s pretty well connected in the community as he was born and raised and lived his whole life in the area.  Anyway.  He said almost all of his extended family have caught the covid now.  He had it in April, before re-opening his shop.   He’s lost 5 members of his extended family to it since then.  Many of his family had classic symptoms but no hospital and no tests.  That means they weren’t counted.  Something to keep in mind when complaining about all the extra deaths and cases in the totals,  is that there are a bunch that aren’t being counted either.

Anecdotally and locally, we are being told that our hospitals have plenty of capacity, but patients are being diverted to as far away as San Antonio according to neighborhood red bus drivers.  They also might have to wait in the back much longer than normal before being admitted.

Shifting gears, January 6 is going to be an interesting day in DC.  It should be a great opportunity to collect some intel and see first hand what 2021 might look like.  I think I’d recommend Ol Remus’ advice, Avoid  crowds.  And the venerable, don’t stand next to the guy doing stupid sh!t, or some might spatter on you…   If anyone here does go, or gets a first hand account, if you can write it up and email me, I’ll put it up.


Today both kids are going to start “in person” learning for the Spring semester.   That will give me some more time to get out of the house, but will also mean being back in time to get youngest from the indoctrination center when her daily session is over.  My wife will be seeing they get to their schools in the morning.   Specifically today I’ll be headed back over to my secondary location for more cleaning, scrapping, and throwing out… so I’ll be AFK for most of the afternoon.

We may have a few new readers join us, Commander Zero kindly added our little part of the intarwebs to his blogroll.  Please make them welcome if I’m not around.

Bonus geek points if you know what I’m quoting in the post title…

nick

 

 

 

(ps.  Keep stacking.)

Mon. Jan. 4, 2021 – ah, love the smell of fresh new year…

Probably quite nice out today.  Low 50s when I went to bed, and forecast is for sun and moderate temps.

Sunday was very nice out after late morning.  I ended up doing inside stuff, and not much of that before I headed out to my secondary location.   Once there, I went through some stuff and made some plans for today.   Kids are still home from school until tomorrow, but my wife’s office went back to everyone working from home due to the upswing expected in wuflu cases.  They can work from home so why take the chance?  She’ll be watching the flock from home today while I’m out.

Anyway, I’ll be headed over to clear out some more stuff.  So much stuff.  A lot piles up over 17 years.  This is going to be the longest I’ve ever lived in one place, including my childhood if we make it another year.  If you  move every few years, you get a chance to go through all your stuff and cull.  I’ve been too busy/lazy/preoccupied to do the culling on my own, so now it’s a daunting task.   The reward is there at the end.  If I can  make enough room to run my own online auction sales, I get to keep 40% more of the money.   I’ll be doing 80% more of the work, but them’s the breaks.  TANSTAAFL after all.


 

With the new year, it’s traditional to make some goals.  I’m not big on Resolutions ™ but  I do have things I want to work toward, if the universe is headed in the same direction.  If it’s not, no amount of work on my part will overcome that.  So, what goals?

Broadly, improve our living situation.  Improve our physical and  mental condition.   Improve our future.

I’m starting by getting all the superfluous stuff out of here.  That is number one.   Congruent with that is turning a bunch of it back into cash.    Then get somewhere to go, if it becomes wise to go somewhere else.  That goal has a large input from my wife, so compromise is the name of the game.  It will be an escape hatch, not a primary residence.  We are tied to this area for the foreseeable future with work.  If that changes, then other possibilities open up.

We’ll also continue improving what we already have here.   That means secondary power system up and running, and maybe a tertiary system as well.   It means doing upgrades to the house and grounds like finishing some remodel stuff, possibly doing some security upgrades, and doing some other projects that improve our current lifestyle and harden us against future problems.   We’ll be proactively doing some maintenance and upgrades to infrastructure too.  And I’ll be working on the gardens in the spring because hope springs eternal…

It also means working on myself and the family.  My wife is anxious to do more physical activities with the kids.  I’m realizing that I have to WORK at maintaining my physical self, or I will lose abilities.   I can’t afford to lose much 🙂  A bit more biking, hiking, boating, and certainly STRETCHING is in my future.   It means staying healthy.  It means working on new skills.  This is a good year to introduce the kids to firearms and to other defensive pursuits.  Both have expressed the interest, it’s just a matter of doing it now.  I’m no spec ops ninja but I can get them started with the basics.  If we can get some bushcraft/camping/fishing/hunting in, that will be even better.

All of those things can be applied to ‘working for the future’ too.   My planning horizon expanded dramatically once we had the kids.  I went from being a guy who wouldn’t commit to a multi-year magazine subscription to being a homeowner with college savings plans for the kids.  11 years has gone by in an eye blink.

GET STARTED by the way.  Whatever it is, in 5 years you’ll be well along the way if you just GET STARTED.  Continuing to accumulate stuff, skills, friends, and options is what I believe will give us the best chance of getting through what’s coming.  YMMV.

Seriously.  If you’re single, turning everything into cash (or equivalent) and becoming a modern nomad might be a better choice than digging in harder.  Or the two of you buy a boat and start the endless cruise…or RV…  or get into politics and join the parasite class.   If the rise of islam is inevitable, converting early and wholeheartedly makes the most sense- so there are other approaches than mine.

Whatever is coming it won’t be the end of THE world.  It might be the end of my world or your world, but there will be someone on the other side of it, just like the Civil War, WWI & II, the rise of the Soviet Union, and whatever happens here next.  Stick it out.  Get through.  Look for opportunities to thrive.  And keep stacking.

 

nick

 

Sun. Jan. 3, 2021 – when I say ‘keep stacking’ I’m speaking literally…

Cold and clear today, with some sun and wind.  It was downright chilly when I went to bed, 37F, so I’m expecting the day to start near there, and warm to mid 70s.

Like it did on Saturday.

Which I spent entirely indoors, fixing minor household issues, moving stuff around, and doing some minor organizing.  Basically more time off after sleeping very late.

I was asked in a comment yesterday about my organization system, or lack of one, with a youtube of Fibber Mcgee’s closet as an example… that was more true to life than I’d like to admit.  So here it is, my very slapdash dis-organization methods.

Unlike Commander Zero (who everyone should be reading for prepping stuff anyway) I am not particularly organized. Or rather, not rigidly structured. I tend to organize in a very ‘macro’ way by keeping stuff in ‘clusters’ or areas for lack of a better word. The plumbing parts are all in one place. The electrical parts are in their area. Bike stuff is in one spot, etc.

Like goes with like.

I know what I have by going thru it every so often, usually while looking for something. That’s why it’s easy for me to have too much of something- I just keep stacking it with like stuff and don’t account for it very well until I realize “OH, I’ve got a LOT of coleman lanterns hanging from the rafters in that part of the garage.”   On the surface it looks very random, but it is actually pretty efficient most of the time, and it avoids two problems- getting caught up in the SYSTEM while losing sight of the goal, and spending time on admin rather than productive work.

One of my philosophical approaches it to ‘just get started’.

I’ve talked about it in terms of ham radio – don’t agonize over how to program your radios, which radio is best, which software or channel list is the best, BUY SOMETHING and START USING IT.  Start cheaply and figure out if it’s good enough, or if you want to get more involved.

With food storage, I don’t worry about calorie counts, or nutrition, or getting the perfect balance of stuff.  I started buying extra of my normal shopping and then added to that.  Food on the shelf is a whole lot better than the Mountain House pallet of freeze dried you never bought because you couldn’t commit to spending $5000…. and if you aren’t starving or wasting away on your current diet, it will keep you sufficiently fed and healthy during the hurricane and recovery.

I want to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ and also avoid spending time on building a perfect inventory system, instead of building up stocks of supplies.  I acknowledge that this is sometimes inefficient.  I’ll buy and have too much or too little of something.  But I have SOME of it, which is better than NONE of it.  And EVERYONE complains about keeping their inventory current, and the work involved.  One of the lessons I’ve learned from this pandemic is that my assumptions were wrong anyway.  My 6 months of peanut butter became 12 months worth, or even forevers worth, as my kids’ usage changed.  Ditto for breakfast cereal.  WAY too much on the shelf, because our eating patterns changed.  The inventory spreadsheet wouldn’t help me with that…

So what do I do?  First off, books are special.  They are actually organized.

My books are sorted and shelved by subject for non-fiction and reference. Fiction is all alphabetical by author. I never have enough shelves.

The rest of the stuff is literally in stacks. And yes, sometimes it’s like a jenga game to get the piece I want. Usually though, I just have to move a couple of things.   It helps that a lot of the stacks are made up of flip top crates.

Yesterday for example, I decided to replace the fill valve in the hall toilet. It’s not flushing right, and I think it’s because the fill isn’t happening right. There should be water at the bottom filling the tank while it’s still flushing, not just the tube filling the bowl. SO- I know I’ve got toilet fill assemblies. I did some replacement/repairs to the toilet in the master bath not too long ago and went through the boxes then. Out to the garage, up the steps into the attic, plumbing parts are in boxes just to the right, next to the irrigation parts, and the spare jars… Pull the plumbing boxes and go thru them to pull out the 3 fill assemblies. Take them back to the bath, pick the one that matches best, install it. Clean and put the old parts in a box so I have spare components for next time. (I did find that there was some blockage from a deteriorating plastic piece.) All the plumbing stuff goes back into the boxes and they go back into their spot in the attic.  Job done, not much more time than looking up where a piece might be, and then retrieving it but without any of the overhead of tracking what I have outside of my own head.

Electrical stuff is clustered in the same area.  There are a couple of boxes of electrical parts and supplies on the other side of the plumbing parts.  That is my ‘bulk construction type stuff’ area.    There are also more commonly needed repair and install parts in a drawer in a cabinet in the garage. And stuff I use for work has a box in the truck…  Those are three clusters by themselves- the drawer unit by the garage door has parts and pieces I need often, the attic has stuff that is more for construction and occasional repair, and the truck has stuff I need for work.

Camping stuff is in bins on the patio, next to the cabinet that has more camping stuff. Bike stuff is in another bin. The pool stuff is all going to storage for the season, but was stacked on the patio in a group.

There is an area of the garage that has a lot of bulk medical in bins, but there is also normal use med stuff in the hall bathroom. Most of the normal inventory is lined up on cabinet shelves, oldest in front, newest in the back, just like a store.  Medicines, first aid, and OTC stuff is clustered near point of use, the central bathroom.  A couple of steps away, in another closet, the grab and go med bags live with some other more “doctor” type stuff.  It’s a cluster, but more for emergency use than everyday, and thus it’s separated on purpose.

In fact most things have an area where the ‘normal use’ stuff is, with a deeper inventory somewhere else, less accessible.

Kid stuff, and most of what I talked about in yesterday’s post is clustered in two areas- the part of the kitchen we think of as the ‘craft’ area, and a hall closet that holds all the educational kits and the ‘presents’.   Everything in that closet is stuff that hasn’t been allocated to a kid or a project yet.  I have a couple of bins full of ‘maker’ stuff in the driveway under the tarp.  Another cluster (bits and pieces, leather, cardboard tubes, craft items, electronic scrap stuff.)

My office is a microcosm of the whole. I’ve got a desk area for electronics repair, and all my test gear.  There is another desk area that I sit at daily with my pc, main radios, some simple repair stuff, and stuff for my non-prepping hobby close to hand.  Behind me is the bulk of my reference library, on shelves above cabinets.  And…. several stacks of stuff, computers and electronics to be set up or fixed, non-prep hobby stuff, my laptop and work bag, some auction stuff, and lots of paper waiting to be filed.  Several stacked bins of stuff in fact.

Back in the day when I was a bachelor, and didn’t actually have all that much stuff because I moved frequently, I decorated with “a minimum of horizontal surfaces”. It was the only way to stay neat and organized, because my natural tendency is to pile stuff on horizontal surfaces. I’m one of those people who uses a second floor staircase as a filing system…

All this leads to me not necessarily knowing for SURE that I have an item, but if I do, I know where it will be.  Once I’m looking in the right spot, I can either put hands on it right away, or my memory is sufficiently prompted to know if I have it or not, and where it might be if not there.

I guess my guideline is “like goes with like” and DON’T REORGANIZE or you’ll never remember the new spot!

I will stipulate that this is SUB-OPTIMAL and very idiosyncratic but it works for me. I can go for literally years without accessing something, and when I need it, I know where to look (full face respirators and spare cartridges, at the beginning of the lockdown, for example, hadn’t touched that since the ebola scare).  More times than not, I can walk right up to what I need without too much fuss.  No one else could though.

I am working on this. Lifesaving preps need to be accessible to others in case something happens to me. I’ve started showing oldest daughter some of the system, because it drives my wife crazy. I’ve also started regularizing some of the stuff. Moving the food from storage to usage at the beginning helped tremendously. I was able to go thru it all, and while moving it, arrange it in a way that is much more organized. I even bought FIFO can organizers. In fact, I’ve got more on order, since daughter two wanted her soup organized.

I have been in acquisition mode for a long time.   My focus was on getting the stuff, not using it or organizing it.  I stacked it up with the idea I’d have a chance to better organize it later.  Um, not so much.  Then I had to move and organize the food for this lockdown, and that prompted putting up shelves, going through the stacks, getting them all in one place, and actually organizing the food.   I’ve been trying to make the space I need to organize the rest since then.  My progress has been – slow – and spotty.  But I am making progress.

The main thought to take away is, do what works for you.   If you can’t sleep at night without reviewing your spreadsheet and usage budgets, then do so.  If you are like me, and know were everything in your office is, but no one else could find a pen, that’s ok too, AS LONG AS YOU ARE THERE, BUT — you might not be…  part of really prepping is doing so so that your loved ones are still covered even if you aren’t there to help.  Take that into consideration for any system you use.

Any system is better than no system.  Any prepping is better than no prepping.  Don’t get hung up on designing or having the perfect system.   Perfect is very much the enemy of good enough.  Get started.  Build on what you have.  Always be improving your position.

And keep stacking.  😉

 

nick

Sat. Jan. 2, 2021 – and away we go!

Cold.  Clear.  Gusty.  Starting in the mid 30s and getting warmer throughout the day.  I hope.

It was a nice day, if a bit gusty and cool yesterday.  36F when I went to bed, down from mid-40s.

I basically took the day off.  Didn’t even look at my phone until midnight.  Left it on the charger in the other room.  I did make a nice dinner for New Year’s Day.

I started with five pounds of bone on ribeye roast from the sale last week.  Mashed potatoes with cream and bacon crumbles.  Steamed broccoli from the garden.  Biscuits from a roll, and key lime pie from a can.  Yup.  A can of pie filling, some whipped cream, and a graham cracker crust, a few hours in the freezer, and a delicious treat was served.  I even garnished it with a thin slice of lime, heavily sugared.

Canned pie filling is one of my stored food staples.   Cheap, quick, easy, and very satisfying.  I’ve got everything from key lime to chocolate, with dark cherry and apple being two favorites.  Some you bake, some you freeze, but all have been good and the dark cherry is great.  Crusts are either pre-made graham cracker (which keeps forever in the fridge) or the rolled up pilsbury, also in the fridge, or from some premade mixes.  My wife will make pie crust from scratch.  I don’t.  The other way I use it is to make little ‘mini’ pies in small ramekins.  A circle of pie crust, a scoop of canned filling, another circle to cover, et viola!  Personal sized pies.  I sometimes roll the pre-made crust a bit thinner to be sure I have enough.  Or use the mini pre-made graham crusts, and some jello pudding mix to make little pies…  Everyone is cheered by the sight of a pie.

Which transitions nicely into the idea of morale, and the importance of keeping it up.  Even though we’re not fully locked down and isolated, we were in the early days.  I’d planned for a long time on our lifeboat, and did several things to hopefully improve morale.  Firstly I stocked a variety of food.  I stock a bunch of stuff we don’t eat regularly and some we’ve never eaten as a family.  I figure that coming up with new meals and tastes is important to keep people interested in eating.   I stock a bunch of different canned pie fillings.  They can be used as pie filling, served over icecream, or used in other ways to keep things interesting.  I have some freeze dried “astronaut ice cream” as a special treat.  I have a lot of cake and cookie mixes too.  I figure a nice dessert goes a long way to helping with morale as does good food.

I stocked up on gifts for special occasions.  We were able to augment the stored gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, but I had SOME things ready if needed.  It had been handy pre-covid, to grab a gift from the closet for the ‘pop up’ birthday party the kid forgot about until the last minute.

I have lots of movies and tv shows on DVD that the kids and even my wife and I have never seen.  We’ve got old favorites too.  I’ve got puzzles, games, and art supplies.  Books of course, but also books with activities for kids – like how to draw horses, or making paper airplanes, or how to make origami animals.  I’ve even got a couple of books on learning to play instruments we have.  The idea was not just to have stuff to do, but also some novelty.  A couple of decks of cards and a Hoyles book of card games is a DEEP fallback position.

I stored books and supplies for traditional crafts and handiwork too-needlework and leather-crafting in particular, as there are practical applications as well as busy work.  Keeping hands occupied and accomplishing something usually raises peoples’ spirits.

Lego and Vex kits also keep them busy.  I’ve got other educational kits in reserve too.

Throughout the last 9 months, as the kids were looking for something to do, or needed project materials for classes, I was able to just tap into the stuff I had stored.  When they would get a bit ‘down’ we’d whip out something novel they hadn’t seen or done before.  Sometimes it didn’t work.  But usually it did.

For us here in Texas, and other states that didn’t go full jackboot, the covid restrictions have been a bit of a dry run for the zombie apocalypse or a really bad plague.  Mostly stuff worked well.  There were some gaps, and I’m working to fill those.  Being able to keep prepping and adding to preps during the pandemic has been helpful.   Still a long way to go to prep for civil war, economic collapse, civil unrest/race riots, the Greatest Depression, global cooling, alien invasion, ebola, chicken AIDS, or whatever is coming next to plague us.

People and relationships are important, both virtually and in real life.  Skills are important.  Knowledge is important.  Having the stuff to USE those skills and that knowledge on, or to help out a friend, or build a relationship, is important too.  So keep stackin’, you don’t want to be lackin’…

nick

Fri. Jan. 1, 2021 – New Year’s Day

Cold.  Wet.  Dreary.

Like yesterday.  Hopefully minus yesterday’s rain.

I did get stuff done yesterday.  Got my auction bins dropped off.  Got my rent house plumbing done.  Got paid for a year’s worth of work.  (Not that many days actually, but over the course of the year.)

Kids stayed up late watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and then the replay of the ball drop.  Very late night for them and us.   I’m sleeping in.

And then I’ll greet 2021 and hope that it is better than 2020.  Not too surprising, considering the range of people I know, but I do know people that not only survived but thrived this year.  There are always opportunities if you are ready and able.  I expect that part to be true for 2021 too.  Keep your eyes open for them.

My thanks to all of you for your support over the past year.  This place is much more than me, or the sum of its parts.  I’m honored and humbled that y’all keep coming around.  Thank you.

 

2021- Build on what you’ve got.  Avoid crowds.  Don’t get on the bus.  Keep stacking.

Nick Flandrey

Thur. Dec. 31, 2020 – New Year’s Eve

Cool and wet again, maybe.

Certainly rained most of yesterday.  The ground is saturated.  I have standing water in my yard.

I got some very small things done, but had a very late start.  Felt good to sleep though, after staying up way too late.

Today I’m supposed to be able to take some stuff to one of my local auctions.    I’ll do that on the way to my rent house, where my tenants have managed to twist the handles off the new shower valves.  I think they are just cranking the everloving heck out of them.  The knobs and the valve stems were new.  If they normally fail in a couple of weeks, I think Home Depot might complain to the vendor about the returns.  Therefore, I think it’s operator error.  If the stems aren’t ruined, I’ll replace the knobs again, and epoxy the freaking things in place.  I know you only need finger tight to shut the valves off, I checked when I installed the new ones.  An uncomfortable conversation with the tenants is in my future.

The year is finally nearly over.  It’s NOT that I expect 2021 to be better, in fact I expect it to be worse in almost every way.   It’s that I would like to see the clean break of the year change.  It’s POSSIBLE that will have a positive effect on at least some people.  A lot of the baggage of the year will be behind us too with the date change.  It’s superstitious, and somewhat silly, but that describes most people too.  FWIW, this will be the first year I’m not anxious about a terror attack on Times Square.  That’s gotta be a blessing.

No matter what happens with the presidential election, I expect politics in 2021 to be INSANE.  Half the people will feel cheated and disenfranchised.  Violence is almost certain to increase.  It’s much easier to destroy than to create, and some things once damaged, can’t be fixed.   Yeah, it’s possible we’ll end up replacing stuff with totally new ideas, execution, or tech, but I’m rating that lower than a meteor strike or aliens revealing themselves.  You need optimism and prosperity for those sorts of changes.  What you get from anger and desperation is a whole lot uglier.  Add that we have historically gotten ourselves out of similar fixes with massive wars, well, the future I’m preparing for isn’t bright.

It is possible to get through it though.  There are still Jews in Germany.  There are Romans in Rome.  There are good ol’ boys in the South.  Norway and Finland survived WWII as did the UK.  Almost everyone BUT the US was impoverished by it and disheartened for a couple of generations though.

In any case, I want to get myself and my loved ones through the trouble I think is coming.  Skills, connections, and stuff should all help with that.  So I’m stacking.  You should too.

nick

Wed. Dec. 30, 2020 – sooooo close….

Cool and wet is the forecast, with rain throughout the day.  If so I’ll work on inside stuff.   There is plenty of it.

Yesterday I did some errands, the biggest of which was getting a large 3d printer out of my friend’s workspace.  It was an inkjet and powder type, and we weren’t going to be able to run it anyway, so when the original purchaser called with his sob story, I agreed to get it back to him.  That generosity led to a bunch of messing around and time wasted.

Eating donuts for lunch took me out for a bit over an hour too.  Then off to pick up some auction stuff, mainly PPEs.   N95s in very battered packaging are showing back up in the auctions, a box at a time, and are selling for reasonable amounts, $1-$2 per mask.  I’m set for a while yet, so I’m buying respirator cartridges if the price is right.  Gloves and eye pro too.   In austere conditions protecting what you’ve got is more important than trying to heal afterward.

Throughout a long career working with my hands, I haven’t been that big on wearing gloves for ordinary work.   That is changed now.  The molded grippy rubber coated stretch fabric gloves give a high degree of dexterity, while still giving cushioning and cut protection.  I wear them for any job where I’m touching metal and can cut or nick myself.  There are so many choices now, that you can find a glove engineered for whatever task you are faced with.  I still have some goatskin leather ‘drivers’ for jobs like swinging an ax or sledge hammer, but for everything else, there’s probably a better choice.    The anti-vibration gloves made a HUGE difference in my comfort while running the pressure washer all day.

Eye pro should be a no-brainer.  I have clear, amber and grey tints with and without ‘reader’ or ‘cheater’ lenses in the bottom, yellow for high contrast, and goggle types for chemical use.  I’ve got mesh shields for chainsawing and clear shields for metal and wood working.  I’ve got lots of spares, and lots of cleaning solution and wipes.  I think I can check gloves and eye pro off my list for a while.

That is one of the main ways I approach prepping.  In addition to ordinary stacking, I’ll focus on a specific area ‘while the getting is good’.  Usually I keep acquiring the items for a bit too long.  It’s been that way with storage batteries and gloves and eye pro for the last couple of months.  The stuff was on my list, and it came available, so I’ve been a buyer.  I prefer that method to trying to fill the list at a particular time.  I save a bunch of money by waiting for it to come to me, but it does take longer.   Of course, being me, I had stuff in all those categories, just not as much.  Enough to meet an initial or short term need, but not ‘bulk’.  Now I’ve got some depth to the shelf.   I will keep looking for batteries and charge controllers, and I wouldn’t say no to cheap solar panels.

Whatever your list looks like, start filling in gaps.  Get something in each category,then start building depth.  Food, water, shelter, defense, health and hygiene, comms, education and reference, entertainment and morale, any other that suits you.  Evaluate what you already have, you might be surprised, then build on that.

Keep stacking.

 

nick