Sun. April 4, 2021 – Happy Easter. Happy Feast of the Resurrection.

Cool and clear. Possible scattered clouds. Yesterday went from overcast, to misty drizzle, to blue sky and sunny in the evening. Nice day.

I felt much better. One thing about old injuries, I’m very familiar with the progression and treatment of a flare up. Once I got what I needed, and had the time for it to work, I saw dramatic improvement. Today should continue that. Happiness is the release from pain.

Child two was positively vibrating last night in anticipation of the chocolate feast today. Hard to get her to stay in bed long enough for the avatar of Hester to scatter fertility symbols around the yard. It’s hard work but someone has to do it. At least I don’t have to wear the outfit.

In all seriousness though, Happy Easter to all. Whatever your beliefs, this is the season of awakening, rebirth, and planting and planning for the future. That much we should all be able to celebrate.

Dinner today will be lamb, again. It’s getting to be something of a tradition around the Casa De Nick to have lamb lollipops for Easter dinner. Oh, and there will be chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Take a break from stacking, and enjoy the day. It’s a fresh start.

n

Sat. April 3, 2021 – we’ll see how the day goes

Supposed to be clear and nice out. I hope I can get some outdoor work done, but I don’t want to risk any setback with my back troubles. Might have to just not do anything. Not good for the list.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and I mostly missed it. My wife and youngest child took advantage of the cool night and camped in the back yard with a fire in the pit. They had a great time. Oldest child went right to bed and crashed out. She’s eleven but knocking on puberty’s door and it wears her out. I am SO not looking forward to moody teen years.

I didn’t make it out to my client’s house. I was just hurting too bad. Grid down will purely suck if it hurts that bad. Analgesics and antibiotics, stack them high.

Some updates.

The toilet works. No one has had to plunge it in the weeks since install. What a HUGE difference. Speaking of, 3/4″ difference in throne height is a HUGE difference, if you’re used to it… I’m going to have to find a thicker seat to make up the height. Falling that last 1/2″ is – disconcerting.

Didn’t get anything into the garden yet. Grapevine is greening up. Peach tree has leaves. Something ate every single marble sized fruit off my potted grapefruit and lime trees. The blueberries are flowering and filling in. No green on the grapefruit, orange, or Meyer lemon that froze, but I’m still hopeful. There is some evidence of life under the bark on the bigger branches. Apple tree is leafing out. The wife’s tomato plants are flowering.

NVR computer is running, but since updating the linux install, the NVR software crashes about every other day, with a core dump. Seg faults and other issues. I think it may be something to do with ffmpg as it was one of the packages updated, and I have streams that now tear and turn into colored lines, and that never happened before. F me. I’m about ready to just spend the money on hardware and repurpose the pc for my wife or kids.

Haven’t replaced the Expedition yet either.

We’ll see what things on The List I feel up to today. I’m sure there is something I can do. And there are lots of things that need doing.

Keep plugging away, and keep stacking.

n

Fri. April 2, 2021 – stuff to do, no rest for the wicked…

Cool and dry, hopefully. We’re supposed to get two nice days in a row. Yesterday was bright and sunny with cool breezes. And it got down to 51F by the time I actually went back to bed.

Spent yesterday mostly doing nothing. Drove to one pickup. Got the child from school. Went to the chiropractor and came home. Pain sucks. Chronic pain changes who you are and how you get through life. It colors everything and it’s possible to be in so much pain that you don’t even realize that you are in pain until it stops. That was the case with my lower back injury a dozen years ago. It had just crept up on me and poisoned my whole life. Fortunately I sort of accidentally got treatment, and suddenly knew what was going on. I’ve been pretty careful since then to not push it, or find myself without the means to manage the issue. Only a few months ago I found myself in that situation and vowed not to let it happen again. But it did. Ran out of my maintenance meds and suffered for it. This time I misunderstood the tele-doc and the pharmacy has not been as engaged as usual, and instead of toughing it out for a couple of days, I’m now going to be dealing with this for a week or more unless I get lucky.

What are the prepper lessons? The same old ones. Two is one and one is none. A stitch in time saves nine. Grid down will likely purely suck.

I’ve started the process to help insure that this won’t be happening again and that’s all I’ll say about that. The really frustrating part is that the meds which work very well for me aren’t abusable, aren’t even pain related, are well known and cheap, have minimal side effects, and are widely available as a vet med throughout the world. If the market was bigger, they’d be over the counter by now. There is no reason why I should have to beg anyone else for the ability to stop the pain and go about my life. And there is no reason to dole them out one month at a time. My condition is not going to improve. I won’t be needing less. I can manage my own stockpile and dosing. But I’m not allowed. The changes brought about by obama-no-care destroyed the family practice that was my primary care physician, and made my access to care more difficult, more expensive, and more time consuming.

Degradation of services that used to work well is a sign of a collapsing society. The current situation is exacerbated by the china flu and the response to it, but it was not CAUSED by it, the causes were already in place.

All of this is to say, if you have a medical condition that you are taking meds for, you MUST take steps to insure your continued access to them. Whatever the cause of any disruption, be it society wide, just a glitch in the supply chain, or your doctor is suddenly unavailable, there will be a disruption at some point. Lots of people online have discussed strategies and ways to do so for most conditions and we’ve talked about it here too. Some take more effort, some more time, and some just more money, but get started if you haven’t already. I used to have a cushion, I used it up, didn’t replace it, and now I’m paying the price.

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Today, if I can manage it, I’ve got to check on some issues with my client’s site. Stuff continues to fail piecemeal from the lightning strikes, and I continue to patch it up. We are developing a plan to rip and replace everything, but as you can imagine, that costs money, and people with means, who came to them honestly and through hard work, don’t just spend money wildly. They are often very conservative and contemplative when it comes to that.

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In any case, for the next little while, I’ll be focused on my physical issues and what to do about them, WHILE all the other things demand my attention too.

Don’t wait, start stacking stuff today.

n

Thur. April 1, 2021 – can’t even parody or satirize our current state, reality would trump every attempt…

Cooler, damp, although no rain in the forecast. We did get sprinkles and some wetness late in the day yesterday. The temps dropped from the high 70s to the high 60s and then even to 59F before bedtime. The first drop happened right on schedule according to openweathermap.org I don’t think that anyone needed a jacket though.

I spent the afternoon in meatspace. Spent over an hour with my buddy and his wife in the store talking. Inventory was down to almost nothing. There were a few consignment items, but they weren’t moving. Ammo? No. He’s hoping to get some inventory in soon. Most of the local stores are in the same condition. You can’t sell what you don’t have. Transfer fees are all that’s keeping the lights on and yesterday was slow while I was there. As a sign of the times, they had a almost attack by a lone wolf last week. They get scoped out fairly often, but the bad guys see the cams and the setup and decide to try elsewhere. THIS guy was gonna go for it, and only changed his mind when an extra gun showed up. People are getting more desperate. Take a look at your threat assessment with this in mind. Take a good look at your physical security too, I’m sure there is some way to improve it for little cost.

Again, things are unlikely to start getting better tomorrow. They are much more likely to continue getting worse. Start acting on that idea. Start by making yourself and your stuff less attractive as a target. Get rid of the bling. Consider that to a third world migrant, any jewelry is worth money and marks you as ‘rich’. Consider carrying some “throw down” money. I keep cash in a money clip in my pocket with the specific intention of giving that up. “throwing it down” and running, if possible. You might want a fat envelope of small bills in the desk drawer to satisfy the guy who is rifling through your house so he hopefully grabs it and bails. I don’t know if any one strategy will work or not, so I’m layering, just like I approach prepping. It’s very common to wear a silicon rubber band in place of a wedding band now, for sporting or work reasons. Think about that, and what your watch or phone says to a thief. You might want a case for your phone that makes it look a lot less attractive or expensive. Back in the day, in certain areas, white earphones were a great way to advertise that you were carrying an apple product… their design is iconic to catch the eye of customers, and it works on thieves too.

Right now the simplest things will likely pay the most dividends. Visible cameras. No visible high theft items. Don’t leave a bag, coat, or valuables visible in a vehicle. Don’t leave guns in vehicles. Get a consolevault or equivalent if you must. Lock your doors, all the time. Car doors should always be locked. House doors should be closed and locked. I put keypad locks on our doors. If you go through the door, you pull it shut behind you. It’s easy enough to code the door open. There are times when we don’t but it’s usually when we are working in front of the door. Absolutely don’t leave the front door open and then go out and work in the back. The doorknob rattlers are out every day looking for open doors and making lists of what they see. I’ve got that from our Constable’s loss prevention specialist. They bust these guys with notebooks full of info on their potential targets.

Consider getting an alarm system. At a minimum, get door chimes, or set the alarm to chime when the doors open and get different tones for the front and back door. When the kids were little, we had different bells and noise makers on every door in the house. You could track the little ninjas just by sound. Get a driveway alert system. If you’ve got a remote gate, put a chime on that.

This is just the easy and cheap stuff you can do with little impact on your ‘normal’ life. Think about what you’d do AFTER a home robbery, and save yourself the trauma by doing some or all of it BEFORE you need it.

Home and personal security is a huge topic and there are lots of resources. Your insurance or local PD might offer ‘security audits’ for free. Take advantage of that and get a fresh set of eyes as well as some experience applied to the issue. We’ve discussed various aspects of it here, and although there isn’t a particular keyword, some searching should bring up good info. Resolve to take some concrete action to improve your position…

and keep stacking.

nick

Wed. Mar. 31, 2021 – feeling better, and can unlock doors without keycard…

Forecast for today is warm turning to cold and blustery. “Take a jacket with you” says the local weather liar. I guess we’ll see. Yesterday started overcast and with a weird yellow green light, but eventually the clouds blew out and it was nice here at the house.

Spent the day doing low demand things. Started by going back to bed, as I felt tired and ‘off’. Woke up feeling much better. I still felt a bit tired and like my body didn’t know how to regulate its temperature by the end of the day, but for a while I was almost back to normal.

Cleaned, folded laundry, watered the trees, blew leaves, all low demand stuff. It kept me moving though. During the hour that it takes to get child 2 from school I had a chance for a short chat with one of the teachers. I mentioned that I’d had some mild, but unpleasant reaction to the vaccine, and he said he was just now going to get his first shot. He’s had FIVE people in his circle die from covid. 2 family, 3 friends. Yes, hispanic. Yes, co-morbidities. You can live a long time with diabetes, or heart disease, or obesity though and he specifically said it was before their time. This thing may not be tearing through YOUR family, or YOUR town, but it is tearing through some communities like the plague it’s made out to be.

Today is more of the same. Some needful things need picking up. Some stuff needs to be readied for sale. Some paperwork needs to be shuffled. Some things need fixing.

And some things need stacking. I better get busy.

nick

Tues. Mar. 30, 2021- not a completely lost day…

Cool and sunny, chance of rain. Yesterday started cold and wet but ended up very nice. Some threatening skies to the south, but nice at my house! Huge full moon glowing low in the sky at 7am when I took child one to the bus.

I didn’t enjoy the day much though. Felt “off” and went back to sleep after getting the kids out the door. Woke up a couple hours later, so dizzy I could barely walk or stand. Thankfully that passed and I just felt tired, slightly dizzy, and a little nauseous. More ‘achy’ than the day of the shot too. We’ll see how today shapes up. By all accounts, I should be over most of my symptoms soon.

Spent what was left of the day ripping DVDs to disk, poking at my linux box, and getting paperwork in order for tax preparation. I actually got things done in all three areas. The NVR is finally back. It looks like someone put the required packages back where they were, and everything installed and started running. It took a bit of google and poking at it to get my settings to look right, and get the stupid thing saving video in the right place. It looks like it’s working, and without the previous issues.

I got some of the huge pile of paper I need to go through organized too. Today I’ll do more with that. Maybe I’ll do my mileage too. That will help get us ready to file our taxes. I’ll have to actually pay my TX business taxes before we can file the Federal income taxes. No state income tax in Texas though. and some years we get a deduction for the sales tax we paid. Still a huge pain in the backside to do all the required filing and recordkeeping.

There is stuff going on in the world of finance that could be the beginning of the great unwinding, or could be just one more signpost on the way. Better minds than mine will have to decide, but it’s time to look around and pay attention to it. Decide for yourself it it’s a stumble or a fall. I’m no financial genius, and this isn’t advice, but consider taking profits if you have them. I was chatting with a young woman in the checkout lane at the Goodwill Outlet and she showed my how she uses an app called Cash App for her finances. She bought $10 of Tesla while we were standing there, with cash she got from reselling thrift store items. She gets ‘loyalty’ money from the app in bitcoin… which is also available inside the app. I didn’t have a chance to ask her if she ever sells, and what kind of reporting the app gives her for tax purposes, but consider that there are likely 10s of thousands of people just like her poking away at the market, and crypto, and that they likely have very little understanding of what’s really going on. It felt VERY much like talking to a virgin house flipper in 2008…. Be warned.

My stacking lately has been limited to items that are expensive and difficult to find locally. I feel like I’ve got a good base of the basics, and if opportunity knocks with specialty items I should answer the door. That said, waiting just 3 weeks to rotate my gasoline before hurricane season is going to hurt my wallet. My delay in replacing my truck will cost me more than if I’d bought two weeks ago. Inflation? or simple supply and demand? Who can be sure, but prices are going up around here.

If it is inflation, turning money into goods is generally a good strategy. If it goes hyper, you can’t do it fast enough. Can’t happen here? I’m sure the others who have experienced it thought the same thing.

No matter the current reason, I think it’s almost always a good idea to keep stacking (durable things, long lasting things, things you absolutely need, or things that are very easy to convert to other things). You know the drill…

nick

Mon. Mar. 29, 2021 – sorry to my more religious readers… I blame the vaccine

Cool and damp again. Yesterday got cooler throughout the day, and was down to 48F when I finally went to bed. We had scattered rain, and occasional drizzle throughout too.

My brain was definitely fuzzy on Saturday, and still not normal on Sunday, so my apologies that I missed both Passover and Palm Sunday. While I no longer practice, the passing of the Holy Days does punctuate the year, and I know many people who visit here are sincere believers. My best wishes to you during this season.

I also missed Persian New Year (March 20 this year) and even practiced saying Happy New Year but never got to my mechanic to bust out with “Norouzetan Perouz”, and I think it’s getting a little late for that greeting now. I was looking forward to seeing his face. The iranian expat and immigrant community in Houston is surprisingly big.

I think anyone might be surprised when they take the time to REALLY look around and notice things they’ve just been passing by, or haven’t passed in a while. I like to take different routes to familiar places, just to see what is in between, off the path I normally take, or even just looks completely different going the opposite direction. It can take a bit longer, but I’m often surprised by what is just out of sight, or just half a block over… If you find yourself in a set pattern or moving habitually, take the time to go a different way. Even just riding in the car as a passenger gives me a different perspective on my surroundings. You can expand this as a metaphor for life in general too, if you’d like….

I spent yesterday in my pajamas monkey punching computers and grumping at my family. Definitely don’t feel ‘normal’ yet, but it could be that I’ve run out of my daily anti-inflammatory drug (which hurts), it’s cold and damp out (which hurts), and also tree pollen season (which often makes me feel funny). Or it could be mild reaction to the J&J&j vaccine. Who knows? I wasn’t at my best and kept thinking I’d get back in bed. Never felt bad enough to actually do it though.

Still not making great progress on my lists. Might have made a little progress on the bathroom/saferoom project as my wife mentioned she might have the final floorplan figured out. Given that my buddy at Home Depot says they are restricting drywall and mud sales, and lumber is at crazy high prices, and going up, I should probably move getting the bathroom done higher up the list.

So many things on the lists. So little progress. I need more of me. Cloning or time machine? Which should I build first?

I don’t know, but I think a me with a time machine would tell me that I needed to get busy and stack some more… and get some dang projects finished and off the lists. And buy bitcoin. F computers, working, retirement savings, or a shiny new car, just buy LOTS OF BITCOIN. And then cash it out on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX….system fail. Rebooting………………..

nick

Sun. Mar. 28, 2021 – getting close to the end of Q121…

We’re forecast to get rain and possibly thunderstorms today, but we’ll see. We had a similar forecast for yesterday and it stayed dry but overcast all day. Well, for me, and where I was. It looked like it was raining to my west, out in Katy. And I got the tiniest little bit of misty drizzle at one point… but mostly dry but humid, shirtsleeves weather.

Got my stuff dropped off at the auctioneer’s place, finally. Even made a small second trip. Didn’t get much done at my secondary location.

Got my china flu vaccination. I chose the J&J shot. One and done, traditional vaccine. The site was spacious, capacious, and well organized. The big church that was the host was also hosting a basketball tournament, so there was a lot of activity. I arrived on time with my paperwork filled out in advance. They confirmed my answers, passed me to the next gatekeeper, and then it was rinse and repeat. The girl who did my shot was very skilled. No pain. Small needle, small amount of fluid. Then passed to the next gatekeeper, and recovery room. Our Mayor stopped in to play host and glad hand the crowd for a bit. I couldn’t think of any reason to talk to him, so I left while he was still there. I noticed a wide range of masks on the patients and on the staff. Many of the staff had N95s but they had exhalation valves. Not supposed to use those. One person had a cloth mask over her exhalation valve, the one time a double mask actually does something useful.

I’m not sure if I had any reactions or if it was just the weirdness of the day and the disruption of my routine. If I did, they were mild. Felt some prickling itchiness in various parts of my body at different times. Felt ‘half a bubble off’ and fatigued. I wanted to go to be early, like right after dinner, but spent the time poking at my linux box.

Thanks to everyone who helped. I went to bed before the last thing I tried had completed, so I’ll update below. It would have been faster to reinstall than recover, if recovery is even possible. Tons of arcana were invoked. I feel the need to burn some sage after it’s all back up, just to clear the room of bad juju. If we’ve found the source of the last issue, then hopefully I’ll have a stable box for my NVR software. I’ll need it more than ever because things are getting sketchier.

On Thursday afternoon, a guy walking in my neighborhood was robbed at gunpoint of his phone by a black male in a car. I’m pretty sure that an armed robbery in my neighborhood was one of my setpoints for moving. I’m noticing an increase in street people, crazy acting strangers on the street, street vendors, and other inner city BS this last month, all closer to home than I’d like. Not good. Ironically, if the freeze did kill all my citrus trees, it will have removed one of my major mental blocks against moving out of this house. I’m not sure there is anywhere better within my wife’s ‘work radius’ though.

Holy cow I don’t want to even consider moving from this house at this point, but I do have to continually re-evaluate safety and security issues, balanced with work/life issues. Of note, if my neighborhood, statistically one of the safest in Houston, is having an increase in crime, I’d bet that pretty much everyone is. People say that your zip code won’t protect you, but it sure does impact LIKELIHOOD of something bad happening.

I’m sleeping late, blame it on the shot.

Lots of stuff in motion out there in the wide world, some of it is sure to affect you. Take what steps you can, and keep stacking.

n

Sat. Mar. 27, 2021 – the weekend is just two more days to work…

Cool but dry, clear, and sunny. I hope. Yesterday was that way and it was great.

I managed to load the truck, but not to drop off anything at the auctioneer’s. She got called away for some other thing that came up. I’ll drop off today, after I get the J&J&j shot. I’m scheduled for 11am. Not really looking forward to that, but ‘a happy wife is a happy life…’ and all that.

After my dropoff, I need to spend some time at my secondary getting stuff thrown out, and getting stuff ready to take to the other ‘industrial’ auction.

Meanwhile, the world turns.

Ebola is back in the news, with a group being watched in Oregon after travel to an area with an outbreak. The chances are slim for a problem with this group but there will be others. If it gets here, some people are gonna die. And we’ll be lining up for the shot…’cuz that stuff ain’t no joke.

Street violence seems to be way up with publicized attacks on asians and elderly. Hell, kids too, with the guy who stabbed the 12yo kid in the neck. That can be taken as an indicator that we’re on the downhill slope. Prepare yourself mentally and physically.

There are more supply chain problems and shortages coming too. My buddy in OK reports that his Home Depot is limiting purchases of drywall and drywall mud and believes both will be in short supply for a while. Lumber prices are way up, but I think that’s due to strong demand more than any disruption.

About 10% of my grocery order was out of stock between when I ordered and when it got shopped, and there was a long list of items I’d bought before that weren’t available when I shopped. Things are very much still not normal.

In a situation with intermittent availability, you need to buy it when you see it, and buy some for later. I’m fully restocked on paper goods, and will keep adding to the pile. I’ve got meat in the freezer, and bulk buckets of starch, sugar, and carbs. I’m trying to build up some meds. I’m still buying ammo if I can and the price is OK. I thought about putting some steel cased 9mm in the auction, but I’m reluctant. I don’t want to shoot it, but it beats having nothing… the real question is what I would do with the money, and does THAT make it worth doing. With Executive Orders coming, I’d recommend sucking it up and paying what you have to if you are still short in the bang department, assuming you can get what you need at any price.

In other words, stack it. And keep stacking it.

And keep your head on a swivel if you venture forth.

nick

Fri. Mar. 26, 2021 – weird used to intrigue me, not so much anymore…

Pleasant and cool, with sun and a breeze.  A lot like yesterday once the overcast blew out.

Spent the whole day indoors.   Kept plugging away at stuff in my office, and getting stuff ready for the auction.   Ended up rescheduling my dropoff for today when I realized I had a bunch of small items that all needed me to mess with them a bit before sending them, but that the money difference made it worthwhile.  So I cranked through a bunch of minor repairs, in between moving stuff around and doing my normal interweb things.  And poking at my NVR…  and doing the paperwork for my passport renewal… and other paperwork too.  Not what I was hoping to do but progress on a number of smaller goals.

Oh yeah, and spent an hour watching the President give a short speech and then get a tongue bath from the press.  Oh there were a couple of questions that sent him drifting off the rails, but OMG, one of them managed to sanctify him and damn Trump in the same breath.

I’ll admit there were a few times when he was saying stuff that sounded good, like actually providing a partial demographic breakdown of the illegals.  But that was mostly when he started to drift off message, and then he would just stop mid sentence and switch gears.  And there were flat out lies, misdirections, and contradictory statements following each other.

He looked less feeble than some other times, but his eyes and eyebrows are very strange, he had trouble controlling his speaking volume (considering all the practice a half century of “public service” has given him), and he needed extensive notes.  It was the longest I’ve seen him go without someone hovering near his elbow or just barely close enough to catch him if he falls.  Normally he’s got at least one person watching him like he was a toddler walking the top rail of a fence.

He played a couple of weird moments for laughs, and I don’t know if they were intended to be funny or if he just saved a gaffe.  Some of those things are being quoted without context.   I’d like to THINK he’s an affable guy, playing the fool for laughs, but I suspect that’s not what was happening.

To top it all off, he shuffles his feet like he can’t lift them normally, and he’s got a couple of weird tics that I associate with age and confusion.  I wasn’t looking to be impressed, and I wasn’t.  The whole business about whether or not he’d run next time was especially weird.    It’s like he doesn’t expect to be around for that, so why bother?  I agree with him on that.

He’s a train wreck.  Called Putin names.  Called other countries’ leaders thieves.  Promised more gun control, more government spending on stuff the private sector does better, bragged about the crusts he tossed to the peons, forgetting that it was THEIR money to start with.  Bagged on the rich, trotted out the old lines about greedy bigcorps not paying taxes, plugged the unions, all the normal playbook.  On the plus side, I didn’t have to hear Kamel laugh.

It’s getting weird out there folks.  Something’s gonna give.  And it’s a lot easier to break than build.  Get the stuff you need now, while you can, if you can.  And stack it high.

nick