Report from the OP, 4/14/2021

(Housekeeping note: I’ve been doing something like this sort of post in the “Life in the time of Wuflu” series, but I’ve decided that, at 13 months into “2 Weeks to Flatten the Curve”, it really needs to be its own thing. As with every series I’ve ever done, it will be intermittent, and it may be allowed to fade away without notice.)

Welcome to yet another of my intermittent series. My glimpses into the local conditions here in the Piedmont area of North Carolina have always gotten good responses. I think that, as we go forward into the New America, it’s going to be important for us to get accurate on-the-ground reports from various areas. What you get from me is more of the western Piedmont of NC, ranging from Surry County in the north to Mecklinburg in the south. That means I go from very rural and agricultural to the largest metro area in the state. This is the area where I grew up an and where I have lived the vast majority of my life. I think of it as my Area of Operations (AO).

Occasionally, very occasionally these days, you’ll get reports from travels outside of the AO, and when that happens I’ll make it clear. I also occasionally use information that comes from various folks I correspond with, which I have variously called correspondents or spies. I preserve their anonymity as a matter of course. There is also one particular email list, The Mailing List That Shall Not Be Named, where I get out-of-area info that I occasionally include.

Enough of that. On to the report.

We’re in that “Spring has sprung” phase of the year, where trees are budding and leafing out in a hurry, the violets are blooming, azaleas and forsythias are putting on a show and the dogwoods are white and pink. The bees are out and the hummingbirds have returned. And the pollen is flying in clouds. Right now, allergy meds are your best friend, and will be for the next 45 or so days, until it calms down. A little. We keep a fair stock of these meds as a prep.

The nearly constant rain of the last year seems to have finally broken into something more like our long-term normal. The ground actually dries out between rains, and septic systems are once again working as designed. I have seen a number of homes that have had to totally replace their systems in the last year. I suspect they may have been near failure anyway, but it’s something you rarely see and that has become commonplace.

The scanner to my left has just squawked a unicomm transmission at the local airport. General aviation traffic has been increasing, including training and practice traffic. People that have the funds and the time on their hands have been getting their pilots licenses. Lucky people.

The same local airport recently finished up some runway lighting improvements, funded by the Federal Government.

We live under one of the big N-S flight paths, and I’m seeing a lot more planes in the air. I’m also seeing more that are not squawking ADS-B. Given they are at high altitude and moving fast, my understanding is that means military. Wondering what’s up there. I need to build an ADS-B receiver. I’m relying on the FlightAware app for now.

I have noted one particular disturbing early warning sign of economic distress. I’ve noticed several homes where someone is living in an RV parked in a back/side yard. That also occurred during the 08-09 period. That it’s happening again isn’t a good sign. I’m not seeing things like boats, RVs, motorcycles and other toys stuck in front yards with “For Sale” signs yet. That may be coming. Every fast food place and big box store is begging for help, but those jobs don’t pay enough to live on-though they may help someone willing to work to buy time. Many are still living off the last stimulus check. Ours is in the bank, biding its time.

Most local businesses, other than a number of restaurants, seem to have survived the impact of the continual shutdowns, and things are now easing. Restaurants can have 75% indoor seating, which in most places means 100% seating in practice. Masks are still required, but more and more people are simply blowing that off. Business is good, and there is still a lot of takeout being taken out.

Grocery stores are remaining stocked, but not in depth. For example, there are 4-5 10 pound bags of rice, not the 25 the dedicated portion of shelf would hold. Prices on some items are steady and others rise by the day, it seems. There are occasional spot shortages, but nothing dramatic.

Gas prices are just weird. In the Bitty Burg they vary 25¢ from one side of town to another. I’ve not seen that before. At the low end, they’ve subsided to about 30¢/gallon higher than before the elections. Availability is good. Stations should be switching over to summer blends soon.

I was a delegate at the county Republican Party convention that took place recently. It seems that, as a county, we turned out 94% of eligible Republicans to vote. Our total number of Republican votes was just about equal to the amount of votes President Trump carried NC by. While I was there, I got the last “Trump 2020-Keep America Great” flag they had. I can foresee a use for that, possibly soon.

While on the subject of politics, Trump signs and flags are still in abundance, and I swear more have appeared. People around here are perfectly happy to tell you that they believe the election was stolen. Democrats, Antifa and BLM are laying pretty low for now, but I doubt that lasts.

On the firearms front, guns and ammo are still very short. What you can find is expensive. I was finally able to find enough 300 BLK subsonic to round out my supply-at $1.65 per round. I’m not going to complain. At least I was able to get it. Now to find some .32 ACP and 30-30.

On a down note, our next door neighbor’s Dad was killed last week. He was walking, in the dark and in a bad spot to be on foot, and was hit by a car. The driver was not charged (nor should they have been from all I can gather). The celebration of life was Saturday. His son did a good job. Dad loved his music, and the big screens at the church had music videos playing on them. There were plenty of pictures of him during the good times. It was sad, but it was also upbeat. It sounds a bit odd, but I’m glad that I was able to attend.

Last item-we took the RV out this weekend; just a short 35 minute trip. All went well. The small, 26 site campground was nearly full. No one wore a mask, and most of these folks were a decade plus older than us. It felt almost normal.

That’s it for now. More when enough accumulates, or circumstances warrant.

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