As I’ve said before, collapse is a process, not an event. We’ve went for weeks and nothing much has changed, and then we have a week where a lot of things change. I expect that we are going to see this stair-step progression, possibly even a 2 steps down/one step up sort of thing, for a while to come. Best get used to it.
Let’s hit grocery shopping first. I’m seeing prices going up, whether it’s the simple pound of ground beef that was $x 3 weeks ago and now it’s $x+y today. I’m also seeing a lot of items where the price holds steady but the amount in the package shrinks (widely known as shrinkflation). Given that inflation, measured in the traditional manner, is about 14%, this is unsurprising.
I can tell you that it is definitely impacting buying decisions. We actually had a rather gregarious fellow (Mrs Freeholder thinks he was drunk; I figure he was just happy to have another week in employee hell over) ask us in the grocery store if this “London Broil thing” was any good in a crock pot. It was the only meat, other than sandwich meat, on sale, at $3.49/lb. I told him it sure was, and told him where to look for recipes.
Pretty much all of the regular grocery items are up in price, and I can see it when I look at our spending. Some of the less common ones, such as ice cream (I broke down and bought a “half gallon” yesterday) seem to be holding steady. My guess is that people are cutting those items out as the price of necessities goes up, and low demand is keeping the prices down. I doubt that lasts forever.
The shelves are also starting to get thin in more categories, although as usual, the items that are short vary from store to store and visit to visit. In the grocery store we were at it was canned vegetables, Lunchables and milk. There were probably some other things as well that I missed. We were able, for the first time in months, to find unscented Clorox-2 liquid bleach in stock, at about $2 more per bottle than before all this started. I was also able to get the foil-packaged tuna for $1/pkg, which is a pretty good price these days. It makes for a good low-carb snack for me. Mrs. Freeholder says she won’t eat “cat food”. Funny, I feel the same way about sushi, except I call it “bait”.
During the time since my last report, gas has went down $0.10-12, stayed there for a week or so, and has now went back up $0.10-12. I guess the excuse is Labor Day this time.
Still in the realm of vehicles, we were able to refinance Mrs. Freeholder’s current “Probably The Last Car I’ll Ever Buy” at 2% lower interest. We also dropped the term to 48 months. It’s a significant increase in the payment, but we decided that we wanted to pay it off sooner. I’m going to work on paying it off faster than that.
I’ve noted that ammo is becoming more available and that the price has dropped a bit. I bit the bullet, so to speak, and have laid out for 1000 rounds of 9mm, 115 gr FMJ. It’s from a local reman ammo manufacturer, Minuteman Munitions, and at $200/500 is cheaper than anything else I’ve seen. I’ve shot a lot of their stuff in various calibers and it’s all been good stuff. I used to go pick it up, but the Wuflu has them shipping all orders. At least this one was a “free shipping” deal.
The yearly tribute to the county government for allowing us to live in our own home has been paid. They did a revaluation earlier in the year, fortunately right before prices really got stupid. Still, we saw a 20ish% rise in our mandatory tribute.
I’m working, slowly, on getting my new ham radio antenna up. The old one, a DX Commander, developed problems I couldn’t just band aid, so down it came. I have a new Hustler 6BTV with a bunch of add-ons from DXEngineering that will take its place Real Soon Now. The DX Commander is a great antenna, but it just isn’t sturdy enough to take our weather extremes. I’ll rework it and use it for Field Day or perhaps some RV mobile work.
Lastly, I want to relate something that happened last night. About 10:30, the burglar alarm pipes up with an error-“phone problem”. It connects to the mothership with a cellular modem, which was recently upgraded. That item appeared to have the proper blinking lights. I tried my cell phone with no joy. Mrs. Freeholder got the same result as I did on her phone. So I check on DownDetector and see Verizon is having a lot of problems. I’m under that big red blob that covered most of the Piedmont section of North Carolina.
I start looking around, and AT&T and Amazon were having problems with a similar map. Because all Amazon services, including AWS, were effected, places like Netflix and Hulu were also having issues.
For some reason, this really gave me the willies. I stayed up until 2:30 waiting to see what happened, but the problem wasn’t resolved. At that point I went to bed, and when I woke up around 4:30, things were back to normal. I slept better after that.
During this, Verizon’s advice (besides “suck it”) was to turn on Wi-Fi calling-you call goes our over your home network and gets into their network fvia the Intertubz. Great, but if your phone can’t contact Verizon, apparently over the cell network, you can’t do that. Trust me, it’s done now on both phones.
However, this highlights a hole in our preparedness. We have no alternative for phone calls other than our cell phones. Our landline was removed years ago. I didn’t worry about relying on cellular only because there has never been an outage where, at worst, I had to drive somewhere to make a call. I’m considering options in terms of a backup to the cell phones.
The oddest thing is that, at this point in time, I can’t find any report of this in any media. Nothing. Total silence. Maybe it’s because of the weekend and it’ll show up Monday. DownDetector’s recorded map for the incident also doesn’t show nearly so much red as it did last night. That makes my eyebrow raise a bit.
I have the distinct sense we’re seeing an escalating series of probing attacks on our infrastructure. I’m not sure where the next one hits or how big it will be, but I’m expecting another one soon. If pushed, I’d say the power grid will be targeted. We are facing off with the Chinese and the Russians, and they seem to have the upper hand in this sort of thing. Time to re-read Fredrick Pohl’s The Cool War again.
See to your plans and preparations. Out here.