Report from the OP, August 29, 2021

I’ve said before that our situation, which you may or may not choose to think of as a collapse, is a process, not an event. Processes move at varying rates and sometimes even change directions. But eventually they reach a tipping point, past which the path forward is visible and the momentum irresistible.

Imagine you’re a kid again, and it’s a snow day. You’ve bundled up, gotten the sled out and you and your friends are at that big neighborhood hill. You put the sled on the ground at the top of the hill, lie down and use your hands and feet to paddle forward to brink. You feel the sled teeter every so gently under you, then you feel your weight shift forward, the sled drops and you’re off on a semi-controlled ride at the mercy of gravity, bumps and the other sledders.

American society is teetering at the edge. While we’re doing our usual great job at normalcy bias, things are becoming more and more unstable. I don’t believe it’s so far gone we can’t return to a stable situation, but the probability that our sled is going to tip forward is going up every day. Afghanistan is just the latest and most obvious shove in the back from one of our buddies trying to get that sled going downhill. And if we start, my bet is that everyone else winds up going on the trip with us.

In my corner of the world, I can see a new season of collapse starting. Local health departments and media are all going Jan Brady on us. The hospitals are banning visitors again. Drive-thru Wuflu testing is once again a big business. The dread Delta is upon us, and we’re all gonna die if we don’t take the jab.

Government offices and schools are now requiring you to wear a mask if you want to enter. Not a problem for me. The only thing I need to do with them these days is to ensure they get the yearly tribute. I can do that by mail rather than in person.

More and more people are wearing masks again, and giving those of us who don’t dirty looks. I don’t give a rip and I won’t be masking up to make them feel safe. I’ve had enough of that silliness. “Healthcare facilities” have never gotten off the mask bandwagon. I just have to seethe and bear it in those. If you want to wear a mask, feel free, but leave me out of your delusions.

That goes triple for the vaxx and the boosters. Not had any, ain’t getting any. I am concerned about Mrs. Freeholder’s future health as more evidence comes out about the long-term effects of getting the jab, especially the Pfizer version, which she got in February. It sounds sort of ugly, but I think we’ll be keeping her life insurance for a while longer, just in case she’s one of the unlucky ones.

The supply chain is getting stretched. I imagine I can hear the creaking of the weaker links as they stretch and crack. Which one breaks first? China is shutting down ports, US ports are backlogged to record levels, shipping costs are through the roof and truck drivers and warehouse workers can’t be hired fast enough. Pro tip: Do your Christmas shopping now if possible. You might want to consider practical gifts this year.

Stores are doing their best to cover up the bare shelves, but it’s pretty transparent that’s what they’re doing. About a week ago we had to venture to Walmart. There were 50′ aisles where the shelves were filled with big 28 gallon plastic totes. Not stacked in the usual manner mind you, but each tote with its lid on, all lined up, 4 shelves high. I should have gotten a picture, but I’m getting blasé to such things-they’re everywhere. We also got the last 2 bottles of chewable antacids in the place. Paper goods were a bit slack. Personal care items were spotty-razors in particular. Cat litter has returned in 35 pound buckets. Good thing, because I need some more buckets. No seeds in Lawn & Garden. 🙁

Grocery stores are hit and miss. The no dyes/no stink peroxide-based liquid bleach was back for a while but it’s gone again. Meat is getting more expensive, as are many things-but it’s faster with meat. Tuna in the mylar envelopes was on sale, and I cleaned them out of the plain variety. Makes a great low-carb snack. No big sales on canned vegetables yet. No “large economy” sizes of anything.

We still get the marketing emails with the link to this week’s “sales”, but those are getting less and less useful – either it’s things we no longer eat, don’t like or don’t need. Having gone on something of a diet, we’ve both given up the carb-laden snacks, which some weeks are the bulk of the sales items.

Gas prices dipped unexpectedly last week, down as low as $2.74/gallon. But the Labor Day holiday is this coming weekend, so they’re right back to where they were. I’ve heard rumors of a shortage of lubricating oils, but haven’t seen any of that in person.

Some auto dealership lots have restocked, especially those who deal primarily in used cars. New car lots are still very sparse. You don’t seen many temporary car tags around these days. Son says he gets calls from his dealer trying to interest him in an outright sale of his Challenger. He’s smarter than that.

Home prices may be topping. Not so many houses coming up for sale, but there are some new ones being built. Nothing in the “starter home” line; all of these are bigger. Lot sizes are as small as they can get away with. Quality of work is highly variable, I’m told. The last two crapped out but not falling in houses I know of locally have been bought and are being renovated. This bubble has got to burst soon.

20-something acres of land behind and off to the side of us has been rezoned and some sort of work started Saturday. Too early to tell if they’re cutting in roads for another subdivision or getting ready to timber it off. There is a lot of timbering going on lately. I also fail to see how a subdivision a workable idea, because a sizable fraction of the land lies under some 350 KV transmission lines, and is therefore unbuildable. I’ll note I have been wrong before.

This weekend my ham radio club worked at an event put on by some local do-gooders to support their do-gooding. The concept of the thing is to let kids get around airplanes, fire trucks, heavy construction equipment, drag racers and the like. Given the time of year, it’s likely hot and humid, but that’s never kept folks away. This year’s edition was rather a disappointment. Several of the local companies that exhibited previously weren’t there this time around. The fly-in portion was maybe half as many planes as usual. The local guy who owns a P-51 Mustang, which is a fixture of the event, wasn’t there. Other groups, such as the NC Department of Forestry, only made a token appearance – their guys are out west, trying to keep the fires west of the Mississippi. Local law enforcement was barely there at all, and they usually take an entire row of hangers. Very few show cars. Attendance was no more than 1/3 of usual, and I think it was more like 1/4. Quite a few in masks; quite a few of the exhibitors in masks. Almost no food, which was always a big part of the fund raising. I suppose do-gooding will be curtailed this year due to lack of funds.

One thing that has struck me while trying to do the late gardening thing – our area has become much more suburban over the time we’ve lived here. I really haven’t noticed it until I needed the stuff stocked by a real feed and seed store and the feed and seed store was gone. Same for our local John Deere dealer-gone since the second year after we moved in. Thinking about it, I now realize new subdivisions have really sprung up all over, and they’re continuing to do so. Several new strip shopping centers have been built. Our saving grace here is that we have poor soil that barely perks if it perks at all, and we’ve managed to kill county-wide sewer movements twice in the last 16 years. If it ever gets approved, we’re done for and will be a bedroom for two major metros within a decade. By law, cities can’t annex us (and thereby extend services, including sewer, into the annexed area) without our acquiescence, but that doesn’t stop “progress”. However, Mrs. Freeholder demands that we stay near the kids, so relocation is a no-go.

I also note Hurricane Ida, coming ashore on the same date as Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath, I’m sure our Federal Government will do the same great job they did the last time. I wonder who will get the blame? Betting line says “Trump”.

OK, that’s it. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for doing so – this was a bit rambling in nature. Out here.

3 thoughts on “Report from the OP, August 29, 2021

  1. Went for our monthly restocking. Prices seem to be about the same. Cat food is still sparse, every store I go to. Everything else seems normal supply.
    Got ivermectin paste at the feed and garden store. None at tractor supply. One of the feed stores had some seeds available, which seemed odd. The clerk said some people do indoor container gardening, or they give seeds as part of a Christmas gift package. She also said all the seeds get sold fast in the spring.
    Your blog came up with a black background and I can’t see the comment to proofread. Sorry for any gibberish.
    If this is a change you made, I prefer the white background. It’s easier to read.

  2. I have a plugin installed for “dark mode”. You should see a crescent moon in the lower right corner of your monitor. Click on it and it will switch light to dark or dark to light.

  3. That worked! Thanks
    One more note, still no canning supplies in the stores we went to. There are flats of Mason jars, sometimes pectin, but no replacement lids. And the number of new jars is much less than used to be on the shelves. This has been the case for over a year. Amazon has Chinese copies of lids, but those are getting poor reviews.

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