Report from the OP, July 15, 2022

Let’s do this by going from micro to macro.

I’ve seen the orthopedist and the news is mostly good. I’m to continue doing my exercises and slowly increase my use of the ankle. I can go until it starts to twinge and no further. Knee appears to be OK after all, which was really good news. If there is no progress in 4-8 weeks, then I’m to call back. Full use and strength, barring re-injury, should take 3 more months. I’m not happy with that last bit, but it is what it is. I’m not 25 anymore. My hope is to start moving things forward, even if it’s slower than normal-which Mrs. Freeholder says is pretty slow already. 🙂

Daughter’s babies are doing fine. Both are nearing 3 pounds in weight. Daughter looks about 8 months pregnant while in reality I think she’s only a bit over 6. She’s starting to get miserable. She can’t drive herself any longer because she has to sit so close to the wheel to reach the pedals that it’s dangerous if she would have an accident.

Son received some disquieting news at the end of last week-the company that he works for has been sold. Their first clue that this had happened was the new CEO showing up and having an all-hands meeting. Supposedly the guy has “a hard-on for American goods” and is promising pay raises and better benefits. I told Son that “The check is in the mail,” and “I’ll still love you in the morning,” and that he’d better get his resume up to date and start keeping an eye on who’s hiring. While they new guy may be telling the truth, history, including personal history, shows that it rarely works out that way.

My pickup is in the shop for an oil leak that I can’t track down. Son-in-Law and I are both suspicious of the intake gasket as that’s a known trouble spot. Plus, the truck is 21 years old, so it’s time for gaskets to need replacing. It’s had a couple of others done already, so we’ll just keep things rolling. I think that getting things done that require skills, equipment or parts and supplies that you don’t have is of increasing importance.

I’m considering three larger acquisitions. First is a pair of ceramic composite plates. These are Level IV plates, good up to .30 AP rounds. Those would be about $600 in total. I’m not sure about the utility this purchase, but they are a quarter the weight of the AR500 plates I already have. Any wisdom from my readers would be gratefully received.

The second is an additional refrigerator. Given the fun and joy we recently had replacing the one in the kitchen, Mrs. Freeholder is receptive to the idea. I’ve looked through Facebook Marketplace, and there are a goodly number for sale locally. Some are old, which means built like tanks but energy hogs, and some are newer, so they’re more energy efficient but will die sooner. And of course, there is retail, if they have something in stock. We’re thinking of a traditional freezer over fridge, as they are supposed to be the most efficient. They also are the least expensive. We’re rapidly outgrowing the small one that I have had since my university days. It keeps a few drinks cold and is mostly filled with prep items that benefit from cold storage.

The third is geeky in the extreme. I’m considering a Synology NAS, in particular the DS220+ along with a pair of Seagate Exos 14 TB disks. It can hold (yet) another local copy of my files. It can also serve as a media server, meaning I could rip all the DVDs and Blu-rays onto it. It can serve as an email server, meaning that I could have private (inasmuch as possible) email accounts. It can also serve as a web server, meaning that I could move this site from a paid hosting service to my own service. I don’t have enough web traffic that I have to worry about resources, either on the NAS or my Intertubz connection. This is a purchase that, in a little over 3 years, will pay for itself. I like that ROI number. Opinions on the concept are most welcome.

Branching out a bit, two local restaurants of very long standing are closing. One admits to staffing issues, among other problems. The other has not commented on their reason for closing. Both are big losses to their customers and employees. Perhaps some of our other restaurants can pick up some new hired help.

Gas prices have been slowly drifting down and now are around $4.05 for 87 octane and $5.30 for diesel in most places. I’m not seeing any stations that are having supply problems. Given that oil production has not increased, ditto for refining capacity and barring unnoted huge increases in refined fuel importation, I have to conclude that the drop is driven by demand destruction and economic slowdown.

Food is still slowly rising. You see it in prices and in the shrinking size of packages. Staples, such as eggs, milk, bread, flour and sugar were up again this week, right when people are finally starting to understand that they need to build a pantry. Overall availability is good, but there are occasional holes and the aggressive fronting of shelves is an ongoing thing.

Stretching out a bit further, I’m seeing things that SouthernPrepper1 has been noting in his “boots on the ground” series are beginning to show up locally. Let me give you a few examples from this week.

This week was a week of doctors’ appointments. This happens when you get older, as I told Mountain Man not too long ago. “Your social calendar starts revolving around doctors’ appointments and funerals.” Tuesday was my annual physical. Since we’ve been tracking a couple of issues for a while, this was an opportunity to get some more blood work done. Both problems are improving, as you would expect when you start treating your body a little better than usual. But there was one test we didn’t do, because “Your insurance won’t pay for it so soon.” Now maybe I’m a little uninformed, but it seems to me when you’re tracking a well-documented issue that more frequent tests would be needed and covered. But there I go, expecting a big business to care about its customers.

The next day was two appointments that involved a lot of driving. Mrs. Freeholder came along to help out with that. First stop was the chiropractor, where the doc started a conversation about current events, which is unusual for him. He seemed to be quite interested in my take on a couple of issues. Again, unusual. Unlike my previous chirodoc, he’s always been rather standoffish. (That doesn’t bother me as he’s good at what he does.)

Following that, we hit a drive-thru for a very quick lunch. From what I could see, there were two people working at that Dairy Queen. Normally there would be four. There was a sign in the window: “Everyone is short staffed these days. Be kind to the ones who showed up.” Yep.

After that, we road tripped it to Charlotte and my neurologist- it was time to get Botoxified. While the doc’s nurse was getting me prepped for the 33 shots, we were talking. Most of her family is in healthcare. Her sister is an RN, and she’s being worked hard. One shift she went in at 4 AM and got off at 5:30 PM-on the following day. I thought that was reserved for interns, but times have changed. Another sister is the only remaining radiology tech in a department that should have four. Ouch. She also confirmed that local hospitals are closing down floors due to lack of staff. One hospital is offering triple time to try and lure staff to work more hours. No takers. I expect to see things get worse and soon. Burnout is a real thing.

She also confirmed that various sorts of supplies are short. Another thing that isn’t a good thing. Hospitals can’t go back to the times when things like syringes were used, cleaned, autoclaved and then used again. All that gear is in museums and landfills.

While in Charlotte, I noticed that the homeless seem to be more numerous and more demanding, although not violently so. Just working the marks a bit harder, you might say.

While driving, I paid particular attention to traffic on the interstate. While it’s by no means scientific, vehicle traffic was clearly lower than normal. I’d say that big trucks in particular were off, by something in the neighborhood of 30-40%. Later that evening we ate out, and the restaurant looks over the same interstate (Yeah, lovely view). From watching the truck traffic while waiting for our food, I’d say it was off by half.

So even though there is some good news to be had, it’s precious little and seems to be restricted in coverage. But here’s some good news for everyone-I’ve rambled on enough and it’s time for me to thank you for reading and let you go.

Out here.

3 thoughts on “Report from the OP, July 15, 2022

  1. Go for the ceramic; I wish I had. I’m old and fat and too sedentary as of late (ok, two years) and that steel is HEAVY.

    Yup, well-established (40 years!) eateries are closing their doors here, too.

    Short-staffing: I’m “this close” to saying “eff it, I quit”. BUT, no one else wants to deal with disabled people like my clientele. Sigh.

    PT: “If you don’t complain, we aren’t pushing you hard enough; if you complain, we push you harder for being a whiner”.

    Eating out: what’s that?

    Pantry building: landlord told me I can’t stockpile food. Too heavy. We had words.

    The appliance pic caption is gold!

  2. Craigslist has household items, some of them free. We’re amazed by what people give away. Furniture, appliances, lawnmowers and snowblowers, etc. you might find a fridge that would suit you, either free or cheap.

  3. Have a set of older ceramics, almost as heavy as AR500. Newer ones are much lighter, but…ceramic has trouble with repeated “absorptions” – prone to cracking, sometimes into multiple pieces. Looking at rubber-coated 500s (controls spall).

    Truck traffic down here, too (south of you), short staffing very common.

    Appliances – I learned “get cheapest, simplest because it won’t last >8-10 years”, plus Asian mfgs frequently cease parts mfg 1-2 years after model change so parts no longer available. buy two, preferably 2-3 years apart to stagger expected failure dates. Elected to install 3X 5 cu ft freezers instead of 1 16 cu ft. Minimizes risk from single unit failure. Have 4th in storage, still in box, 3rd small (10 cu ft) “emergency” refrigerator next to it in box. “Vintage” appliances commanding premium, depending on condition and parts availability might be a good investment.

    Suggestion: Plan for “alternate methods.” EX: Central AC requires 40-50 amps, window AC requires 8-12 amps (depending on size), 36″ whole house fan 5-8K CFM requires ~400-500 watts, Air King “whole house window fan” on high draws 180 watts for 3500 CFM. Buy two of whatever your solution is. Less wattage draw means smaller generator, smaller gennie means less fuel used.

    Test fridge/freezer/etc for how long can be unpowered. EX: my primary fridge can do 6 hrs off/2.5 on and not spoil food, my 5 cf chest freezers can 20-22 off/4 on. If used in hot area (garage in summer, indoors in summer with windows open and fan on) a few sheets of 2″ polyiso insulation (R=6.5/inch) and some duct tape as “extra layers when unplugged” can stretch the off time. Make sure they don’t block airflow when appliance operating.

    Spare parts, spare parts, spare parts. Late in the game, but stocking your own spares has value. Oil, filters, air filters, extra tires, spare spark plugs, mower blades, power cords, etc. Again, it’s Late, but suggest doing a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Substantial detail – and focus – required, it won’t be done in 30 minutes, figure week or two. Build a primary plan, then build a secondary plan, make lists, work the plan and lists. Learn to focus on Opportunities, they will exist even when everything turns to fecal matter.

    Last point – “What is the First Rule of Fight Club?” Same rule for Prep Club. OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC

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