In macro news, I’m seeing items that seem to point toward food and energy conditions getting worse. Many of those items are from subscription sources, and I can’t in good conscious share those. One that I can note, because it comes from the USDA and is thus public, is that overall estimates for corn production and supplies are falling. Not drastically, but steadily falling.
You’ve seen stories that Ukraine is now shipping grain. However, the quantities are relatively small and I don’t see how this is going to have a major effect on those Third World countries that depend on Ukrainian grain to feed themselves. Plus these shipments are subject to Russian whims-one missile in the wrong place and they’re shut down again.
Drought is also a continuing problem, not only in the American West, but in the UK and Europe. In other areas, such as Kentucky, have gotten far too much rain. Both have deleterious effects on farming (among many things).
The long and short of it is that I firmly believe food prices are going to continue rising and availability will probably continue to fall. There are going to be a lot of hungry people in a few months, and people who are hungry are prone to making poor decisions. Be ready for that.
Expect to see energy prices beginning to rise again. News like the increase in West Texas Intermediate crude prices because gasoline stocks were drawn down more than expected get my Spidey-sense tingling. I’d also like to know just where all that gas went-into American gas tanks or someone’s tankers?
Locally, the news is mixed. Mrs. Freeholder has mostly come around to the idea that we need even more food stored away, and we went grocery shopping again. I was pleasantly surprised to see many workers in one of the local Food Lion grocery stores cramming food onto the shelves and into refrigerated and freezer cases like there was no tomorrow. Seriously, some of those shelves pleaded with me to take some of their load off. However, I noted bare spots in baby formula, potatoes, frozen potato products and the house brand ice cream. Thin spots were in hamburger buns, dried beans and canned fruits, although the fruit was in better shape than the last trip I made.
Restaurants continue to do everything short of shanghaiing workers in order to stay staffed. We saw a couple more local ones that are shortening hours due to staffing issues. We’ve also noted that many are raising prices, reducing portions or both.
I was fortunate to find a decent used 5-year-old 18 ft3 refrigerator for the basement for a price within my budget. It needed a thorough cleaning, as it had been used in a break room environment. It also needed a door gasket. Even buying that-and they are stupid expensive for what they are-I’m still on budget.
This weekend, I attended a workshop, hosted by one of my amateur radio clubs, where we built a 2 M tape measure antenna. This sort of thing is used for the radio sport of “fox hunting“. We were encouraged to obtain a cheap compass in order to note the direction of the signal on a map. As you can see from the featured image for this post, cheap compasses aren’t what they used to be. Another quality Chinese product to be returned. This is #4 in two weeks. The best story of the four is a tie between the compass and a set of metric crows foot wrenches, where the dimensional accuracy was off by as much as 0.4 mm, and always to the plus side. I’d love to know when these items were produced.
The weather is holding cooler than normal, but unfortunately, the feet are not holding up. I had to ease off yesterday and give them a rest. Neuropathy is a, well, pain.
That’s all I’ve got, other than a small brush pile I need to burn today. Out here.