Report from the OP, December 2, 2022

Where the bloody hell is all my time going? It seems that the older I get, the faster it disappears and the less I have to show for it. Must be some sort of natural law.

Because everyone asks, first the grandbabies. They went for their 2 month checkups and shots Thursday. Thing One (the female of the pair, already tagged as the criminal mastermind) has a distinct weight advantage over her brother, Thing Two (tagged as the muscle of the criminal enterprise). Of course, Thing Two has been pretty colic-y, so he has an explanation. But he is holding his head up with very little help, will push with his legs hard enough to hold his own weight and loves “tummy time“. His sister loves none of those things, but she is a champion at eating, looking around quietly and sleeping. Distinct personalities are already showing up.

In global concerns, I note the passing of Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac at the age of 79. While Stevie Nicks may have written more of the band’s hits, McVie wrote, in my opinion at least, better songs, plus her voice was far more melodic. I hate seeing the heroes of my younger years passing, but it’s inevitable. None of us are going to get out of this alive.

We also continue our slow sleepwalk to WWIII. No predictions of when or how from me, but I suspect it will be sudden, though not without warning. Heaven knows we’re getting plenty of warnings, all of them unheaded. The human race is stupid like that, it seems. Tend to your preps, get out of the cities and stay away from crowds.

Locally, gas prices are down again, to $3-3.05. Diesel stubbornly remains at $5. I hear that propane is edging up at the outlets where one fills smaller tanks. We have gotten no notice of price increases from our residential supplier. Ditto electricity.

Grocery stores remain pretty well stocked and expensive, although there are beginning to be some sales on meat. These sales bring the prices down to pre-Wuflu prices. I hope folks are taking advantage of them as best they can.

One thing I’ve noted in the grocery area is a continuing decline in quality. The first issue I noted was back during the summer in bags of chips-they’re smaller and many more are broken. I’m not paying that kind of money for crumbs, and we’ve mostly stopped buying them. I’ve noticed canned peaches are hard as rocks–canned before they were ripe. A favorite brand of fried pies has the same amount of crust but 2/3 the filling. Wet cat food is wetter, yielding less meat for the kitties. Clumping cat litter doesn’t clump as well as it used to, and it makes a lot more dust. The texture and taste of bread are different, and not in a good way. Milk spoils before the “sell by” date. Fresh vegetables aren’t as fresh and they don’t taste as good, although we’ve not seen the level of problems SouthernPrepper1 is reporting. I wonder if some of the corners that appear to be being cut are going to affect our health.

A new urgent care medical facility is going up. It is much needed, as its competition has a poor reputation for both urgency and medicine. Competition is a good thing.

Also going up are houses, almost exclusively in the “starter” category. I noticed that one huge, at least by local standards, subdivision has completed infrastructure and I think the first footings have recently been dug. If the weather stays warm, they’ll be framing before New Year’s. However, given recent forecasts, I’m betting the framing crews will be sitting at home. We’re due for colder-than-normal temps and “active” weather. I wonder if that means cold rain, freezing rain or snow. At least we’re ready for all of those.

The North Carolina Dept. of Transportation is replacing several bridges in the area. Ours is nearly done. We might get to use it next week, several months behind the original completion date. Several others, more like large culverts rather than proper bridges, will start soon. Norfolk-Southern Railway is also (finally) working on a number of railroad crossings around the county. These generally take about 3 days each, so the inconvenience is limited.

Our volunteer fire department is planning on a substation to improve service in parts of their fire district that have experienced growth in the 16 years since we moved out here. They’re funded by a fire tax assessment on real property and vehicles, and that’s one I don’t complain about paying. A neighbor is a captain there, so I get some inside knowledge. These guys don’t waste money.

My local radio club spent last Saturday raising our new 2-meter repeater antenna. It’s that tiny white line way up there. That white line is about 20′ tall, has a 6′ long 2″ Schedule 40 galvanized water pipe to go into the mounting brackets and the whole thing weighs 50-60 pounds at a guess. We brought it up with ropes and pulleys. Our tower crew of three had to reach out of the windows on that corner to get it into the brackets, mostly holding it at arm’s length in the process. 100′ off the ground the wind is rather different than it is at 0′, and we nearly met with disaster twice. Now that we’ve done it, I can tell you exactly how to avoid our near folly. By the time this one needs to be replaced, I’ll be one of the old guys on the ground offering advice.

I’d love to show you our expected coverage footprint, but I’m trying to avoid totally blowing OPSEC. I first modeled it at 100 watts and was aghast. It’s huge, covering entire counties. Even reducing the power to 25 watts, it’s only slightly smaller. In VHF land, height rules, and we have plenty of it.

I’ll have to make at least one more trip up the tower to address a couple of things that were left undone due to a lack of parts. I also plan to redo a couple of things that I’m just not happy with. Water is insidious, especially when it involves antennas.

This evening, Mrs. Freeholder rather pointed asked when I planned on decorating for Christmas. I suppose if we manage to miss the rain tomorrow, unlikely at this point, I’ll be decorating outside. If we don’t, I’ll be decorating inside. I don’t know why this is such a big deal-the twins aren’t going to know one way or the other. 🙂

I guess I should go drag out some of the storage totes in preparation for the festivities. Out here.

1 thought on “Report from the OP, December 2, 2022

  1. Glad to hear the Things are doing well.
    I haven’t noticed the decline in quality at the grocery store. Everything seems to be in status quo. Prices are higher than 2 years ago. 18 eggs were $5.99; they used to be $1.69 or $1.99. Butter is holding at the new high price, $3.99 for a pound of store brand. There are spot shortages. Flour and sugar inventories are lower than they used to be.
    Walmart here put in a pile of self scan registers about a year ago. They still have 15 lines for going through a cashier, but usually only one of those is open and serving customers. The self scans are usually backed up too, so cashing out becomes a 20 minute wait, more or less. It’s annoying. They have lots of staff on the floor pulling orders for customers who don’t want to shop. The other Walmart in the area has a lot of Spanish-speaking stock people & floor people. Twice when I asked for help they had to go find someone who spoke English. It’s become a strange world. Also one W-M has had several women employees wearing head coverings, and Middle East type accents. I haven’t seen that in any other stores.
    Gas is steady, $3.25 to $3.45. Heating oil went up, now easing down a bit, $4.79/gallon. Propane fill up 3 weeks ago was north of $6 /gallon for us.

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