Friday, August 27, 2010

Several Broken Water Mains in Town Proper

In town proper, the person in charge of monitoring the water company’s tanks received an alert that both of the towers were nearly empty. The computer alert is only one part of the system, though; the tanks also have floats that somebody with the water company can go observe.

You would think, then, that a “Your tanks are nearly empty!” alert from the computer would be simple to confirm. If you were in charge, you’d probably radio or call one of the employees in the trucks all over the town and ask him or her to drop by and check the floats, right? That’s simple and sensible confirmation of what the computer told you was wrong, so why not?

The idiot in charge decided, instead, to blame the alert on a computer glitch. Instead of confirming that there was really a problem, he called tech support; the agent told him that somebody would be out the next day. In the meantime, this dolt sat on his hands, ignoring the alert because it couldn’t possibly be legit.

As it turns out, the tanks supplying the entire stinkin’ town with water really were almost empty when the water company’s employee failed to do anything useful. By the time the computer tech came out and told him that there was no computer glitch, they were almost bone dry. Shortly afterward, citizens started calling in to report that they didn’t have any water coming out of their magical faucets or garden hoses.

The fix – getting more water into the tanks – went well enough. The problem, though, is that the water lines running all over the town are old and crappy. When the water started running through these pipes again, several mains broke.

Yes. Several. As in, roughly seven.

All this happened yesterday or the day before; the water company swears that people in town proper will have water again by Monday. In the meantime, they don’t have water to bathe, flush their toilets, drink, do dishes, or fill their inflatable swimming pools.

Do you trust everyone at your water company to always do the sensible thing? Do you have complete and utter faith in the invisible-to-you pipes and other equipment? Do you believe that any necessary repairs will be completed before you even start to smell bad, especially in a heat wave like we just got past?

If not, now’s as good a time as any to make sure that you have plenty of potable and non-potable water stored away. The people in town didn’t have much, if any, warning that they were going to lose water, so that’s an excellent example of why preparing in advance is a good idea.

A few barrels of water in the basement…some five-gallon jugs of drinking water…a rain-collection system…one-gallon jugs…there are lots of ways to put back water so that, when something happens, you won’t suffer too much.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Light Housekeeping

As you can see with your own eye(s), I’ve done some housekeeping around here. The blogroll’s been updated and the settings are changed to put the most-recently updated blog at the top of the list. Maybe this will make it a little easier for y’all to see when there’s something new to go read when you’re finished sitting in awe of my very existence. (Hah!)

I made the font a wee bit smaller, too, because text was ridiculously huge on my wide-screen monitor (and it’s only a basic, seventeen-inch model – nothing high speed or too fancy). If you’re using Firefox and want to make the text bigger, hold down CTRL and the “+” key; for smaller text, hold down CTRL and the “-” key.

Let’s see…I’ll update whenever I think that I have something worth saying and hope that this happens at least once a week. I’m also visiting various blogs, leaving comments if I think that they can be useful or at least entertaining. Good times.

Incidentally, ten-pound bags of chicken are on sale again this week at the same store. This time, however, they were smart enough to put a “limit 1 bag with additional $10 purchase” notice/disclaimer in their ad. Last week, the people in charge of the circulars didn’t include that, so there was, as you probably imagine, a run on those bags. Mom and I grabbed only two because we didn’t have room for more but, if we’d been set up to store several bags, we would have snagged them – this week, though, we’ll pick up only one bag because fair’s fair.

Here’s to a great weekend for everyone! I’m planning on enjoying a little free time to do some writing, play with the cats, and see if I can get rid of the last of the wasps hanging out near my bedroom. If they weren’t constantly coming into this room, I wouldn’t care. Now, though, they’ve decided that they want to be indoor critters, which isn’t happening. Like I really want to inadvertently sit down on one of those suckers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cluck Cluck!

Bags of fryer quarters normally run about .79 a pound here so, when Mom and I found them on sale for .20/lb., we bought two big bags. That’s what we have room to store at the moment but, if we had room, we’d have grabbed more. I imagine that, after Mom and I make the chicken casserole tonight, we’ll have somebody go back to the store and pick up another bag.

Mom and I cooked the chicken in her big ol’ roaster oven because it’s a fast and easy way to take care of twenty pounds’ worth of quarters. The chicken’s chunked and in the freezer, aside from the portion that’s going into dinner tonight, so we’re happy. Also, the cats and dogs got the skin, which is just gross if you’ve boiled it (in my opinion), so they were thrilled.

As for the chicken stock, Mom poured it up into the half-liter bottles that we’ve had lying around for a while. I have a tendency to buy Mountain Dew in six-packs of these bottles because it’s convenient and the suckers are usually on sale for a good price. We started saving the bottles a while back because we figured that they had to have a practical use or two, but we weren’t sure what we’d do with them at the time.

They’re food-grade plastic and are subjected to a thorough cleaning before we re-use them, so they’re excellent for filling halfway with water and sticking in the freezer. I used one, wrapped in a towel, for an ice pack a few days ago because the two proper ones were being rotated (Mom needed them). I bash the bottles full of ice with a hammer, cut them open, and pour the ice into the cats’ water dish when it’s hot as heck, like it has been lately in this part of Texas.

But the bottles also work very well for chicken stock. We didn’t bother separating the fat because that’s easy enough to do later when we use each bottle. Just poke a hole in the bottom – it’s much like shotgunning a beer, really – and let the chicken stock drain out; the fat that’s left will stay behind.

We have four liters of chicken stock cooling off so that they can go into the freezer. That’s a decent amount for the six people we’re feeding here, but you might want more or less depending on storage space, family size, that sort of thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back - Finally.

I haven’t written anything for this blog in ages because I haven’t had anything to say. And because I’ve been busy. And because I haven’t felt very well as of late, but am getting better.

So, let’s play catch-up really quickly before I make what I hope is an interesting point about the value of having gold or silver in your possession despite the fact that you can’t eat it, drink it, or build a shelter out of it (or wear it, now that I think about it).

Since I last bothered to update An Unsheltered Life, we’ve done some cool and not-so-cool things.

-Oldest Bro got married! His wife is a lovely, sweet young lady and I’m incredibly happy for both of them. We got them a firearm for their wedding present because they couldn’t really afford one (seriously, times are tough everywhere) and we wanted to be sure that they had a means of defending themselves and their home. They both love it.

-I finally finished college despite knowing that it’s a big, fat waste of time if you aren’t studying a hard science. English literature degrees aren’t overly valuable in the workforce, but I enjoyed the learning that I did while I was in school.

-A Bachelor’s in English is good for a temporary job at Walmart. I earned a little money, helped contribute to the family’s stockpiles, and met some interesting people. I also sprained the crap out of my shoulder while I was there, which prompted two doctor’s visits on Walmart’s dime. Oops. I’m fine now, by the way, and put my handy-dandy sling in storage in case we need it again. (Man, do I ever hate slings. It’s really difficult to do anything when your strong arm is bound up like that.)

-Mom and I experimented with using the Food Saver’s jar attachment to vacuum seal various foods. I’m pleased to report that, a full three months later, the chocolate chips, white rice, and other goodies are still safe and sound in the jars. We’re keeping a close eye on the chocolate because Mom and I both have occasional cravings for it. It would well and truly suck if we were stuck without even a few morsels to tide us over, I think.

-Dad was laid off a couple of weeks ago. The bad news is that the local economy sucks out loud. The good news is that he’s eligible for unemployment. The justification for that is the fact that he’s spent most of his adult life working, paying into the system, so the safety net isn’t a handout that he didn’t help fund. And, y’know, the local economy is horrible.

-Over those two weeks, Dad’s been griping because there are buttloads of canned goods in the pantry. He doesn’t buy into this “Let’s stock up when things are cheap because we’re going to eat these foods anyway” philosophy, mostly because he doesn’t think that far ahead.

-Sis and I got Mom a bread maker for Christmas. She’s still having a blast with it, churning out some very tasty breads. They’re particularly nice with the cherry preserves that I bought for “I feel like crap and need to be comforted” food.

-Mom also received a twelve-inch, cast-iron skillet (a Lodge, I believe) from me. Good times.

-My brothers and Dad are gearing up to go make a big dent in the firewood tomorrow morning. Ideally, they’ll get a massive pile that Mom and I can work through with a log splitter that my middle brother brings home (yep, he still works at the rental yard). If that works out, we’ll have a few cords stacked up for the coming winter.

As for precious metals: Who’s going to want them if we reach a point in American society where fiat money is flat-out worthless? Will the grocery store take them? Possibly. Will your neighbor want them in exchange for some of his supplies? Probably not. Can you eat them? Of course not.

But some of us have to pay property taxes, which is bull crap but necessary if we intend to keep our land. I hold out a tiny shred of hope that the State of Texas will abolish this atrocity so that my family and I will truly, for real, own the property – but I don’t wager on that actually happening.

That’s one reason why the precious metals aren’t terrible ideas despite their theoretical uselessness in everyday life as a survivor. Once a year, they could come in handy, especially when you’re having a tough time putting together enough folding money to pay the tax man for what should be completely yours anyway.

“But Sarah, won’t the tax office stop bothering after an economic collapse and nobody has money?”

Maybe – but are you willing to wager your property on that? I’m not.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm