Categories
Preparedness

Day 757 and Hunker Down

I really missed the cold and snow while I was in Prague. You might be confused. Isn’t Prague known for its cold winters? Well maybe not this winter. As it turns out, the unseasonably warm winter in Eastern Europe is good for the energy crisis on the continent, but bad for someone who prefers the cold.

Thankfully we’ve got a massive snowstorm bearing down on the Gallatin Valley that has a polar vortex of arctic air coming along as a chaser. We are expected to get a foot of fresh powder over the next 24 hours and then extreme cold (another -30 with the wind chill situation) will hit us on Sunday into Monday. Looking out on our back porch we have some accumulation but it has been melting earlier.

Several layers of snow on the back porch of our farmhouse looking out across our pasture

Alex and I have a standard storm routine that we follow that is part of our habit of preparedness. The best storm preparedness tip I’ve ever gotten was to clean your house. Wash dishes, do the laundry, take a shower, and anything else that requires power and running water. You will appreciate the clean house no matter what and it extends your ability to cope with something bad happening.

I am currently feeling very fancy as I did my Sunday grooming routine today and my skin and hair are looking fantastic. If we get socked in at least I’ll be clean and pretty. I used a hair glossing seal from BeautyPie and a Mediheal collagen mask and I recommend them both.

A shockingly long receipt from Rosaurs

I also did a massive grocery run yesterday as in addition to the storm we have a houseguest coming up. The receipt was so long I had to take a picture of it surrounded by a partial haul as it’s practically CVS length. Our guest is gluten free so I did some stocking up on options for him, along with a bunch of snacks because why not?

Categories
Homesteading Preparedness

756 and Weather Station

We live outside of town. We’ve learned that means the weather that is being reported isn’t always accurate for us as the various weather stations are mostly at the university or downtown. So what does a pair of homesteaders do? Buy our own weather station! It’s an Ecowitt 2553.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station installed on our side pasture fence to monitor our Montana weather at the homestead

In the US, Ecowitt weather stations are rebranded as Ambient Weather Stations but we were able to order from shop.ecowitt.com and buy it direct, which saved about 40% which we appreciated as it typically runs about $289.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station

The station measures wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, UV & light, temperature and humidity, as well as precipitation measurements (though that works much better with rain than snow).

The weather station feeds all the data to the display screen, which then pushes the data to our home automation system as well. Alex has quite the home automation installation so I’ll leave those details for another day but it is quite fun to know your house is heated based on the actual weather.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station Display

Categories
Preparedness

Day 738 and Little Things

I’ve come to appreciate the little luxuries in life in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Great Weirdening was in full bloom just as the world shut down into a global viral pandemic. The things I took for granted from 2015 are now treasured joys to be relished privately and also on social media. Dooming for the clout.

We are all performing elaborate acts about how we are flourishing, but in reality we’ve all had a number of rebirths and realizations. A lot of people suddenly stopped giving as many fucks and the downstream effects have been a calamity.

Everyone knows this has happened but pet theories as to why and it’s implications are rampant. We’ve fractured into conspiracies depending on what media ecosystem we spend the most time in. I know a lot of extremely online shit because I spend time on Twitter. We all have different scapegoats.

This is also all colliding with the great Jankening. All those people giving fewer fucks. Well, it shows up in what we make. And a lot of products and services got worse. Sometimes subtly. It tugs at your mind that so many little things don’t work like they used to work.

I am happy to fight for what’s mine. But I am fighting harder to get the experience I want. So I notice it when something goes right. When a meal is a bit better than you expected. And quality of service was better than it has a right to be. When maybe something is a throwback to a simpler time. When shit worked. I cherish the things that are genuinely good. I don’t want to lose them.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 699 and Storms A’Coming

I love preparing for a big storm. It’s all of the fun parts of preparedness with none of the dystopian fantasies that sidle up to larger types of resilience & doomer chores. A big snowstorm is prepper-light, all the taste and none of the calories.

We’ve got a big snowstorm coming into Southwest Montana that is likely to close a few passes and drop significant snowfall. We’ve yet to map how predicted snowfall in town matches our actual snowfall. Sometimes it’s two or three times as much. If town is getting 4-6 inches, I’ve learned to expect at least a foot. I’d be thrilled if we got the 2-3 feet that is predicated for our neighbors in Big Sky & Yellowstone but it probably won’t drop that much on us.

The last time I wrote about preparing for a big storm was the day of the Marshal Fire in Boulder. I wrote about how I do all the washing and cleaning before a storm hits just in case we lose things like heat and water. Little did I know I wasn’t preparing for just snow that day but for one of the most devastating fires in Colorado history. Freakish outcomes have become commonplace and we humans adjust our hedonic treadmill to accommodate the bad and the good.

So I’m excited for the little preparations we get to make before this storm comes into the valley. I did an inventory of our fresh foods. Recipes and meal planning were done to reflect existing purchases (we’ve got a New York strip that is calling to me) as well as what could be easily incorporated into new meals if we stay snowed in.

Alex put a plowing plan in place for our driveway and parking area. We brought in wood from the cord that is stored in our hay shed. A run to to the grocery store and the dispensary is being down as we speak by my husband. The dispensary is next door to one of the cheaper gas stations so that’s a double win. Always remember to gas up before a big store. This includes diesel too if you have a tractor or snowblower that needs it.

My last chores will be doing laundry and washing my hair. As we recently had some well pump repairs I’m feeling relatively confident about water staying flowing but you never regret a fresh head of hair and plenty of clean dry socks.

Categories
Aesthetics Politics Preparedness

Day 679 and That Escalated Quickly

My week started out great. I was focused, energetic and on my game. And well, I think we all know how the last 72 hours have played out. Chaotic as hell.

Twitter is having a meltdown. Crypto keeps discovering how badly centralized over levered balance sheets can go. Fuck you very much Sam Bankman Fried for setting back the cause. Really the only bright spot is America’s swift decline into a regressive reactionary right wing state is in its entropy and reversion to the mean phase. Guess no one felt like rewarding Republicans even though we all kind of hate Joe Biden.

And lest you think I’m happily sitting pretty having mostly predicted we’d be entering a newly chaotic age, I woke up this morning covered in hives. That haircut I was so excited about yesterday? Turns out I was allergic to all the styling products.

And because we had some as yet unresolved issue with our well pump, I couldn’t even shower it off immediately. I woke up to the water being out. Neat. Thankfully a hacky solution got me a hot shower before noon to rinse off all the itch inducing salon products. I might still be a little high from all the Benadryl

The funniest part is I knew I might have some trouble with products at the hair salon. I just didn’t want to be that white lady that comes in with all her own products and a sob story about allergens.

I thought how bad can it be if I just let the stylist use the salon products? And boy do I regret that. Let that be a lesson to everyone to always take up the space and resources you need to stay healthy. It may be cringe as fuck to explain an allergy but you know what is even more cringe? Giving yourself hives and Benadryl brain because you didn’t have the energy to be a little bit of an asshole and insist on protecting yourself.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 677 and Bad Moon Rising

I got woken up at around 430am this morning by my husband. Now he typically wakes up earlier than me but rarely does he rise before 5am. He got out of bed and I heard one of our doors opening. A few minutes later he was back in bed and I drifted back to sleep.

It turns out he was getting up to see if the lunar eclipse was visible. Much of Southwest Montana got blanketed in a significant snowstorm, so alas cloud cover prevented him from glimpsing the eclipse with the naked eye. The blood moon was hidden behind a white out.

The eclipse was soon forgotten in the excitement of the storm. The snow was so powder fine we immediately suited up to do the adult version of playing outside. We had our first opportunity to hook up the snow blower attachment to our tractor to plow out our very long drive away. I took dozens of videos and Alex absolutely wrecked me by blowing a bunch of snow at me. We captured the comedy on the security camera and it made for a good laugh.

But the day unraveled almost immediately. The blood moon began to feel a bit like a bad moon rising. News of crypto exchange FTX getting “acquired” by Binance after 48 hours of sniping between CZ and Sam Bankman Fried. It’s a complicated story but it basically amounts to a bank run. Crypto was having a JP Morgan moment that appeared to have been manifested as some kind of grudge match on Twitter. The financial markets largely seemed like they didn’t care.

But crypto isn’t even the big story of the day. It’s Election Day in America where the midterms have been hyped up into an existential crisis. Which seems like a stupid thing to do when you are bound to lose just based on past election history (the party is in power tends to lose the midterms) but whatever everything in American life is existential now.

I’ve been on a doomer beat for sometime. Not that I think everything is necessarily getting worse but rather a series of macro level trends are headed in the wrong direction. I’d like to continue to live a nice life. I see the bad moon rising. And I made a set of life choices to get my family to Montana. I’ve got a serious of predictions about what it might take to thrive in harder times. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit smug about having beat the rush. So stay strapped out there my friends.

Categories
Aesthetics Preparedness

Day 674 and Small Delights

I had a fantastic Friday. My husband was home after a week away. I drove to the airport to pick him up and we decided to make a low key date night of it.

I am focusing so much on little pleasures recently. I’m a teetoler for my health but there was a winter ale on Nitro and I just said fuck it I’d like to experience it. It was creamy perfection. The frothy texture giving way to a smooth dark ale.

We came home to a clean house and fresh sheets. Sinking into our recently improved linens was a perfect moment. Who doesn’t enjoy being extremely pleasant with smooth long fiber cotton? The texture of it alone.

It has been these little pleasures that remind my endocrine system that there is still a life to be lived. It reminds me to be present because if I give myself up the apocalyptic hum I am already living it. The Jackpot has already started. So I am giving myself these absorbing moments of presence.

Without them I’m not sure how I’d be without mindful recognizing the delights I still have. I feel like I’ve been ahead of doomer beat for a while and yet it’s all unfolding within the expected models. Sometimes a little bit worse. You see the scenarios and wonder which will unfold. Which careening variable sets off the Jackpot to a narrowing of humanity we can barely fathom.

I’m keeping my limbic system in check. I am working on not setting off my central nervous system into a sympathetic fight or flight pattern. I’d much prefer to be in rest and digest. I see so much energy being dedicated to fruitless ends. And I will not be lending those ends my energy or focus. Neither should you. Your mind is your own.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 665 and Solar

One of the projects we’ve been prioritizing for our Montana homestead is installing a solar array and a battery back up system. Having secondary power systems in case of an emergency seems sensible. As electricity and gas prices rise, and power grids look less stable, solar becomes less of a nice-to-have and more of a must-have for a resilient home.

I will admit I’ve got little technical talent and even less enthusiasm for gadgets and tinkering, so this project has been entirely directed by my husband Alex. But I thought it was worth documenting here even if I can take little credit for the project beyond insisting it get done immediately.

Digging a trench in our pasture to connect the future solar array to the house.

We had considered panels for our roof but we have a front pasture with more sunlight year round so Alex opted for a 13.92 Kw ground mount array made of 32 panels. They are bifacial panels so they pick up the solar radiation that bounces off the ground (eg from snow) on a tiltable grid so we can optimize the angle based on time of year – from 20 degrees in the summer to 60-70 in the winter.

Alex in the hole being dug for the wrest.

The array is expected to generate about 21 Mwh/year and fully offset our electricity usage. We will also be adding 20-30kwh of battery storage soon since you can’t expect it to be sunny every day.

Putting in wires and protecting bits & bobs

We’ve got a ways to go but I will say I have been extremely impressed with how quickly we were able to find a solar vendor and get the process going. We’ve got advantages in that we don’t need any permitting as we are in the country. We’ve got to think of the aesthetics for our neighbors (we will be hiding the array from road view with an aspen copse) but in general we can do what we like within reason. If you’ve been considering solar for environmental or preparedness reasons I’d get on it as soon as is feasible.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 661 and Existential Immobility

If everything is an existential fight, well I hate to break it to you, nothing is an existential fight. As the Russian war in Ukraine spirals out and the American midterm elections edge closer, I am having “existential” threat fatigue.

You’ve got generals making claims that if Ukraine falls the international order falls. You’ve got Republicans insisting that if the Democrats remain in control it’s the end of America. You’ve got Democrats insisting that Republicans are an existential threat to American democracy. That one might actually be true but that’s just my bias. Turns out we all think democracy is under threat we just don’t agree why. The varying degrees of panic are so palpable it’s impossible to untangle which chicken little is correct.

Our wood burning stove merrily making a start at our many cords of wood.

We’ve got a gorgeous snowstorm in Montana and I’m snuggly inside with a roaring fire, a roast chicken and friends. But if I do so much as look at the internet, I am quickly reminded entire world is falling apart. It is a persistent threat to my central nervous system. But I’m beginning to think that the real existential thread is how immobile everyone feels.

A roast chicken with potatoes in a cast iron skillet on top of a stove.

If the world is indeed on the precipice clearly we need more photos of roast chickens and warm fires. But that does feel like the existent it is possible to positively contribute. The deer in headlights feeling is slowly claiming us all like the Nothing in from the Neverending Story. And like Bastian I’m unsure if I should “do what you wish” or continue the search for meaning.

Categories
Preparedness Startups

Day 632 and The Yips

I think I might have a case of the yips. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s most commonly referred to as type of performance anxiety associated with experienced athletes. They suddenly find themselves unable follow through on techniques they otherwise know well.

Though as it turns out it’s not actually a form of anxiety at all, but rather a failure to consistently execute on muscle memory in experienced professionals which manifests as a loss of fine motor skills or a struggle to follow through on common chains of decision making, especially ones that are subconscious.

You might also associate it with analysis paralysis, a phenomenon in which someone has access to all relevant information but gets lost in decision making rather than simply acting on their reasonable informed instinct. One’s ability to simply execute what is in front of them is diminished not through lack of knowledge of experience but rather inaction.

I am an experienced startup operator. I am also a competent angel and early stage investor in private markets with a speciality in technology driven businesses. At this point, I’m not only well into my career with a number of concrete successes (I’ve built and sold companies) but I’ve also got generational memory from being the daughter of a startup operator. And yet I’m still nervous about swimming into the deep end of my investing career. I’ve got the the yips.

I hadn’t noticed that I had the yips till I came back from a wilderness medical incident technician certification course. I was doing a hands on course meant for front line first responders in rural and back country scenarios. It was heavy on scene and scenario execution so you could build muscle memory and quick response times.

In medical emergencies, especially in a wilderness context, you have limited resources and personnel. Acting swiftly with the knowledge and materials at hand is crucial. If you don’t take action, someone will die. Startups are famously resource constrained environments. Paul Graham of Y Combinator has an entire framework that assume you are default dead unless you take action to assure survival. This is as as applicable mindset for wilderness survival as it is for startups.

I had some sort of instinctual foresight that this wilderness medicine course would be useful not only practically in day to day life as someone who lives in Montana, but also as a mindset for my investing work on the chaotic thesis that the world is getting more complex. And that complexity has consequences for all of us.

The more chaotic the world, the harder it is to act with confidence as complexity builds.

Only by getting outside of my own skill set and professional world did I finally see how much I’m holding myself back from acting. Whether it is out of fear or analysis paralysis I do not know. But I do know that if one does not act the consequences can be dire. We are all default dead unless we make decisions to remain alive. There is no safety or progress to be found by staring at your problems and becoming overwhelmed by the challenge. If there is a cure for the yips it is to simply keep playing no matter how hard the game becomes.