Hoarding? Or planning ahead

Even though I work in retail, like many I was caught a bit flat-footed when the panic buying hit this Spring.  For several weeks it was touch and go whether or not my wife and I were going to have adequate supplies of our preferred paper products in the house.  Not to mention what became ‘big-ticket’ items like hand sanitizer and hand soap.

Since then, things have gotten a bit better in terms of supplies being in the stores on a more anticipated basis, though paper towels are invariably in short supply as well as limited in variety no matter where you go. 

This week there have been rumblings about a ‘second wave’ of rationing because of the uptick of COVID cases in this area as well as elsewhere.   On our most recent shopping trip, I, being the retail veteran, noticed the signs that have reappeared on certain items in the store, warning shoppers that they’re limited to 1 or 2 of paper towels, toilet paper, peanut butter and other things that have up to now been somewhat plentiful enough to allow almost unlimited buying.

As for myself, in the past couple of months I’ve been upping our supply of paper products as well as other long-term shelf stable items in case of unexpected shortages.  Now some might see that as ‘hoarding’ but I wasn’t buying toilet paper or paper towels 4 and 5 multi-packs at a time.  Nor have I been cleaning out the canned good section regularly.   If anything, it could be said that I’ve been engaging in limited purchases to bolster our bottom line, and permit our neighbors to do the same, all the while not spending any more than we can afford, in order to better survive what’s coming in the next several months. 

Obviously we’re not ogres here.  If a neighbor happened to come to the door and say they needed to ‘borrow’ something we had in abundance, we’d share.   But even so, we’re in a position where it makes sense to plan ahead, and have adequate supplies to get us through if we can, without breaking the bank in the process. 

I actually thought about getting a chest freezer and filling it, but in that retrospect, we’d end up probably not using it correctly and it would become something that would cost more than it was worth.  We eat out enough (take-out) that I’m not exclusively cooking from home, and don’t require large amounts of frozen meat, vegetables and so on.  The small freezer above the refrigerator has been good enough for the past 20 years, it should be enough going forward.  Unless I take a couple of cooking classes and suddenly decide to buy a half a cow that needs to be stored for the long term.  But I don’t see that occurring.

Suffice it to say, I feel better prepared for the next couple of months than I did back in March and April.  And that’s saying something.

Onset of Fall

(9/15) I woke up this morning for work and discovered via my iPad it was 38°F outside.  38!  Ai yi yi.  It may be Summer by the calendar but that’s not a typical Summer temperature for sure.

With the change in the weather, more things come to mind that needs to be done to get ready for that other bug-a-boo, old Man Winter.  The garage needs to be rearranged to make room for the car, hopefully, earlier than I usually do it, which tends to be before the first or second snowfall of the year.  At that point, I take just about everything that’s crowded on the main part of the garage, shove it into the corners and sides, and make a car-sized space in the middle, just big enough for the vehicle to reside.  Then uncover the snowblower, make certain it starts and everything stays put for the most part until Spring.  And the cycle starts anew.  As soon as it’s warm enough, the car comes out, the garage is repopulated somewhat by junk and the car stays outside for the warm weather.

Like most years, about this time I think I’m going to change that narrative.  Since June, I’ve been meaning to get out to the garage, pull out just about everything in it and start sorting, rearranging, and seeing if I can make it neater, even have considered buying some storage solutions and either attaching them to the walls or building upwards from the floor with adjustable wire shelving similar to the ones that I purchased for our pantry in the past twelve months.

This seemed to be a better solution than my other idea, which involved woodworking.  Building a shelving unit from hardware (2×4’s, screws, and plywood) might end up being the cheaper route, but my woodworking skills are basic at best, and I’m not terribly confident that what I built would hold up under load for a long period of time.  So more than likely it would be cost-prohibitive in the long run if I went with something made of steel.

As is normally the case with my posts, they start at one point and end up being finished at another. It’s now Wed Sep 23 and Autumn has arrived.  We’ve already had 2 nights when the mercury dipped below the 32°F threshold and it was required that we either bring in potted plants or cover ones that we wished to save.  The garage has been populated with the pots and both the old blue sheet and ratty canvas dropcloth have been pressed into service to salvage the marigolds and the backyard flowers that cannot be moved.marigolds-2020.jpg

Suffice it to say we can’t keep that up forever.  At some point we’ll determine it’s time to let the annuals be frost-killed and remove them from the planter and backyard beds, preparing them for the winter slumber.  Soon enough I’ll be giving the lawns one good last mow and put away the mower for the year.  Raking leaves and putting them to the curb for the village to collect.  I’ve already started looking for a lawn service to clear out the brush pile behind the garage.  That needs to go as well.  I’m sure our neighbors behind us would agree.  They actually put up a fence to obscure it.

Three months to go until Winter.

Flight Ops

More than a few birthdays ago, my wife bought me a drone.  It wasn’t one of those fancy-schmancy deals you see on websites, it was more of a teenager’s style, built for rough and tumble, and accidents aplenty.  It had a basic 2 MP camera/video capability and came with extra rotor blades in case the originals were damaged or destroyed during use.

I remember messing around with it, and a couple of times almost getting it caught on the roof of the house, as well as into trees, the neighbor’s yard, and so on, reminding me that I probably needed to find a big open field somewhere for flying, but never really did.  After about a week of playing with it, I got tired of not being very good at flying and put it back into its box and set it aside.

Fast forward to about five years.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about dragging the drone out and seeing about messing around with it again.  I remember purchasing a few extra batteries soon after getting it, along with a multiple battery charger so that I wouldn’t have to wait an hour between flights.  The drone originally came with 2 batteries, so I bought 3 more to increase the flying time from 18 minutes to 45.  Since each battery takes approximately 40-45 minutes to charge, it would help me to continually swap them in and out almost indefinitely, or at least until I got tired of crashing the drone into things.  Or until I got better at flying.

Over the past week, I’ve been taking it out for an hour or so at a time.  Since it’s a very lightweight drone, I’ve had to gauge the wind, since even a 5-7 mph breeze can have a marked effect on the flight abilities of the thing.  Too, I don’t have a lot of places I can fly it, and there are obstacles I have to maneuver around.  Like trees.  And the roofs of this house and the neighbor houses.  With limited battery time, if I happened to get it stuck, it’s going to be there awhile.  I’m not about to rent a cherry picker to get it off a 2-story roof due to pilot error.  Or stupidity.

Needless to say, there’s room for improvement.  Like other things I’ve gotten interested in, there have been thoughts of upgrades.  But for now, I think with winter coming on, it might be best just to consider maybe increasing the flight time little by little, before going for major upgrades, like a newer, more expensive drone.  Considering finding a different place to fly it around here has proved problematic.