37 thoughts on “Cheetah”

  1. Whenever you buy your walk-in cooler, I guess you know about the CoolBot, that turns an off-the-shelf digital air conditioner into a walk-in cooler compressor. ($349 at Johnnyseeds. The CoolBot Pro has WiFi connectivity for $399.) It looks like some people just build a super-insulated room instead of buying the cooler too.

    1. Yep. I have friends who installed CoolBots and they work well. I live in a climate with few extremes so a well insulated space might be almost enough most of the year. Add a CoolBot and some solar panels and it could work. I had an accidental experiment during a five day power cut in the last big forest fire. My deep freezers never warmed enough for the stuff inside to defrost. So there’s that…

  2. I have been stunned at the inflexibility in the supply chain that has been revealed so far. Somehow because we aren’t eating in restaurants, and relieving ourselves at the office, there is a shortage of certain types of food and toilet paper for home use, even as surpluses rot away.

    But I have also long wondered why some of the stuff we buy — flour, pasta, spices, etc etc doesn’t come in reusable containers. Fill it up, and take it home — far less waste.

    Well, here is the chance. Open a storefront, buy the commercial sized items, and stick it in the reusable containers to order.

    1. I’m not at all surprised by wobbly supply chains – although they seem to be self-correcting quickly. I’m not surprised by how unprepared most households are either. After a few seasons of massive floods, hurricanes, and forest fires people should have gotten on board. But nope. Everyone is shocked! Shock I tell you! Nothing is ever supposed to go wrong…

      1. LOL. The day I heard about the first big pork plant closing for Covid-19, I told my wife that we would probably see stories about meat shortages.

        That night she went out and bought a couple of weeks’ worth of meat on top of the couple of weeks’ worth we were already keeping, and she ordered some of our favorites from the local farm-direct vendor (not a lot…we don’t eat 8 oz. each per night). Several days later the Today show started talking about the meat crisis.

          1. Agreed. The point is, we knew beef, lamb, and poultry wouldn’t be far behind…all big meatpacking plants have had similar issues now.

            We don’t do sides or quarters of beef since it would take forever to eat up. Hence the local farm-direct online meat market.

            We do also eat fish and cheese for protein. We are not tofu people. And she can’t do beans and rice concoctions (though I prepare a gallon or more from bulk ingredients and freeze for lunches and on-my-own nights).

      2. This most certainly so, when one (or the many) bow in awed supplication to the many-faced god who’d name is Progress .. mindless, and forever upward, externalities aside.

        1. Progress, to me, is picking fresh fruit of one’s own tree or vine. Progress is giving honeybees a home, honey for the human only if in excess. Progress is maintaining a year’s supply of garden compost, in advance .. courtesy of the hens, and our kitchen. Progress is baking fresh bread from scratch – grinding one’s own grain, utilizing home-nurtured sourdough starter. Point is, as there are many ways towards greater self-reliance, without bending to every ephemeral syren call to what currently passes for the ‘Modern American Dream’. Keep those precious kernels, but discard the us from less chaff where at all possible.

  3. Just wanted to chime in with another option – Azure Standard. Especially for those into the natural/organic thing. There is the occasional frustration with something going out of stock between ordering and shipping (grumble, grumble), and they only deliver once a month, but their selection is great (toilet paper to flour to chicken feed to soap) and their prices are reasonable. Thought people mike like another tool for the toolkit.

  4. Just thought I’d chime in with another option to add to the list – Azure Standard. Has some quirks with stuff going out of stock between ordering and shipping (especially right now), but if you are into the natural/organic thing it’s a valuable tool for the toolkit. Only delivers once per month on certain routes, but they’ve got everything from toilet paper to chicken feed to soap to 5 lb blocks of cheese.

  5. Having a deep pantry and a garden is great and as you point out, it makes sense to seek out and support alternative food suppliers (like Cheetah), even in the best of times. But if it ever gets chronic (i.e. Venezuela), no amount of preps can save you. Well, unless you want to be a subsistence farmer in a failed state.

    Therefore, I’m more focused on financial preparedness (diverse hard assets, aka “dry powder”), hard skills, community (soft skills) and second homes. Not actual homes, but alternative places I could reasonably pick up sticks and move to. What is reasonable? Family ties, cultural affinity, economic opportunity and legal status.

    The Pacific Northwest is my plan B if California really starts to swirl the drain. I have tons of family there going back generations. It’s beautiful obviously. States and cities vary, but on the whole, it’s well managed. However, the region is likely to share its fate with California, more or less. I have no strong family ties outside the West Coast, but I love New England.

    Outside the U.S., I love the Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand), but they’re tough to immigrate to. So, Europe is my plan C, via Italian dual citizenship. Living in Italy is nice, if you can work remote. I would love it, but not sure my family could adjust, even in a relatively international city like Milan. As part of the EU, I could live in Ireland, which is a much better cultural match, but has gloomy weather. And so on…

    Anyhow, sorry for the off topic novella, but I really can’t vet theses ideas with anybody in my circle without getting the crazy prepper 1000 yard stare. Keep on blogging about these topics!

    1. The 2008 financial crash “should” have demonstrated the risks of debt and buying more than is really needed. It didn’t. Multiple massive forest fires in California and elsewhere “should” have taught folks the value of emergency preparedness and Plan B options. It didn’t. Covid-19 “should” be teaching people the value of a deep pantry. It doesn’t seem to be… The pervasive cultural narrative is that everything bounces back and there’s no need to change anything. Everything is FINE. Shrug.

  6. ” ….but he understood the bubble was in search of a pin”

    Now that is a nifty turn of phrase. I’m not going to be able to resist using it myself.

    1. Wheat (before it is ground into flour) has an incredibly long shelf life so long as it’s stored in a cool, dry, dark place in a sealed container. But flour begins to go off after some months depending on the conditions. You can still use it, but the quality deteriorates with time.

    1. Mushrooms can be stored in ordinary jars for a reasonable amount of time, but they need to be bone dry and in a fairly dry environment. I vacuum sealed most of this batch to keep the moisture out. I love mushrooms and incorporate them in to many dishes so for me it’s not a problem.

        1. Yes it’s a food saver. I use it for select items. It does a much better job of sealing food compared to plastic wrap or zip-lock bags. I inherited mine from an old friend, but they’re inexpensive enough and don’t take up much room.

  7. In my market, Denver, construction is going gangbusters, housing prices are still creeping up, and inventory is low. It remains a sellers’ market. The only change I’ve seen here is realtors commenting that single-family suburban homes are more sought out now than city center condos/townhomes: less density but still close to supplies of food & household items.

    Telecommuting is changing where we want to live.

    1. People who talk about the ease of telecommuting are right for the folks who have jobs and living arrangements that accommodate remote work. But there are a whole lot of people who actually have to show up and do something physical. What I expect is increasing market segmentation. McMansions in gated communities and trailer parks. Luxury condos and crappy garden apartment complexes. People having everything delivered and people with long commutes in fifteen year old cars with seven year auto loans. In other words – more of the same, only more so…

      1. You already see tradesmen from out-of-state living in trailers for six month stints to make money in Californy. The other thing being built/acquired is low-income housing which is difficult to get.

        If you’re shopping for used restaurant equipment, be sure to get something for slashing and hacking.

  8. There’s a cost to being overly prepared too. It’s a bit like buying a Cadillac insurance plan when you are a healthy person. Those premiums are mighty dear.

    1. If I were going in to debt to buy this level of “insurance” I’d agree with you. If the opportunity cost was heavier than it is I’d agree with you. But in my situation it’s a trade-off between food I eat every day anyway that might support me in a crisis compared to… what? Buying a plasma TV? We’re talking about extra groceries here.

      And for the record, I know several young healthy people who came down with seriously bad illnesses. The ones who had deluxe insurance were glad they had it. The ones who didn’t had a much harder time of it.

      1. Johnny, do you use any rubrics for determining how to build your resiliency, and/or whether something is worth pursuing? Another commenter recently linked to, which uses a simple permaculture style “zones and sectors” map overlaid with linkages between key systems; it seems like a useful framework but I would be interested to hear if you have one (or more) mental models for this sort of thing.

        1. I’ve explored many such where-should-you-relocate maps over the years. Here’s my conclusion… People gravitate toward maps that reflect their pre-existing biases. If you hate big cities (and the kinds of people who live in them) you self-select to the maps that prioritize being as far away as possible from population centers. If you’re a peacenik you gravitate toward Left-leaning states. If you’re a gun loving from-my-cold-dead-hands patriot you want the Mountain West, Texas, or the Deep South. If you’re a crunchy hippie type you choose the maps that direct you to Vermont or the Pacific Northwest.

          I already know where I want to live. There’s a crescent from Northern California up and over the top of the country from Portland and Seattle over to the Great Lakes and to New England. So the maps I rely on tell me things I don’t already know, like where are the flood plains, the highest fire risks, the earthquake faults, and so on. I’m not opposed to nuclear power at all, but I still don’t want to live next door to one.

          1. Good answer but I was asking something completely different. The map page I linked to is a _mental_ map of threats (hunger, cold, etc.) and the systems we rely on (garden, grocery store, food distribution system, etc.) to avoid those threats, organized by how much we can impact them, and how they impact each other.

            I am not moving either, I just want to do a decent job of planning and hedging where I am.

            1. My interpretation of the – mental – map remains the same. People read the mental map and project all their pre-existing biases just the same. I’m often amused by hippies doing things that are traditionally associated with hard core conservative preppers – and vice versa. I’m always intrigued by the overlaps.

              1. I grew up in Humboldt County. Seeing hippies and right-wing folks overlap was a pretty routine thing. Not sure the hippies and right-winger’s always noticed, but I did.

                One of the funniest times was watching this guy with a bicycle on the Arcata plaza. All his camping gear was on the bike and he was towing a trailer with this parabolic-reflector solar oven he’d designed and built himself. He was baking bread in it and giving out samples, along with photocopies of the construction plans. It was a really nice design, and all kinds of conservative looking folks were talking to him about. I think one guy offered to do marketing for him, but the dude said he wasn’t selling anything, just trying to share what he knew.

    2. I understand what you’re saying, but I reject it. A huge part of the problem we have is two or three generations of that sort of thinking. One of the early crises from the Covid epidemic was a lack of PPE gear in hospitals. Lots of finger pointing, but basically, it came down to hospital administrators not wanting to pay to keep extra stock on hand, assuming state and local authorities would have an emergency stockpile. The state and local authorities assumed the feds would have stockpiles. The feds didn’t replenish the stockpiles after SARS-1 because, well, shouldn’t hospitals have their own reserves?

      Basically, every one is assuming someone else will have the spare capacity to get them through if things go seriously wrong. It’s a very fragilista way of doing things.

      What is your plan if something goes very, very wrong? If that plan involves someone else coming to your aid, what are you doing to make sure they are actually able to do that?

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