Coping: UrbanSurvival’s Winter Planner

I hate to intrude on the sham and shambles of football, and all the other seasonal fall stuff going on, but in just a few weeks, the clocks will return to where God meant to set them and life will roll into Winter.

So this morning, a “thinking-ahead” piece so you can get a head-start on Winter this year,

To do this, we will be methodical, as always.  We will begin with “local data” then we’ll move on to actually use of those Seven Major Systems of Life that I’ve written so exhaustively about in The Millennial’s Missing Manual: What School Didn’t Teach and What Old People Didn’t Explain.

(Continues below)



Local Data First

Forget all the hoopla about this supposedly being the “second warmest year” according to NOAA.  Sure, if you don’t correct for Urban Heat Islanding, and other serious data influencers, you might be excused for buying in.

Instead, there are other tools – most of them local.  Meaning either at your fingertips or by opening your eyes.

On the fingertips, you might begin by looking at the solar cycle progress from the Space Weather Prediction folks up in Colorado.

A quick look says we are on the back-side of a solar cycle, and since the majority of X-class flares seem to cluster between the top and bottom of the backside, you might even jump to the conclusion that anyone writing about life-ending solar flares for the next five years is an idiot.  Based on the data.

Second thing to do is hit and look up their fine almanac section.  From the forecast page, hit the History tab and then look by under the “Get History” button.  Look for the word “Custom” – click that.

Your method here is simple:  Run out Jan 1, 2017 to October 19, 2017 and look at the heating and cooling days, the precip, and all the other items that relate to weather.

Jot a few numbers down, like Precip, and then change the date range to same period last year (tick 2016 in the year box) and run that.

Notice any variances?  That’s a first hint.

We have to use Tyler, TX data because Palestine doesn’t have the “grown up” weather station.  But Tyler had 6,292 growing degree days for the year and 32.12 inches of rain for the year to date (as of yesterday when I did this research).

When I ran out the data for 2016, I discovered there were 6,438 growing degree days.  So despite the hyper on “Climate change” the reason we’re not hiding under the bed, quaking, and getting ready to pay some BS “climate tax” scam, is that the DATA – which is what people of the scientific mindset live by – don’t just “swallow the pill” even if offered by Obama or Gore, know what I’m saying?

OK, so this year is running cooler and that gives us hope for snow – which we get every 5-10 years, or so.  (Secretly, I’ll tell you there’s a snow cycle related to the solar cycle so the highest odds will be in 3-4 years once we pass bottom, but that’s a three-beer discussion offline some of these days.)

Precip?   26.56 same period last year.  Again, makes sense:  Cooler air holds less water, so it has to come out of the sky and onto the ground – somewhere.

Of course, this isn’t perfect, but it’s a starting point.

Now you go look at Nature’s indicators.  Our local deer herd had several fawns born in early September this year. which is later than usual.  That might mean something, but I’m no woodsy guy.  I do know that the cats (the wild one we feed in the driveway culvert and Zeus the Cat, are both putting on pounds.

And the birds left earlier than normal.  Three weeks earlier, in fact.

Taken as a whole, this suggests winter will continue Wet, a bit cooler than last year, maybe snow (a year or three out is more likely), and the birds are looking for warmer climes early.

Then  Google for a list of United States Blizzards.  Note that the frequency of blizzards may be increasing not because of actual weather, but because of media inventions like “lake effect snow” (to explain a phenomenon that has been around since the Laurentide glacial retreat) to give it more media hype/danger/thrill/eyeballs and advertiser zing.

Somewhere in here, I should mention that climate has been warming since sea level was 300 feet lower than it is now and it had nothing to do with cow farts, Al Gore, of the carbon exchange that Obama assured when he was an Illinois state lawmaker.

Just depends on where you want to set the zoom on Ure telescope and how much tolerance you have for opportunistic political bullshit which is aimed at stealing the efforts of your hard work from you and giving it to someone else.  You may be more gullible than me – in  which case you’re likely younger.  So we move on.

The Seven Major Systems

Now we will plug in our Seven Major Systems and crank out an “instant plan” to be totally prepared for this winter.  It’s shocking how few people do this.  The seven systems that keep your life going are Food, shelter, transportation, communication, energy, environment, and finance.

Let’s apply them to planning for Winter, shall we?

Food:  Ah, the cooler days.  The shopping around here rolls from the lighter foods of summer to the pot roasts, slow-cooked burgundy beef stew, clam chowder (*starts with half a pound of diced bacon and then uses two quarts of Half & Half…) to the hot oatmeal breakfast instead of the breakfast burritos.

That reminds me, is this the year to buy a Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator?  What’s a grand to a geezer?

Most prominent in our shopping list as a seasonal change indicator? Harvey’s Hot Butter Rum Batter 12 Oz Tub (2 Pack). I happen to like a shot of Braveheart 92 spiced rum but if you’re on the wagon, I’m good with that.  The mix is still great with just plain hot water (and just out of the oven “special” brownies…).

Shelter:  (as in gimme some <–crank this up!).  Time to check insulation around the doors.  Fix or replace as needed.  Cleaned the gutters lately?  Downspouts in good repair and leading water away from the house?

Next trip to Lowe’s (or Home Despots) pick up three times more outdoor faucet covers than you need.  The wind will take care of any excess.

In case of a wintertime broken pipe, this is when we pick up the annual tubs of hot-set PVC pipe glue.  I don’t care who says the stuff will last unopened a couple of years:  I haven’t seen it yet.  Get fresh primer, too.  You’ll need extra because it gets all over everything…

Energy:  If you have a complicated thermostat, time to check programming when the time change comes.  If this means finding the manual?  You needed to start looking in May.

If you waited this late in the year to buy firewood for the insert or stove, you screwed up again.  But cheaper now than December, eh?  Ben Dover’s wood stand opens January Fools Day.

Do you have a backup heating source for your home if the electricity goes out for a long period of time?

How about topping up Propane and Oil now instead of when the tank is dry?  Are late winter prices higher?  D’uh. (Come on, you have to be able to work some of this stuff out…)

TransportationAnnual windshield wiper blade change time is here, along with an oil change while we’re at it and drain the coolant and put in -30 to -50 protection while Ure at it, too.  It’s only money, right?

Got a tire strategy?  Studded, or not?  I’m a fan of outlawing studs, except when I’ve been in Alaska in the winter, they are GREAT on compact snow.  Much quieter than chains.

On the other hand, if you do go with a set of cable chains:  $31 bucks like the Security Chain Company SC1032 Radial Chain Cable Traction Tire Chain – Set of 2,   that sounds like cheap insurance to us.

Also, how’s your Triple A membership?  Or, if you live in the same city with your children?  And, do they know how to fix your tires if you’re too old to mess with that?  And will they answer?

Environment: Oh boy.  Fall is a good time to get the septic work done.  Hasn’t been raining too bad and it’s much better to get the septic pumped before it’s too late.  Ever dig out a septic access when it’s snowing?

Good time to do Fall House Cleaning.  Books to the library, trips to the dump.

Got space heaters for the shop?  Run through Amazon and Rockler for winter woodworking tools.  Tell yourself it’s already Christmas.

We’ve already worn out a belt/disk sander so Santa may come early and bring me a WEN 6502 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 6-Inch Disc Sander with Cast Iron Base.  Good Santa.

Visit Lowes and Home Despots for sheet goods before the local Monsoons.  (Sheltered lives idiot hint: Sheet goods is what grown-ups call plywood, Formica/WilsonArt, plasterboard, backer-board, roofing tin, and so forth).  Sheet goods are a PITA to move in the rain.  Ask how we know?

Paper products:  Seasonal use of paper towels goes up in Fall and Winter.  Stock extras.

And then there’s the leaf blower.  If you haven’t gotten your gas blower back from the shop yet, you’re probably screwed for another year.

Plan to read the weather forecasts to find days when the wind is at your back (north winds for us) so the wind will do part of the work blowing leaves for you.  Explain this to your spouse so they’ll appreciate your attention to detail.


Communications:  Listening to far-away radio stations on the AM band at night is a special treat when the summer lightning is taking the rest of the year off.   We keep our Tecsun PL-660 Portable AM/FM/LW/Air Shortwave World Band Radio with Single Side Band, Black at the beside along with the 2-meter Baofeng and Kenwood TH6F radios.

Be sure to put new batteries in your Midland WR120 NOAA Weather and All Hazard Public Alert Certified Radio with SAME, Trilingual Display and Alarm Clock .

And if you’re a serious ham radio type (de ac7x) then it’s time to put up the winter’s wire antenna assortment and check your SWR on all the antennas while the weather is still good enough to work on them.

We’re about two weeks out from tower work here.  New raising cable has been  ordered for the crank-up tower and a new battery and MMPT charge controller for the DC crank-up part.  Amazing improvements in ham radio crank-up tower affordability these days thanks to cheap, high-powered ATV winches with brakes.  Ideal for the overweight, lazy, but thoughtful ham.

Finance:  We expect the markets to fall in the Fall.  But you knew that.  Just some years are more fall than Fall while others (like this one) may be more Fall than fall, but we shall see.

Fall out now – we’re done, where’s Spring?  Meet back here Monday morning, same time, same, uh….hmmm….er…..had it here somewhere.  AHA!

Write when you get rich!

9 thoughts on “Coping: UrbanSurvival’s Winter Planner”

  1. George, funny you should mention indicators of nature. I have been at the same address, here in Oregon, for 30 years now and have never seen the squirrels and chipmonks so active in gathering a winter supply of acorns as I have this year. It is the best show in town! Haven’t pumped my septic in over 25 years, I assume it must matter what type of ground it is put in. Also am VERY careful about what goes into it. Not rich yet, but I have all I need.

  2. I would add: get rolling stock such as dollies, piano dollies and carts ready to bring in plants, and have the space ready. Otherwise face the annual last minute panic as the cold front blows in.

  3. I live in an older one bedroom apartment that is well insulated as proven by week long power outage from ice storm. The duct work is nasty fiberboard instead of metal and is coated with decades of dust which makes my allergies go bonkers. I only turn on the central system when absolutely necessary in summer for cooling.

    In winter, I heat my home with two space heaters. This dropped my averaged monthly power bill by about 15%. I love these heaters as do my cats one of which lies down in contact with it sometimes. The cabinet stays cool to the touch, runs on 120V and are easy to open up for cleaning. Made in Canada and available retail or Ebay.

  4. We’re in the latter part of October and the geese have not yet flown south, but flocks are forming and eating in the wheat fields of Canada. This week a temperature of 17 Celcius has been forecast for Edmonton, Alberta.

  5. The beavers in our area (NW Montana) are predicting yet another harsh winter with their extensive dam building. Dang~ we were hoping for a little break this winter.

  6. “How about topping up Propane and Oil now instead of when the tank is dry? Are late winter prices higher? ”
    Around the Cottage I Pre purchase when prices are low..Its almost always a sure way to save a few copper coins..

  7. “That reminds me, is this the year to buy a Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator?”

    Wife is going to shoot me or maybe end up having a situation where one will be needed after she finds out that I actually ordered a second one for the cottage.. going to put one in the garage and keep the one for the house..
    Kind of like tires.. I won’t let tires get to the point of no return same way with maintenance.. I have precious cargo riding in them cars.

  8. Pretty good trick getting 6,292 growing days from one year with just 365 days. I guess everything is bigger in Texass.

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