Just-In-Time is for suckers…

My grandparents were products of living through a Depression and a couple of world wars in the heart of what was then Appalachian coal country. They picked of some quirky habits that I always attributed to being young during those times.

The minor eccentricity I remember clearly was my grandmother’s insistence on using a tea bag well past the point where it would just barely turn a cup of hot water vaguely tea-colored. Another was the jar of soap slivers that would eventually be re-pressed into a “new” multi-hued bar of soap. Waste not, want not, I suppose.

In the basement, though, through the door that separate the finished part from the rest, in the far corner was a room that wasn’t quite cold enough to be a fruit cellar and not quite finished enough to be a walk-in closet. That room was where the canned goods were stockpiled. If it was a food product they put in a can any time between 1965-1990, I have to believe you could find it in there. As late as the early 1990s, I’m absolutely sure I saw cans come out of that room with “best by” dates in the early 70s. No one ever died of food poisoning from a home cooked meal there, so I don’t suppose any of it was the worse for wear.

Having come of age myself in the halcyon days of Regan-era plenty, as a kid I never quite understood the virtue of having a room full of canned goods. After living through the dawn of the Great Plague, though, I feel like I’m starting to understand the undeniable beauty of having large stacks of things that could become unexpectedly scarce.

And now that it’s coming back in stock, it’s why over the last few weeks I’ve been making sure I’ll never again be caught with less than 100 rolls of two-ply Charmin.

As if I needed any more proof that my inner child is a slightly eccentric 75-year-old man.

You’ll be glad you did…

You can’t miss the funny, funny toilet paper memes. I got it. Large numbers of people pummeling each other in the grocery store isles is good humor, I don’t deny it.

I’ll be the first to agree with you that panic buying is stupid. With that said, I think it’s stupid for reasons different than “coronavirus doesn’t cause you to die of shitting yourself.” For me, the rolling of eyes is triggered more by looking at people who don’t already have a “safety stock” of items essential to keeping a household running for a few days, a few weeks, months, a year or more depending on what your risk tolerance and budget will support.

I know some real, honest to God end of the world prepper types. I’m not even close to being in their league. I’ve got no interest in taking it to that level. They’re legitimately trying to be prepared for the collapse of civilization. It’s not out of the realm of the possible, but I’m not entirely convinced I want to hang around for that party. My personal cognitive bias tends towards the belief that over time, things will trend towards that status quo… that tomorrow will be more or less the same as yesterday. I could also be 100% wrong about that assumption.

I’m extremely comforted in knowing that if, for some reason, I needed to button up Fortress Jeff for a period of a few weeks or a month or two, I could get along without any significant impact on my standard of living. We could probably hold out a bit longer than that if I did a little rationing. It’s the level of insurance and peace of mind that I’m comfortable with maintaining over the long term.

Because I’ve done a little advance planning and bought extras a few items at a time, there’s no need for panic buying. My regular shopping trips involve simply replacing what I’ve used from week to week to maintain the baseline – usually a few canned goods, some fresh mean and vegetables, dog or cat food, and so on. Keeping a bit of extra on hand just makes good sense. When everyone else is panicking and buying up 54-packs of Charmin, you can smile, make another cup of coffee, and get on with your day.

Next time you make your weekly grocery list, add a few extra items that are good for long term storage. Buy stuff you know you’ll use anyway. Try having a little bit of a plan that extends beyond the next three to five days. At some point, because of flood, fire, snow, or pandemic, you’ll be glad you did.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Meticulous devotion to the speed limit. OK, we get it. You’re an upright citizen, an honest taxpayer, and love your mother and apple pie. Those are all fine and good qualities to have, but it would be just terrific if you could move 20 feet to your right and have them somewhere other than puttering along in the passing lane. I know I’m a scofflaw and dangerous hoodlum, but Lord God Almighty just move your ass and let the rest of us get on with our day.

2. The definition of common knowledge. Any internet site that offers “12 things you didn’t know about X” is almost certain to involve more clicks than reading their article is worth. I usually avoid them to the maximum extent possible. Occasionally, though, some click bait is too tempting to resist. That usually involves the ones promising to teach me something new. Unfortunately, I read, I pay attention to details, and in general I’m aware of my surroundings. I also have a genuinely curious mind that thrives on the acquisition of new knowledge… So if you could go beyond general knowledge when creating your links to “things you don’t know about” that would be great

3. The incredible shrinking TP. I’m quite sure I didn’t suddenly start using more Charmin. I played along when they made the rolls narrower. Now it seems they’re putting less on each roll. The price, of course, is the same as it ever was. Maybe it would be ok to just plus up the price a few cents to keep up with inflation and stop fucking with it. Honest to god, I’m going to have to start researching where to get what use to be standard sized rolls of toilet paper. Then I’ll rent a warehouse and stockpile the damned stuff

Attention citizens…

Attention Citizens of Maryland,

We live slightly to the south of the 39°43′ N parallel marked by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in 1767. Due to our geographic position in the northern hemisphere, we can, from time to time, expect that frozen precipitation will fall out of the sky and in accordance with the basic laws of physics, come to rest upon the ground. When it occurs in quantity, this natural phenomenon is colloquially know as a “snow storm.” Like its warmer, wetter cousin the “rain storm,” this is a perfectly natural event and tends to occur regularly during the months of December, January, February, and even March.

These storms, particularly the ones that take place late in the season tend largely to be quick hitters – lasting for a day or two at most before melting off because the ambient air temperature is well above freezing. Now I’m not a fancy, big city weather forecaster, but it strikes me that calling for wall-to-wall news coverage of a rainy day seems silly. I’m not sure why doing the same thing for snow is really any different… and yet, somehow, it is obviously considered a completely different animal.

So, my fellow citizens, here’s the thing: If you’re panicking right now, running to the supermarket to stock up on six metric tons of toilet paper, or driving across the state for a snow blower, you’re a moron. Every time there’s snow in the offing, the news gins up video of people lined up buying shovels, ice scrapers, and salt from their local big box store. In my mind, that only begs the question: Who are all these people who up until now have had no need for a shovel or a scraper? I’ve had the same “snow preparedness kit” since I moved into my first “grown up” apartment. Same shovel. Same scraper. No salt (because it’s mostly just a pain in the ass that ends up with more in the house than on the driveway). Is it really possible that so many people have never before had the need for a snow shovel or the means of clearing ice off their windshields. I’m just saying. It’s not like these are items that are consumed in use or their technology is getting better every year, so the one you bought for the last storm will work just fine for this one.

Maybe I’ve missed the point. I suppose if one shovel is good, having three or four must be better. And certainly every vehicle on the road needs half a dozen ice scrapers. I guess I’ve just never caught the bug for panic buying. You’ll eventually use all 300 rolls of Charmin, but running out and picking them up because it’s going to snow is an activity that’s simply lost on me. Still, we’re a mostly free people, so go forth and hoard if that’s what you think needs done in the face of nature’s “wrath.” I’ll be here with my feet up judging you and mocking your all too predictable asshattery.

Kind regards,


Older, fatter, and balder…

In the face of “impending weather catastrophes” it seems that everyone becomes an older, fatter, and balder version of their 12 year old self… with the most prominent questions of the day focused on pondering the mysteries of how and when a decision might be made to close the office and whether it’s best to pick up a cubic yard of toilet paper after work or wait to the early hours of the morning to make a market run. Since I’m already taking the day off Monday, the question is pretty much academic… unless the whole system slows down and doesn’t start rolling in until late in the day Monday or very early Tuesday morning. What I’m really looking for here is a healthy dose of mayhem and chaos, by which I mean enough to extend the weekend, but not enough to cause a disruption in the power supply… because let’s face it, a day with no electricity isn’t really any better than a day at work.

Select “Panic” in 5…4…3…2…

So you guys may have seen that the media are making a big stink about the impending hurricane of doom that will be sure to devastate the East Coast over the weekend. Judging from the current models and from watching these things semi-professionally for the better part of the last ten years, I’m more inclined to think that eastern Maryland will end up getting a little soggy on Sunday and maybe have a few branches blown around if things “get bad.” That said, there’s always the off chance that this thing doglegs left and shoves a wall of water directly up the Chesapeake. That would fall directly in the category of Situation Other than Good. With the track edging east with every model run, that unhappy outcome seems less and less likely.

What seems more likely at this point is that the regional weather personalities and newscasters are going to whip the local indigenous population into frenzy by close of business Friday regardless of what the reality looks like. What this means is that every idiot with a pickup truck, a car, or a moped is going to come out of the woodwork and descend on Walmart, Costco, and every grocery store within driving distance and buy six gallons of milk, two dozen eggs, five loaves of Wonder bread, and a metric ton of toilet paper. I ordinarily don’t begrudge anyone their pre-apocalyptic stockpile, except in this case their panic is going to conflict with my normal grocery shopping schedule.

In the event that this was an actual emergency, I’d be the first to institute the no harm, no foul rule, but in the case of purely fictitious disaster, I’m less inclined to give stupid people the benefit of the doubt. My inclination at the moment is to go ahead and make due this weekend by drawing down my own fairly impressive stockpile. Sadly, like Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, I just don’t know if I can stay away from the spectacle of so many asshats gathered in so few places. I know I shouldn’t, but I might not be able to keep myself from going to watch the spectacle first hand.