(Continued from Part 3. This concludes the article.)
Rain Gauge – Once you fall in love with those metric grams, go ahead and toss that $1.95 plastic rain gauge which has an error factor of +/- 92%, and switch to a five-gallon bucket so you can weigh the precipitation instead. Use your Sharpie to write the grams-to-inches conversion number right on the bucket so you can record rainfall in hundredths of inches such as 1.89”. This rainfall info will help you to more accurately calculate how much you receive each month, which months are the dry months, and how large of a rain-catchment system you’ll need after that EMP blasts us back to 1753 and the grid goes down forever. And that teeny-weenie little 2032 disc battery the scale uses which you have to tilt just right in the light after retrieving your reading glasses so you can read the number? Use your Sharpie to write “2032” right on the little battery door so a guy with stage 3 cataracts can read it by moonlight from ten paces.
Mason Jar Lids – Since frugal preppers are already reusing their mason jar lids and the spendthrifts will be reusing them after the Crunch which should occur sometime during the Harris administration, continue to write on your lids with a Sharpie but in a different way than you’re doing now. We can tell by the visual aspects that this is tomato sauce and those are potatoes so there’s really no need to write that all out. When you write “St. Funogas Totally Awesome Blackberry Jam” on each lid, your friends and family are going to want to know who the heck St. Funogas is, and secondly, it’s going to be a real pain to get all that off when you reuse the lid on your Totally Fantabulous Green Tomato/Apple Chutney. When it’s obvious what the contents are, I use a small coded letter beneath the brand name of the lid to help conceal it. The letters are A-J and represent the year that product was canned. A = 1 (2021), B = 2, etc. and J = 0. This not only makes it easier to know the age of the contents, but if you leave it in place when you write the next year’s letter, you’ll know how many times the lid has been used which will give you certain bragging rights at your local post-TEOTWAWKI Canning Club meetings.
Appliance Wattage – You spent $32 on that awesome Kill-A-Watt meter or the less expensive $21 Poniie PN1500 to see how much power each of your electrical apparati are using in a month. Instead of writing that info on a 3 x 5 card which will be illegible after the pants pocket you leave it in goes through the wash, get out your Sharpie and write it right on the appliance in a discrete location. My refrigerator usage (19½ kWh/month) is written on that little metal plate inside the fridge which has all the electrical information. This individual appliance info will help when planning your move to off-grid so you can know how many kW hours you’ll be saving when you toss the electric coffee grinder or how much it will take to run your motorized grain mill. It will also let you estimate how many hours that new marine battery will keep the 88-watt blower on your woodstove running during the next ice storm which knocks the power out for four days.
Freeze Alarm Setting – My well-house freeze alarm works like a charm but when I put in fresh batteries and activate it each October, I can never reset all the numbers without finding the manual first. Sharpie to the rescue. A few key words written on the back of the alarm remind me how to set it up quickly without having to use any of my special helper words.
Electrical Panels – The numbers for each breaker are stamped into the metal breaker panel using a 4-point font which can only be read using x-ray vision with the magnification setting activated. The last thing you want to be doing when a circuit breaker refuses to trip is straining your eyes trying to figure out which breaker to turn off while the fireworks shooting out of the socket where the overzealous toaster oven is plugged in are threatening to burn the house down. Next to each breaker, write the breaker number in a 48-point font with your Sharpie and then use it to fill in that paper on the panel door which you never got around to doing. The one that labels what each breaker is for. If you really like living on the edge, boldly going where few preppers have gone before, skip the teeny little paper and use your Sharpie to write it all in really big readable letters on the inside door of the breaker panel. While you’re at it, write ON and OFF in a 128-point font on either side of the main shutoff switch. In the unlikely event your house ever gets rewired, Sharpie erases off metal with rubbing grease and alcoholic elbows. After you get the box labeled and the toaster-oven fire extinguished, replace the outlet with a GFCI outlet like the one you should have put there in the first place. When installing or replacing outlets always be sure to use the correct type.
Water – Pressure pump capacity? Write 10 gpm on the outside of the pump. Well pump capacity? Write “Well – 12 gpm” on the pressure pump as well. Use your water system’s own numbers of course, unless you’re planning on moving to my homestead to help fight off the roving hordes, in which case you won’t have to worry because I’ve already written “10” and “12” on my pressure tank. These numbers will help you to rest easy when you water the garden knowing that the well pump is winning and adding two gallons per minute to the water tank as you water. It will also help with that home firefighting plan you’re going to get done next week.
Non-Perishables Consumption Times – It’s necessary to keep a written list in our preps book of the consumption times of each item we store. Use a Sharpie first to collect the info, then write it in your notebook. I don’t try to use the list directly due to my rampant LOMR which prevents me from recording the finish date in my log. I use a Sharpie to write the start date directly on that tube of toothpaste, bottle of shampoo, bucket of rice, new puppy, etc. The small closet shelf in my bathroom where I store some TP holds 12 rolls plus two 3 x 5 cards, one in the back-most roll and one in the front. Both cards have the start date and the front card is just to remind my LOMR not to restock until the 12 rolls are gone. I’m fairly certain I have at least a 2-year supply in my larger storage area, but I’d like to know exactly how many months I have before I’m wiped out. Ditto with all my other preps. Even my Rustler jeans have a start date on the inside waist so I can count down the days until my misery ends and I can slip into those 501’s which I traded a kidney for.
Food Storage Consumption Times – Don’t forget your food storage when calculating consumption times. We need a realistic idea of how long it takes to consume the edibles in our storage so we can do a headcount on the roving hordes to know how long it will sustain them. IMO this is best accomplished using a Sharpie. Not for the headcount, the preps. If, on the other hand, you have four well-armed, trigger-happy, Sun Tzu aficionados fully decked out and waiting in your pantry, use the Sharpie to write an “I” on the forehead of each of the rovers and then say, fearfully, “R-R-Right this way gentlemen.” Right before the camera goes to slo-mo and the splinters start flying, be sure to duck and roll to the right just like you practiced so many times in those Saturday-morning TEOTWAWKI drills while the rest of the folks on your road were still in their jammies watching cartoons and eating soggy Cap’n Crunch.
New Neighbors – New neighbors who’ve just escaped the Big City? Be neighborly and help them out by taking their newly-purchased garden tools and writing a large “B.E.” on the appropriate part of the tool so they’ll have a clue which is the business end and which end to lean on when taking a break. If they’re transplanted Democrats from the Big City and want to show you their new “shooters,” surreptitiously remove the firing pin while you’re turned away from them sighting down the barrel. That’s to keep them from killing themselves until you can get them over to the shooting range on your south forty and give them a few lessons in gun safety, marksmanship, being neighborly, and how to seamlessly blend into their new community. If they keep jabbering on about “Turnin’ this place around and bringing some culture to the area,” go ahead and leave the firing pin in so after their first Mossberg mishap they’ll move back to the city and take their culture with them.
Miscellaneous – How to keep those bee frames in order in the beehive? Sharpie, “1-10.” All those plastic one- and five-pound nail and screw boxes on the shelf? Sharpify them with “10d, 12d, sheetrock 1¼,” etc. Having one of those days when you don’t know yer arse from yer elbow? “A” and “E” in the appropriate anatomical locations should improve your day immediately. How long do LED bulbs last in that socket? Write the installation date on the white base in small print. Vacuum cleaner belt type? Sharpie it right on the little door you have to open to install it.
The possibilities with Sharpies are endless and everything I’ve written about is just the tip of the iceberg as it applies to your particular situation. Personally, I wish this were just an attempt at a humorous essay but I actually do all these things and have experienced much less frustration as the memory cells in my formerly-functional hippocampus have begun their short descent into oblivion.
Please go out and buy two cases of Sharpies to get you through not only today but TEOTWAWKI as well. When they run dry, they can be resuscitated by putting the tip in rubbing alcohol until you see a little ink bleeding out, then capping it for 15 minutes before using again. Don’t try to revive it by sucking on the tip. This will only make your lips black and make other Sharpie enthusiasts think that you missed your forehead when trying to refresh your “I” and they’ll think you really are an “I” for sure.
Disclosure statement: I have no connection with the company that makes Sharpies.
Now, go forth and conquer! You can’t lose with Sharpies.