Surviving Seniorhood With Sharpies – Part 4, by St. Funogas

(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.


    1. AH, you have made a few worthy contributions, too.

      I reckon I’ll hold onto this one from StF: “without having to use any of my special helper words.”

      Now, give me moment while I write down my special helper words so I remember them.

      Carry on

  1. I found myself doing the same lately. The red writing on packages is especially difficult to read. Using a flashlight to read small fonts helps me immensely.
    Don’t forget to keep a couple of the “metallic” colored sharpies on hand for writing on black/dark surfaces. Enjoyed your wit and ideas!

  2. Another tool for marking those hard to write on steel or blued metal equipment pieces, such as identifying obscure weapon magazines, auto parts, etc. Is those yellow or white auto junkyard paint type marking pens. More visable and durably indellible for those applications that are a challenge to the sharpie class of felt type markers. Happy tagging.

  3. This cracked me up.
    “ 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.”
    Thanks for the laughs and great ideas.
    Peace and Blessings

  4. What can I say, St. Funogas… I’ll never be able to pick up a sharpie ever again without thinking of you. You’ve made an INDELIBLE IMPRESSION! (ba-dum tsssss)

    1. Hey Bear, Tunnel R-Abbot and Costello, St. Fun-o-Gas, and you, Davie BEARy should start working on our stand-up routine for the SB reunion. Whaddaya say? 🙂

      1. St Funogas,

        You all could do a stand up routine at our fictional (really wish we could) Survivalblog family reunion!!
        I’d totally be in the front row for that one!!!

        Thank you St. Funogas (and all who commented) on making me totally belly laugh FOUR whole days in a row!! I’ve had a really cruddy week, but at least I got to laugh hysterically four days in a row

        I’d like first dibs on a signed copy when you decide to put together a book of all your St. Funogasisms!!

        Have a Rockin great day!

      2. Awww, thanks, that’s quite a compliment! I loved Dave Barry even as a kid…raced my parents to the paper every Tuesday. And I still don’t miss an opportunity to forward his colonoscopy column to the next unsuspecting victim who needs to read it in advance of their own upcoming test.

        A stand-up hour would be great. I’ll need a barstool to do my stand-up sitting down though. After all these consecutive years of rocking babies, I have completely lost the ability to stand still. Whether I’m washing dishes, or standing in line at the bank, or singing a hymn in church, or even brushing my teeth …I’m swaying! If I did that on stage, the audience would be utterly distracted from any wisecracks and half-elbowed witticisms I might utter; they’d all just be thinking “wow, does she ever have to pee!” (Nitrogenizing my pants onstage would be super embarrassing. Hopefully it would never happen, but, see above about consecutive years of babies. It takes its toll…or so “they” say.)

      3. Forgot to add, if the stand-up idea doesn’t work out, we could always just do a radio show. I hear tell that Tunnel R-Abbot&Costello knows a thing or two thousand about radios!

  5. Thanks again St.
    Our #1 son brought his future wife home to meet the parents 20 years ago.
    I was sitting on the couch in my stocking feet while future wife sat quietly in a chair across from us.
    I lifted my left foot and showed her the “L” on the bottom of my sock. I asked her “what do you think the L on my sock means?”
    She quickly smiled and replied “that is your left foot so that sock goes on your left foot.”

    Without smiling or missing a beat I showed her the bottom of mt right foot which also had an “L” on the bottom of the sock. “So, how do you explain this?”

    The poor girl spazed out and had no answer. We still laugh about it.

    My wonderful wife had started marking our sons and my socks with a sharpie as soon as we started wearing the same size socks. Our kids didn’t want my old man socks on their still awesome feet.

    Another use for the sharpie, messing with your future children in-laws.

  6. Great Read!

    As a sharpie enthusiast myself, I nodded with many suggestions and got a few more. Thanks.

    I had to chuckle to myself regarding the electric panel; why not just write what the breaker is for next to it instead of the number. For example, instead of “1” write ‘Kitchen Outlets’.

    Label makers also work well if you want it to be legible (depending on the quality of your handwriting).

  7. Appliance Wattage, in some items, does NOT account for the electricity being used, when the item is turned off.
    See Wikipedia: “Standby power” and Duke Energy: “Energy Savings & Efficiency” ~
    “Slay energy vampires and save”

    “What is an energy vampire? An energy vampire is a device that continues to use energy and drain power, even when it is turned off. …They lurk in your home, taking the form of phone chargers and cable boxes, computer cords and coffee pots. These phantom energy suckers can account for as much as ~~>20% of your monthly electricity bill.”
    The ‘always on’ feature is just convenience. People can’t wait a few seconds for the television screen to come one, and the programs to start. [At least, the people that actually use an off button on a television set.]
    When relatives, friends and acquaintances say, “NO extra money around to buy preps!” Maybe say, ‘Easy energy savings are available today.’ Using a real off button, and unplugging the Vampires are instant money savers.

    A lot of people are too busy to even unplug cellphone chargers. It’s only a savings of pennies for each item. No longer is it understood, ‘A penny saved; is a penny earned.’ ….. The value of money is decreasing. Prices are NOT really increasing. … There was a time in America when a $20 gold piece was worth only $20, and a $1 silver dollar was worth only $1.
    Most people using stoves for wood heat already know about a ‘Stove Fan’ = See Wikipedia for general information.
    [Pellet Stoves and some firewood stoves require the external electric source.] A ‘stand alone powered’ stove fan simply helps circulate air. They use the heat of the stove itself to generate the ability to spin the fan blades.

    [A fireplace stove has a manual, that needs to be read. Sometimes there are motors requiring external electricity; especially in pellet stoves. Sometimes a pellet stove has a back up battery available for when the power goes out. The battery charge lasts a few hours. ~Maybe, a day or two.]
    I use the felt tipped markers to identify items now; especially to label boxes. With age, my eyes have dimmed, and the memory part of my brain has shriveled.

  8. CONCLUSION: refer to 2nd paragraph. I attest to the fact that Sharpies in the mouth last a lllloooonnnngggg time. (From years ago and yes I tried to suck the ink out.) Do we know each other?

    Great article, Should be a winner.

    God Bless, it’s always GREAT to see humor where others see no humor!

  9. The Kill-A-Watt and the Poniie PN1500 are not rated for higher power loads such as water heaters and electric dryers. I use this: instead. It’s a little more invasive/difficult to hook up, but it connects in parallel to the load instead of in series and has a clip-on current transformer that lets it measure higher power loads. Only cost $20 and working great so far after a month or so. I take a weekly cumulative reading on a circuit of interest by clipping on the current transformer to the lines in my circuit breaker panel box, then switch to another circuit for a week – recording the results in a speadsheet for later analysis. They’re so cheap, I may get more of thse to do permanent monitoring.

    1. Hey OGDad, that definitely looks like nifty little unit. I’d like to have one just to test my electric water heater so I could get a handle on quantifying how much the water cools down between cycles. Right now I know the exact number of kWh my water heater uses per month because I don’t have on-demand hot water. I flip the breaker on when I want to take a shower, time it for 15 minutes, then turn it off. (For dishes it’s cheaper to just microwave some water.) I keep track on my monthly sheet which includes rainfall, power generated by solar panels, and lots of other stuff. At the end of the month, I add up the water-heater minutes and calculate my total water heater cost per month. Seven months of the year I use a solar water heater and never turn on the electric one. The unit you linked to of course would be much easier, especially for normal people who have their electric water heater on 24/7, or who use an electric clothes dryer. For 120-volt applications, I like the Poniie PN1500 because it’s easy to plug into the wall, then plug something into it. I leave it on one appliance for a full month, then put the total on a spreadsheet.

      As GGHD pointed out, it’s a great tool to use for finding out how much ghost wattage each appliance is using. The other huge benefit is that since the wattage listed on the appliance works well for calculating usage on things like box fans, slow cookers, another items which use a constant amount of electricity once they are turned on, things like refrigerators, the blower on my wood stove, etc. don’t use constant amounts because they are turning on and off all the time. The Poniie meter makes it easy to check the monthly totals on those appliances where you can’t just do the simple math.

      GGHD also reminded us that a penny saved is a penny earned and by getting a handle on how much electricity our appliances use, and in some cases we’d be shocked if we know, we can make more intelligent choices on how to lessen our electric bills. For me, the knowledge is most useful as I plan to move off grid and start cutting my usage back to get it as low as possible. And like someone pointed out the other day, if we make a game of it, it can be fun and save us money in the process, while making us more more prepared if TEOTWAWKI happens in our lifetimes.

      Thanks to you and GGHD for the input.

  10. I also vote for this series being a 1st prize winner because it made all of us tune in and laugh our heads off. Humor and laughter are essential and practical!

  11. Great series Saint F,
    We are living in a time where humor helps get us through each day and all the helpful hints are just a special bonus.
    Thanks and blessings to you.

  12. Part V should be an inventory and description of every new white shirt or piece of work clothing that has been ruined by those doggone black sharpies. Would you like my list?

    1. So Tom, what stage is your LOMR? I’m still at stage 3 so want to know how long I have before I have to put plastic liners in all my pockets. My dad used to have a ton of shirts as you described so thanks for the blast from the past. He finally had to give up Sharpies altogether about the same time he gave up drinking. On the other hand, perhaps if he had given up alcohol first the Sharpie/pocket problem would have resolved itself?

      I carry a Sharpie always, but in my right front pants pocket and so far, no problems. I hope I still have a few years left before I hit stage 4. I’m not sure I could deal with the chainsaw/flaming chaps thing.

      1. Dear St.

        I am 72 anos so some might consider me a little farther down the road than you.

        On the bright side, those ruined shirts made for great artistic innovation by my kids. They would convert those shirts into designer wear for the ages. Colored sharpies, of course!


  13. I’m glad so many people have enjoyed this article, thanks for all the compliments and comments and humorous replies. This is much better to read all at once so perhaps you can print it all off and save in your SHTF files. If your LOMR has progressed as far as mine has, you can read it every three months and swear you’ve never in your life read this before. You’ll for sure want to read it again after the next elections, assuming we’re going to have any more.

    Best wishes to everyone, and to JWR for providing a platform where we can learn new things every day, share joys and frustrations, and feel a sense of camaraderie with other posters.

    1. Here is a tribute to all us folks of a certain (advanced) age.

      The strong young man at the construction site was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of one of the older workmen. After several minutes, the older worker had had enough.
      “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” he said.
      “I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to
      that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.”
      “You’re on, old man,” the braggart replied. “Let’s see what you got.”
      The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles.
      Then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right, Get in.

      Carry on

      1. Once a Marine,

        LOVE IT!!!
        Thank you for the prayers.. so much appreciated. I’ll be okay, moms still in the rehab hospital after a fall the week before thanksgiving. She’s also tested positive for the Wuhan red death but thankfully she’s doing ok. I think I’m just stressed out because this is REALLY hard on dad, and him being the 83 year old Marine and retired police officer of course he will not break down. I’m very close with dad but it’s not the same as being able to unload with other men. He would never break down in front of his baby girl, no matter what.
        I’m also missing my young Marines. Keeping my fingers crossed that they both get approved to come home on leave next week. Daughters commander is being super cautious about leaves happening.

        My recovery from spinal surgery is going WAY slower than I would like but my doctor is fantastic and he’s my age and had the same surgery so he explained how slow his recovery was and it made me feel way better. I just really need to chill out and let it heal.

        I also got busted for speeding (80 in a 55) but the officer let me off with a warning (after he insinuated that the full size truck I was driving was “too much power for a tiny lady”) really? What a good ball.

        I love to laugh and try to find something funny everyday, it keeps me sane!!

        Thank you for thinking of me
        Have a Rockin great day!!

        1. Um, 80 in a 55???

          You must have a winning smile to get by with a warning, RKRGRL68.

          What does this phrase mean? “What a good ball.”

          I hope your dad can loosen some of those tight bolts and release some pressure. Maybe your Marine son?

          Carry on in grace

  14. Thank you Sir for a most entertaining article. Sharpies are indeed a most useful tool. I would add one word of caution. If you have Marines in the house, all the pretty colors can be confusing. They should be stored out of site. Otherwise they could be confused with crayons and lost as a snack.

  15. Saint, “I’ll never be able to pick up a sharpie ever again without thinking of you.”

    I second what Bear said.

    Thank you for the excellent tips, and the smiles and laughter that will last a lifetime every time I use a sharpie. I’m gonna pray, “Bless, Saint, Lord,” each time I use my sharpies to repay you, Krissy

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