Thursday, December 31, 2009

After the confusion, certainty!

“I really don’t think they thought this one through,” - Christopher Elliott

In the wake of the Flaming Undies Caper, our beloved protectors in the Transportation Safety Administration seemed unsure of what to do or even to say. New "security measures" were all over the place, on the ground and in the air.

But there's one thing the TSA, so typical of government bureaucracies everywhere, is absolutely sure of. "Don't you dare do anything that makes us look stupid. That's our job, and we're trained professionals." Earlier this month there was a bit of a "mistakes were made" moment when someone in the TSA sorta-kinda accidentally posted the entire screening manual on the Internet, with all the Top Secret bits redacted with what amounted to White-Out on the computer screen. But that was just an oopsie, you know, because they're so busy and well-meaning and stuff. Like the President, when they do it that means it's not illegal. That's just a mistake.

In the wake of Mr. Abdulmutallab sending his johnson to meet Allah, the TSA immediately sent a directive to its subordinates for tightened security restrictions in case the terrorist had friends. They send this directive to all their subordinates. Everywhere. In every airport, every airline, in the world. If this document was supposed to be secret, it sure as hell wouldn't be secret long.

Indeed, approximately 2.3 milliseconds after the first sheet of paper hit the first desk, travel bloggers were receiving e-mails concerning the directive from anonymous sources. Two of the bloggers who acted on those e-mails got an unpleasant surprise.

TSA Subpoenas Bloggers, Demands Names of Sources
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.

TSA special agents served subpoenas to travel bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, demanding that they reveal who leaked the security directive to them. The government says the directive was not supposed to be disclosed to the public.
Well, that's okay, I suppose; you certainly wouldn't want another fiasco like the TSA Manual Affair to be perpetrated handled by anyone other than trained professionals. But they couldn't just go and ask nice, no. That would have been logical, even reasonable. I'm reminded of what Lou Grant said about Ted Baxter; "You know what I like about [the TSA]? He keeps you guessing. You know he's gonna put his foot in his mouth. But you never know how he's gonna get the other one in there with it."

Yeah, the TSA was embarrassed by what Abdulmutallab got away with, but they were infuriated by what Frischlinig and Elliott did. Niceness, logic and reasonableness were not called for. What was called for was some ham-handed Federal intimidation.

TSA Threatens Blogger Who Posted New Screening Directive
Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

“They were indicating there would be significant ramifications if I didn’t cooperate,” said Frischling, who was home alone with his three children when the agents arrived. “It’s not hard to intimidate someone when they’re holding a 3-year-old [child] in their hands. My wife works at night. I go to jail, and my kids are here with nobody.”

Frischling, who described some of the details of the visit on his personal blog, told Threat Level that the two agents drove to his house in Connecticut from DHS offices in Massachusetts and New Jersey and didn’t mention a subpoena until an hour into their visit.

“They came to the door and immediately were asking, ‘Who gave you this document?, Why did you publish the document?’ and ‘I don’t think you know how much trouble you’re in.’ It was very much a hardball tactic,” he says.
Way to go, guys. I know I feel safer.

Meanwhile, the fact that the Department of Homeland Security and its Keystone Kops division the TSA had every reason to have known about Abdulmutallab before he ever got near an airplane is not going away. It has, of course, now become a matter of politics, and somebody's head must roll. In our next exciting episode, guess whose!

H/T to W for the blogger articles.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paddle Faster!


Hm. Actually, I think I'm in this video...

Cross the River, Burn the Bridge

Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.
And while that's very witty and all, and I don't actually disagree with a word of it, I looked at the author (Mark Steyn) and the source (National Review) and I asked, 'so what's your solution to all this meddling, Mark?' His solution, of course, would be to hire a bunch of republicans next election. Who would not repeal a single syllable of this horror-show of a law once they got in office, any more than the democrats ended the republican forever-war in Iraq and Afghanistan the way they promised.

Right wing - left wing: Same stinking carrion bird in between.

Seriously, we're screwed.

We're Screwed!

Seriously, that's the title of the article. Would I make this up?
Obama says America will go bankrupt if Congress doesn't pass the health care bill.

Well, it's going to go bankrupt if they do pass the health care bill, too, but at least he's thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's not every mother...

...who can sleep in her baby's arms.



Lemme guess who he suggests...

"Congressman, your white horse is waiting."
Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), one of the authors of the law establishing the federal Transportation Security Administration, called the attempted airline bombing last week "a serious wakeup call" and urged the Congress to change its method of choosing TSA administrators.

"There has been no TSA administrator for nearly a year and the next one will be the fifth in eight years. Running a security agency with a revolving door is a recipe for failure," Mica said Monday in a press release. He is the ranking Republican of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation from 2001 to 2007.

He also called TSA "an agency that is ineptly led from Washington, D.C., by a top-heavy, well-paid headquarters staff of 3,200 with an average annual salary of $103,000."
"And that influence and that budget shall be mine! Mine! BWAHahahaha! Mine is an evil laugh!"

This is gettng fun to watch!

Via W, again...
The update of airline security rules follows what U.S. government authorities called a thwarted attempt by an individual on Christmas day to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam.

President Barack Obama said that as a result of this oversight, he had ordered a thorough review of the screening process.
So as a result of the oversight of the brave men and women of the (cue heroic fanfare) Transportation Safety Administration, you may use the restroom rather than sit there and pee yourself - if the Captain says you can. Of course it couldn't have anything to do with:
Airline industry experts have said renewed terror threats and potentially tighter airport security measures could dampen business travel demand just as it starts to recover.

Shares of U.S. airlines slumped Monday, the first trading session following the attempted attack. The Arca Airline index fell 1.8 percent.
Naw.

RTWT

When the little girl says, "But Daddy, that man isn't wearing any clothes!" I don't want her to be looking at a line of airline passengers. Still possible, though.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Okay, here comes the inevitable...

Avatar review.

Since I have it on authority that all twelve of the people currently residing in the United States who have not already seen the movie are fanatical readers of this humble blog, I am honor bound to enlighten them.

Note, please, that this review contains not one single spoiler. Such is not even possible, since the plot of Avatar is such an off-the-shelf product that anyone who has ever seen an adventure movie in his or her life will already know the ending by the middle of the first act. In detail. If you're looking for clever plot twists and cool literary devices, metaphor and/or allegory, or indeed anything out of the ordinary at all, turn in your 3D glasses and go home. Wrong movie. You never see a single weapon (or animal, or plant, or protagonist or antagonist or single frame of film) in the first act which doesn't dutifully turn up to fulfill its foreshadowing in the final climactic battle. At the end of the second act you will learn the detailed answer to the only remaining question in your mind, so let your heart not be troubled; with the exception of a few biological unlikelihoods, this movie leaves no slightest loose thread.

However, as I did admit to my companion W (who loved every second of this movie, BTW,) it's really very well done for what it is. Once you relax to the fact that you've seen this plot a hundred times before, the question becomes 'how well will they handle all the obligatory plot points?' And the answer is, really quite well. It had some truly exciting moments. In this great scene where Our Hero is whipping up the clans to war, I'd been warned the monologue was swiped right from Braveheart. Maybe so, I don't know, but it's done better. That scene made me want to leave the theater right then and go disembowel some military contractors. Warnings by some that the plot is Dances With Wolves meets Pocahontas were, in my opinion, not quite true. Almost, very close at times, but never quite. Just when I was afraid I was going to have to ask someone to gag me with an exotic hardwood spoon, the plot stopped rhapsodizing about Noble Blue Cat-Women In Harmony With Nature and got back to business. I appreciated that very much.

Which leaves us with the one element in which the movie is big news, the visuals. All I can say is, Oh, My F'ing God. Do you remember the Star Wars prequels, in which Lucas packed every incredibly busy scene with every conceivable thing just because he could, whether it ruined the film or not? This wasn't like that. The visuals are busy, yes, but then you'd expect a rain forest to be. They are exotic and weird at times, but then you'd want an alien planet to be. The colors are so rich, the grotesqueries so satisfying that all else, including the fact that you still have to wear an updated version of those damned glasses, is forgiven. If you're gonna see this movie, for god's sake pay the money and see it on the big screen. I've never had any use for 3D, but this was a world apart. It was done cleverly, subtly, in every way enhancing the experience rather than just being a distracting gimmick for the children. If only they could find a way to lose the glasses, nobody would ever shoot an adventure film in 2D again; it's that much better.

I'd really like to go see it again.

Well, I guess it wasn't exactly a firecracker...

"Your cock will be restored in Heaven" has to be one of the first things a jihadi learns.
- Anonymous

Okay, it was at least a serious effort. We don't know, and will probably never know, the exact construction of the would-be bomb sewed into Muttalab's underwear (early reports primly had it strapped to his leg) but it reportedly at least contained Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which is one of the more powerful high explosives. At a minimum it would have made things extremely uncomfortable for his seatmates though I beg to doubt such a small bomb would have brought down an airliner that was already on approach. It's possible our hero had watched Goldfinger one too many times.

But in any case it fizzled, he (YOUCH!) burned, and his seatmate added insult to no-doubt horrid injury by righteously beating the crap out of him.

So, naturally, it was up to our dear protectors the TSA to make sure the minor-league terrorista didn't fail in his effort to make air travel more unpleasant for all. They wasted no time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

You know you're getting really bad when...

...You're in the pet supplies department at Wally World. You look at the aquariums with all the half-dead little fish, and you think,

"Well, Click would like a couple but they're really too small for Ghost or Little Bear. And they're kind of expensive for what you get."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What will we call this one?

Oh! I know! Let's call him The Firecracker Bomber!


A few passengers applauded the man who was identified as having helped subdue the alleged attacker, Michelle said.

The explosive was at first believed to have been a small firecracker.

One passenger was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center and remained hospitalized Friday.

Shortly after the plane landed around 11:50 a.m. Detroit time, the Transportation Security Administration said that "out of an abundance of caution," the jet's passengers were put through a special security screening and luggage was re-examined. TSA and FBI officials interviewed passengers as the plane sat at a remote corner of the airport, surrounded by law-enforcement and emergency vehicles.

H/T to Karen De Coster

Friday, December 25, 2009

Electrical upgrades acid test...

...passes with flying colors!


After being socked in for two days - most of one day with the solar panels completely covered with snow - followed by a night that would freeze Santa Claus' cojones off, we didn't even come close to needing the generator until the second evening. And we probably could have done without that top-off if we'd rationed our usage, which we didn't. The questionable first bank of batteries is finally giving us good specific gravity readings, the new panels give a good charge even with a hazy sky, which the old ones never would, and with eight batteries we are now proven to have nearly two days of storage capacity with no input at all. It's a night-and-day improvement. Impressive!

And all it took was a heartbreakingly massive infusion of money.

Um...

No. No, I can't believe I actually read this.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Ron Paul. He exists as certainly as peace and freedom and prosperity exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ron Paul! We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which liberty fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Ron Paul! You might as well not believe in the Constitution! The media might hire polling firms that conceal Ron Paul's true level of support among the people, but what would that prove? Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

No Ron Paul! Thank God, he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the hearts of free men.
I used to read LRC fairly regularly, but gave it up last year when the site became All-Ron Paul-All-The-Time and never regained the habit, though I look in now and then. But this...What does this even mean?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How to know you've strayed onto a conservative intellectual site:

Seen in a comments thread:
God I'm glad I'm not a liberal, otherwise I might believe in the legitimacy of the concept of a "generation" and then be ashamed to be a part of the same one as the idiot writing this editorial.

Ladies, in case you wondered what he wants for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just in time for Christmas...

It's Iowahawk's It's a Wonderful Bill!

Now remember, you guys - If Frank Capra's goon squad comes looking for him, this blog post never happened.

There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lumpectomy

Reason.com, my secret sin, opens the day with a great short article that defines, as well as I've ever seen it done, the difference between a right and a "right."
While liberty rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of contract require others to refrain from acting in certain ways, “welfare rights” such as the purported entitlement to health care (or to food, clothing, or shelter) require others to perform certain actions. They represent a legally enforceable claim on other people’s resources.

Tiger Woods, Man of the Year

Via W, here's a NYT article that makes a pretty good point toward the end. Hint: It's not about Tiger Woods. RTWT.
What’s striking instead is the exceptional, Enron-sized gap between this golfer’s public image as a paragon of businesslike discipline and focus and the maniacally reckless life we now know he led. What’s equally striking, if not shocking, is that the American establishment and news media — all of it, not just golf writers or celebrity tabloids — fell for the Woods myth as hard as any fan and actively helped sustain and enhance it.

People wanted to believe what they wanted to believe. Tiger’s off-the-links elusiveness was no more questioned than Enron’s impenetrable balance sheets, with their “special-purpose entities” named after “Star Wars” characters. Fortune magazine named Enron as America’s “most innovative company” six years in a row. In the January issue of Golf Digest, still on the stands, some of the best and most hardheaded writers in America offer “tips Obama can take from Tiger,” who is typically characterized as so without human frailties that he “never does anything that would make him look ridiculous.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mr. Sheepdog is not your friend!

No, I'm not really in favor of this...

But the irony is tasty, even without sweet chili sauce.
[Vermont State Rep] Maslack recently proposed a bill to register "non-gun-owners" and require them to pay a $500 fee to the state. Thus Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of going about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun.
...
Vermont 's constitution states explicitly that "the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State" and those persons who are "conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms" shall be required to "pay such equivalent." Clearly, says Maslack, Vermonters have a constitutional obligation to arm themselves, so that they are capable of responding to "any situation that may arise."

Under the bill, adults who choose not to own a firearm would be required to register their name, address, Social Security Number, and driver's license number with the state. "There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is not prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so," Maslack says

Global warming is SO last Friday...

Today I suppose I could fret myself sick over the government wrecking what's left of the health care system. But instead, I think a belly laugh is in order...

You've got to hand it to the US Senate...

They may be a bunch of corrupt, pompous bastards, but they're consistent corrupt, pompous bastards.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who said anything about running?

I, for one, welcome our new globalist overlords. I hear they taste like chicken.

H/T to...well, just about every site I clicked on today.

Quote of the Month

"You want to know what they hate more than anything else in life? They can't stand for people not to take them seriously. If you laugh at them for an instant, it's just like - the devil walks in the room, right? And he goes, "I'm the Devil," and you take a fork and poke him in the belly, and the gas comes out, and he'll go twirling around the room like an unleashed balloon. That's the way these guys are. You can't laugh at them. They hate it, because they're so full of shit, they're so full of themselves that they just can't believe that people don't appreciate them for the grand, highly evolved creatures that they imagine themselves to be. They hate to be laughed at. If they weren't so fucking dangerous, it would be fun to laugh at them all the time, but sometimes you have to take into account how much damage they can do." - Frank Zappa

Friday, December 18, 2009

On Maintenance...

I had an embarrassing experience yesterday, regarding rifle maintenance. Back when I was staying with some gun-lovin' friends during the SAR show, I was admiring this guy's battle rifle collection. I picked up what I thought at first was a GI M14, and worked the action. I commented to myself how much...zippier...this action felt than my SA M1A. It just seemed to slam into battery with a lot more authority. If only my rifle were like that, I thought.

Then I looked at the stamp on the receiver, which said Springfield Armory M1A. Exactly the same as mine. Huh?

Now I haven't been shooting my M1A very much in the past several months. I'm down to only a few hundred rounds of practice ammo, and will NOT dip into my "working" supply. For the past year I've carried my AK, which is cheaper to feed as well as a lot more pleasant to carry. I'm not really likely to have to kill anything the AK can't handle while walking the dogs. The M1A mostly stays in its case in the lair's loft. I take it out and rack the slide from time to time, which is how I'd gotten the impression that it seemed pretty sluggish compared to this other rifle, but it was so gradual I genuinely didn't notice that it was my fault. I rarely fire it and so haven't cleaned it in a while. My bad.

So yesterday I uncased the M1A, stripped it, and looked at the condition of the lubrication - which was just awful. I lube the action with Pro-Gold grease, and it had clabbered up terribly. The bearing on the bolt carrier hardly wanted to rotate. The SA is my best rifle, and I had let it get in this embarrassing condition. That was just wrong.

After a thorough cleaning and lubing I re-assembled it, and...zip!

Old as I am, you'd think I'd know I have to pay attention to my rifles, even when I'm not shooting them. Mea Maxima Culpa.

Stupid. And Juvenile. And Really Ugly.

Some days ago I posted an entry bitching about the decline in conservative rhetoric. I was just blowing off steam, didn't expect anything to come of it because nobody ever comments on my more political posts and that's fine, you know, it's my blog and I'll say what I want but nobody's obligated to listen.

I linked to another blog to illustrate my point, but it seems that got back to the blogger - who appropriately calls himself Og - and he took offense. Well, good; it did wonders for my readership numbers for a day or two and I got a kick out of it. He made fun of my dishwashing comment, and that's okay too because everybody knows real men never wash dishes. That's why the housewares department at Kmart does so well, because real men just buy all new when the dog refuses to lick them clean any more. Even dogs have some limits.

But then it turned a bit ugly. And juvenile. And really stupid.

A friend, who for some reason called himself "Emily," took it on himself to comment on "Og's" follow-up post to defend me. (It's a little-known fact that "Emily" is actually a guy, whose real name is Agamemnon Al-EmFourteensAreReallyWhimpy Bin Mega Jihad, and he is not to be trifled with. Do NOT call him "Aggie." Seriously.) I appreciated that, though I thought it unnecessary. I happened to see "Emily's" comment, though it only lasted an hour or two, and it was truly thoughtful and profound - IE, it said nice things about me.

And I kinda wish I'd kept a screenshot of it, because then "Og" changed it to read “You’re mean! So you’re wrong!” I thought that was pretty low, myself, but since my opinion of the level of discourse at that particular blog hadn't exactly risen in the intervening time, I just chalked it up to experience and forgot about it.

Until this morning, when I noticed that somebody was linking here from yet another page at "Og's" blog. Curiosity may have killed the cat but I'm not dead yet, so I clickied and found this post demonstrating that "Og" wasn't yet ready to let it go - and that his short-term memory needs some work. Because in addition to his usual bile - of which snipes at me were only a small part - he added this comment:
I love the comments- like from Emily in the post below- who has only one note herself. “You’re mean! So you’re wrong!”
Yo, Og? You wrote that, dude. "Emily" didn't. And isn't re-writing history and then swearing to it supposed to be a...well, a Liberal thing?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Once you define 'capitalism' as "things they don't control",..."

"...Their hatred makes perfect sense."

So said a commenter at Hit&Run's post about Hugo Chavez' big speech at Smokenhagen yesterday.
Then President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.
Let's break this down for a moment: The fact that he was even there is perplexing. Hugo Chavez is suddenly a hero to the Warmists? How'd that happen? The only thing Venezuela under the current regime does more feverishly than try to reanimate the dry, shrunken corpse of World Socialism is pump oil and bulldoze rain forests. So if there's an obvious fit here, it's not obvious to me.

But okay; let's assume he crashed the party. He's allotted five minutes and talks for either twenty-five or forty, depending on which account you read, which if really unplanned would have had backstage organizers committing sepukku en masse. If unplanned, that alone would most certainly have made him the most unpopular man at the convention; they should have torn him down as if in the middle of the rant he'd ripped off his Chavez mask and revealed his true identity as Lee Iaccoca. Then the whole dumbass speech consists of creaky warmed-over "nasty ol' capitalism" nostrums that have lulled Cubans to sleep for generations, as if Chavez' brand of socialism had this great environmental record to brag about. By any conceivable metric this speech should have been a disaster. Instead he gets a standing O.

So yeah, I don't think we're drifting too far into tinfoil-hat territory when we suggest that, whatever that was all about, it wasn't about AGW. Which, with this crowd, pretty much only leaves one thing.

Meet the new boss! Same as the old boss!

Okay, I'm not a huge Christmas booster, but...

...this is just silly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Youch!

Click and Little Bear just had a spat that could have ended badly for Click, and did end badly for LB. I had my back to it, so only heard what happened and saw the aftermath.

LB was getting a bit rough with Click, as he does sometimes, but this time I guess she'd had enough of it. I heard her spit, heard him yelp, and then saw her streak for her hidey-hole under the computer bench with him right behind her. She got away, of course, and while she peeked out I got up and spanked him back to his bed. It was only after the spanking that I noticed she'd laid his nose open with a claw which...I must admit would have made me mad, too.

But still, he started it, and since she's roughly the size of animals he considers food, BAD PUPPY! No chasing the cat!

I hope they patch it up; I already have problems when I let Beauty in, because she's terrible about chasing the cat and I live in fear of what what would happens should she actually catch her.

If this seems like a good idea to you...

...You might be a redneck. =/:P

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The song in my head...

For once isn't one I object to.



This has been one of my favorite songs for...Jebus, has it been over 35 years? Huh. Hell, there've been times when it was practically my theme song. Or would have been, if I started having a theme song.

Post-Walky Nap Time



I've never understood why Click not only puts up with Little Bear, but actually seeks him out; he's been her favorite for quite a while despite his habit of slobbering all over her neck and sometimes making her entire head disappear inside his gaping jaws. But if she's going to snuggle with a dog, nine out of ten times it'll be LB.



Ghost, on the other hand, has resumed his winter habit of wanting to snuggle with Uncle Joel. I tell myself it isn't just because the computer bench is closest to the heater.

A Winter's Day...

In a really bright December...



Yesterday was overcast all day, damp, miserable, but not very cold. This morning dawned bright, glorious, and f-f-f-frigid. The lair's water just barely didn't freeze, which was more than I deserved since I forgot to set the faucet dripping last night. Took half the morning before I could feel the tips of my fingers - very truncated walkie, then inside till it warmed up enough for chores. Some things can only be put off so long.

W left early on a chore of his own I felt pretty bad about. He'd bought pads and rotors for his truck on my promise that I could install them, but I should learn to look at the manual before making promises. A 2WD is easy to swap out the rotors on, but a 4WD like his requires special tools and wicker-man sacrifices. So he ended up making an appointment with the shop in town, and left this morning at eight after chipping away enough ice to find the windshield.

An hour and a half or so later I was confident enough that I wouldn't freeze solid in the yard, so forayed out of my warmish lair to get a few things done: Fill the drinking water bottles, empty the lair's black-water tank, change the generator's engine oil, burn some termite-ridden timber from old concrete forms, the sort of thing you want a nice morning for. W's been wanting to adjust the angle of the old solar panel array, so we did that as soon as he got back from spending lots of money on brakes, before the wind came back up.

I've got Beauty in the lair with me now after she tagged along for the afternoon walkie. I'm not sure, but I think we might have barely escaped coming home with yet another dog yesterday - W found a notice for a pit bull that needed a home while we were in town doing laundry yesterday, (I fixed the burst water pipe in the barn, but with M gone for the winter W and I decided to leave the water turned off) and was making noises about how "Little Bear needs another friend." To tell the truth, in my less lucid moments I've had the same thought since Fritz died so suddenly. It seems really strange to actually be able to use the floor for walking with all (both) the dogs inside. Seems kind of empty, and I have to laugh at myself for that because I sure used to laugh at Landlady & T when they were sharing their little place with the Four Brontosaurs. Back then, I wondered how they put up with it. Now I sometimes have trouble putting up with not having to put up with it. Weird, huh?

But it ain't hap'nin', at least not until we get some money issues worked through. Right now it just wouldn't be responsible behavior. But down the road...well, the future will bring what it brings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It occurs to me...

...that except for some M41A snark I never actually posted anything about the SAR show, which dominated all the activities of a week ago. Careless of me. Okay, lemme 'splain.

No, is too much. Lemme sum up. If you've ever been to a Crossroads of the West show, you've seen 5/6 of this show. All the same vendors are there, and so are their clones and cousins. The main event was the SAR (Small Arms Review) building. The SAR building offerings can be roughly divided into three categories:

1. AR15/M16 bling, with enough picatinny rail to reach to Mars and back again. Apparently it really is impossible to have too much rail farm on your carbine.

2. Machine guns & machine gun parts for those willing to jump through NFA hoops. If you want a parts kit for that someday MG42 project, this is the place. The amounts of money that changed hands at these booths is still boggling my tiny mind.

3. "Militaria," about which the less said the better - especially since I spent three days manning such a booth and now know far more about how to differentiate one piece of moldy European web gear from another than I ever, ever wanted to know. To my shock, lots of people find this information truly riveting.

Hint for future attendees: The way to the heart of a real serious military rifle/machine gun/militaria buff absolutely does not involve walking around in baggy pants down to your ankles with a TEC9 hanging around your neck. Just sayin'. Oh, they'll notice. They just won't make encouraging remarks.

The bad part...

...is that the newsies apparently think this was a good thing to do...

Have fun stormin' the castle!

I'm just going to sit back, cackle evilly, and let others prove my point now...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is it just me...

...or are conservatives getting harder to take lately?

Once I actually self-identified as a conservative. Stop laughing. No, I didn't buy all the bullshit, but they just seemed more...grown-up, somehow, than liberals. Overall, anyway. At least I definitely bought into the "lesser evil" thing. Sure, both democrats and republicans would have grass growing in the streets within my lifetime, but the repubs would do it cheaper. You know? (Apologies to El Neal, from whom that was stolen.)

All that died right around '94, when I got my nose rubbed in what should have been the inescapable fact that a politician is a politician no matter what letter's printed behind his name. Compost, the lot of them.

But even so, I could still generally get along with conservatives better than with libs. Till lately. Yes, it's true that all the war-drum beating since '01 gets on my nerves. A week ago I had dinner across the table from a (truly impressive) gun collector who started going on about the "solution" to Afghanistan - it involved genocide, and I got up without (well, much of) a word and went in the kitchen and started washing dishes rather than start an argument at my hosts' table. Not long ago I blogged about a horrible "warrior" song, and got called all sorts of names - "milquetoast" was the mildest I recall - and strictly lectured about how if the military weren't out there keeping me safe from Achmed and Mohammad and their dogs, goats and children I wouldn't have any freedom at all. But I can overlook much of that - it's a single issue, and aside from all the blood seeping under my door we can agree to disagree on it.

But...I don't know, it just seems like lately conservative conversation has become much more vituperative and...well, stupid. They sound like liberals. This came to mind when I followed a link from Tam's blog and found myself in the middle of this, for lack of a less polite term, conversation concerning Sarah Palin. Some commenter made the mistake of posting an opinion less than entirely worshipful of Her Moosehunteriness, not really dumping on her at all, and suddenly the air was full of flying monkeys. The moderator posted his IP address, ferdogsake. It was just...really ugly. And juvenile. And stupid.

It seems to happen a lot lately. I may have to give up on this "intertubz" thing and go back to reading books. More expensive, but I can pick my company more carefully.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poooor baby...

Via W, the story of one of the more hapless "czars:"

It was October 2008 when Hank Paulson announced that the government rescue operation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), would be run by his aide, Neel Kashkari. The choice was met with considerable surprise. Who was Neel Kashkari? He was too young, too inexperienced and had ties to Wall Street, detractors said. To some, the appointment seemed all wrong. Critics described Paulson as a “Dr. Evil” figure who brainwashed Congress into giving him unprecedented financial authority so that Kashkari, his “Mini-Me,” could distribute it to Wall Street friends.

Overnight, Kashkari became the face of the biggest, and one of the most controversial, market interventions in American history. Even he questioned their chances of success.

The Friday evening he was named, he slumped over a bowl of chips in Bethesda with a childhood friend. He held his head in hands and said: “Dude, tell me something funny.”

“Man, what’s going on, Neel?”

“I’ve been tapped to put TARP together. I gotta set up these seven teams and build this thing from scratch — by Monday morning.”


So Paulson - who this idiot still counts as a friend - threw him under the bus, which very predictably chewed him under its wheels. So sorry. Poor little man. And it apparently still hasn't occurred to him that when somebody says, "Hey Neel! Think you could throw a $700B program together this weekend? You'll be presenting it to Congress on Monday, so you'd better get cracking," the correct answer is "Take this ridiculous job and shove it!" No - the designated scapegoat from the git-go, a fact no doubt clear to every vertebrate creature inside the beltway but him - he just bellyaches because the hours were long and congressvermin were mean to him.

It really pisses me off that this tapeworm will actually end up okay.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oi, what a day!

Poor M. He came home to some really bad sh*t.

He's spent all summer building his very cool but enormously expensive concrete dome, installing a solar-powered pump in his well, a cistern, and a boatload of buried water pipe. He's pretty close to broke, but that was okay because a deal he'd been involved with for months was going to result in a check *any* *day* *now.*

It's been going to result in a check any day now for months. W and I were...well, not convinced. So no sooner do we get home from our entertaining but disastrous trip to the city, but he finally gets word that the fellow who owes him money is in bankruptcy and every dime he allegedly owns is in escrow. M is, to use a legal term, screwed.

Since he was planning to winter in the city anyway, this causes him to move his timetable forward to, like, yesterday. He spent the evening before packing, got some sleep, and woke up to the sound of water slowly flushing 'cross his chamber floor.

Now, a word about the barn apartment. Technically, it's heated. We installed a "free" furnace a friend had given us, which is capable of generating sufficiently gigantic numbers of BTUs to melt the entire structure into big tin puddles. What we didn't know at the time is that the fan on the "free" furnace pulls like 50 amps, which means it's impossible to run the thing for more than a few minutes at a time before the entire gulch's power system gets the vapors and collapses on its fainting couch. So in reality, the barn apartment is not heated. Last night it got really, really cold. A pipe burst under the sink in the barn apartment (I'm guessing he didn't set the faucet on "drip" - vitally important) and water was freaking everywhere. We closed the valve, emptied the water heater, sopped up water, sighed heavily. (Guess who gets to fix that.) Then after things settled down he went to the dome to put tools away. Got to the site, attempted to throw the pickup in reverse to back up to the dome, and...the clutch pedal went to the floor. He walked back to my place with the news, and we hiked to the truck together.

"Yup," I said, "hydraulic trouble. Either the master or the slave cylinder has taken a dump. Nothing we can do here. Sorry, dude, you've a ride to the shop in your future."

So we hiked back to get the Jeep and a tow strap. But it's winter, and in winter the Jeep's battery goes on vacation to Cabo San Lucas. Wowwowwooowwoooooowtictictictic...


I told him the "bad luck with machines" force was strong with him today, and asked him to please stay away from the power system.

Put the jump box on the Jeep, get it running, let it warm up, drive to the pickup. For a wonder nothing bad happens while we tow the pickup the 15 miles through windy, up-and-down "roads" and out to the shop in town. Drive back, wait for the estimate. Good news, I was right: The clutch slave cylinder crapped out. Bad news: It's inside the transaxle. $850, please. For a guy with maybe $500 to his name, this could have gone better.

Oddly, M is now more determined than ever to get the hell out of here. I just don't understand his attitude: Clearly he is resisting the will of the Desert Gods, who wish him to stay. He borrows money for the repair. Incredibly, the guys at the local shop ("Our motto: It'll take at least a week") agree to fix the truck that very day, and then actually do. But by now it's like six in the evening, far too late to head for the city.

Yeah, says me. M, on the other hand, is glancing fearfully about for falling asteroids: He wants GONE.

And - sigh - gone he is. Hope he made it. I'll miss him through the winter; he's a good friend. Though, I confess, I won't miss his high energy levels. It's hibernatin' time.

Conversation at a build site, pt. 2

"If meth cookers take over my house while I'm gone, ask them to get some decent guns before you kill them all, okay?"

"No sweat. Want anything special?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hell, no.



Somebody out there seems to think the only alternative to a psychotic moron is a...psychotic moron. I suggest that he look up "false dichotomy."

Oh, dear...

Via W, this bit of morning inspiration...

I am indeed inspired. To do what, exactly, I'm not sure. Projectile vomiting, perhaps...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine...

"This is an M41A pulse rifle. Ten millimeter with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher. "

Well, of course when the movie was made no such weapon existed. So, naturally, gun geeks being what they are, it became necessary to invent one...



Nobody I know of has ever come up with a functional caseless round, so "10 millimeter explosive tip caseless" doesn't quite apply. And they had to chamber the under-barrel grenade launcher for 12-gauge instead. But it does have a functioning LED round counter, so bring on the slime-dripping aliens! Remember about the high-pressure spews of acid blood.

Also good for zombies.

The one on the wall is the only one there is, though I'm told it is a firing model. Vaporware being what it is, that likely means it's the only one there will ever be. But who knows? The company is taking advance orders. You can contact these folks about it.

Oh, and if that doesn't get the job done, you can always nuke the site from orbit.

No, I didn't ask how much. If you have to ask...

What's wrong with this picture?



Yeah, maybe just a little separation anxiety going on here...

I'm up to two sets of neighbors who are on record as requesting that I "do something" about my dogs. While I was away, Ghost and Little Bear showed up at D&L's once, and that it didn't happen more often wasn't for lack of trying. LB apparently made quite a spectacle of himself at S&L's over the weekend, and just a few minutes ago I had to go recover them from J&H's after they chased M's pickup for miles. It's a good thing the neighbors like them. Something, apparently, Must Be Done.

Aargh.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home!

No problems at all. A little packed snow on the road in the mountains, but the plows had clearly been busy. Really light traffic most of the way.

The boys and Click have settled down from their meltdown now. I came home to a nice warm lair, since W left the heater on for them. There's mouse blood and guts all over the floor, thick mud that the boys tracked on my bed, and a week's worth of dust on the dishes I left in the strainer. All's well.

Ahhhhh.....

Whoo Hoo!

They've moved the road closures away from our route, so we're throwing stuff in the truck and going for it! Yay! Adventure! Danger! HOME!

Part of being prepared...

...is being in control - or at least giving yourself the illusion of being in control - of your circumstances. Today, I'm totally unprepared.

Just got word that the road between me and home is still closed. I'm sitting here in a lovely living room, comfortable, warm, well-fed, surrounded by expensive toys - that is to say expensive guns, furniture, objects of art, and a survivalist's wet dream of a food-and-fuel-laden concrete bunker - and whining and wishing to hell a few snowflakes weren't keeping me from my cold, grungy, low-budget, much-more-secure hideaway. I miss my own digs.

"What kind of supreme being would condone such irony?"

Yike! Still in Phoenix...

After seven hours on the road!

We got caught in the storm, in M's faithful but not terribly snow-loving pickup. We got into the mountains and the snow got a bit rough, trucks fishtailing all over the place, visibility not to be found, but we soldiered on until stopped by a highway patrolman who inquired if we had snow chains. I hoped that perhaps he wanted to borrow some, but no - he turned us right around when we replied in the negative.

While discussing options for alternate routes, we ran into a snow-bound traffic jam. A bit of recon showed us a jackknifed truck blocking the road ahead. Long story short: we're broke, we didn't want to spend the last of our pooled cash just to get stranded in some motel for a day or more, so we're back where we started.

This trip has officially turned into too much fun. Wah! I wanna go home!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

For W..

...Who claims never to have heard a Tom T. Hall song other than (gurg) Sneaky Snake.





Oh man, oh man, oh man... Pt. ... Oh, who knows?

Before dawn on Day 3 (4, for us) of the SAR show. Too much to remember, because it's all jumbled together in my head. Days that start around 5 in the morning and end whenever my hosts can beat their dozen or so guests to their beds, like 10 or 11. I and two other guys are dossing on cots in their kitchen and happy to have the sleeping space. Guns...Oh, geez, there are guns (and gun makers, and gun collectors) the likes of which most people have never heard of, let alone seen, and they might actually be happier for that.

I'm gonna need time to sort it all out in my mind before I can describe some of it; it's pretty overwhelming for a used-up boony rat. But yes, I'm alive and - except for having blisters in places most people don't have places - quite well. And except for the occasional impulse toward mass murder if that's what it takes to get these people to shut up so I can get some sleep, having fun. I thought I'd have some eye candy to post this morning, but for some reason the pics I emailed myself didn't show. And oh, that's a shame. Scary monsters and pretty girls.

More - probably much more - ASAP.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This will, I hope...

...be my last word on Fritz. Though probably not.

Years ago, before they established the Gulch, Landlady and her husband T used to do a lot of desert four-wheeling. On one occasion, 'way back in the boonies, they came upon a litter of four tiny German Shepherd pups that someone unspeakable had dumped there. The puppies were in terrible shape; all of them near death from dehydration and hunger. L&T bundled them into the Jeep and rushed them back to a vet in the city. One died immediately, but the others survived. When they were healthy enough, L&T found homes for them all. That apparently worked out well for two of them, but they needed to take one back when the home didn't work out. That one, as you've probably guessed, turned out to be Fritz.

M repeated that story yesterday morning while we were burying him. D&L came with their backhoe to dig the grave, and then W and I brought Fritz from the barn in the Jeep, which I believe is the same Jeep in which he was rescued not enough years ago. Fritz always had a deep love for that thing: Sometimes visitors would come by and ask, "Why is that dog sitting in your Jeep?" The answer was always "Just in case." He always hated to think he might miss getting a ride.

And somebody speculated - a question I'd never thought to ask - if the reason he loved the yellow Jeep so much was because he remembered it rescuing him from death. I don't know if that's so; hell, I don't even know for sure if it's the same Jeep. But it's a great thought. Anyway, there's no question Fritz loved riding in the Jeep, so even though M's pickup was a more logical choice I insisted on hoisting him in for one last ride.

Gad, I'm gonna miss that big, dumb goof. Ghost, Little Bear, Beauty and I went for a long walk this morning, the young dogs usually flanking and walking point, usually not even in sight. Magnus and Fritz had always stayed close to me, but they're both gone now. Sometimes it felt like I was walking alone.

There might be light blogging...

...Over the next several days. I had a chance to go to the SAR show in Phoenix with a friend, a chance I regretfully turned down when Fritz turned so sick. And when M & W urged me to rethink that decision after yesterday's burial, my first rather irrational reaction was that the last thing I wanted to do was take advantage of my buddy's death by going to the city and having fun at a humongous gun show.

But...well, that's stupid. Fritz is dead, and sitting around mourning won't help him.

This promises to be a lot of fun, actually. Normally my tolerance for gun shows lasts no more than a couple of hours; once I've seen all the repetitive tables, I'm ready to go home. I'm signing on for three whole days of it plus, which wouldn't normally be an attraction. But my friend has other friends who are exhibitors, and need help setting up and manning tables. That means that not only do I get to go to this famous show for the first time in my life, but actually rub elbows with some gun nuts who make me look like Paul Helmke. So yeah - there's only one variable I need to check, as to whether the Landlady is coming this weekend, which as far as I now know she isn't. Failing that, I'm a-goin'.

I'll bring the 'pooter with me, but don't know how much chance I'll get to use it. We're leaving tomorrow, and I don't believe I'll get back to the Gulch before Tuesday.

Gonna miss my boys, especially now that we are only three. That's a point against.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fritz, R.I.P.



After a sudden relapse over the weekend and one really bad day, Fritz passed away in his sleep yesterday afternoon. I still don't know what was wrong with him. After a week of praying it wasn't cancer or something else incurable, I woke up this morning praying it was: Then I wouldn't have failed him so badly. I had intended to rush him to the vet this morning, but I should have bundled him up and driven him to a 24/7 clinic a couple of hundred miles away. I didn't even think about it until it was too late. I should have done that Saturday.

I was ready for Magnus to go; he was old and had a brain tumor. But Fritz was a complete shock. It wasn't his time yet. And he seemed to be doing better. Maybe my own state of denial killed him.

Fritz was a big, dumb, goofy retarded five-year-old in a fur coat. Of all the dogs he was the only one who really cared, from one minute to the next, what I thought of him. He could be a handful; he was excitable, and when he got worked up he could be like a hundred-pound self-propelled chainsaw gone berserk. And yet he loved his people, including me, without the slightest reservation.

Landlady still says she blames me for the cop incident, and I've never denied that she's right. Fritz was my KopKruncher, the only dog I ever had who'd try to take a bite out of a cop just because he saw that I didn't like him. I haven't committed a violent act since I was a teenager, but as god is my witness if that guy had drawn on my dog I'd have dropped him in the yard, the consequences be damned.

I loved him, and I failed him, and he died. I guess that's all I have to say now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Okay, I don't personally pay much attention to the holiday...

...but it is, on occasion, hilarious.



Happy Turkey Day, Y'all!

Why I'll never be a photographer...

So we're all sitting around the Interim Lair last night, wishing it wasn't so bloody cold. LB is camped on my bed. Click jumps down from her loft, curls up next to LB's belly, then reaches up, grabs his head in both paws and starts industriously cleaning his head. And I'm all "Awww!" And I grab my camera, and I fiddle with the settings trying to find one that involves the flash. Finally get it worked out, frame the shot, hold down the "shutter" button......And Click gets bored and walks away.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for Hope and CHANGE!

From the "Why did you ask me this" department...

ME: (Clicks "SEND MESSAGE")

THUNDERBIRD: "Do you want to send PLAIN TEXT to (address of recipient)?"

ME: No. I want you to translate it into Hutu first.

Quote of the Day

"When pols or athletes do a painfully bad guest spot on a sitcom, people clap pedantically like Retard Jimmy just hit a layup. The reaction to actors pretending they're critical thinkers should be similar." - Anon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got another comment this morning...

On a post from back in July. This post gets a disproportionate amount of attention, possibly because when you type "Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs" into a search engine it comes up on the first page.

This comment was less abusive than the last, which I appreciate very much. I think we may be overthinking the metaphor just a little, but it was a thoughtful comment and deserves a respectful reply.

Mutt....interesting addition to the analogy. I thought you might be an unemployeed sheepdog, since you definately aren't in denial with the other sheep, but you didn't even mention a family you would protect, like most hidden sheepdogs. I think you're just a low-level wolf, not dominant enought to initiate the aggression. or maybe you've been castrated by all the societal conditioning you mentioned. you need to ask yourself. what kind of life do you pursue? do you take advantage of others, the sheep, or do you work to improve others. or do you just provide a service. then you might be a mutt.

First of all, I am not now and never have been a member of the military or of any law enforcement agency whatever. I do not wish to be herded, and I really wish self-appointed "sheepdogs" would stop trying. Also, I reflexively dislike the "sheep" metaphor, though I don't deny that a massive proportion, possibly a majority, of "good, law-abiding citizens" fit the description of sheeplike caricatures appalled at the notion of employing violence in their own defense - I merely suggest that this is a function of nurture rather than nature. IOW, I suspect that the metaphor's "sheep" are created by the constant, womb-to-tomb drumbeat of "call 911 and wait for the nice police officer" rather than actually being born that way as the "sheepdog" apologists insist.

On the use of violence in self-defense - I have observed every sort of vertebrate creature with which I come in contact, from mice and rats through literal sheep, larger game animals, and up to every sort of predatory beast. Every Single One Of Them has this in common: As juveniles, they are weak, helpless, and dependent on others for survival. The mark of an adult creature is that it takes the responsibility of its own survival on itself. The tiniest adult mouse will turn and attack an attacker, given time. It may not - it probably won't - do so successfully, but it will do so. Because that's what adult creatures do.

All except humans. Humans in our culture, anyway. In our culture, it is demanded of us that we stand back from our own defense, "give them what they want," and plead to be defended by those designated by the State for such duty.

The facts that our "defenders" do a piss-poor job of it, that they cost far more than they contribute, that they are minions of a despicable predatory State, and that they have a dreadful habit of turning predator themselves actually have very little to do with my objection to the concept. Those are really just side issues. My principal objection to the concept is that it is insulting. It is infantilizing. It is unnatural and destructive. Whether or not humans are some higher form of beast is a religious question I'm unequipped to hold an opinion on, but we are most certainly beasts. We have flesh and bone and beating hearts as they do. And while our teeth and claws may be inferior to the least of theirs, our tool-making ability elevated us to the top of the chain long, long ago. We are beasts, with all the attributes of beasts and more besides, and yet we are conditioned from the cradle to believe - or at least to pretend to believe - that unless we are endowed at birth with some rare and mystical "warrior spirit" we are incompetent to even contemplate our own defense and sustenance.

Well...That's...Bullshit.

What's worse, while that view works against the interests of every man and woman on the planet not in a position of authority, it very clearly serves the interests of one group alone - those who connive to positions of rulership over us. Every street cop, every bastard sheriff, every bureaucrat and politician and every loathsome, petty little tapeworm in any position of authority anywhere, those are the people whose interests we serve when we acquiesce to that world view - when we agree to sit back, do our jobs, pay our taxes and let the big boys do the thinking.

What has it brought us, this belief that these people are somehow more qualified to make decisions than we are? How many wars have we started? How many genocides have we committed? How many little old ladies have you tazed lately? They keep telling us all about how safe they're keeping us, but the reality is somewhat different. Look, I'm not the least bit afraid of the so-called "wolves" that are supposed to be such a threat, but the "sheepdogs" scare the hell out of me. If I beat off a robber, maybe causing him to become a bit leaky in the process, what's the next thing I have to fear? Not other robbers, no: Next the "sheepdogs" will want their piece of me. And if - may FSM forbid! - I should do the same to a "sheepdog" here to enforce some unwelcome edict of my distant masters, my life is guaranteed to be over in a most unpleasant way. Tell me again how this is an improvement? Explain to me, please, the benefit of having these people around at all! I really want to know!

Sorry - that wasn't supposed to be a rant. Dialing down now.

Look, the closest thing to a "perfect world" I can imagine wouldn't be terribly neat or tidy. It wouldn't be a utopia; I can't even imagine a utopia. There would be predators, and there would be prey. Sometimes the innocent weak would suffer unjustly. Sometimes the innocent strong would go too far, and cease to be innocent. That's human nature; we're messy creatures, not at all suited to utopia. But those who wished to live in peace would have the opportunity to enforce that peace themselves, and I doubt very much that they'd do a worse job of it than our self-proclaimed protectors do now. And even if they did, they still wouldn't have the capacity to spread misery on the unholy scale presently caused by our would-be masters, may their scrotums rot off.

JW, thank you for your comment. To summarize my answer: I am neither an "unemployed sheepdog" nor a "castrated wolf." I live my life quietly and as inoffensively as possible to those who do not molest my peace. I strive to be of benefit to my neighbors, and they both attest that I am a benefit and reciprocate in kind. I have no interest in either molesting or "improving" any other person. I wish only to live my life, enjoy my friends, and be left the hell alone by everyone else. Where and how, precisely, does this present a problem?

On Fritz...


Still no word on what might be ailing Fritz, but the meds are having a pleasant effect. He's been much more active, though not nearly to young-dog levels. His appetite has returned nicely, which tells me his temperature is probably under control. We've had to cut short the past several morning Walkies because he just couldn't do it, but today he came along for a good one and behaved as if he was quite happy about it. He's still on light duty and heavy doses of canned food w/meds, of course, but I've caught him eating dry food for the first time in quite a while. So I have hope that what ails him is just a bad infection, as opposed to something fatal. But I'll be on pins and needles until I hear back from the vet.

The Lair's Roof



With much help from M, (IE, he did nearly all the work: All I did was cut panels and carry stuff) the Secret Lair now has a genuine waterproof roof! Yay!

Yes I know the stovepipe's too short, gorram it. A bit of retrofitting is called for there. But the hard part is done; it's just a matter of sliding in a new (ruinously expensive) double-wall pipe or fitting an extension to the top of the one I've got: Not sure which will work yet.

The interior is slowly, slowly making progress; I've got most of the wiring pulled (not that there's a way to power it) and I now at least possess all the insulation I need. Indoor plumbing of any sort will certainly not happen before Spring.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It All Comes Down to Bacon. Of Course.

From West of the West via Tam:

How to choose your religion, in one easy flow chart!

Really? Yah think?

Concerning those swiped emails...
"It is right before the Copenhagen debate, I'm sure that is not a coincidence," Trenberth said in a telephone interview from Colorado.
The Cultists of Climate Change claim that the emails were selectively leaked, exposing only the embarrassing ones. Well, but that would be the point, wouldn't it? I don't care what these "scientists" had for lunch, or whether their boss thinks they are past the deadline to submit form J1903. But if they're cooking data in the interest of the NWO, I'm kinda glad to hear about that.

Yes, of course the hackers who exposed these files have an agenda. Why should they be different?

There's a pretty good summary of the kerfuffle here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gorram it!

Had a pretty good day right up to the point where I stopped working. Then it all went to hell.

Landlady came over and shared coffee and breakfast. Tried to take the dogs for their morning walky, but Fritz made it halfway down the driveway and then just sat down. Thought I was going to have to carry him home. But that was all right with him; as soon as the visitors rolled out M and I went up to this old utility building S has on his ridge and started tearing out wall and ceiling insulation, rolling it up, stowing it in the Jeep's trailer, carrying it to the new Lair, unloading, going back...the dogs got more Jeep rides in one day than they normally get in a week, and it left them quite happy.

We finished up, pulled off the fiberglass-impregnated clothes, started it all in the washing machine. I was starved and tried to start lunch, only to find that:

A. I'm nearly out of drinking water, which reminded me that the hose threads had stripped out of the little pump we use for filling bottles from the barrels, and there's now no really good way to fill bottles, and I should have fixed it a week ago but forgot;

B. Though I just filled my propane bottles, I have NO PROPANE PRESSURE AT THE STOVE! It was working fine this morning, or at least as fine as it ever does. Truth is I've suspected my propane regulator has been going south for quite some time, and I think that today it just spontaneously grew tired of life. Which is going to make cooking food a bit more difficult until I (sigh) spend big bux on another.

Hating life, signing off.

Concerning Fritz...

Yesterday got really busy, sorry. Landlady is here for the weekend and so are some other stakeholders. M got our weekender neighbor S to help reality-check some plumbing issues on the Dome. W had arranged to return four of our new batteries to the manufacturer. B the stakeholder brought a digital hydrometer which we all had to play with once we'd disconnected and removed the misbehaving batteries. Then once we'd delivered the batteries for shipping, B rented a truck and we helped move some heavy stuff out of their storage unit and onto the truck. Then we partied for a bit, and then M, B and I went to the cabin and finished the roof (pix to follow.) Then we went home and move some heavy stuff out of the barn and into B's rented truck. Then we went to town and shared a loverly meal and didn't get home till well after seven. Busy day, in a series of busy days.

I didn't want to say anything about Fritz here until I'd taken him to the vet and discussed the findings with Landlady. He's her dog, after all, and I didn't know whether to call and worry her before I knew something more concrete, or to keep it to myself until then. I chose the latter which may have been the wrong choice, but it's the one I made.

Anyway: Our story so far. Fritz has become more and more listless over the past several days. He was pretty clearly dropping weight. His joints were bothering him, which worried me because if the glucosamine stopped working I wouldn't know what to do. Then he had a disastrous fall, for no apparent reason, off a bed he's slept on 10,000 times. Then while walking with him I began to notice that he seemed ... asymmetrical somehow. One side of his ribcage stuck out more than the other, but when I felt along him I couldn't detect anything and it didn't seem to cause him any discomfort. That changed overnight into a cereal-bowl-sized lump on his side, and simultaneously he - and you'd have to know the dogs to understand how shocking this was - started turning his nose up at snackies. The dogs are conditioned to go nuts at Snacky Time: It just isn't natural for him not to want to eat his canned food and everybody else's too. It scared the hell out of me.

So two days ago W and I took him to the vet. He has dropped 15 pounds since his ear surgery. He had a 103+ fever, and the lump on his side was a blood-filled hematoma. The vet wanted to know if he could have been kicked by a large animal: As inactive as he's been, that isn't possible. He's never off the property without me, and we haven't encountered any horses or elk. If, as the vet believes, the hematoma was caused by an injury, the only thing I've got is that he injured himself when he fell off the bed. The vet sent samples off for blood work, and we won't know anything from that for at least a week. He used the "Big-C" word.

When you don't know what the disease is, you treat the symptoms. Fritz got big shots of antibiotics and steroids, and I came home with handfuls of pills. Now we're in wait-and-watch mode. The good news is that he got his appetite at least partially back yesterday and plowed through an entire can of dog food. I'll be spoiling him rotten with that stuff for a while.

I don't even have Magnus' headstone planted yet. I can't lose Fritz so soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Maybe no update today...

Good (not perfect, but good) day on the roof front, bad day on the dog front. W and I have to take somebody to the vet, so I haven't got time to play on the computer and expect to get back late. Tomorrow for sure.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A little too independent for his own good...

Yeah, I was eating breakfast this morning when my cell phone rang, a not very usual occurrence. It was L, my neighbor from maybe a mile and a half away as the crow flies. "We've got Little Bear and Beauty over here," she tells me. She doesn't sound real pleased.

I was wolfing the last of my egg when W comes over. "L called, I'm gonna go get Beauty and Little Bear," he says. I said okay, I'd been about to go myself but if you wanna that's fine with me.

Now, LB has shown up at D&L's before, but on those occasions it has been in the company of Ghost when they went chasing one of our trucks. In this case all the trucks were sitting in the frozen yard, right where they belong. No, this time Beauty and LB just decided they'd waiting long enough for their morning walky. This Would Not Do. And it is true that Beauty and LB have gotten to be a rather mischievous team. Out here, mischief can get you hurt or killed.

W came back with the two miscreants and a rather stern request from L that we do something about our dogs. We couldn't think of anything to do but confine them during the times when they're most likely to get each other in trouble. So this afternoon while buying flashing for the stovepipe, I also bought some stake-out augers and cables. I drove my auger into the ground, connected LB to it, and went into the barn to take a shower, wondering what havoc would have ensued during my absence.

When I returned, LB was...Well, he was...

Progress is happening!

M came by this morning and said, "I'm hung up on plumbing. You wanna go put up the ceiling box and roof the cabin?"

"Why the hell not?" said I. And so that's what we've been doing.

Last Saturday, D helped me build the ceiling box for the stovepipe, but it's been sitting ever since while we put walls up in M's Dome. We're back for lunch at the moment, but have to run to town right after because the people who sold me the stovepipe kit also sold me the wrong @#$% flashing. But the box is installed and there's stovepipe sticking out through the roof.

Full disclosure: The reason I need help with what would otherwise seem a simple task is that the cabin's roof (I really must post pix at some point) is truly, massively pitched, I have one leg which means one ankle that bends and one foot that gives me feedback, and - oh, yeah - I'm terrified of heights anyway and at the top the bugger's about 20 feet off the ground.

It'll be really great to get the roofing on the poor thing so it will stop filling with water when it rains. :-(

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What a revelation!

Who knew you could thwart pirates by shooting them?
NAIROBI, Kenya - Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.
Of course, more enlightened voices were immediately raised in shocked protest. Defend yourself against armed pirates...with guns? How horrid! How...unmutual!
"Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards," Middleton said. "Lots of private security companies employ people who don't have maritime experience. Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."
Backward from what, exactly? Acting like mature creatures, rather than helpless, mewling infants?

They're three or four guys in a skiff, for god's sake! You've got a great big cargo ship, which is a far superior shooting platform! Last time piracy on the high seas was a big problem, in the 18th century, do you know what made it go away? Cannon, that's what. Great, big expensive deck cannon. Not owned by navies, but by private shipping companies that didn't want to give their property to pissant coastal pirates. It's really very simple.

Take some freaking responsibility for yourself! Daddy's not here to protect you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heavy Thoughts - Why I Live Out Here

Earlier this morning, on a prepping forum where I spend too much leisure time, somebody posted a poll titled "Do you actually want SHTF?" I read through the answers, some of which were quite thoughtful. Then I added my own Deep Thoughts.

I voted "none of the above."

When I was an angry young man I dreamed of it. Fantasized about it; it was in all my plans. Would have done anything I could to bring it about, and if I didn't survive the doing I'd still have believed I'd left the world ultimately a better place. Angry young men can be stupid that way. Having studied a bit of history since then, and acquired more than a few gray whiskers, I realize that at best it wouldn't bring an improvement. A real, catastrophic breakdown might or might not toss out the Czar, but if it did it would bring the Bolsheviks and they're way worse.

No, the things I hate and fear in this world will be with me till I die. The best I can do is learn how not to fear them.

I can't make the world a better place; it's not in my power. But I'm still free to work on myself. And another thread of my youth was a sense of deep inadequacy whenever I thought of my ancestors, and how they, unlike myself, were not dependent for every tiny thing on the grocery store and the centralized infrastructure. The thought of dying of cold or hunger because the trucks and the electrons stopped moving always used to disgust me. I wasn't disgusted with the trucks or the electrons, which were out of my power. I was disgusted with myself, for being so dependent on masters I hated and forces I couldn't control.

When I got a little older I put all that out of my mind for decades. It seemed, at the time, the path of maturity. I became Mr. Suburban Man, but it never brought me peace. And older still, I decided that one part of that stupid, angry young man was right all along. I no longer give a damn whether this system endures or not, or what form its theoretical breakdown might take. I no longer debate calderas or asteroids vs. hyperinflation or civil breakdown. Instead I wrestle with balky solar batteries and help like-minded neighbors build their houses in the desert. I don't worry about the world outside me, because I can't do anything about it and wouldn't know what to do if I could. I work on myself.

So now, for me, prepping isn't about some end-of-the-world fantasy. It's about the way I've chosen to live now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Apparently they took it to one of the banks he runs now..."



H/T to the LRC Blog

Heh, Pt. 2

At some point when you've lots of time on your hands and want a giggle at someone else's expense, check this out.

I kept looking for the cues that this was a spoof site. But as far as I can tell this person is as serious as a heart attack but (unintentionally, no doubt) funnier than that.

Sample, from the Department of Made-Up Statistics:
Conservatives like to portray America as the land of “rugged individualism” where people would rather go it alone than ever depend on government for anything. And surveys show that a large majority of Americans believe that people should take individual responsibility for their lives. But these surveys also reveal that surprisingly large numbers of people believe that the government should take the lead and be responsible for dealing with a wide variety of social and economic problems. 71% of Americans believe that the government has an important or essential responsibility for seeing to it that anyone who wants a job can have one. 63% believe that the government has an important or essential responsibility to provide citizens with adequate housing; and 78% of us think that the government has an important or essential responsibility to provide citizens with good medical care.6 Similarly large majorities strongly support the notion that it is the responsibility of the public sector to “guarantee a quality public education,” “protect the environment,” and “ensure equal opportunity for everyone.”7 Clearly when we stop to think about what government can do for us in specific areas, we don’t believe that we should be going it alone without any help from the government.

Heh

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Got this from a friend...

Who said I could blog it. Just a day in the life of a citizen, citizens.

I'm visiting a friend in Tucson, Arizona, this week and this morning we set out toward downtown for an arts event. We hadn't gone very far. We were stopped at a stoplight at an enormous intersection of a parkway and the I-10 freeway. The light turned green, but traffic didn't move.

Into the intersection, against the light, came screaming two motorcycle cops, lights and sirens blazing. They paused in the middle. Behind them came a police pickup truck, lights and sirens also blazing. And behind that another motorcycle cop, ditto. Then they all kept moving right along.

They weren't moving fast enough for it to be a chase, so my blood pressure started rising, wondering what sort of oriental poobah of a politician they were escorting.

... When into the interesection came a semi truck with its long, narrow cargo wrapped in a decorated tarp. And behind it came a smaller, but similarly tarped and decorated truck.

In big words on the side were: "Arizona's Gift: The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009."

http://www.capitolchristmastree2009.org/funfacts.php

Every year, it seems, some state is sucker lucky enough to be chosen to provide a tree as a "gift" to Congress. This year, it's an 85-foot blue spruce from the mountains of northern Arizona. (Yes, much to the surprise of people who've never been here, Arizona has extensively forested mountains.)

Geographically astute readers will recognize that Tucson is nowhere near northern Arizona and isn't on any logical route from northern Arizona to Washington, DC. Yep, you guessed it; the tree is being escorted around the state for 10 days at taxpayer expense before heading cross-country for another 10 days at further taxpayer expense.

And this just a day or two after a report noting that Arizona is second only to California in its state of governmental economic disaster.

The link above says the full convoy contains 12 vehicles, so we clearly didn't see every bit of the grandiose waste. But we did see this parade tie up traffic in an already traffic-snarled city and can only imagine what it's going to do (and how much it's going to cost in both dollars and annoyance) when it reaches Phoenix.

Your hard-earned dollars at work, Arizonans!

Oh well, at least we can say that not one of those cops, at that moment, was tasing anybody or accidentally setting anybody's house on fire by throwing a flash-bang onto a bed. Nor were they out committing highway robbery against innocent motorists, nor arresting anybody for contempt of cop.

So all in all, I guess it was a good day.

Also, in downtown Tucson, in the very center of the highest-rent area of banking and business, there's a big, impressive-but-friendly business with fancy logos, signage and super-slick posters in its big bronze-tinted windows. The "business" is "HUDNextDoor." And yes, it's the federal department of Housing and Urban development, selling itself like crazy. Exactly what it's selling, I don't want to guess. But it's clearly selling it at a high price to thee and me.

I see why you prefer to live as a hermit, off in places where your mind doesn't get bonked by things like this.

[REDACTED]

P.S. The Capitol Tree website claims "the tree is being privately funded and donations are being sought."

Uh huh. Yeah. I'll just bet private donors paid for all those siren-bearing cops and that no governmental money or force was used to tie up all that traffic or to pay for governor Jan Brewer's trip to DC to stand next to Nancy Pelosi while she lights the thing up.