Friday, December 31, 2010

On the road today...

Having paid more attention to weather reports than is probably good for me, for once I'm not really looking forward to going home.  But home is where I'm going, so probably light/no posting today.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Half done!

So far, so good!

As with so many such skills that have intimidated me in the past, halfway through I'm wondering what the big deal was. This is generally a prelude to hubris-related disaster.


This is my victim. Costco is a wonderful thing, but I can't take this home with me or most of it'll spoil. I've pretty much given up on the whole "refrigeration" thing.


First, boil the chicken till it's 2/3 done.


Second, pay better attention to what's happening with the boiling chicken.


Once it's nearly done, take the hot jars out of the dishwasher, stuff them with chicken, and pour nearly full with broth.


Stick'em in the pressure canner, and religiously follow the intricate schedule for zapping them into a state of perfect sterility.  Get it right and they'll last on the shelves for years - not that they'll have to.  Get it wrong, and face agonizing death.  Either way - chicken!  What's not to love?


And there they are!  Now I'm cooking up the second half.

On sleeping in a strange place...

Peripatetic living comes pretty naturally to me. Hell, I've been all over the world. Going to strange places and doing strange things, though it's not the pleasure it was when I was younger, doesn't cause me any special distress. I'm always this neurotic.

The boys and Click, though - they've never lived anywhere but the Property. For Ghost and Click, their big move came when they crossed the plaza and moved into the Interim Lair. It'll be an even bigger change when they actually leave Landlady's Property and come to The Secret Lair. Which will, I swear, happen sometime before one of us dies of old age.

So their reaction to this week's Big Change has been instructive and frequently entertaining. LB, the puppy, is completely taking it in stride. Our daily walks involve leashes this week, which I expected to be a big hassle. Just to confound me, LB walks on heel like he just dropped in from obedience school. I can only assume he found all that time on the tie-out cable useful, because he hasn't given me a minute's trouble. As for everything else, he just seems to think it's fascinating - and fascinating is good. His people and his pack are here, so what's the problem?

Click is okay as long as she knows where LB is. She has truly adopted the puppy as her own child, and she only gets upset when he's outside and she's not. Given the difference in their species that's a little weird, but in case you hadn't figured it out before we don't count points off for weird here. There's another cat in the house, but that's only Sassy and Sassy really doesn't count. She's been hiding in the bedroom all week, and I only this morning caught a glimpse of her.

Ghost, on the other hand, has become a complete drama queen. None of this is right, we're all conspiring to bring him to misery and ruin, and if we had a scrap of humanity left within us we'd drop what we're doing right now and take him HOME. His only comfort is that there's a bed he's allowed to share with his person - that would be me - and as of last night he decided that he would henceforth share that bed with no creature possessing more than two legs. LB, being the young one in the pack, went along with the joke. Click, though, is unimpressed with Ghost's histrionics. She is Cat, and Cat sleeps on the bed. So the bed is now divided into two parts, and I'm the DMZ.

As I write this, the first batch of chicken is in the pressure canner. Looking good so far, four pounds of boneless, skinless thigh meat rendered down to six pints worth. Once this is out of the canner, I'll start working on the next four pounds. This'll keep me in chicken for quite a while, hee hee.

Also, yesterday my friend M rather casually scored me another free toilet for the Lair! He's amazing - he went on Craigslist, found somebody who was remodeling a bathroom, texted, phoned, dropped in, and came back with a (hopefully functional) toilet in the back of his pickup. Our success rate with salvaged toilets hasn't been very promising, but both those earlier thrones had sat out in the weather. We knew their plumbing bits needed refurbishing, but didn't realize their tanks had filled with rainwater and frozen, lacing them with hairline cracks. This one should be fine, which will bring me one step closer to converting the Secret Lair into a place I live, rather than just hang out and work for a few hours ever other day or so.

I'm taking pictures of the canning process, so before the day's out I should come back with pictorial evidence you can laugh at with me. Later.

Today we do something new.

Landlady walked me through the basics of canning this morning. I'm in a kitchen, surrounded by - er - kitcheny stuff. In the fridge, eight pounds of chicken. In the dishwasher, a bunch of mason jars. On the counter, a big pressure canner.

I think it's sneering at me.

But I will prevail. Today I become a man.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aaron Zelman, RIP

Via Claire's blog, I just learned the terrible news that Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has died.

I did not know Mr. Zelman well. We never met and only spoke on the telephone a couple of times. I once had opportunity to write for JPFO but it didn't last long, and I subsequently learned that the freedomista world is littered with the bleached remains of former or would-be JPFO writers - Zelman wasn't the easiest man to please, or to get along with. And some of his decisions in terms of JPFO's direction were, well, quirky. Be that as it may - if Aaron Zelman ever compromised a belief or principle, I never saw it. He was as brave and outspoken as a man can be for the cause he believed in, and the world is a far poorer place for having lost him.

Rest in Peace.

A Matter of Perspective...

David Codrea's latest Examiner column is primarily on the "90% of guns in Mexico" canard, but adds something I find an interesting - and rather refreshing - twist:
...a proven reliable source tells me that some guns are indeed making their way south, which no one has ever disputed—after all, it’s a porous border. Here’s what I’m told:
Frankly it's my opinion the drug cartels in Mexico are not getting their arms from the US civilian market. The arms that are going to Mexico are that of Mexican illegals going home and arming themselves in fear of the cartels and the Mexican govt. [who are sometimes one and the same]....I have that information from a well placed govt. source. Seems they got a taste of freedom here and "export" it back home with them.
With my blessings.

In related news, maybe some of those Mexican "crime guns" are coming from America after all! Mike at Sipsey Street passes on an interesting conversation in low places...

This bone in my nose catches on my sweater at the worst times...

I was sitting in Landlady's backyard gazebo this morning, thinking about all the things I should report about my visit to this alien place they call a "city." The incredibly profligate use of electricity, for example: What's the point of lighting up the outside all night long, as if people won't be sleeping? How are you supposed to know when people are approaching your house when there are always people sounds all around? Sounds of approaching vehicles bounce off all these walls, so you can never tell where they're coming from! It's like, there's no security at all! There are roofs everywhere, and you can't see the horizon! This place is scary weird!

And then I thought, "You're the one that's gone scary weird, Joel."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 1911 Doesn't Suck.

But neither is it the uniquely inspired gift of God.


In this morning's blog-crawling, I was directed by Robb to this anti-1911 screed titled, appropriately, "The 1911 Sucks." The writer says, in part,
It’s a 100-year old design. It needs tools to disassemble. It has unreliable magazines. It is finicky about ammo. And, as a single-action pistol, it is unsafe for 95% of its users to carry.
...
Why does a reliable 1911 cost so much, and need so much gunsmithing?
Since this is my blog, here I go with my retort. It's an excellent 100-year-old design. The tool thing is true, but so what? If your magazines are unreliable, you should get better ones because mine work fine. I don't get the unsafe-to-carry thing at all.

But the last question is absolutely spot on. Why, indeed?

When I was young, there were 1911 detractors. We chipped them out of stone back then, but they did exist. Their two main complaints were thus: The 1911 is laughably inaccurate, and its recoil is unmanageable. Seriously. Stop laughing. The first statement may have had some basis in truth, since there were a great many surplus pistols out there and some of them had been shot to death, but I think any claims about inherent inaccuracy have pretty much been put to bed. As to the recoil thing - get serious. People must have been wimpier back then, because these days recoil from a full-size 1911 is considered quite moderate. These days before you're even allowed to complain about recoil, you pretty much have to rechamber an NAA mini-revolver for .44 mag.

But along about the time I started shooting centerfire pistols, conventional wisdom held that an unaltered 1911 was, in fact, inherently inaccurate. The path to accuracy, it was preached, was to tighten up the whole action. Some others argued that this was a terrible mistake - the pistol isn't made for bullseye shooting, it's made for blasting large, bloody holes in people at dangerously close range. They argued that tightening the action might improve accuracy, but it was bound to do horrible things to the one essential thing a defensive pistol must do, which is reliably go bang.

The first group got its way. History has vindicated the warnings of the second group.

My first 1911 was an appalling frankenpistol build on an ancient Remington frame. God, I wish I still had it. Accurate? Not in the least. That pistol never jammed, never failed to fire for any reason but an empty magazine. Picky about ammo? It would feed empty cases as reliably as hardball. I know this because I did a lot of holster drills with primer-only loads and wax bullets. I did a lot of handloading back then, because I did a lot of shooting. Hollow points? Pick a style - no problem.

When I got into IPSC shooting, I threw the FrankenRemmy in on a complex trade to acquire my first Gold Cup. In a lifetime of idiotic gun trades, that's the one I regret most bitterly. Oh, the GC was more accurate - very much so. I once won a bet at a Hunter Pistol Silhouette match with a guy who was bad-mouthing the 1911. I bet him I could beat his score at our next match, me with a 1911 and him with his target-grade single-shot .44. (granted that I was a much better shot at the time, routinely trouncing him with my TC Contender, and that I expected to get skunked on the Rams.) Reliable, it was not. It would not feed any form of hollowpoint ever, was very sensitive to lubrication, picky about magazines, and just generally not a good carry piece.

I gather they've gone downhill since then. When I got back into shooting after a lengthy and disastrous marriage ("Oh, no, I don't mind guns!") I bought my current 4-inch SA and had nothing but trouble with it at first. After my third or fourth trip to a gunsmith I bewailed my fate aloud, and the smith rather dismissively told me I could never expect a 1911 to work reliably out of the box - they all, every one of them, needed to be ported and polished, hung with gingerbread and gimcrackery, and perhaps - perhaps! - then with the proper sacrifices to the proper gods you could get reliability out of one, for that was the way decreed by the Great Prophet Browning. Which is ... such ... BULLSHIT! ... that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

So like I said, the writer's last question is perfectly valid. And I know the answer. A reliable 1911 costs a lot of money and needs a lot of gunsmithing because they typically come from the factory unreliable. And they're unreliable because the current fashion in 1911s misses the whole point of the pistol's original design. Which is NOT bullseye accuracy.

Still, like the man said, it's a 100-year-old design and time has not stood still. Are there better pistols out there? Yes, there are - and I say that as a guy who carries a 1911. I use a 1911 because I always have, and that is really the only reason. If I were starting out now I'd probably have a Glock. Frankly, most new 1911s really do suck. But the original 1911 did NOT suck. It needed better sights, but all pistols did back then. That business with the hammer biting chunks out of the web of your hand - okay, that wasn't great design but a minor modification of the grip safety fixed that a long time ago. It was a good pistol and it would still be a good pistol if later, lesser designers hadn't screwed it up to the point where now you have to spend hundreds on gunsmiths to unscrew it. There is absolutely no excuse for that, and anybody who shrugs and tells you to suck it up because that's just the way 1911s are, is selling something you shouldn't buy.

But even if it hadn't been screwed up, it still would have been superseded by later, better designs. JMB was good, but he wasn't a god.

I'll bet you're a riot at cocktail parties...

So M has an AK receiver, and he's at loose ends as to what to do with it.

The problem isn't that M finds the prospect of building an AK daunting - far from it. M owns more AKs and variants than the residents of Mogadishu, and he built most of them*. M coached me when I built mine. M knows his AKs.

But now he has a little problem.

The problem being that he's running out of cool things to do with them. Ordinary AKs provide no challenge, and therefore no charm. Recently he got a note from the principal that he was allowed to complete his latest project, which he did, and now he needs something else.

I'm in my room this morning, reading something on my pooter. M walks in and hands me an AK receiver. "I need to think of something cool to do with this," he says.

I hold it uncertainly. "Um...is origami out of the question? I think I know where we can find a metal brake."

"Tee Hee. Maybe something with a heavy barrel."

"You already have two. SBR?"

"Done that." He started turning it over in his hands, and I saw in his eyes the inexorable slide into geek mode. He pointed at a part of the receiver just over the trigger guard.

"See, the difference in these is that there are only two rivet holes instead of the standard four, and a Romy or Hungarian front trunnion is too wide to..."

"Get out."

---------------------------------------------

* Yes, it's perfectly legal. You just can't sell them afterward.

In which Joel gets stuff with a little plastic card. What a country!

So for Christmas my weekender neighbors S&L got me:

50 pounds of bread flour
2 pounds of baking yeast
2 big bottles of isopropyl alcohol
4 pounds of unsalted butter
8 pounds of boneless chicken thigh meat

...and they squeezed it all into a little plastic thing the size of a credit card!

Thursday afternoon I'm gonna be filling mason jars with chicken. No more meatless diet for a while!

Californians! How's your supply of pre-ban lightbulbs?

January 1 is just around the corner. Look busy.
So long 100-watt incandescent light bulbs -- California is ordering them off store shelves starting Jan. 1 in an energy-saving move.

For now at the Home Depot in Redding, Calif., the bright orange shelves carry a wide selection of light bulbs. Compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs -- the energy-efficient choices -- dominate the aisle, but some incandescent light bulbs still linger.

On Jan. 1, the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will start to be phased out in California. By the beginning of 2012, they will be gone from store shelves.
Uncle points out that in the process, possibly as an unintended consequence, California has managed to outlaw the Easy Bake Oven.

It was probably a tool of the patriarchy anyway.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paging all military gun geeks!




Here's something you need to check out.

In partnership with some very knowledgeable and connected people, my very knowledgeable and connected friend M has created a website called Forgotten Weapons.

It's mostly about those developmental weapons that didn't quite make the cut, with a sprinkling of rare and exotic production guns. Wanna know what almost became the M1 carbine? It's in here. M tells me there's a gigantic trove of information that's in the queue for inclusion, but there's already a buttload of stuff here - he's been working on content for quite some time and it's getting to be quite a site. Check it out.

It's been a long time...

...since I've spent time in a city. Last year this time I was in Phoenix for a week at the SAR show, but that was kinda different - my hosts' house wasn't in a development and all the overload was purpose-related. At the end of it I was very ready to go home, but ... well, you know. It always seems different. Then last February I drove to the city to pick up Claire, but that was just a quick in-and-out and didn't get really scary until we were nearly home and got caught in a storm. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a neurotic stick-in-the-mud, but you knew that.

The trip took only about five hours. Click regarded the whole pet-carrier thing with horror and outrage. The dogs were delighted, but their idea of a ride only lasts a few minutes or half an hour or so, and they were burning out on the concept long before we got here. But still, they were good boys and Ghost didn't really start melting down until we were in Landlady's house and it became clear that home wasn't happening very soon. He's a slave to his routine, for which I completely blame Fritz.

And me? Oh, I behaved with complete normality. It was halfway through the car ride when Landlady said, in that tone one uses to broach a possibly sensitive subject; "So...I notice you brought a rifle case?"

"Okay," I said, "I know I'm being silly. It's just I don't feel armed anymore if I don't know where my rifle is."

"Oh."

"I promise not to carry it on the street."

"That'd scare the hippies."

"Which would have its own entertainment value, I'm sure. But they'd just call the cops, and when does that get fun?"

"A valid, and possibly important, consideration."

Yeah, my suitcase kinda clanks. No paranoia here. Uh uh.

One unexpectedly good thing that happened is the money situation. I lamented, up till a few days ago, that I was going to a city for the first time in a year and only had thirty dollars to my name - which I needed to spend on tobacco, which in turn meant I barely had a penny to my name. Then I got an extra little quicky job that put some folding stuff in my pocket, and that was quite serendipitous. But then Saturday evening my weekender neighbors gave me a Christmas card that contained a Costco gift card, and suddenly I'm able to spend money on staples! Cool! They knew I was going to the city, they knew I'd want to go to Costco, and they knew I'd be broke. I never discussed any of these things with them. Those guys are so thoughtful, they make me uncomfortable.

Landlady just showed me these walking paths they've got around her whole housing development. Ghost is so upset by all the strange new smells and sounds that he's refusing even to acknowledge all the challenges he's getting from all those unseen dogs behind all those block walls. If he's certain of anything, it's that he already has enough trouble and won't be starting any rumbles. Wherever the hell he is, it's not his territory so let's stay low. LB, of course, thinks this is just the most fascinating thing that's ever happened. Which, though it may not be exactly true, is not really that far from the mark. Since moving in with me a year ago last May, his territory is wide but his life in it is really pretty circumscribed. New things don't happen often, and now for this week there's a whole world of them. He's taking it in stride.

So anyway - here we are!

Well, here we are.

Ghost is in the middle of a prolonged meltdown, and has become firmly convinced that one of these doors leads back home. LB is enjoying this new mystifying adventure, and Click is just trying to keep everyone in line.

More later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Irony

Spent a portion of this morning on my knees, scraping shit out of the floormat grooves in a horse trailer. And my only regret was ... I shouldn't have spent time last night sharpening my knife.

Once, during my Mr. Suburban Man phase, I thought I wanted to be a manager. You know, the fellow with the office on Formica Row who, when he passes your cubicle, you quickly minimize the NSFW content you were reading and bring up that text doc or that spreadsheet. Some of the most unhappy days I ever spent were during the times when I actually made some part of that ambition come true. It's just not me.

And I recognized that wasn't for me, but I never saw myself as an itinerant shit-shoveler (we prefer Equine Excrement Engineer) and full-time slacker. Even when I gave up management dreams and settled into actually producing product for companies, I was driven by that ol' Yankee Work Ethic. Heh - I seem to have mislaid that somewhere along the way.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Anyway, the weekend's gonna be weird and busy, and all next week I'll be in a city so posting might get a little sporadic. Or it might not, if things are interesting but lend themselves to keyboard pounding. Either way, y'all enjoy your Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I thought I was wrong for a moment. But I was mistaken about that.

I read this sad article a few minutes ago, about the possible demise of Michigan congress(ver)men Sander Levin and John Dingell through redistricting. Normally I try to pay no attention to electoral politics at all, suspending the resolution only as a nod to the unavoidable during high-profile elections. But this article caught my eye, because for much of my life these two tapeworms were as ubiquitous as ... er, two very bad but common things.

I never really paid that much attention to John Dingell, but Sander Levin was unavoidable when I was growing up in Michigan. It's possible investigation would prove that the drop in Michigan population was caused in part by the multitudes trampled to death by their unfortunate position between Levin and any television camera. And it occurred to me that I literally didn't remember ever experiencing a time in Michigan when he wasn't trying to run my life. I assumed he must have been in Congress since roughly the Pleistocene. So I looked it up - which shows the depths I'm prepared to sink to avoid work - and to my surprise he only entered the US congress in '83. That meant I actually had to read the damned article, which showed I was not as wrong as I thought sorta right the first time - he was in the Michigan senate since 1965. During his interregnum period in the hinterlands, I was out of the state and could safely ignore him, but I moved back just in time to experience the joy of having him on the local news pretty much every dark, evil day. Haven't given him much thought since I moved away again, and that was a long time ago.

Dingell, on the other hand, has actually been in congress since I was a wee tad. Which is more than enough to show what's wrong with congress, right there.

If gerrymandering is the only way to shed these two parasites, then as much as I abhor the corrupt practice I'd have to conclude it's a good use of a bad thing. Failing that, Michigan might need to consider nuclear weapons. These two socialists are harder to kill than roaches.

Okey Dokey.

Whatever that fuel system gadget is, bypassing it won't be an option. The simplest solution, as somebody pointed out in comments, is to take it and get it heli-coiled. Since I'm going to the city in a few days anyway, that should be simple.

Fortunately the tractor will be fine parked where it is for a while.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adventures in old tractors...

Last Friday I drove Gulchendiggensmoothen home with smoke coming off the exhaust manifold from the diesel dripping onto it. The return line from the fuel injectors is interrupted by this ... thing, and the thing is made of aluminum, and threading steel fuel line fittings into an aluminum ... thing, if you do it often enough over a long enough period, is going to bring its own reward at some point in the form of tiny aluminum shavings where the threads used to be. I hate that. I thought that fitting was leaking before because the flair was cracked, which it was. But the replacement line and a little more vibration pulled the threads right out of the ... whatever it is.

In true shadetree fashion, the obvious solution to this problem was to just bypass the whole ... thing ... with a piece of flexible fuel line. I needed to actually get around to doing this, because a) I'm leaving for a week and need to park the tractor somewhere a bit less conspicuous, and b) it's threatening rain and I need to put the engine hood back on.

My main point of concern is that three fuel lines go to this whatever the hell it is, and I can only bypass it by tying two of them together. The third seems to go to the intake manifold, but because at one point two of them disappear behind the engine block I can only take an educated guess as to which is which, coming out the other side. I guessed poorly the first time, and when I cranked the engine fuel started shooting out the ... thing ... and I had to swap stuff around again.

The only way to be sure I'd really gotten the leak corked up was to start the engine, and of course at this point the battery, weakened by most of a week of sitting out in the cold, packed it in. The Jeep does that to me on a regular basis, which is why I'm never far from a battery charger.

So now we're patiently waiting for the damned battery to recharge, and I'm gonna go do something else now.

At last, our food will be safe!

"I find your lack of intrusive inspections...disturbing."
Washington, D.C. - The House gave final congressional approval Tuesday to a sweeping overhaul of the way that the Food and Drug Administration regulates most of the nation's food supply.

A bill that was all but given up for dead last week was approved by the Senate late Sunday and then approved by the House on Tuesday, 215-144. The legislation, which would provide the most far-reaching changes in FDA food regulation in decades, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill would increase inspections of farms and food companies, require processors to have plans for preventing contamination of foods, and require importers to verify the safety of products they bring into the country. The FDA, which regulates nearly all foods except for meat and poultry, also would have the power for the first time to force companies to recall tainted products. Recalls are now conducted voluntarily.

"FDA needs a modern set of authorities to deal with the effects of our increasingly globalized food supply," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
Oh, but that's okay. It's already late December, and next month Roy Rogers the Republicans will ride in and save us from all this lame-duck nonsense. Right?

Uh...right?
Republican critics attacked the bill for a Senate provision that exempts smaller producers from having plans for preventing contamination. "We've learned in our committee hearings that foodborne pathogens don't care if you're a big facility or a small facility or a big farm or a small farm," said Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa.
Oh.

I'm so surprised. Aren't the republicans the party of freedom and liberty now? Weren't they all chastened and stuff? I remember hearing that on the radio. So the only reason they hate this intrusive new bill is because it isn't intrusive...enough?

This is my shocked face: :^[

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes. Yes it is, and you're helping.

Andrew C. McCarthy, in this overwrought Washington Examiner piece, is all atwitter that the "Islamists" are coming to get us with their sharias and their burkas and their furrin ways. Next we'll be drinking tooth-numbingly sweet tea and smoking tobacco in our water pipes! It's just not right!

He starts by asking a question that would be relevant to any such discussion, if the irony weren't so palpable:
Should we hold that people are no longer free to govern themselves, to make their own law irrespective of any religious code?

Should we abandon the republican democracy our Constitution guarantees in favor of a theocracy?
Let me guess, Andew, that the correct answer is "no." And I agree. But I would also say the answer would be no if you had ended your paragraphs with "Irrespective of any political philosophy" and "In favor of an oligarchy." Or "Irrespective of anything whatever," and just drop all the ambiguities inherent in the second para entirely. Still no. I've a feeling then we wouldn't agree.

I don't need some "Islamist" (and did you just make that word up?) shoving his religious law down my sovereign throat, and I wouldn't put up with it. But you know what, Andrew? Nobody's tried to do that lately and I don't see it on the horizon no matter how hard you monger that fear. But I had to move to the gorram freezing desert to get a minute's peace from your dictatorial friends in government, into whose arms you'd have me run for protection from some mythical "Islamists" who plot by night to make me kneel on a rug. I get very angry about that sometimes, Andrew. And that bunch of law-wavers is here now, not hiding in some cave, and it only seems to bother you when the wrong bunch of bastards is holding the hammer.

You did get one thing right, though. Right at the end, and I wish you'd looked at what you wrote more carefully. You said:
The Islamist promise to conquer America sounds far-fetched. We are not talking, though, about raging armies or terror cells. The threat is the steady erosion of our liberties and capacity to defend ourselves. That is only too real.
And you were dead right, Andrew. The problem is that you're so damned brainwashed about who's doing the eroding that you can't see what's plainly right in front of you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Damn, that boy can run!

We took a nice long walky this morning, up through a saddle on the big ridge, then over one of the tallest knobs. We walked back down on the BLM road, the boys staying ahead, not quite done having fun. When I reached the meadow at the foot of the ridge, I caught sight of LB sniffing around the Indian Tree. Then he broke into a run, passing to my right.

I didn't see what he was chasing at first, but then a smallish jackrabbit came blasting over a little rise. He had apparently decided continuing to freeze wasn't in his best interest, and now he was visiting the sound barrier. When I could see them both in the meadow, LB was maybe ten feet behind and closing slowly. He's got the speed, but I wasn't sure he'd have the staying power this was gonna take. Ghost got a late start and didn't have a prayer, but ran along for the fun. A cottontail would have been jinking all over the place, but this jack was relying on straight-out speed and so far it wasn't doing the job for him. He must have heard death behind him, drumming the ground like a horse. I could hear it, and I was a good 20 yards away. LB can be a goof, but he takes his rabbits very seriously.

I lost them in some junipers, but when they reappeared the rabbit had opened the gap. LB was already flagging, and they were headed for the rocks. Looked like it was the rabbit's lucky day.

All three disappeared into the rocks. I stood and waited, and several seconds later Ghost came back, quite pleased with the run. He's not interested in catching them anyway; he just likes to run. But LB wouldn't have given up so easily, so I settled down for a bit of a wait. I'd know if he caught Bugs - the evidence would be pretty graphic one way or the other.

A few minutes later LB came trotting back down the BLM road, his mouth empty. No free lunch today. But just a little more flat ground, and he'd have had that sucker. For such a stocky guy, he sure can run when he's motivated.

Paging Dr. Incentive, Dr. Perverse Incentive...

California lawmakers gave their state's economy a kick, and thought they saw it twitch a little out of the corner of their eye. So they've decided to empty another magazine into it, just to be sure.
California regulators Thursday voted to cap the greenhouse gas emissions of the state's major industries and establish the nation's first broad-based carbon trading program.

The move marks another bellwether moment for a state that has led in environmental policy, coming as national climate legislation to regulate greenhouse gases and curb climate change has stalled in Congress.

"This is an historic venture," said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, as the panel voted 9 to 1 to approve some 3,000 pages of regulations and supporting documents, crafted over three years of intense negotiations with businesses and public interest groups.

Given the state's fragile economy, Nichols said, "most political people said we should do as little as possible as slowly as possible." Instead, she said, "we are being cautious and careful, but in the context of a very bold effort."
Sheesh. Not even Pelosi is this divorced from reality. Say hello to all those refugee businesses, Nevada!

H/T to KurtP.

I'm not a believer myself...

But I've got nothing against it long as people don't try telling me how to live, y'know?

And I know cool when I see it. And if this was real, it's just very cool.



Also, it beats the living snot out of "Holly Jolly Christmas." But then, what doesn't?

The only thing that raises a question in my mind is the sound quality, which is suspiciously good for a bunch of scattered singers in a food court. But if they could pre-place cameras, why not microphones? It could be real. And anyway, it's pretty cool.

H/T to Claire and Dave Duffy.

Danger

It's 4:30 in the AM, two hours before daylight. Ghost has had his first trip outdoors, and now he's curled up on his spot next to Uncle Joel. Little Bear isn't allowed outside but doesn't care because when Uncle Ghost is outside he gets a full-contact belly rub from Daddy, just him. He's had that, too. Uncle Joel's paid up, and now he can read his book till daylight.

I don't know where Click is. Normally that wouldn't bother me much. She was alive and well an hour ago - I always count noses when I wake up, and she was fine then.

Except there's an owl outside, and we don't like that. It was an owl almost got Butch that one time. Maybe it was an owl that finally did get him, I'll never know. The owls here ought to have Beechcraft logos tattooed on their wings.

Then there's a second owl, much closer. That's unusual. Ghost's head comes up; he ignored the first one, but unusual is bad. Where's Click?

They go at it again. Even LB raises his head now, and LB is an oblivious dumbass. Unusual is very bad. Where is Click? If she's outside, she should have come in by now. Unless she can't.

If they're hunting, why are they making so much noise? My fear, now, is that maybe they're done hunting. Where the hell is Click? Maybe she's just pinned down somewhere, laying low. Click's smart.

But I really, really want to know where Click is, and I want it right now.

I get up - she's got two beds up in the storage loft. The heater's been on long enough they'll be warm. Maybe she just didn't feel like dealing with the dogs. Just as I rise, I hear a crunching noise up over my head. That sound, I know. Click's food bowl. Okay: Click's cool. Back to my book.

A couple of minutes later, Click jumps down. She ignores LB and heads under the booth table. Down there is the hole where she can get in and out of the Lair. What the hell? She knows better than that; she can hear. I get up again, go over there. She's curled up on the bench, nearer the heater. She looks up as if to ask, "On a scale of one to ten, how stupid do you think I am?"

Yeah. Okay. I go back to my book. Daylight soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Really, it can't be said too often.

First a cold snap that freezes the pipes so hard the pump housing breaks into a zillion pieces. Then almost two weeks of weather so nice I begin to fear an inrush of tourists. Two days of rain. Today the rain stopped, the sun peeked out enough that I washed three loads of clothes and frantically ran them out to the clotheslines.

Then gale winds that have my laundry ALL OVER THE FRICKIN' COUNTY.

Have I mentioned I hate winter?

On caliber choice and perceived threat levels...

When I'm in the boonies, I always carry either a 1911 or a rifle. Since I live in the boonies, that means all the time. I've mentioned in the past that my .45 hasn't always proven the omnipotent fight-stopper my imagination built it up to be, and these days if I leave the property and don't need both hands free I'm more likely to carry my AK.

But I only own pistols in two centerfire calibers; .45 and 9mm Makarov. And on those rare occasions when I go to a city, I'm more likely to carry the Mak. This strikes me as incongruous, because I haven't lived in a city for over four years and they rather frighten me.

I was thinking about this a couple of days ago. I'll be visiting a city for a week at the end of this month, and was contemplating what I should bring. I never go without weapons, but the weapons I actually carry there are pretty anemic. I guess it's the whole probability/impact ratio again: On any given day in the boonies, the chance that I'll need to shoot something is almost negligible, but over time it becomes a certainty. I've had to do it in the past, and unless I move away I'll need to do it in the future. Nothing I've been called on to shoot out here was a particularly terrifying danger, but still - I definitely needed to shoot and so wanted something I was confident would hit and stop the threat. In the city, considering that I don't plan to troll slums with $100 bills hanging out of my pocket, the chance of shooting is extremely low. But if I do need to shoot something, it'll probably scare me a lot. Yet the pistol I'll probably carry is pretty much symbolic.

It's a puzzlement. Part of this, of course, is that the thing I fear most is cops, and cops in most places (I'd guess in all cities) take a dim view of "civilians" carrying visible weapons. So I go for something small and easily concealed, even though I prefer something massive and easy to get to.

Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I really don't like cops. But that hardly needs repeating.

I guess all that TSA groping leaves us nothing left to hide...

...because small packages are coming out of the, er, closet all over the place.


H/T to TJIC.

From the "Get a load of this" Files...

The wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine. Unless you're a tax-eater...
Federal prosecutor Arlene Fisk says defendant Troy Davis, upset about a demotion and lost pay, admitted stealing five laptops and a Sony Playstation.
Aw, izzums all upset? Diddums gets demoted?

I remember - it was easily within my lifetime - that people handed this sort of arbitrary, undeserved power at least pretended to hold themselves to a higher standard. Not "no standard at all, how dare you question me?"

Lamp post. Rope. Seriously.

H/T to Unc.

A parable...

This morning I was reading a book I wrote several years ago, for lack of anything else to do while waiting for the sun to rise. An incident caught my attention, which I had alluded to but downplayed in the book. Digging out a Bible, I looked up the passage and yep, it was just a ridiculous as I remembered.

1 Kings 20
35And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

36Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.

I pictured this scene: Two guys are in Hell, boiling in their daily bath of acid heated to the point of live steam. One guy says to the other, “What you in for?”

“Are you kidding?” says the second guy, “I was Attila the Hun, man! I raped and pillaged my way through all Asia and half of Europe. I sacked entire cities, put whole populations to the sword! I raped cattle and stampeded women!” He leaned back against a blistering rock, smiling reminiscently. “God, I had fun!”

He looks back at the first man. “How about you? What did you do?”

“Oh, I refused to hit a holy man on the head with a rock.”

Attila is shocked. “Just that? How does that buy you Hell?”

“Flay me alive if I'm lying. No, wait – that's Thursdays.”

“Seriously? You didn't do anything else? Littering, maybe?”

“Nope. Guy was a friend of mine, too. Just outa the blue, he walks up and demands I give him a wound. Never did say why. Well, I figured he'd been out in the sun too long, and told him no. Next thing I know a lion's tearing my throat out, and here I am.”

Attila shakes his head, impressed. “Wow. Sucks to be you.”

“Tell me about it.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

But where are the coffee mugs?

Saw this on Claire's site...


I'm not real big on tchachkes myself, but the artwork is cute.  And he does give credit where it's due.

I'm picturing a pair of big, brass round things...

Here's the story of a fellow who, while he may by his very existence demand definition of the line between bravery and insanity, still deserves a helluva lot of kudos for standing up to Leviathan - by following its laws to the letter...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Huh. That's weird.

Normally when I've got a whole bunch of things to do in a day, I succeed with one or maybe two of them. Today, pretty much everything went right. And only one extra thing went wrong.

Gulchendiggensmoothen went for a personal best 2.5 miles without springing any major new engine or transmission leaks. He did, unfortunately, compensate for this by springing a fairly major hydraulic leak at one of the front bucket hoses, but that fitting is clearly loose and should respond to wrench therapy. That fuel leak turns out to be bad threads in an aluminum fuel system gizmo whose exact purpose is unknown but that appears to be an emission-control device for drawing fumes into the intake manifold - in which case I'm just gonna bypass it with a longer length of flexible fuel line. This tractor? Pollute the environment? That's crazy talk! In terms of its actual performance, the tractor itself is working great. I stacked what had been becoming a veritable field of horse manure into a single stack, six or seven feet high, without any trouble at all. Except for the new hydraulic leak, the tractor behaved itself perfectly. A little hard to start on a cold morning, but that's perfectly natural for an old diesel. It's just all these niggling little leaks that are getting on my nerves.

Then with death in my heart I went into the powerhouse to fix the major water leak I built into the new pressure pump plumbing last weekend. I wasn't able to test it because of the missing drain plug on the pump, but the minute I plugged in the pump yesterday I got a big leak from a compression fitting I'd worried about because I'd lined up the PVC pipes so badly. I knew I was going to have to cut a bunch of pipes off and try to rebuild the whole thing straighter, but when I took the fitting apart I found out the only problem was an out-of-place gasket. I put it back together, pressured up the pump ... and it didn't leak! I wanted to ask it if it knew who I was - pipes I install are always supposed to leak. But I guess it got that out of its system.

I went around the property to make sure all the faucets were off, and at Landlady's Meadow House I checked for pressure and then fired up her water heater. Everything works! We have both hot AND cold running water! Aren't you jealous? 8^)

I put off washing clothes, because I need the juice to run the well pump and get some water in the cistern, and also because the Automatic Solar-Powered Clothes Dryer is out of order today anyway. But at least my fears of having to return to hand-washing permanently are put aside for now.

And now, for that hot chocolate. Y'all have a nice evening.

Oh, Ick.

Days like this are so rare here, they almost bring pleasure through sheer novelty.

Almost.

Cold and wet: Not cold enough to freeze, just enough to make the atmosphere's palpable moisture stick to every surface, including skin. Gray, low clouds. Intermittent spritzing rain. Enough of a breeze to help all that moisture wick away your body's heat in a thoroughly miserable way. This is a day for staying indoors with a good book and an eternally-filled pot of hot chocolate.

Naturally, I've things to do outdoors. It's shit-shoveling day. I found and (I think) fixed yet another coolant leak on Gulchendiggensmoothen yesterday, but in the process found a curiously recurring fuel leak I haven't figured out. If I can cork it up, I need to take the tractor to shit-shoveling to pile manure. Then there's a water leak to be fixed before I can get running water on the property, after which there's quite a lot of cleaning that's gone begging. I really could have used a continuation of our unseasonably warm weather, but Uncle Murphy dropped his foot on that idea. The ubiquitous bastard.

Still, I'm gonna see how quickly I can get my chores done today. That pot of chocolate is sounding awfully good, now that I brought it up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Private to Landlady...

Water Pump Repair Guy finally showed up. Replaced the plug. Pump no longer leaks.

That fitting we discussed leaks like a ... really leaky thing. Will fix tomorrow.

That is all, signing off.

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away...

I saw this at Codrea's WoG site. His post contained one word - it started with "i" and rhymed with "vidiot."
Recent stories told of two young men gunned down for no apparent reason — simply shot dead as they sat in their cars. They were threatening no one. By all appearances, the shootings were random. Two young men paid with their lives for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thank you, Second Amendment advocates. Thank you NRA. Thank you gun show merchants who sell firearms without background checks. Thank you pawn shop owners.

Thank you for allowing the least stable among us access to guns. Thank you for arming gangs and for making so many citizens feel that their only safety lies in gun ownership.

We do not live on the frontier. Police help is available to citizens with cell phones in a matter of minutes. And if your call to the police is an overreaction, you can apologize to the police. You can never apologize to the person you’ve shot because they cut you off in traffic, or to the neighbor who comes over to check on you because he hasn’t seen you out of your house for a week, and who tries your door when you don’t answer the bell.
It's true, of course. We gunowners can never adequately apologize to the many, many people we mow down in the murderous rages our guns drive us to on any typical day. I always feel bad about it afterward, but in the end there's really nothing to be done. I mean, I told my neighbor's five-year-old daughter not to leave her trike in my driveway. I really did. Finally just had to let Mossberg do my talking for me, 'cause whatcha gonna do? That congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses - You ask them politely to get off your porch, and then there's just nothing left for it but to stomp down to the neighborhood Kingdom Hall with an AK and a bag'o'mags. Nothing personal. I'm sure they're very nice people, but it's just gotta happen. My gun tells me to do these things.

Huh. Codrea said all that, and only used one word.

I was really good at being angry.

I set aside my earlier efforts at writing a longer Shadow story because I just wasn't getting anywhere with plot development. The level of coherence you need to tell a novel-length story just wasn't happening, and I hoped that when things slowed down over the winter I'd be able to string better thoughts together. And at last, some plot elements are beginning to peek out from my subconscious and wave at me timidly.

But the earlier efforts just took the form of essays, giving depth to the backstory of Shadow, the main character. Shadow is a half-mad desert hermit, and his earlier life ... looks a lot like mine. So the essays are basically meditations on things that happened to me when I was much younger.

This is one of the milder ones.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I got to play with my toys today...

Waiting for the water pump repair guy to come back today, not knowing when or whether he'd actually show up, I locked the boys in Gitmo. I usually only do that on shit-shoveling day, and they were displeased. Then I oiled and fueled up my chainsaw, which I haven't had an excuse to seriously use even though I bought it all the way back last summer.

The location of every dead juniper within easy reach of the Jeep trailer for miles around is, of course, well known to me. Most is on other peoples' property and off-limits, but much isn't. Whatever its other failings, juniper is a sweet-smelling firewood. But I think wood cut on government land smells far sweeter still. Don't you?

Of course I couldn't go far today, because I had to watch out for water pump repair guy. But less than a half hour's work still gave me more than four wheelbarrows' worth of wood already cut to size, and that's more than I can store in the cabin anyway. I need a couple more chains (and to learn how to manually sharpen a chain, yuck) so I've been husbanding the one I have but today was the day to start getting it dull.

I hung around some more, until Landlady got hold of WPRG and he called me, so I was sure he definitely wasn't coming today. Then I did something completely sinful - I loaded my laptop, tobacco and a book into a ruck, left the boys in Gitmo, trailered the wood to the Secret Lair, and unloaded the wood. I started a fire inside, rolled a ciggy, booted up my pooter and read a book for two hours to the tunes of Leonard Cohen and the sweet smell of taxeater cedar burning in my brand-new (really old, cast-off) woodstove.

A wonderful time was had by all. Except the dogs, but I'm now off to make it up to them. 8^)

Photographic proof! Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer associates with Reds! Old ones! In funny hats!


Oh, and he also came up with a uniquely, er, creative historical explanation for why the Second Amendment was just a political compromise and should probably be repealed or ignored.

He said historians would side with him in the case because they have concluded that Founding Father James Madison was more worried that the Constitution may not be ratified than he was about granting individuals the right to bear arms. 

Madison "was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. 'That can't happen,' said Madison," said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison's priority as, "I've got to get this document ratified."

Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said.

"If you're interested in history, and in this one history was important, then I think you do have to pay attention to the story," Breyer said. "If that was his motive historically, the dissenters were right. And I think more of the historians were with us.

That being the case, and particularly since the Founding Fathers did not foresee how modern day would change individual behavior, government bodies can impose regulations on guns, Breyer concluded.
It's all so clear now! Madison wrote the 2A, and all those Federalist essays to defend it, because writing stuff down was the political equivalent of talking. Madison was a politician, and so no matter in what medium he expressed himself he was clearly lying! Therefore, every part of the Constitution written by Madison is null and void!

What? No, no! Breyer didn't say that at all - let's not go so far. Only the 2A is null and void - Madison meant all that other stuff. Er, that is, unless this sorry-ass excuse for an argument actually works. In which case we're definitely taking a second look at that pesky fourth amendment thing.

It's good to be senile out of your mind king!

Oh, and should we bring up the notion that since Madison's assurances concerning how impossible it was for the National Guard state militias to be nationalized kinda proved false, maybe the concerns of dissenting states have been historically vindicated? Or would be, if anyone even looked at the question anymore? Which people should, BTW. Because last time I read history, the state governments were supposed to field citizen militias and the federal government wasn't supposed to field a standing army.

None of which really has much to do with the fact that "Shall Not Be Infringed" is a pretty damned unambiguous phrase. Until the poor little thing is left alone in a room full of lawyers. Because the important thing here isn't WHY Madison wrote what he did, but the fact that he did, in fact, write it. And then it was ratified as an amendment to the constitution. And that's pretty much that, Justice Breyer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'd like a camera-phone, extra creepy, please...

Of course we all know about cell phones and GPS, which is why I always remove and swallow my phone's battery before using. It's costing me a fortune.

But GPS data in digital photographs? What is the point of that?

H/T to Claire.

Finally figured out the final verse...

Memorize this, and you're all set for that big drunken Christmas party! You're welcome.

The Shit-Shoveling Song
(to the tune of the Wassail song)

Here we go shit-shoveling across the dusty plain
Here we go shit-shoveling in sunshine and in rain
Horses shit - Constantly!
And that's very good for me!
For it keeps me in flour, rice and beans from day to day
Yes, it keeps me in flour, rice and beans!

I am not a beggar living on a ruler's dole
Or working in an office in a gray upholstered hole
Raise your tails, ladies, do!
And I'll scoop behind you too!
For you keep me in sugar, coffee, cigarettes and brew
Doggie snacks, propane, cigarettes and brew!

Out here in the desert every creature has its place
I guard against the hunters, though they rarely show their face
But the big thing, of course!
Is the excrement of horse!
For it keeps me in all the things I need from day to day
Yes, it gives to me everything I need!

Oh, Yeah.


Kinda smoky inside, since I kept standing there like an idiot with the stove door open, admiring the pretty flames. But at least no smoke started pouring from the roof, or ... um ... Yeah, just forget I said that.

Quite a nippy morning, and the dogs' water froze solid outside, but once all that iron heated up the cabin became gloves-off comfortable in a reasonably short time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Success!

My good neighbor D came over after his workday, and helped me slide the stove into place.


Went to the builders' supply on Saturday with Landlady and got the last bit of stovepipe I needed to mate the old pipe to the reducer, cut it to size, put it all together, and then in theory all I needed was another strong back to help me horse it all around.



It was a little late to start a fire in it this evening, because the boys had been in Gitmo all day and I needed to get back to the property. But I'm gonna light it up tomorrow before shit-shoveling and see how long it takes to take the chill off the cabin. Excited!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good News - Bad News...

Good news!  The repaired pressure pump has been installed.


That center section, between the motor and the impellor, is what broke into pieces.  The company Landlady hired had a spare one that had obviously been lying around a warehouse for a long time.  It was the right model, fit perfectly, and should have put us right back into business.

Bad news!  During that time it lay around that presumed warehouse, somebody needed a part...


The new/old part is missing a drain plug.  Of course the service guy took the old part with him, so I've no way of replacing it.  Which means, when you apply water to the whole thing, you flood the powerhouse.  Which is growing to be a distressingly familiar sight.

Landlady's calling them tomorrow - and in fact I mostly posted pictures here so they'd know for sure what she was talking about.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Moment of Culture

In the Hour of Promise

In the hour of darkness, the hour of dread
You crouch in silence and you stare at the threatening door
And the sweat of your hand is slick on the grip of your shotgun
And the glow of the clock is all the light there is

There is no wisdom in the thing that you have become
There is no purpose to the way that you nurture your fear
The wicked flee, they say, when there is no pursuer
You did no evil; how did you become a wicked man?


In the hour of commerce, the hour of lies
You sit in a box and you stare blindly at a screen
And you jump like the guilty, every time the telephone rings
And count the minutes until you can make your escape

It is not freedom, when you are locked in a prison of your fears
It is not freedom, when you hide through the hours of your life
What is the goal you seek, where is the purpose of your struggle?
Are you starving the beast, or are you simply going mad?


In the hour of promise, the hour of hope
You learn to put aside the fears that keep you crippled
And seek out others, and then share your dreams between you
You bide your time, but do not put off the time to move

We seek the place in which to find the thing we desire
We join the minds that share the purpose of our heart
There is no common thread with us and the herds around us
We will find freedom, or we will die in its pursuit


In the hour of stillness, the hour of peace
You tend your garden near your quiet, private home
In a hard and holy place whose very name is never spoken
And callused friends arrive, to share the bread you baked

We are not martyrs, we are not mendicants of fear
We do not consent to the sacrifice of life
The beast that claims to own our lives does not concern us
We seek out quiet lanes on which to go our way

QoD - "What you need to be important" edition

From Tam, that aphorism-coining machine...
This is the estranged wife of a one-term senator from a small state, a one-term senator whose main claim to fame in this world, other than being a philandering cad who never should have left the back cover of the phone book for a political career, was that he got stomped to a paste as a vice-presidential candidate despite running against the weakest GOP ticket since WWII that didn't have Bob Dole on it in some capacity or another.
I've seen several mentions of a dead woman named Edwards in the past day or two. Didn't pay attention, and I haven't been reading a lot of news.

I gather some politician's ex-wife died, and the newsies are making a big deal of it? Pardon me if I don't become prostrate with grief right now; it's likely to be a busy weekend.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Woodstove! Not! Quite!

Having finally finished cleaning up the messy job I made of grouting, and isn't that water cold, I set the woodstove in place this morning...


...but I still can't use it, because...


Yeah.  A little something missing there.  And now for the part that's been worrying me.

Now, I've got additional stove pipe.  But - as with the grouting - this is something I've never done before.  Clearly, we have a rigid connection between the stove and ceiling box.  Clearly, the sections must overlap.  Clearly, short of temporarily lowering the floor or raising the ceiling, they can't.

My neighbor tells me that what I need is a short section of larger diameter, that slides over and locks the stovepipe to the stove then bolts into place.  Maybe so, but nobody local seems to sell that.  At least, not for 8" pipe.

I'm pretty sure it's not all that complex, for people have been using woodstoves for a helluva long time and I never heard of it being this big problem.  Suggestions?  Anybody?

Please?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Terrify the politician of your choice!"

T'HEE


Okay, okay.  I've got no sympathy for the rioters, and if I were gonna start stringing up taxeaters I wouldn't start with Charles & ...er, that lady.  Even if they lived here.  Which I'm aware they don't, okay?  So don't give me grief about the riot, because who cares?

But c'mon.  What's not to love about that shot?

H/T to Jim at TMR.

"Dead Men File No Appeals"

James Bovard writing on Change We Can Believe In...
How much evidence should the U.S. government be obliged to show before it kills you? None, according to the Obama administration.

And how much evidence of your wrongdoing should the government be obliged to possess before officially targeting you for killing? That’s a secret, according to the president’s team. If judges force the government to answer that question, the terrorists will win.

[...]

If Obama gets away with this power-grab, the rhetoric for the 2012 race for the White House should be retuned. Instead of listening to candidates compete based on the number of new benefits they promise to lavish upon voters, prudent citizens will focus on which presidential candidate seems least likely to kill them or members or their family. We might hear campaign slogans like “Vote for Smith: he won’t have you killed unless all of his top advisers agree you deserve to die.” Unfortunately, as with other campaign promises, there will be no way for voters to compel politicians to honor their pledges.
H/T to Claire.

Kids! Don't take bombs from strangers!

When I was a kid in the sixties I wasn't exactly Carlos the Jackal. But even I feared COINTELPRO enough not to fall for this...
Antonio Martinez a.k.a. Muhammad Hussain, of Baltimore, Maryland, has been arrested, Wednesday, December 8, 2010, for attempting to blow up a military recruitment center in Catonsville, Maryland, with a fake bomb supplied by federal agents.

On spam and deleted comments...

We had a little mystery solved yesterday evening.

Some time ago a valued commenter we'll call S complained that he kept commenting on certain posts, and his posts kept getting deleted. Yesterday afternoon I saw a blurb from Blogger about this NEW! IMPROVED! spam-filtering feature they just now deigned to tell me about. I had to do a bit of research to figure out how to look in the spam closet, and there all those (perfectly legitimate) comments were. Not a bit of spam was even in there.

S, Blogger hates you. One must wonder what you did to offend it.

Go figure, but in the meantime I'll check that folder from time to time now that I know it's there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It was thirty years ago today...

When you're an American my age, you have strong opinions about the Beatles. It doesn't have to make any sense. In the late sixties, the Beatles were like atmospheric oxygen - they were everywhere.

I admit I wasn't much of a post-Beatles Lennon (PBL) fan. The whole soap opera between him and McCartney, Yoko Omigod Ono...I kinda wished he'd just shut up and go away. In fact - sit down, please - the only PBL song I cared for at all at the time was, yes,...



...and listening to it just now, after so many years, it's clear my musical elevator never went anywhere near the top. I was a commie for about 45 seconds of my youth, until I actually met some. During those seconds, Lennon released that song. Yeah, it's embarrassing.

But I digress.

By the time he was killed he'd done Double Fantasy, and it was clear that the Lennon I'd loved in the Beatles had gone bye-bye and wasn't coming back. But I didn't want him dead. I mean, that's like hearing that somebody shot Jesus. Even if you're Buddhist, you don't want Jesus dead.

It's also a little hard to deal with the fact that it's really been thirty years.

Sheesh.

Now, this is how to do revisionist history!

Never settle for small lies.

I was looking for a copy of Kipling's Tomlinson. Strumming through the Google list, my eye was caught by the words "Tomlinson" and "blasphemous," juxtaposed oddly. Natch, I clicked. My eyes were assaulted by this:
Besides writing pagan and even evolutionary-type stories and other disgusting things including the blasphemous "Tomlinson", Rudyard Kipling, is perhaps most famous for The Jungle Book and the peom "If". He was born in India when it was a colony of the British Empire and was sent to live with an aunt in England for schooling at the tender age of 6. At 12 he went to a boarding school where there was apparently cruelty in the form of bullying from other students as well as beatings from the teachers. He later defended this abuse as necessary to the character building of future leaders of Britain. Defending the abuse of boys as a way to build character for future leaders may seem bazaar, yet when Kipling's life philosophy is examined it comes into focus clearly with the things that he stood for.
It goes on at some length, interspersed with scripture passages apparently designed to show at what level of hell Kipling currently sizzles.

The title? Rudyard Kipling: Fascist!

I happen to enjoy Kipling very much, except for the military poems where he goes on in what he takes to be lower-class accents that are pretty much gibberish on the printed page. I've read biographies. I'm aware that Kipling had his faults - principal among which that he was a raving imperialist, though given his upbringing it would be strange if he weren't. Even those sentiments were at least somewhat ambivalent, or he'd never have written A Pict Song or Recessional. Probably we wouldn't have agreed on much, but since he died almost two decades before I was born he doesn't have to answer to me.

But "fascist?" I don' think that word means what you think it means. And I really wish people would stop overusing it. Also, aren't Christians supposed to think lying is a sin or something?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, that was relatively painless.

Pump service guy came out this afternoon, checked out the motor and impellor, declared them good - and actually had the part to replace what was broken, plus associated seals and such.  He didn't come equipped to install the thing, but that's just a matter of some PVC - Even I can do it.

So while I still don't know what the service call cost and I doubt it was cheap, it's unlikely to have been as apocalyptic as I feared.  A few plumbing parts, and we'll have running water again!

That went really well at Costco, as I recall...



H/T to Mayberry

Happy Birthday, TUAK!

TUAK turns two today.  Cute li'l toddler - we had cake.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I've made an important sociological discovery today.

Grouting tile is without doubt the most mindless activity ever devised by man.  It also takes a very long time.  To say the least, the mind tends to wander.  This permits a number of other random observations, possibly of less epochal importance.

  • That last glug of water in the mix will be too much.  That is most likely to be true when you've already added the last bit of grout from the bag.
  • All those former Stasi torturers not currently employed by the CIA should be put to work dealing with the people who program the music for oldies stations.
  • Though never a Carpenters fan, I wasn't actually glad that Karen Carpenter was dead until put in a position to listen to "Merry Christmas Darling" every hour on the hour.
  • Did you ever wonder if, when Paul McCartney formed Wings, he figured he wasn't so much taking a step down fame-wise as finally getting a decent backup band?
  • Is it sad that Patrick Swayze was actually a better singer than he was an actor?  I never cared about this before.
  • The day you're up to your armpits in grout, and also forgot your rifle, is the day the dogs will alert to some new strange thing every other minute.
  • Freddy Mercury was a genius, without doubt. Brian May might have been the best guitarist in commercial rock, and Queen's harmonies were beyond compare. So why is it the only Queen song the oldies station seems aware of is "Another One Bites The Dust?"
  • And BTW, if Mercury had known one day he'd be sharing a playlist with "Holly Jolly Christmas," he'd have chosen to die of AIDS or something instead. Oh, wait...Say!  He really was a genius!
  • I think I may have figured out why 42 is the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.  But I forgot it while momentarily panicking over a (mistaken) belief that I didn't have quite enough grout.
  • If I could go back in time I'd keep Buddy Holly and his band from getting on that plane, insisting that Hall & Oates needed the seats more.  The Big Bopper could stay aboard.
  • Is it bad that the only Matrix characters I find interesting are Agent Smith and Cypher?
  • This comes to mind because after the second hour, when my shoulders felt like they were going to fall right off my torso, I started chanting, "Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?"

"Problematically Short Penis"

HAH!  Got your attention, didn't I?

Actually that pretty much summed up my ex-wife's post-mortem of our marriage, which is why it caught my eye in this brief article about pandas and China's never--ending struggle to save them from extinction.

I saw a Panda one time at the big zoo in Beijing.  Once was enough.  It was the only one they displayed at the time (this was like 20 years ago), really old, and sat around doing what these three are doing.  Don't bother watching the whole thing; it's all the same.  In fact you can watch one for hours and it's pretty much this.



They depend exclusively on a plant subject to periodic die-offs.  They are literally too stupid to breed, and on those rare occasions when they do successfully breed they normally kill their young through further stupidity like forgetting to nurse them or just sitting on them.  Now I learn their junk is too small to get the job done.

Yeah sure, they're cute.  But at some point extinction starts to look like their own damn fault.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Now, this! This is cool.

Wanna keep some small scrap of your self-esteem intact?  Have to travel by air anyway?

Then you want...Fourth Amendment Underwear!


Found it here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wow.



Expecting shamelessness from Charles Rangel is like expecting blue from a cloudless sky.  But after this "apology" speech, you'd expect any body of people anywhere to rise as a group and pull him limb from limb.

Instead:



They gave him a standing O.

I've spent my life cherishing and refining my utter contempt for the U.S. Congress.  But this, I do confess, even suprised me.

Our story so far...

Landlady called me back yesterday afternoon - of course I didn't blog about the pressure pump until I'd at least left her a message, because it all belongs to her and she deserved to hear it first - and contacted the local company that installs and repairs water systems.  At this writing, they haven't called me back.

I removed the pump - easy since the cistern it's connected to is empty - and took the housing apart.  Damage to the housing is even worse than it appeared.  With the bolts removed, it just fell to pieces.  As far as I can tell the motor is undamaged, but it seems to have been sold as a unit.  There are markings all over the motor, but nothing on the pump so I doubt we'll be able to buy anything but a new complete unit.

Fortunately Landlady wasn't planning to come up this weekend anyway, which gives us a week to fix and fill the system before she needs it.  Unfortunately it's likely to be expensive, and while I have my uses supplying money is not among them. 

I'll admit to feeling guilty about that.  I live here alone, using infrastructure wholly owned by another person.  Some tech needs to be used or it falls apart, like the Jeep.  I'm not shortening its life by using it.  Other things, like the pressure pump - who knows?  The simplest system of ethics says I should pay - wholly or in part - for the needed repair.  But I barely make enough money to stay warm and fed through the winter.  All I can contribute is labor, and unskilled labor really isn't much use here.  She has always seemed fine with that, an attitude I've never fully understood, but I'm really not.

One improvement we need to make, in addition to bolting down the damned pump, is a shut-off valve between the cistern and the damned pump.  This isn't the first time I've wondered what the hell the system builders were thinking.  There's a shut-off valve between the pump and the pressurized water, but nothing whatever between the pump and the cistern.  So how the hell are you supposed to service the pump without dumping 2000 gallons of water onto the powerhouse floor?  Dumb.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You don't suffer the way I suffer...

Well, hell.

Dang.  Poop.  Ca-ca.

This hasn't been a great day.

Okay:  Note for future generations.  When designing your off-grid water system, see what you can do about eliminating the pressure pump and tank.  Just write it right out of the budget.  Locate your well and cistern on a nearby hilltop or something.  BUILD a hilltop if you have to.  Seriously, right now a fifty-foot water tower is sounding like a better solution.

I knew something like this was going to happen - it really didn't come as a big surprise.  The pressure pump has been leaking for some months now.  Not a lot, just a drip.  It happened sort of abruptly when somebody - not saying who, but he has a blog you may have read - forgot to fill the cistern before a big everybody-here weekend.  The cistern ran dry, the pump - which is not supposed to run dry - started making horrid noises, and after that there was a little leak.  The housing is supposed to be bolted to the ground, but wasn't and vibration loosened a couple of threaded fittings.  Annoying, but there it is.

Then a couple of weeks ago the pump froze solid.  That came as quite a surprise, because nothing in the powerhouse has ever frozen.  The batteries always gave off so much waste heat that the inside of the building never got below freezing.  But now we run fewer, better batteries.  Guess I should have anticipated that.  Anyway, I thawed it out, Landlady bought a heat tape that should prevent it from happening again, and that was an end.

Except it wasn't.  I don't know if the ice hurt the pump or what, but yesterday the whole thing sort of...blew up.

I know for a fact that it hadn't been going on very long.  Yesterday, a beautifully sunny day, I took advantage of all those photons to fill the cistern.  When I plugged in the well pump, all was well.  I went to work on the cabin, came back a few hours later to unplug the well pump, and heard running water as I approached the powerhouse.  Lots of running water.

Okay:  One disadvantage of putting your water system in the same building with your electrical system is that when the building is flooded three or four inches deep, you may experience a mild reluctance to go in there and see what the hell is going on.  But I did, just enough to grab a handful of cords, unplug everything, and note that the water was somewhat cooler than tepid.  Water was pouring out of the building through a low spot in the foundation, and I figured I'd just go diagnose the problem when the procedure didn't involve wading.

I still don't know what happened.  The motor runs fine, but clearly is no longer connected to the pump.  The housing extension between pump and motor is broken in several places.  The water came from the cistern backflowing out through the violated housing.  Yep - 2000 gallons.  We have no water.

The good news is that we do have a plan B.  The bad news is that it involves hauling water in bottles for a while.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Got NOTHIN' Today.

The cold snap has gone away, and most of the snow has melted. It was quite nice yesterday afternoon and gorgeous today. The boys and I took a very-long-deferred Walkie into the canyons and let them run their widdle brains out. Then into Gitmo they went and I finally got a little work done on the cabin - which even without stucco is remaining remarkably dry.

And other than that, I got nuttin to say. Here are funny pictures instead.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010