Thursday, June 30, 2011

I don't know what got me thinking about this.

Back in the late 'seventies I read Mel Tappan's Survival Guns till my copy fell apart. I didn't buy everything in it - Tappan's idea of a "basic survival battery" would have broken the axles of an F-350 and backed up the workload of every premium gun customizer ever featured in Guns & Ammo well into the next century - but I'd be lying if I said I didn't hang on every word he ever wrote. Hey, I was young.

One thing that always struck me as odd about Tappan was that we never saw his picture. Gun writers tend to be the sort of people who love to have their pictures published - I knew what they all looked like, but not Tappan. But I figured maybe it was a survivalist thing.

Anyway, back then I attended a shooting/survivalism school in Missouri several times. During one of my early stays I guess I quoted Tappan's opinion about this or that maybe a hundred too many times and got on the instructor's nerves. He took me aside and said something like, "Look, I know Mel Tappan. He knows a lot about guns, he shoots a lot of guns and he's a good writer. But every story he ever told about something he did, he either made up or got from somebody else. He couldn't have done any of those things, because he lives in a wheelchair. So don't get too wound up about Mel Tappan."

That came as quite a surprise at the time. I didn't have any way to check the story (this was WAY pre-Internet), and eventually moved on and sort of forgot the whole thing - including Tappan. Tappan died a few years later, fairly young and apparently of long-standing health problems, and that seemed to verify what my instructor had said.

For some reason I just now got to wondering about it. I did what anyone in need of deep, incisive research does, I went to Wikipedia.
Tappan spent the last years of his own life using a wheelchair, after initially incurring a severe foot laceration from a broken drinking glass in his swimming pool and then developing debilitating leg failure, due in part to the obesity developed during his convalescence from the laceration. This eventually led to congestive heart failure.
Whatever grain of truth this story may hold, it sounds like bullshit to me. A far-gone survivalist guru lets his whole body fall apart and die because he cuts his foot? How long does it take to get so obese that it threatens your life, and how long does it take to kill you? I'm guessing decades, not years. I got my foot cut off, and I'm in better shape than that.

Several search terms brought me absolutely no further information. And now it's kinda bothering me. Anybody out there know the real story? I know at least parts of Tappan's claims were bullshit, that's fairly obvious. And it really doesn't matter. But I'd like to know just how much I was being conned, back in my twenties.

A few bad apples?

Via Snarkybytes:

Are you sure you brought enough cops?
DAYTON, Ohio (CN) - Dayton police "mistook" a mentally handicapped teen-ager's speech impediment for "disrespect," so they Tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat him and called for backup from "upward of 20 police officers" after the boy rode his bicycle home to ask his mother for help, the boy's mom says.

See, this is the thing I don't understand about the "a few bad apples" defense. So some barney with an attitude goes on a authoritah-fueled rampage against a helpless innocent. Okay, that could happen without discrediting the whole idea of police. So the other cop kicks his partner's ass and drags his bleeding body back to the station, where the rest of the department stomps him a few times and then publicly cuts off his buttons and epaulets and breaks his sword. Right? Not exactly...
"Hooper and co-defendant Officer John Howard, "fired their Tasers, striking Jesse in the back with both probes."

"Once inside the house, defendant Hooper and defendant Howard began to struggle with Jesse, who was standing against the back door with his hands up in front of his face, saying 'Please quit, please quit.'"
Well, all right. Two bad apples in the same car. It could happen. Except...
"Back-up units were requested to Jesse's house, wherein upward of 20 police officers from different jurisdictions were present.

"At no point, even after being advised of Jesse's mental challenge/handicap by Jesse's family and numerous bystanders, did defendant Hooper, defendant Howard, or any other police officer present, attempt to communicate with Jesse or explain in terms he could understand as to why Jesse was being chased.

"Jesse was handcuffed and hogtied before being placed in the back of a police cruiser.

"Jesse was charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and obstructing official business."
22 cops, and they're apparently all bad apples. At what point do we get to throw the barrel away?

YEEEAAAAARGH!!!


Finally, der tag! I was completely ready to set the toilet in place. A flush toilet of my very own. How I've dreamed of this day.

I had everything I needed: The fittings, the hose, the tools, the wax ring. I forgot NOTHING! A red letter day.

I hauled the new (used) toilet to the Lair. Went over all the plumbing. Cleaned up the old wax. Drained the cabin. Set the throne in place. Bolted it down. Cut the pipe to length. Everything went perfectly! Went to retrieve the PVC glue.

Which was completely coagulated in the can. Foiled again! But wait: There must be more around here somewhere. I searched the Meadow House high and low: I KNOW there's glue here! Can't find it anywhere. I know it's here! I used it myself, not so long ago! Searched the shop in the barn: AHA! Gotcha!

Dried out.

Sigh. M's due here middle of tomorrow, maybe he can bring some up. This sucks.

ETA: I just actually looked at the photo I posted. If you're wondering why the toilet is so ludicrously off-center, it's because Uncle Murphy put a floor joist in EXACTLY the wrong place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the year 2009...

...when men were men, ATF agents were heroes, people were buying the bullshit about American guns flooding poor Mexico (without U.S. government help, that is), and SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE!!!
Success on the front lines of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging heavy miles and knocking on countless doors. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — sent here from around the country — are needed to follow what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.”
Hee.

Thank you, David and Mike.

Chew it slowly! This is the good stuff.


I've been spending the morning, off and on, trying to bring some order to the very messy pantry.

I needed to swap lids on a bunch of pails, and I hate dealing with the lids. About half our pails have spin-on lids, which means they really need to be reserved for the pails we actually get into from time to time. There's about seventy pounds of wheatberries and unground corn and I don't know if we'll ever use that at all. What's the point of spending expensive spinner tops on it? Besides, Landlady brought me a bunch of food that needs to be properly stored before I can use it, because once you've opened the sack you're committed to something. I've got fifty pounds of good oatmeal here, and it's been mocking me. Now - and this is really the good stuff - I can eat it!

The whole thing just needs to be straightened up, inventoried, and checked for damage. For example, here and there we've got more pinto beans than any group of sane people could ever want to eat, yet I just bought more. Ditto white rice, some of which is fifteen years old. That needs to get eaten. There's beef-flavored TVP I didn't even know we had. 25 pounds of salt that'll last forever, but its sack is deteriorating and leaking: That needs a pail. How in the hell did we end up with almost a hundred pounds of sugar? Labels have fallen off or were never there: Twenty pounds of good brown rice were labeled "Flour" in big red letters.

I'm not very organized.

Wow, guys. Way to be non-judgmental.

8^D

So I'm surfing a bit at Claire's, and she recommends this essay at Get Rich Slowly called "What Do You Care What Other People Think," a question always dear to my heart.

It's not a bad piece, I recommend it. Basically, the problem is that people love to be judgmental of other people. If Prepper A likes to build character and save the planet by bicycling everywhere, then Preppers B-Z are slackers and wannabes for driving cars (Except for Prepper N, who at least bikes in nice weather. (sniff) Fair-weather bikers are so contemptible, but at least she owns a bike.

(Full Disclosure: I no longer even own a functioning bicycle. Ever try to ride one through a sandy wash?)

We see this on gun forums (which GRS definitely isn't) all the time. "California Gunowner" bitches about Kali gun laws. Others show sympathy, but there's bound to be at least one reader who goes all Keyboard Kommando and berates CG for not abandoning all his non-gun property and relocating to somewhere more gun-friendly. Preferably after personally executing the entire population of Sacramento. This provides KK with the opportunity to feel edgy and righteous for having been born in Nevada. How does that work?

Sometimes the "slackers" themselves are the offenders in this regard.
I must say that articles like these bruise my ego a bit. I WANT to do everything possible to minimize my impact on my financial health and the health of the environment, so it bothers me somewhat to continually hear about biking, when it’s just not realistic to my life.
And I can see whomever she's responding to replying, (Because it's what I would say,) "Lady, I'm not judging you for anything you're doing or not doing. But why should I give a damn about how anything I do, or say about what I do, makes you "feel?" If I were attacking you you'd have a point. But I'm not, so you don't. Your ego is your concern: I never give it a thought. I don't try to bust it by criticizing wannabes, and I don't try to spare it by keeping quiet about my own life. My life probably wouldn't be realistic for you. So?"

Anyway - the writer asks, "Can't we all just get along?"
Sometimes we do forget that others don’t have the same options we do. But it’s also true that some of us become indignant when we read stories about living in a tiny house, owning only 100 possessions, growing all of our own food, or having a DIY wedding. We feel judged. That’s unfortunate, because getting defensive can get in the way of noticing other lessons that might be applicable in our own lives.
Perfectly true, and perfectly reasonable. Like I said, it's a good essay. It concludes,
Instead of criticizing yourself, notice what you’re doing right. Be your own personal fan club. Choose your values and follow them as best you can. Keep growing, learning, and stretching. Live well by living wisely. Be nice to yourself. And remember that it does not matter what other people think.
Good advice. Which, alas, the readers are not prepared to accept. The VERY FIRST COMMENT...
I don’t agree with the points made by the non-bike enthusiasts. We can all choose to ride a bike rather than drive our car.

You might say, “but I live in the country and everything is 20 miles away!” Well, that was your choice. By making the choice of where to live, you (at the same time) made the choice not to bike.

My wife and I are making a move into the city and I am ecstatic! I can’t wait to bike everywhere! Not only will it be better for the environment, I will also save a ton of money in gas!
And the battle is engaged. 160+ comments later, it's still raging.

Nobody really needs a television, you know. Even for a hermit, people provide lots and lots of entertainment.

Harbinger of Monsoon

It's been hot - really hot - for days. Afternoons above a hundred according to the nifty digital thermometer Landlady gave me, which is hotter than usual. Yesterday broke cloudy and hazy, breezy and much cooler. Around two the storm struck.

Hardly any rain, which isn't unusual at first. When the storms are in the distance, you can see water falling from the clouds but evaporating before it hits the ground. Here it barely sprinkled. But the wind came in brief, fierce blasts that had Ghost running for cover.

Nothing here ever feels an obligation to be predictable, but if it follows its usual pattern it'll do this off and on for a couple of weeks and then settle down to regular afternoon storms. Moisture on the ground will accumulate until any storm might cause flash floods in the washes. Since various washes run in various directions and the storms come from any or all of those directions, you never know which wash will run or when. This will continue for a few months until it decides to stop. If it does. We call this "Monsoon," and it's part of life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Al Gore to Women: Put Out Less.

I didn't exactly make that up...
"One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women," Gore said in New York last week. "When that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices."

So...Inconvenient Al is unaware that the native population of the U.S. has been stable for quite some time, and that those of other western countries is in steady decline? Does he think anybody in the "third world" cares what he wants?

Six years in slam for doing the right thing?

Remember when it was America's pride to be able to truthfully say it had no political prisoners?

Me neither.

Is it paranoia when they're really out to get you?

I've been seeing these talking points (sure wouldn't call them "arguments") quite a lot. Maybe they resonate with somebody. Somewhere. I hope not to meet those people.

  • The ATF's woes are entirely the fault of the gun rights lobby, concerned to the point of paranoia over "constitutional abuses" when all the poor, beleaguered ATF wants is to put in place common sense regulations that do not violate the 2nd amendment.
  • The results of the novel, and perhaps questionable, ATF operation intended to curb gun smuggling into Mexico (which facilitated gun smuggling into Mexico and led directly to the deaths of hundreds of people) clearly demonstrate the need to increase ATF's power and budget.

This is the way we do it on the planet WaPo, and it works fine for us. So we need to impose it on all those bitter clingers. They'll thank us for it in the end.

H/T to Balko.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Apparently so. Apparently so.

Tam, quite logically, asks
Seriously, have we reached a point where we, as a nation, are so pants-pissingly scared of a bunch of self-immolating neolithic goatherds that we are willing to inflict any indignity on any citizen at any time rather than expose ourselves to the slightest bit of risk?
It seems we have, Tam. If people will sit still for this, they'll bend over for anything.
Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.

C'mon. We all know the answer to terrorism, such as it actually is. It's this, times three hundred million:


If some fanatic wants suicide he can have it any time, but not on his terms. Think that'd solve any terrorism epidemic that might arise? Because I think it would, and I also think anybody who claims to believe different is selling something bad. Which, of course, they are.

UPDATE: Oh, hey, we were all wrong. It turns out the whole thing is completely cool.
"We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure."
So, um...sorry to have brought it up. Go back to what you were doing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hm. Everything about this job seems to be gross...

Working on the last tweaks to the septic system before I start burying stuff. I pulled the pipe out of the first barrel for a little adjustment, and caught a really foul odor. That seemed premature.

Looked down through the hole, and there were two dead rats in there. Yike: I wouldn't want to go the way they did. They had to have gotten into the barrel through the pipe. I suppose they could have gotten into the pipe through an open clean-out, but more likely they jumped down the toilet flange from inside the cabin.

M said, "Cool! You've got your own built-in rat trap."

Yeah, if all goes well there'll be a toilet sitting on top of it by the end of the week.

Corned Beef Hash (with complications on the side)

I love corned beef. And potatoes. And onions. It therefore follows logically that I should love corned beef hash like life itself. Instead, for most of my life the mere sound of the three words made me actively nauseous. Seriously, at the sight of a can of the stuff in a store, I'd have to leave the store till I got hold of myself.

First, of course, canned corned beef hash bears no slightest resemblance to the real stuff. Second, piling it a foot high on a kid's plate and making him sit there for hours till he eats it all is a fairly evil thing to do to a kid. I actually had to go back to the table, even after rushing to the benjo to vomit what I'd already eaten. It was pretty mean.

Anyhow I was happy to find that, after no more than fifty years, I've finally gotten over it. Landlady made (excellent) corned beef hash for breakfast, using beef she'd put up herself and freshly-grown baby potatoes, and I don't think I've enjoyed a meal more in my life. The boys helped clean up the pots.

Then, just as I was getting ready to go to work at the Lair, they went off on their unsupervised morning run. I've been preventing that lately because of Little Bear's paw, but didn't supervise them closely enough this time. Landlady raised some really impressive blisters assembling furniture yesterday, and had a tissue bound on her right hand with duct tape this morning. I went up to get my medkit for a proper bandage, and when I got back the boys had abandoned the pots and everything else. They came back in fairly short order, winded, thirsty and happy, and no harm done.

I've been spending my afternoons sans prosthetic leg, hoping this damned pressure sore will heal. Having finally gotten a break from geiger counters, I need to be working on the Lair. But I'm only there in the mornings: It's gotten very hot in the past week, and frankly by noon I can hardly walk anyway. The sore never quite goes away, but only flares periodically. Lately it's been pretty bad. The only effective treatment I've found is self-mutilation followed by a period of being truly crippled. That is, I have to dig the dead skin away from the sore so it'll grow back healthy, then spend weeks completely off the leg. The first I can do, the second - not so much. So I compromise, and spend half-days one-legged on the sofa. And so once again it'll go into some sort of remission, but never really heal.

If anybody ever tries to sell you amputation as some sort of fashion statement, don't fall for it. No matter the quality of the prosthetic, it's really not an improvement. It's true what they say: Your feet are there to keep your legs from fraying at the end.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Forgotten Weapons

This looks like a good place to plug my friend Ian's site Forgotten Weapons. I've mentioned it here before. He covers a lot of old, obscure designs, provides scans of old manuals, that sort of thing. Lately, though, he has gotten hands-on access to working firearms. So he's graduated to doing videos. If you're into that sort of thing, check it out.



ETA: Well, almost working firearms. He made the mistake of comparing this one favorably to the M14, so the Prophet Garand spanked him from on high.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh, brother.

Hiding in the Scriptorium and waiting for the heat to fade. The boys and Click are sacked on the shelves, everybody's safe, everything's coollaid-back, and I'm aimlessly surfing the afternoon away. I should be more careful where I surf.

From somewhere or other, I came upon something called A Manifesto for Conscious Women. It's an odd thing, coming from anything that calls itself Everyday Inner Peace. It might bring you inner peace, but share it with your wife and I guarantee your outer peace is over.
* I honor you for being a gentleman. I apologize for demanding that men act like gentlemen while exempting myself from acting like a lady. I apologize for poisoning the relationship between men and women with my anger. I apologize for keeping up the pretense of being sugar and spice and everything nice while I am more often the one to initiate physical violence in dating and relationships.
It goes on at substantial length, and is guaranteed to send the most peaceable feminist looking for a meat cleaver. It's written in answer to some other guy's Manifesto for Conscious Men, which is just ... oh, god...
I come to you today as a man committed to becoming more conscious in every way. I feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine. I also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present. I want to apologize to you and make amends for those actions, in order to bring forth a new era of co-creation with you.

I'd like to offer my own suggestion for the furtherance of these folks' inner peace, courtesy of that great moral philosopher, Don Henley.

I won't be packing it on any camping trips...

The thing weighs a ton. But after the ninja bear incidents of a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd better upgrade my lighting situation, which I never took very seriously. I've got a fairly good belt flashlight, but nothing capable of burning the retinas out through the back of a midnight visitor's skull.


I don't take a lot of gear suggestions from GC Guy, but he's been happy enough with his and it did do the job while I was crawling around under S&L's house. It's bright, rechargeable, and at least when new it lasts a long time on a charge. That's all I'm looking for, so I bought one.

To my surprise, it had some charge when I slashed it out of its impregnable bubble pack. (I hate those things.) Not bad for daylight, huh?


Anybody who says pictures can't lie...

...hasn't seen a professional news editor at work.

Let's play "Spot the Lies."

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.



Are all Chicago newsies this dishonest? Are all Chicago viewers this stupid?

H/T to Black Sunday.

Maybe this is why Helmke quit: The "question-that-must-not-be-asked seems to be spreading.

Editorial: Was Fast And Furious A Gun-Control Plot?

Not the sort of question I'd expect Investors Business Daily to be worrying itself over.
Scandal: Rather than a botched attempt to catch criminals, was the ATF program actually an attempt to advance gun-control efforts by an administration that has blamed Mexican violence on easy access to U.S. weapons?

If "Operation Fast and Furious" was merely a botched attempt at law enforcement, why was a supervisor of the operation, David Voth, "jovial, if not, not giddy but just delighted about" marked guns showing up at crime scenes in Mexico, as career Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Dodson told Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight Committee?
The piece goes on to deconstruct the "90% lie," as succinctly as I've ever seen it done:
...the administration has charged that much of Mexico's gun violence is our fault. Both governments have pushed the myth that 90% of weapons confiscated by Mexican authorities originate in the U.S.

Fox News has reported that, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico sent about 11,000 guns to the U.S. for tracing in 2007-08, out of about 35,000 confiscated. Of that 11,000, 6,000 were successfully traced. And of that number, 5,114, or 90%, were found to have originated in the U.S.

Weapons that originated in foreign countries are not sent to the U.S. for tracing. Neither are weapons of Mexican army deserters or those stolen from armories.

Bill McMahon, ATF deputy assistant director, testified that of 100,000 weapons recovered by Mexican authorities, only 18,000 were made, sold or imported from the U.S. And of those 18,000, just 7,900 came from sales by licensed gun dealers. That's 8%, not 90%.
Nothing that hasn't been said before, of course. Over and over, in fact. But always in gunblogs, and thus ignored. Look how long it took before anybody but Codrea and Vanderboegh wanted to talk about Gunwalker at all. Seems the MSM's dike may be leaking just a tad.

But who will we pick on now?


Say what evil you will about Paul Helmke, we must also praise his virtues. He has been tirelessly self-promoting, ubiquitously visible, and a wonderfully available punching bag. His talking points - I'd never dignify them with "arguments" - don't have to be refuted with logic since you can simply hold them up to reality to show them for the gossamer-flimsy things they are. And shameless? It didn't matter that he stood on the prow of the Titanic, arms wide, shouting "Forget the iceberg, fear the guns!" for year after year and never got the slightest bit hoarse. The sight of another microphone was an instant restorative. What a guy.

I'm gonna miss him.
Hope the next one is at least half as fun.

Although this was a bit jarring:
Helmke has not said yet what his future plans are, but indicates he will remain in public service.
Did he ever do anything of actual service, and I missed it?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just because I like it.

Just because it can't be said too often...

Welcome to the brave new world, citizens! Feel safer now.

That's an order.

And that's what I like about this place...

There's always so much to bitch about!

Seems like only yesterday I thought I'd freeze to death. Got so cold the snow never melted off my boots overnight. So cold the drinking water froze in its bottles. So cold ... well, it was cold.

Now we've got the year's first heat wave, and oy! Yesterday I spent the afternoon hiding in the shadows, slowly melting into a puddle of viscous, Joel-scented ooze. Today is likely to be more of the same, but I fooled it: I got up early and was out at the Lair before six. Reason for this is I'm in a digging phase, and I can't do much digging when it gets this hot. Yes, because I'm a lazy, whining wimp. So?

So I hit it while it was still cool. Now I've got all the gravel I need all graded nicely in the drain field, the feed line for the septic pit is (well, almost) completely in position, the barrels are ready to fill and set, and naturally I need a couple of plumbing parts to finish it off. Because I always need a couple of plumbing parts to finish it off. I swear the elk are eating my parts.

Oh, the elk! Did I mention I hate elk now? I used to be pretty neutral, or even benevolent, on the subject of elk. Now I want them dead. Reason being, a herd of them ate M's trees last month. They (the trees, not the elk) were doing really well: No transplant shock to speak of, some new growth, and then the frickin' antlered rats ate them down to the trunks.

Well, M improved the fencing, and they're coming back surprisingly well.


I'm down to watering them once a week, which they actually seem to prefer over the original once-every-three-days routine I started with. I can't speak to the long-term efficacy of this Hugelculture (sp?) thing, but it certainly holds water well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meditations on a Free Market

This is a reprint of something I wrote over two years ago. Almost nobody read it back then, of course, because back then almost nobody read the blog. What the piece says about web articles concerning the free market may be out of date, I haven't tried to update it. But my opinion on the subject also hasn't changed much in the intervening time. Since this was written I've acquired more experience in finding "informal" employment opportunities, and I still don' need no steenking papers.



“There's no ban or edict that any government can stuff down its subjects throats that some people will not resent and defy.” J.D. Tuccille

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “underground economy,” “black market,” “parallel economy,” or whatever you want to call it – let’s call it the free market. Not really knowing what to say about it, I started surfing to learn more of what has been written. About ten pages into Google, I finally realized that not a hell of a lot has been written – at least not about the free market in these united States. Among a lot of writing-type folks, the assumption seems to be that in this country the market is indeed “black”, is contrasted with the “legitimate” market, and is concerned entirely with selling dope or dodging taxes. More recent tracts – and I couldn’t find a lot that’s recent – fixate on “illegal aliens.”

As far as I can tell, dope and taxes do have a lot to do with it, at least as far as free market goods are concerned. The market for such things has proven pretty damned conclusively that if people want to smoke weed or snort cocaine, they’re gonna do it. Pass all the laws you want against it and be damned to you, it’s still going to happen. I found an amusing article here - well, I found it amusing - about what happened to New York State’s revenues from cigarette taxes when the powers that be decided that levying the highest such taxes in the country was a good thing to do.

I’m more interested in the ramifications of free market labor, though. Here again, I’ve no doubt that taxes and immigration have a lot to do with it. If you live on minimum wage or less, the bite withholding takes from your check is not insignificant. If, as is increasingly the case, you can’t get direct employment at all but only work as a 1099 contractor, you’re supposed to save up and send in your income taxes without that “painless” cushion that withholding provides. In such case the temptation to just give that part a miss must be pretty damned strong.

And then there’s all those “illegal aliens” the conservatives like to emote about. Now, of course I would never, ever advocate or even condone anyone doing anything the slightest bit illegal. Therefore, on its face of course illegal immigration is a great, great evil. It is, after all, illegal. For shame! And I’ve heard for years about hordes of swarthy ne’er-do-wells comin’ over here, suckin’ up welfare and joinin’ them dangerous gangs. I’ve no doubt that there are such people, but it’s funny – I’ve lived in those cities and never met one. I have met hundreds of Hispanics who clearly weren’t born here, who worked for cash only, many of whom spoke no English at all. I’ve no doubt, though I haven’t asked, that some of them are as illegal as freebasing. And yet … don’t ask me how I know, but I do know that nearly every one that I’ve ever met gave a damned good day’s work for his pay. And I’ve always kind of admired the chutzpa it takes to cross a border illegally, with all the difficulties and dangers that entails, into a country where you don’t even speak the language, and take whatever job you can get from day to day. I’ve also wondered at the home conditions that would drive a person to do that. Seems to me only a certain sort of person would go to the trouble – probably the best sort. Not, of course, that I would ever condone such reprehensible behavior.

Complaints about welfare whores, I understand and share. I’d have no business with any such person under any circumstances, no matter how much or how little melanin he exhibits and no matter the legal status of his residency. Of course the cure for such people is fairly obvious – ask any libertarian or anarchist, and he’ll tell you all about it. But the shrillest complaints about immigrants aren’t about welfare, they’re about people having the gall to sell free market labor. “They’re not paying taxes!” – actually a lot of them do, they just don’t hang around for their refunds. “They use stolen social security numbers!” – often true, but who the hell’s fault is that? I’m old enough to remember when an American would be offended at the notion that he had to prove a damned thing before he was “entitled” to a job, except that he could do the job. When I spent my teenage summers picking corn and squash, I didn’t need no steenking number. I just had to prove I’d show up and do the work.

Thing is, it seems very strange to me even now that anybody but me and my employer would ever presume to decide whether I was entitled to work, or that anybody but me and a seller of a good would presume to decide whether I was allowed to buy that good. These days, in the afternoon of my life, I find I have no patience for such presumptuousness. I make my modest living in a – well, informal – manner, and it suits me just fine. Sorry if it offends anyone else. I’m gathering materials for a more permanent lair. And if quite a lot of it comes from barter for services, whose business is that? How did it come that so many other people, people we don’t even know, people of no earthly benefit to us, believe that they get any say at all in such things? These are the things I wonder about.

Sometimes, in darker moments, I wonder what should be done with such people.

Little Bear Update

Of course it was inevitable - in spite of the extra trouble and expense of traveling over a hundred miles to a real veterinarian, I still don't know precisely what's wrong with LB's paw.

But at least I know what isn't wrong. LB was a perfect gentleman until the nice blond girl tried to load him onto the table where she could x-ray his paws. They didn't want me in the back lab with the x-ray machine, and that was arguably a mistake. He hates having his paws messed with under the best of conditions, and these weren't that. He'd stayed calm enough in the strange place while Dad was with him. But now he was separated from Dad, strange room, strange person, scary machine.

I've said in the past that beneath the pliant, goofy exterior of my big black hairy monster, there lurks the heart of a ferocious hellbeast. It's best not to tempt the beast to peek out. LB normally likes pretty girls, but he decided to make an exception for this one. I really can't blame him very much. Most pet dogs are only potential predatory carnivores. For the sake of his safety and utility, I've always made sure LB knew his nature was free to lie closer to the surface. We don't live in a park. He's not a vicious guard dog, but he's not a sofa queen, either. He got scared, and he did what he's supposed to do when he gets scared - he defended himself. Nobody was actually injured, but it's a good thing Pretty Blond Girl had a lot of experience with big dogs and knew when to back off. They called me back in to take charge of my monster.

Anyway, we finally got a good picture. And the picture showed two perfectly healthy paws. No bone damage, no apparent trouble with the joints, no foreign objects. The vet said, "So we'll treat it as a soft-tissue injury," and gave me anti-inflammatories to feed him twice a day. They're chewable - like his wormer, I tell him they're treats and he gobbles them right down. He's also supposed to get a lot of rest and not charge around the desert for a couple of weeks, which is what I've been doing with him anyway. I'll just have to see if he heals.

Naturally she also had to say something to scare the bejezus out of me. It seems I need to keep a careful watch, because according to the vet it's just barely possible LB has a disseminated form of something called Valley Fever, which can start with bone and joint problems and can kill him. The chances of that are pretty slight living where he does, but he did start out in the big city where it's common. Wouldn't be the first time I lost an adult animal for something he picked up at birth, so it's got me a little concerned.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

...And don't criticize what you can't understand...

I was off the hook for geiger counters this morning, but still woke strangely compelled to do four things:
  • Feed Click
  • Rub Little Bear's tummy
  • Shovel horseshit
  • Write this post
It is possible, therefore, that I'm a hippie.  Funny - I never was one before.


"Hippie" is a word I've been hearing a lot lately.  Conservatives, it seems, love to hate them.  The more they cheer all "our" various wars, the more they snark on hippies.  This seems odd to me, since hippies went away more-or-less simultaneously about forty years ago, and have since been roughly as relevant as flappers or beatniks or Goldwater Republicans. 

Is there any wine sweeter than the tears of a hippie?
I wouldn't know. They're not around any more. But "Hippie" has recently become synonymous with "person who doesn't think we should be blowing up wogs in their own country, because it's none of our f*cking business." Which - technically, I suppose - makes me a hippie.

To properly have been a hippie, a person pretty much has to be 60 or older, which means most of the people currently hating on hippies have never actually met one. I don't miss that cut-off date by much, but I do miss it. So - technically, I suppose - I'm not a hippie. This is confusing.

But I do remember the world both pre- and post-hippie, and I can tell you that in their effect, they weren't all bad. Sure, there was a lot that was silly, and parasitic, and downright self-destructive. Just like a lot of things kids do. And that Hair musical really, really hasn't worn well at all.  But - if you've ever had sex outside of wedlock or smoked weed without social opprobrium, and think that's not a bad thing, thank a hippie. It's not actually bad to want transport and power options other than the Earthf*cker Magnum - though it is certainly bad to seek the power to force such things on others. Also, about that imperialist foreign war thing:

Hippies: Still Not Wrong.

Time to get ready to go to the vet. 23 Skidoo!

We'll keep you safe, no matter how many of you we have to kill.

Safe from what, exactly, is not a question we're authorized to ask.

Two from Balko: First, there was another isolated incident on Saturday, this one in Hampton, Virginia. A 69-year-old man with cataracts was ratted out by a "confidential informant" for selling prescription painkillers. Since CIs never, ever lie, that was good enough for the cops who blasted in his door Saturday morning.
William A. Cooper had poor eyesight because of cataracts and would often sleep late, said Richard Zacharias, 58, a retired NASA employee who was renting a trailer home from Cooper and planned to buy it from him.

Both of those factors, Zacharias said, might have caused him not to realize that it was the police that were in his home at 10 a.m.

"People around here sleep with a gun beside their bed because of all the home invasions we've had," Zacharias said. "The guy was a nice guy. The guy was a good guy."
Yeah, he took a shot at the violent home invaders, and it was the last thing he ever did.
"The investigation thus far supports the actions of the officers," [Hampton police chief] Jordan said Saturday. "They were met with deadly force and had no alternative other than to return fire."
Because no matter how idiotic or spurious or just plain vicious their reason for being there in the first place, police have no responsibility in such matters. You show them a gun, and they will Guerena you into the next world and sleep like babies afterward. Officer safety is paramount, you know.

The second piece is a Rutherford Institute essay on the results of the new, improved powers the FBI has granted itself for "investigating" "terrorist suspects." Remember Cointelpro, and all the blessings it brought American society? If you liked that, you're gonna love the brave new world brought to us by our masters selfless, dedicated public servants.
Now comes the news that the FBI intends to grant to its 14,000 agents expansive additional powers that include relaxing restrictions on a low-level category of investigations termed “assessments.” This allows FBI agents to investigate individuals using highly intrusive monitoring techniques, including infiltrating suspect organizations with confidential informants and photographing and tailing suspect individuals, without having any factual basis for suspecting them of wrongdoing. (Incredibly, during the four-month period running from December 2008 to March 2009, the FBI initiated close to 12,000 assessments of individuals and organizations, and that was before the rules were further relaxed.)

This latest relaxing of the rules, justified as a way to cut down on cumbersome record-keeping, will allow the FBI significant new powers to search law enforcement and private databases, go through household trash, and deploy surveillance teams, with even fewer checks against abuse. The point, of course, is that if agents aren’t required to maintain a paper trail documenting their activities, there can be no way to hold the government accountable for subsequent abuses.

These new powers, detailed in a forthcoming edition of the FBI’s operations manual, extend the agency’s reach into the lives of average Americans and effectively transform the citizenry into a nation of suspects, reversing the burden of proof so that we are now all guilty until proven innocent. Thus, no longer do agents need evidence of possible criminal or terrorist activity in order to launch an investigation. Now, they can “proactively” look into people and groups, searching databases without making a record about it, conducting lie detector tests and searching people’s trash.
Sleep sweet, citizens - your faithful Sheepdogs will keep you safe in your beds from those evil ol' terrorists. Unless the opportunity arises to come for you. Then they'll feast on your flesh.

That decrepit old Third Amendment is looking less obsolete by the day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

LB's goin' to see the doc.

I've wondered for some time what I was gonna spend all that saved-up money on. A custom Lamborghini 4X4? Designer dope? Three cases of Jack Daniels, or possibly (let's really go crazy) one box of .44 Special?

Nope.

LB's been having problems with his left front paw for quite some time. Problem was that it was so damned intermittent: I can't take him seriously when he's hopping on three legs one minute and then blasting off like a rocket-propelled dog the next. For a while I kidded myself that he was just having incredibly bad luck with tumbleweed thorns. The boys hate tumbleweed thorns. But then it got acute. It comes and goes in severity, but the problem is pretty clearly settling in to stay.

I dunno what's wrong with the paw. I can't see or feel anything wrong with it, but it's all he can do to remain politely non-violent while I'm messing with it. He's a big boy, and I can believe that he broke a bone in there jumping around, and now it can't heal. Best case is it's a piece of a cactus thorn that won't fester: Step the wrong way and it jabs you. But there's no point throwing money at any of the local vets because "I don't know what's wrong, here's some antibiotics, stop at the desk to pay your bill" just won't get it. He's young and active and very heavy, and he needs all four paws, and if I'm gonna spend money on him I need a real vet. So tomorrow we're going for an unusually long Jeep ride. Wish him luck.

Rules are for the little people.

And as Carl points out, these goons aren't little. Or, maybe, people.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

...And it's about time.

I've finally added a TUAK blogroll, something I've been meaning to do for ... um ... how long has TUAK been around? About that long. Blogs and other sites on the roll are either sites I visit and/or steal from comment upon on a regular basis, those who link to me, and those of people who comment here regularly. The three lists, of course, often intersect: Basically, I'm trying to return favors others have been doing for me for quite some time. I don't really expect it to do them any good, my traffic not being of Tam-esque proportions, but they at least deserve the courtesy. If - and it is inevitable, I'm afraid - you belong on this list and I've left you off, please just let me know here and I'll fix it.

Firebreak (n): A strip of cleared or plowed land used to stop the spread of a fire. See Also: ATF Acting Director.

Here are two things we know about the Gunwalker scandal.

A. Acting ATF Director Melson was definitely involved with Fast and Furious.

B. Obama and Holder never heard of the operation, or even of the BATFE. (Yeah, I made that last part up. But I bet they wish it were so.)

But you can be absolutely certain they don't intend the mea culpas to go any higher than Melson. During the various occupations of Afghanistan during my lifetime, I have occasionally wondered how they ever find anybody to take the job of President: It is so very ill-fated. For the past several years the same could be asked of the post of Acting ATF Director.

Big surprise! Now it looks like Melson's being offered a chance to fall on his sword:
The Justice Department is expected to oust the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to people familiar with the matter, amid a troubled federal antitrafficking operation that has grown into the agency's biggest scandal in nearly two decades.

Moves toward the replacement of Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director since April 2009, could begin next week, although the precise sequence of events remains to be decided, these people said.
Another one goes under the bus. I think they should add "Acting Director to the ATF table of organization. Only they should call it "Designated Scapegoat."

So will Melson go under the bus? Will he check the U-joints while he's under there? Who knows? Who cares? Doesn't matter. What matters is that he was entirely to blame. Once he's gone, the problem with ATF is all fixed. Remember that. It is very important.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, in response to questions Friday, said, "I can tell you that, as the president has already said, he did not know about or authorize this operation."
See?

Friday, June 17, 2011

If Jean-Paul Sartre had written Star Wars...

"Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. I exist, and I find it nauseating."



At last! I think I finally understand existentialism!

And while not ignoring the evils we have abetted in the world...

It's not yet time to give a blowjob to that 12-gauge. Wash your mind out with this, and tell me you didn't walk through the photo exactly the same way I did...

"No Knock Raid" - an unbelievably depressing video

NSFW - or anywhere else.

The footage all comes from the "good guys," so I assume these are all perfectly righteous killings in full compliance with departmental policy. It's all good, citizens. Move along, nothing to see here. Until it's you.



H/T to Unc, who has ruined my morning.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Okay, this is a first. Introducing a politician who creates jobs.

Nah, you're just gonna have to go look.

Oh, I'm totally getting one of these for my daughter...

Forget Pat The Bunny. Away with Goodnight Moon. Okay, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was pretty fun, and so was Princess Bride. But sweartagod, if I'd had a copy of Go the F*ck to Sleep back then, I'd have read it to her (at a sufficiently young age that she wouldn't understand the words.)

I guess this has been around for a while but just didn't get any ink in my corner of the universe. But it's all over the tubz now that there's an audible version read by my hero Samuel L. Jackson. Which is f*cking amazing.

BTW, no big granddaughter news to tell yet. I spoke with Daughter and she's fine, they were holding them over in the hospital in hopes the kid would start to feed better, but nothing really wrong. Yeah, I know one newborn looks just like any other, but I'll post a pic or two as soon as I've got some.

And I'm totally gonna send her one of these, if I have to start my own Amazon account. Revenge is at hand! ;^)

Biden to receive SWAT raid from Federal Department of Incongruity.

Srsly.
As part of the Obama administration’s campaign to promote transparency, the White House announced today it intends to eliminate the public’s access to half of the federal government’s websites within the next year.
The Times writer is just being snarky: What Biden actually announced was that they (claim to) plan to eliminate a whole bunch of government sites, which is probably not a bad thing. With reduced real estate to spread the lies over, perhaps the quality of the lies will improve.

I just thought it was funny.

H/T to Carl.

Where do they think they are? Illinois?

Massachusetts politicians see the grand tradition of Illinois pols being so blatant as to actually be imprisoned for their crimes, and apparently decide Club Med retirements aren't so bad.
House Assistant Majority Leader Charley Murphy (D-Burlington) said he’s “disappointed,” but when asked if legislators will change how they conduct business in the State House, he said, “This is not something that’s pervasive, this is not something that’s day to day, and I hope people realize that.”

One pundit, however, said legislators will start feeling the pressure.

“Three convicted speakers in a row doesn’t look good, and they’re going to have to do something,” said John C. Berg, political professor at Suffolk University.
Why? Voters keep electing them, so what's the problem?

But I'm sure she'll pay her fair share.

Pelosi's wealth grows by 62 percent

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her net worth rise 62 percent last year, cementing her status as one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

Pelosi was worth at least $35.2 million in the 2010 calendar year, according to a financial disclosure report released Wednesday. She reported a minimum of $43.4 million in assets and about $8.2 milion in liabilities.

For 2009, Pelosi reported a minimum net worth of $21.7 million.
A mere coincidence, I'm sure. Good financial planning is crucial. BTW, did Apple stock really double last year? Or just for her?

No more pencils, no more books...

Yesterday we worked latish, even though we only finished 120 units total. GC Guy insists on doing all the soldering (and I'm pleased to let him) and that produces a natural choke point in the operation so when we bring a batch to soldering that's normally when I go home. So the new day starts with packaging and shipping, and then we start a new batch. Yesterday we were down to our very last 40 circuit boards so we stayed around, soldered and packaged those 40 units, and we were outa stuff. Vacation! We're both heartily sick of wiring stuff together in the hot'n'stuffy GC Central.

It got hot yesterday - nearly 100 degrees - and the thought of doing anything after work more useful than watering M's trees never once occurred to me. I was collapsed in the relative cool of the scriptorium when GC Guy called and said, "you'll never guess what the UPS guy just delivered."

"Aw, crap."

"Yeah. So I'm just saying that if, before Monday, anybody asks about the circuit boards that should have already arrived from Latvia, what are you going to say?"

"'What circuit boards? I don' know nothin' 'bout no steeking circuit boards.'"

"Good answer."

This morning has that same breathless 'it's gonna get really hot' feeling to it. I've got several things I'd like to accomplish before the weekend's inevitable stucco, and I'm going to try to accomplish them this morning because I know damn well nothing's gonna get done this afternoon.

Sigh. This wasn't the change I was looking for. In fact it doesn't seem to be change at all.

War Powers Act doesn't apply to Libya, Obama says
“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits,” Mr. Goldsmith said.
I note that the people who were fer it during the Bush admin are agin it now, and vice versa. What a heart-stopping shock.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm so relieved.

Seriously, I've just been on tenterhooks for weeks, so afraid those brave, well-organized SWAT officers might be railroaded for shooting that evil, gun-toting villain in his own home...

But thank god justice has prevailed. I was so worried.

UPDATE: Linoge has more (and better) to say about it.

Fat Albert the Zombie Rat: or, All My Sins Remembered...

Okay, I admit it. I've disregarded - even been vaguely annoyed by - all the talk of zombie preparedness. I was wr not as right as I usually am.

Last week Fat Albert, the big packrat who for quite some time has been my pantry nemesis, went to meet Baby Jesus in the jaws of a big T-Rex rat trap. When I got around to cleaning him out of the trap I found that Click (Oh Please Let It Have Been Click) had eaten him, leaving a rat tail connected to a rat head by a bloody rat spine. I just took him out to the ridge and pitched him unceremoniously over the edge, thinking that was the end of the matter. What a fool I was!

When we met again yesterday morning, he was lurking in wait at the washing machine. I didn't hear him croak "Brains!", but it might have been in high-pitched rat language. The barn isn't far from the ridge: Over the side he went again.

This morning he was in the barn's breezeway, and succeeded in creeping me out pretty thoroughly. I think I'm gonna skip geiger counters this morning and spend a few hours chasing the search term "Good Load for Zombies."

I suppose it's possible Click or one of the boys is having me on. But it's better to be prepared.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Keep digging. I'm sure there's a pony in there somewhere."

I'm not a big Sarah Palin fan, but I'm sure not gonna deny that Palin Derangement Syndrome does exist. It's been a busy couple of weeks so I mostly missed this in my surfing. But in this clip, Jon Stewart takes his own side apart for the recent syndrome outbreak.

Hard Assets

This is the sort of thing I wish I'd said.
Financial instruments (even cash) are ephemeral; digits backed by a system of ideas. Firewood is solid, real, and undeniable. The wood pile is mine and mine alone. It is on my yard and on my property. I don’t need a title and serial number to prove ownership. It won’t be taxed. It won’t be tracked. It isn’t likely to be stolen. It won’t be subject to late charges, administrative fees, or licensing agreements. It won’t depreciate, it gains quality as it dries, and it stores indefinitely. It is not subject to identity theft or lost paperwork. It’s not affected by inflation. If the stock market crashes it won’t vanish. If my credit rating tanks it won’t move an inch. War, peace, oil embargoes, elections, and unemployment won’t affect it. It’s a very hard thing to devalue and it’s impossible to deny it’s existence. Try that with a 401(k), Enron stock, or even your checkbook.

When you think about it like that, a simple woodstove is practically rebellious. How often do you enjoy the fruits of your labors without a middleman and taxes?

RTWT

Gulchendiggensmoothen to the rescue!

Some of our neighbors have shinier gear than we do. In particular, there are a couple of sweet Japanese tractors, with tools that swap out fairly easily and engines that start without complaint. I occasionally envy them that, and I'll even admit that one time I passed one on the road while driving Gulchendiggensmoothen, and was a little abashed at his beat-uplived-in appearance, as opposed to the shiny, sleek, and much newer tractor.

One thing G does have is size, and a low range that gives it old-fashioned power. And the biggest backhoe in the neighborhood. (Yes, size does matter.) And today, if the owner of that sleek little riceburner had been laughing, the laughter stopped.

There's a little seep (you could be polite and call it a spring) in a wash to the south of my usual stomping grounds. Since that wash points south, it's been getting a lot of wildlife traffic lately, no doubt refugees from the fire: You should see the tracks. J has been getting elk coming right into the yard and checking out his horses. Well, Shiny Tractor Guy got it into his head that he could dig out that seep so there's be an open pool to water the animals. A nice idea, I guess. But that seep is in a hollow filled with fine sand and clay and ash for who knows how deep. It's all saturated with water. Can you say quicksand?

The tractor stopped sinking when the frame hit the surface. He hiked home and drove his (shiny) F-250 into the wash to tow out the tractor. When he'd buried the truck to the axles, he hiked home and apparently never planned to leave it again.

GC Guy got a call from his wife. And a portion of his side of the conversation: "Hey, Joel's an operator. He's got a big tractor..." He looked at me for confirmation. I glared at him but nodded, then drove the Jeep home to get Gulchendiggensmoothen.

Praise be, he started right up. We went to the road, down the ridge, across a wash, up another ridge, down the ridge, and hung a left at the wash that has the seep. Shiny Tractor Guy was waiting there with his wife.

The truck wasn't even really stuck: There was no shovel work at all, and I just backed up till it was on firmer ground. But that shiny tractor was a sight. It was buried so deep I could barely see the wheels, and mud from top to bottom. I dug trenches for the rear wheels (and it's a good thing somebody thought to bring a shovel), but there wasn't much I could do about the front. I just connected the tow strap to the stuck tractor and G's bucket, and hoped for the best. ST Guy looked pretty dubious, but gamely waded out to his tractor and fired it up.

And Gulchendiggensmoothen pulled that thing out of that sucking mud like a cork out of a bottle. He never even strained.

When it's running, I like this tractor.

The Irony - It Burns

So the U.S. Government has dropped tens of millions of dollars developing "stealth internet" systems for foreign dissidents, for use when their governments cut off communications. Cool!

But...hey?

It's just barely possible you're missing an important point here, Barry.

H/T to Claire.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A failure to communicate...But he meant well.

So this morning both boys went galloping off into the boonies, in chase of who knows what. I determined not to worry about it, since I'm trying to relax about such things and there's now nobody around for them to pester. After a decent interval Ghost came back, which pleased me because separately they (almost) never get into trouble. Time passed - no Little Bear. Well, he's probably eating a rabbit or something, an activity for which he always prefers privacy.

More time passed. No Little Bear. I called him to treats - no answer. Even more time passed. Now I was getting a bit perturbed, because I had really wanted an early start and couldn't go till the boys were safe in Gitmo. It was already too late for an early start, and if I lost any more time I was gonna have to call GC Guy. I hate that.

I stood in the quiet, wondering where the hell LB had got himself, and heard a dog's quiet panting. Looked around, and there was a large black form in the shadow of the powerhouse. Inside Gitmo. My missing Little Bear was sitting in the enclosure, placidly waiting for his treat. He hadn't bothered to check in and let me know he was back.

Sigh. I called LB with a promise of a treat, and that always means "go to Gitmo." So he did. And he sat there for twenty minutes or so, not making a peep, while I fumed and watched for him to come home.

I dunno why I call him stupid. He got a really nice treat.

Maybe the Gen5 will be quicker to set up...

Via Tam, here's the ultimate concealment piece: The Gen4 Ninja Glock! I expect a write-up in Forgotten Weapons any day now.

I'm a Granddad!

Born early this morning, after (of course) a very long night for mom and dad. Her name is Kaelyn, she and Mom are fine, and that's all I know right now. Pix to follow, when I get them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alone at last...

M and Landlady's Brother just drove off into the smoky haze, leaving me alone for the first time in 40 days.

Ahhhh...

We got a lot done on the Meadow house this  weekend, and the only part without a layer of stucco is the rear, which is the easy wall.  No windows, no really high parts.  I schlepped all the bags of stucco and sand, and am now so sore I can barely walk.  I've been doing my shit-shoveling on Sundays, that being my only free afternoon lately, but today I had to call and beg off - there's no way I can pull the shit-wagon up hills six or eight times today.  If the work at Geiger Counter Central slacks off this coming week as I expect, I can go over and catch up then.

We used Gulchendiggensmoothen to load the last of the big cell tower batteries into M's truck, so now I can return the tractor to its rightful place, top off the hydraulic fluid, and get back to work hauling manure in the afternoons.  Uncle Joel: Horseshit Capo!  Whadaya think?

The boys often spend Sunday in Gitmo, until the last chasable car leaves.  The last one just left, and now I hear Ghost whining to get out.  Didn't get a peep out of them all day, but now they know it's time.  Smart dogs.  Well, Ghost is smart.

I'm gonna hobble down to the Meadow House now with a book and a beer and a towel, and take a very long, soaky bath.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Observations at the End of the Week...

  • Fat Albert the packrat met T-Rex the rat trap yesterday morning. I discovered him on a sandwich fly-by, rejoiced, and determined to clean him up when I got home from work. When I did, I found a packrat head, spine, and tail. Click had the effrontery to demand dinner anyway.
  • Geiger Counter Central has acquired a mascot. A small lizard got in and hung around for a couple of days. GC Guy got all concerned for him and went to a lot of trouble to catch him and escort him outside. Within an hour, he was back. So we named him Scary Larry the Lounge Lizard and decided he was welcome.
  • Landlady's brother has been staying in the Meadow House. He had some trouble with the boys, who weren't sure at first what to do with him. Landlady suggested he feed them cheese. That worked - after a fashion. He's been overdoing it, and now I'm having trouble keeping them home. I told him it really wasn't necessary to put out a buffet every time they show up.
  • For the past couple of weeks, it's like we've been living inside a chimney. I'm looking out the window as I type this sentence, and I can't see the big ridge at all. Everything smells like woodsmoke, which I kind of like but I'm glad I'm not an asthmatic.
  • I've about decided that switching to the .44 is a failed experiment. I just can't get used to the Taurus. I don't shoot it well, and no matter how much I practice it doesn't feel right in my hand. Yesterday afternoon when we climbed under S&L's house looking for a bear, I had to climb through a tight hole and borrowed GC Guy's 1911 because my Taurus was full of snakeshot. For just a moment it was like coming home: That pistol felt like it belonged there. So now I'm carrying my old Springfield again, and I think I'll start looking for a replacement.
  • It looks as though the geiger counter thing is finally getting ready to wind down. We're reaching the end of the big backlog, and running out of parts again. I'm really hoping we can keep it going on something like a two-day-a-week basis, or thereabouts. To my delight, GC Guy is of the same opinion. The money's nice, but damn.

It's 1994 all over again. Big surprise.

It's good to be king. As far as I can tell that's the first thing a new Congressmaggot learns as it slithers through taxpayer leavings, waiting to grow its committee member wings and get into the big bux.

They rode into Washington on an anti-spending wave, but some House Republican freshmen are already enjoying one of the perks of incumbency, spending their office budgets on everything from $1,000-a-month car leases to pricey online advertising contracts.

At least 15 GOP freshmen have shelled out tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on mass communication — or franking — designed to boost their exposure back home, even as they call for budget cuts and pared-back government spending, according to quarterly disbursement reports released by the House.
Say anything to get into office. Anything! Tea partiers have a lot of votes and money? Then you're passionate against .gov spending. But once you're there, your priority is to stay there. At any cost? What the hell? You're not footing the bill.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Search and ... run like hell?

It's been a couple of days since anybody saw Ninja Bear, now probably wounded but nobody knows how badly. Lots of rifles in evidence, but no bear.

Yesterday was a long day. Move a bunch of stuff to M's Dome, then eight hours of geiger counters, then I took the trailer over to another neighbor who had a bunch of drainage gravel he wanted to get rid of. Shovel the gravel into the trailer, drive through the wash to the Secret Lair, empty the trailer into the leach ditch. Go home, let the boys out, write a promised piece for The Independent Spirit. (Note the subtlety of that plug?)

So it was sometime after seven, I'd just jacked in a movie and was relaxing with an adult beverage, and the phone rings. It's my neighbor D. "Just occurred to me, Joel. [Our weekender neighbors S&L] are coming up tomorrow evening. Have you checked around their place for signs of that bear?"

Well, no. I hadn't. When did I become the neighborhood bear warden? But it was a pretty good idea, now that it had been raised. I wasn't gonna do it at dusk, though. Come to think of it, they've got a big opening into their crawlspace. I wasn't gonna do it at all, without somebody at my back with a big spotlight. It just so happens that GC Guy bought himself a big spotlight, just the other day.

So this afternoon after geiger counters, GC Guy and I loaded up and drove to S&L's.

That's the house, and everything's quiet. The opening I remember is over to the left. Quietly, let's go.

Well, whadaya know? He bricked it up. I didn't have anything to worry about anyway. While we're here let's just do a circuit of the house...

There's a likely place. May as well be thorough.

Aw, crap. Double crap. Crap on toast. This episode was badly written. Why'd he leave that open?

Shine your light over to the left...

Nothing there. Time for the fun part.

Well, it was my idea. Stupid idea, but mine own. Time for Uncle Joel to play tunnel rat.

I put down my rifle, took the spotlight and a handgun, and did the bravest thing I've done in quite a while...

Whew.

If there'd been a bear in there, S would have owed me a pair of pants.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The description isn't even arguably hyperbolic any more...

This is the very model of fascism. And look who's talking up higher taxes...
[GM CEO Dan Akerson] is grateful for the government's rescue of GM — "I have nothing but good things to say about them" — but Akerson said the time for that relationship to end is coming because it's wearing on GM.

"It's kind of like your in-laws: It was a nice long weekend. We didn't say a week," Akerson said with a laugh.

And while he is eager to say goodbye to the government as a part owner of GM, Akerson would like to see it step up to the challenge of setting a higher gas tax, as part of a comprehensive energy policy.

A government-imposed tax hike, Akerson believes, will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.

"There ought to be a discussion on the cost versus the benefits," he said. "What we are going to do is tax production here, and that will cost us jobs."

For the years 2017-25, federal officials are considering 3 percent to 6 percent annual fuel efficiency increases, or 47 mpg to 62 mpg. That could boost the cost of vehicles by up to $3,500.

"You know what I'd rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas," Akerson said.

"People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans."
Yeah, Dan. Just 'step up to the challenge' [possibly the ever-so-objective writer's words and not Akerson's] and 'slap on' a tax, as if gasoline isn't already so heavily taxed it's a wonder it remains liquid.

And for the extra hilarity point:
GM's failure also would have led to Detroit's collapse, Akerson said. "I have not seen a city in this bad a shape since I went to East Berlin in 1969."
Um...Dan? Might want to check the address in front of your building there, buddy. GM hasn't resided in Detroit in a long time. And as for collapse...too late. Way too late.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Empowerment

GC Guy said something kind of startling this morning, while enthusing about his new rifle and spotlight. He said, “Thanks for talking me down and taking that trip yesterday. I was really freaked and out of my element, and you helped … empower me.”

That was nice. I replied something like, “Well, I respect anybody who moves here from the city and makes a go of it. Anything I can do to help that along, it's a pleasure.”

And I meant that and all, but thinking further on the subject I felt like kind of a fraud for having said it. I have no special qualifications for living happily out here. I'm from Detroit and lived most of my life in cities, same as most people. It's not like I moved here to get a break from my lifetime busting horses on Montana ranches or anything. If anything, I'm unqualified. There's a lot of work involved, and I'm the laziest guy I know.

So that got me thinking about the whole subject of 'empowerment.' Because that's really what I like about living out in the boondocks.

It always used to bother me that I was so dependent for my very life on structures built by other people. It just struck me as wrong that I didn't know how to do anything on my own. Isn't adulthood about growth and maturity? And isn't a part of maturity the ability to take care of yourself, your own needs, your own defense? Look, I'm not completely crazy, I like the comforts that come with modern living. Who wouldn't? But there's something infantilizing about it as well, if the only way to gain those comforts is to abandon self-determination and depend entirely on others.

Here, if you want a house you'd better be willing to build yourself one. If you want the wonders of modern living, like electricity and running water, you need to arrange those things for yourself. For some of the more fundamental things, like food, well, I could have picked a more congenial location. But even that isn't out of the question in the future. We're working on it.


Now we're looking at a … well, not a crisis, exactly. A challenge. The change in wildlife behavior is actually minor, compared to the fact that this afternoon we've learned that yet another town south of us is being evacuated. Shortly before quitting time I said to GC Guy, “When I got here there was some infrastructure built but not a stone on a stone. Now we've got a big barn and three houses, and I helped build every one of them. That's the first time I ever had that chance, and I'm not gonna drive away from it and pray it doesn't burn. So if they can't stop the fire in the forest and it looks like coming here, I'm gonna send Click and the boys to the city and get ready to fight fire.”

GC Guy had been thinking the same thing. “We've got access to at least three tractors. If we start with the southernmost houses, we've got time to clear the brush and trees from around everybody we know. I'm in.”

And that was what I wanted to hear, and it kind of settled my earlier question. What is 'empowerment?' It's power. It's adulthood.

It's not that I like it when a govguy gets his d*ck caught in a wringer...

Okay, you caught me...I like it a lot.

But mostly I just wanted an excuse to post this...


Remember: Safe storage is vital. Responsible parents don't let their children play with politicians.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Natures's way of telling you something's wrong...


That's not a raincloud.

It's wildfire season, and we've had one cooking about sixty miles away for some time. Until this morning it was a subject of no more than mild interest.

Then this morning I showed up at Geiger Counter Central to find GC Guy all in a tizzy. Seems he woke up in the middle of the night to the dogs' clamor, went outside, and at first thought Comet the colt had gotten out. Except he couldn't figure out how Comet had grown two axe-handles across the shoulders, or why he would be going through the garbage cans. It turned out to be an enormous black bear, and since GC Guy's shotgun was loaded with birdshot he wisely refrained from shooting it. It wouldn't go away when he yelled at it, but it left like a rocket when he fired the 12-gauge into the air. This morning he learned that one of our more distant neighbors had a bear break a window and try to come into his house. He drove it away with a 9mm: GC Guy's mom, watching the action from her RV, swore she saw a "red dot" on his bear's side. Those two locations are mighty far apart, and it's hard to believe the same bear would hit both - especially while carrying a couple of 9mm hollowpoints. But that's maybe not quite as unbelievable as two bears hitting two places on the same night, when bears are very rare here.

So I don't know if it was the same bear or not, but clearly the fire's got the wildlife on the move.

So GC Guy is suddenly interested in upgrading his bangsticks. He's got the shotgun and an AR: I told him he could buy some slugs for the 12-gauge, but that personally I prefer a .30 cal and that I'd be happy to lend him my bolty. He'd already gotten the same advice and offer from his ex-cop neighbor, but now he wanted to own his very own. He wanted to go gun-shopping right frickin' now, and would I mind coming along?

Lemme think: I can spend several hours wiring the insides of geiger counters together, or take a trip to the happiest place on earth and buy a rifle. Which shall it be?

They boresighted his new rifle, and after work this afternoon we took it out to the range and tweaked it in. He feels better now. Oddly, I'm sort of fixated on the fact that I live almost directly between the locations of the two incidents. Am I and my dogs now in the territory of a big, aggressive black bear? I think maybe it's time to put away the AK and bring out the M1A.

Just 'cause I think it's cool



Imagine the pants-shitting horror of the anti's at the sight of an 11 YO girl practicing a shooty martial art. That alone is worth the price of the ticket. I've never understood what's supposed to be so terrible about a young girl who, even if she doesn't win, won't be a victim. And they call us "haters?" Huzzah to her, is what I say.

H/T to Unc.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Youch. Holy Crap. Other Comments.

Couldn't have been a government tornado. It was destructive enough, but far too efficient.

Our little boy is growing up...

Landlady's house now has one coat of stucco, but only on the front where the porch is. Too long a story, but basically we ran out of stucco. So this morning I was free to go and nod at my shit-shoveling duties.

This is Comet, J&H's newest colt. He got rejected by his mother, and the only two things in life he's not afraid of are Gaia, Torrie's foal, and the milk bottle. Actually now he's graduated to drinking it out of a bucket.

He'll rarely have anything to do with me, but sometimes he can be surprising. This morning I went down to a little gully in the big corral to rescue the babies' big play ball. I sent it rolling across the corral, and Comet ran after it. Then he abruptly left it and walked up to touch noses with me, out of the blue. After a few seconds (I carefully didn't try to touch him, because he hates that) he seemed to remember that he was supposed to be afraid of me, started champing his jaws in the body language I'm told means "Don't kill me, I'm just a baby," and bolted off.

He does love to play with Gaia, though, and they'll play in the sun for hours at a time.

And this is Visioness, the mare H replaced Solari with. She's the closest thing to a friendly horse on the whole place. When I clean her enclosure, I have to schedule time to do her homage or she gets testy. She thinks the world of mankind exists to worship her, and for all I know she's right.

BTW, when I got home this afternoon I had a granddaughter update. Due date is still about four weeks away, but now the OB is hedging her bets. Basically, I could be a granddad any minute now.

Friday, June 3, 2011

This could be fun to watch...

Last week saw the Texas legislature cave under a TSA threat to shut down commercial aviation in Texas should it pass legislation limiting where TSA goons were allowed to put their hands. Needless to say the legislature caught more comments for pulling the bill than anybody ever got for introducing it, and the comments all seem to have gone something like this...
...spineless weaselly chickenshit bigmouth no balls assholes whose parents should have been more attentive to menstrual cycles...
I expected that to be the end of the matter, but it seems somebody couldn't take the heat. The bill may be back.

What's more, Texas isn't the only one.