Monday, November 30, 2009

Fritz, R.I.P.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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

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

Happy Turkey Day, Y'all!

Why I'll never be a photographer...

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for Hope and CHANGE!

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


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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got another comment this morning...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

On Fritz...

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

The Lair's Roof

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

It All Comes Down to Bacon. Of Course.

From West of the West via Tam:

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

Really? Yah think?

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gorram it!

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

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

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

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

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

Hating life, signing off.

Concerning Fritz...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Maybe no update today...

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A little too independent for his own good...

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

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

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

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

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

Progress is happening!

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What a revelation!

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heavy Thoughts - Why I Live Out Here

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

I voted "none of the above."

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

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

H/T to the LRC Blog

Heh, Pt. 2

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

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

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


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Got this from a friend...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your hard-earned dollars at work, Arizonans!

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

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

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

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


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

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

If you had to choose...

...between being hated or being ignored - you can only have one, but you must have one - which would you choose?

Once upon a time there was this uber-troll - it's the only fair designation - who went by the nym Gunkid. If you spend time on gun forums, you've heard of him. Gunkid's actual name was known to the community, but I don't remember or care what it is. Gunkid's claim to fame was that he could disrupt even the most draconian moderation: He could bring any forum anywhere to its knees during his stay. I've watched mods frantically ban one Gunkid sockpuppet after another, several times a day. Gunkid was a lunatic: He made outrageous, idiotic claims about guns and suppressors and SHTF scenarios (If you've ever heard of a 'tactical wheelbarrow,' that's a Gunkid reference.) and just tied up the boards for days. It was a hoot. You couldn't really say your forum had arrived until it had suffered its first Gunkid infestation. And it would, too - that ol' boy got around.

Moderators hated him. I suspect most posters had a sneaking, almost guilty affection for him. I know I did. I mean, c'mon - he's disrupting what is essentially a recreational distraction from work - on the boss's computer - when you're being paid to work but aren't doing it. It's hard to get too self-righteous.

When Gunkid was around - wherever "around" happened to be - it was all about Gunkid. And I guess that was the whole point, because nobody made it any secret that they were laughing at him. And I don't recall him ever posting anything that wasn't laughable. He would have to have been every bit as delusional as he came across, which is too delusional to function more than a few minutes in society, not to understand that he was a laughingstock. And I often wondered at first; what was the point of that? I'd have hidden under my bed for a month if I ever got a reception like that and knew I deserved it, but he sought it out. He did it incessantly.

The point, I suppose, was that people were paying attention to him. He didn't know how to be respected in the way he wished he deserved, so he settled for becoming this ridiculous internet legend because at least then he wasn't being ignored. He couldn't make a positive difference, so he settled for being a disruptive influence and seemed to find it just as good.

Gunkid has come to mind several times in the past few days. I think he's helping me to understand the motivations of politicians and bureaucrats. I mean, here's Pelosi & Co. busily finding ways to shove their "health care" takeover down our collective throat. The simplest economic logic demands, and recent history in one place after another proves, that it will be a disaster. But they're doing it anyway. And it doesn't matter how many times this proposal or that is voted down - it doesn't matter how many near-riots they cause in how many "town hall" meetings: Their minds are made up. This is the way it's going to be.

Not because it's the right thing to do. Not because it makes any sense on any level. No - they're doing it because they can, and because it will by god have an effect on the lives of everybody here. For good or ill people will remember their names, boy.

I finally understand. Nancy Pelosi is Gunkid in a skirt.

...which is a mental picture I could have done without this early in the morning. I'm gonna go walk the dogs now.

Friday, November 13, 2009


"To me, hope lies on the path where individuals accept the cost of duplicating what the state’s managers promise but can’t deliver. By traveling this path, we may preserve a remnant of civil society while the rest of the herd and its elected parasites bleed themselves dry." - David Calderwood

Bumper Sticker Quote

Joe Biden's security vehicles have killed more people than my gun. - Anon

H/T (and pic) @ War On Guns.


The shotcrete crew actually arrived early, having left the city at something like four in the morning and apparently mounted JATO bottles to their truck. That was pretty weird, but when the first concrete truck arrived dead on time, we knew something very, very strange was happening. Things were going right. We really don't know how to deal with that.

And they spoke not a word (of English, anyway,) but went straight to their work. Spraying all the way around the bottom of the dome, then mounting scaffolds and going around again. These guys mostly do swimming pools. Nobody out here has a swimming pool, but if you think of M's Dome as a sort of upside-down, inside-out swimming pool, then these were the right people for the job. Certainly the unfamiliar geometry didn't seem to bother them. I love it when a crew knows what it's doing and just does it.

In accordance with the instructions from the manufacturer, M had turned the inside of the dome into a maze of braces and chains to take out as much flexibility as possible and support the burlap and mesh against the very considerable weight of the wet concrete.

This became essential at the beginning of the second pass, which was high enough to exert some real force on the steel, which promptly started flexing. For a few minutes, until we rearranged things, braces were falling like dominoes. But no damage was done.

I really wondered how the burlap was going to react to all that wet concrete on top. I know it's been done before and works, but...well, it just didn't seem natural. But it works great! The concrete permeated the cloth but never once blew through it.

And then...right at this point...they ran out of concrete. It took three hours to get another truck, and I went home. But sometime right around dark M showed up at my lair with a bottle of good rum and a shit-eating grin, looking for somebody with whom to toast Successful Completion! It works! The dome is now comprised of concrete, not just burlap and steel. Yes!

Now the wind's been blowing all night, so if you'll forgive me I have to go help wet down a whole bunch of concrete before it cracks and falls away. :-()

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today's the day!

Today, if the good lord's willing etc., we (watch someone else) shotcrete M's Dome. Trucks arriving from far away in the city...all sorts of things await to go wrong with that...we're on the ragged edge of the time of the season when you should be doing things like this...will the cement truck driver(s) get lost again?...ohgodohgod...

M is, as has become traditional, a total nervous wreck. I sincerely hope I'm completely sure that everything will be just fine. Whatever happens, we'll be right there watching it, our toes curling in our boots, ready to jump in with braces when the burlap collapses under the weight of the concrete applaud with glee when the whole operation goes forward without hitch one, because damn didn't M cover all the bases and leave nothing whatever to possibly go wrong!

Okay, I'm a nervous wreck too and it isn't even my house. We'll just have to endure this day and see how it all turns out. Report with pix follows.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pop Quiz:

Two vehicles owned by the federal government and being driven by secret service employees strike and kill a pedestrian at a crosswalk in Washington DC. Both vehicles strike the pedestrian.

Blood alcohol and drug tests are administered to:
A. The drivers
B. The victim

Propane heater preventive maintenance, lesson learned.

Last winter was a cold one here at the secret lair, Mk I. I was (still am, lazy ass) in rather improvised quarters and got my heat where I could. For part of the winter I heated the barn's scriptorium with a small Mr. Heater, scavenging a hose from my campstove and connecting it to a 20-lb propane bottle. At the time I didn't give any thought to the advisability of doing this; it could be done, so I just went ahead and did it without reflecting that I get into the biggest problems when I do that.

This fall, just prior to the first good cold snap, I dragged out the Mr. Heater and found that it didn't work at all. Didn't even try; didn't behave as if propane or heat were in any way connected with its function of being a large, clumsy paperweight. Oh, dear.

A (very) little belated research pointed out the reason for this. In fact, it's right in the instructions which I didn't have but could have easily downloaded. It seems that the oil to be found in any propane bottle other than the little 1-lb "You won't get through the night with this" camping bottles chingers up the works of a Mr. Heater in fairly short order. Once it's had time to congeal nicely over the warm season, you're done.

So in connecting one of these handy space heaters to a remote propane bottle, you need more than the dedicated hose. You also need one of these filters. Learn from my expensive mistake.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Magnus' Headstone Arrived

M got back from his trip to the city, and the landlady sent up Magnus headstone. Not a very good likeness, but I like the epitaph she settled on. It's very him.

Yes, believe it or not I am working on the secret lair. Though I admit that for some time I just sort of patted it on the head in passing, I'm finally getting back to work on the interior. As soon as I've got the wire run, I'll be packing the walls with insulation. Got lots of plastic for vapor barrier, and I'll put up the siding as needed to hold it in place.

There are, of course, a number of impediments: I have everything I need for the roof and to install the wood stove except two things: the services of Clark Kent to move the stove and its pedestal into place, and some dreaming clue what I'm supposed to do then. But that'll work itself out...I'm sure. Eventually. Before the next ice age, for sure. There's also the matter of the interior wall for the bathroom, which I should probably at least frame in before doing all that other interior stuff. But I'm out of framing lumber, and besides I find logical procedure such a bore. Don't you?

Just a chunk of bad concrete

It used to have pride of place in my study, in a little glass case that showed it off like some expensive crystal figure. I remember thinking often what a lousy job of mixing it represented; it was soft, porous as hell. Rotten as the purpose that had caused it to be poured.

It was a piece of the Berlin Wall, a gift from a friend who had received it, along with several others, from that East German branch of her family that the West German branch hadn't seen in several decades. After the wall came down, twenty years ago today, all the family got together in Berlin and my friend came back with a suitcase full of these broken chunks. I imagine they were a dime a dozen in Berlin for a while: It was a pretty big wall.

Good riddance. Most of the tyrants of the corrupt communist regimes of eastern Europe survived; some even flourished in different guises. Only a few went to a different kind of wall, that that's a damned shame. But whatever our species' failings in the matter of maintaining the freedoms of its individuals, at least we have this to our credit. That damned wall is no more.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welcome to our guests!

So yesterday the visits to this little backwater blog suddenly went, by my modest standards, through the roof. It seems my comments concerning a certain pro-military song were not appreciated by another blogger, one who apparently enjoys a lot more traffic than I get. Well, disagreements happen: The thing with being politically, er, unaffiliated is that you get chances to piss off conservatives and liberals alike. It's part of the fun.

So yeah - Hi, guys! I'm the milquetoast. Welcome!

Then this morning somebody linked the "modern policing" post to, and that's already doing alarming things to the normally somnolent stats. Whom have I offended this time, he wondered, rubbing his hands together with glee.

Anyway, if any of my visitors has clicked to the homepage and read this, Welcome! Stick around for a while. Take your shoes off. Whatever impressions you may have gained from the post that led you here, I guarantee it's worse than that. :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Comment on the subject of sheepdogs...

Several months ago I posted a rant on the subject of that "wolves, sheepdogs and sheep" analogy police apologists love to fantasize about. It's a subject I bloviate about from time to time, and having done so last July I didn't give it any more thought.

Well, I've had some email trouble which W just cleared up for me, and going through the cascade of old emails I came upon this one, which was posted just three days ago:
So what you're saying is that you're ignorant? It's a shame since all these sheepdogs have fought for your freedom and protected your little fuzzy white ass while you've been asleep. Danger does not present itself momentarily and then disappear, it is a constant state. Stop assuming your ass is safe as long the wolves and sheepdogs are harassing you. The minute the sheepdogs give up on you sheep, then all sheep, including yourself, are going to get skinned and killed. Stop being so ignorant and start appreciating the men and women who have provided you with the comfort and food in which you survive with. You are no mutt, there is no such thing. You are a sheep and the least you could do is be a good sheep and keep your mouth shut.
Just wanted to make sure it got the attention it deserved. I sure wish people who write things like this would have the courage to use their names. I was going to fisk it, but what's the point? I'll just be a good sheep and keep my mouth shut.

Except to say..."He don't know me too good, do he?" :-P

Benevolence at Work: Pay Up or Go To Jail

H.R. 3962 would require health insurers to sell coverage on a guaranteed issue, mostly community-rated basis and attempt to improve the quality of the risk pool by requiring most people to have health coverage. Individuals who failed either to meet the proposed coverage ownership requirements or pay penalties could go to prison for up to 5 years. MORE

"No man's life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session."

M's Dome, Belated Update

The front wall took M a while to finish, but he did a beautiful job - especially considering he'd never stuck two blocks together before building it. S came over and helped lay the foundation row, but M was on his own for the rest. I helped only a little to speed things up while he filled the bond beam layers and doorframe with concrete. Lately he's been spending his time laying out the electrical and other things that need to penetrate the dome. The shotcrete people are due today to look over the job, and with any luck (IE, if they don't flake out and if the weather holds) the dome will be covered with concrete before the end of next week.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Modern Policing and the "Peelian Principles"

Ever heard of Robert Peel? He's not a household name in America. The Right Honorable Sir Robert Peel was a big thing in British politics of the mid-19th century, which would logically make him completely irrelevant to anything in 21st century America. And he would be, except for one thing he did in 1829 while holding the post of Home Secretary. He formed the Metropolitan Police Force in London, employing 1000 constables who, in his honor, came to be known as "Bobbies." It was the first modern police force in history; the prototype of all its successors. For those who know my opinion of police officers and police departments in general, indeed of the whole idea of police, it is true that in my opinion he did the world no great favor thereby. But sometimes you have to give points for good intentions. And it is clear that it was never Robert Peel's intention to unleash yet another oppressive force on the world.

He made this clear when, in organizing his police force, he published his nine "Peelian Principles:
  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
  5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

I've known about these "Principles" for many years: I often take them out, dust them off, and reflect upon the irony of their existence before shoving them back into the mental box in the dark places where I keep all those other failed bits of idealistic chest-thumping, like the U.S. Constitution. I was reminded of it yesterday, while reading this Pro Libertate essay titled "Why The Innocent Flee From Police:"
"Why did he run?" This question thrusts itself upon us every time an unarmed or otherwise harmless person is gunned down while fleeing from police.

Often that inquiry takes the form that assumes the guilt of the victim: "If he did nothing wrong, why did he run?" It's also common for that second version to contort itself into a nicely circular argument: "Well, he ran, and resisting arrest is a crime, so obviously he got what was coming to him."

For reasons unclear to a mind not enthralled by statist assumptions, most people simply assume that both reason and morality dictate an unqualified duty to surrender without cavil or complaint whenever armed, violence-prone strangers in peculiar government-issued garb seek to restrain one of us.

"Police brutality" in this country used to be a largely race or class thing. Cracker cops in Valdosta or Birmingham or wherever could get away with thumping all the uppity swarthy individuals they wanted, and the middle-class folks would take that as an opportunity to feel safer in their beds, snug in their delusion that the cops actually worked for them. But thanks largely to the "War on Drugs" and the horribly perverse incentives of civil asset forfeiture, not to mention the need to enhance department and local government revenues in these dark economic times when simply raising taxes isn't the simple option it used to be, this is no longer the case. Robbers go where the money is, and where it may be obtained most safely and easily. More and more that doesn't mean rousting Jamal from the south side for "driving while black;" it means rousting Mr. White Suburban Guy for "driving while affluent."

That would just be grounds for a moment of Schadenfreude except for other, more ominous trends in modern policing. For example, I just typed "Officer Safety is Paramount" into Google News. I only got two hits, which surprised me a bit. What didn't surprise me was that they were both from police- oriented publications. The same phrase occurs 33,700 times in a search of the web at large. A related search - Puppycide - got no hits in the news, but 13,400 on the web including this horrifying video which has been around for quite some time. My personal favorite, which I believe I've mentioned here before, involves an Ohio family who came home to find that police had tazed, then shot and killed their five-pound Chihuahua after it escaped from their back yard. I know I feel safer. And of course the whole country knows the case of the Calvo family, whose two Labrador Retrievers were shot during a botched drug raid. This would have been just another day in the life of botched paramilitary raids, except that Cheye Calvo happened to be the mayor of the town in which the raid occurred. That, at last, got the common practice of shooting dogs in the name of "officer safety" into the public eye.

Then there's the question of "respect for police authority." (167,000 hits, not that I'm counting or anything.) A perusal of these articles indicates that police sure as hell think there's a breakdown in respect for their authority, and they're going about trying to restore that respect all wrong. You know that old saying, "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?" Well, outside the law - that is, when dealing with "subjects" who don't happen to be breaking the law at the moment, but who aren't showing the officer the proper deference - police officers only have one tool: The threat of violence. That threat, and its reality, have become more immediate since the wide-spread advent of the Taser. Police have always had access to "less-than-lethal" weapons, IE nightsticks or bigass flashlights, but those have the disadvantage of leaving cracked heads and inconvenient pools of blood, which makes them sub-optimal for use against disrespectful little old ladies during traffic stops. Hey, there used to be some limits. But the Taser has provided law enforcement officers with a Pain Compliance Tool that normally leaves the chastened subject with hardly any damage at all. Physical damage, anyway. That using it for just that purpose would become a very common police procedure, was a no-brainer prediction. I was one of those who predicted it, and the cops didn't let me down.

But the point is, this "lack of respect" problem is circular, it's self-fulfilling. There's a reason average, every-day ghetto dwellers dislike cops on principle. It's not a big secret, and it's not because - as some cops would say - because the residents are all criminals. It's because they really hate being pushed around - and they get pushed around regularly. Any toppled dictator could tell you, you do not want to bring that sensibility home among the people - the middle class, the whitebread citizens, the majority - who should be your greatest supporters. But that's just what too many cops are doing.

And then when there's money to be made at it, well - civil asset forfeiture (1,010,000 hits) - well, then you just put the cherry on top.
"A conflict of interest between effective crime control and creative fiscal management will persist so long as law enforcement agencies remain dependent on civil asset forfeiture."
—John L. Worrall, Department of Criminal Justice, California State University, San Bernardino, Addicted to the drug war: The role of civil asset forfeiture as a budgetary necessity in contemporary law enforcement, Journal of Criminal Justice Volume 29, Issue 3, May-June 2001, Pages 171-187.
Okay, enough with the long words. Point is, not much separates a corrupted police department from just another gang of thugs. Yes, I know that's not the way law enforcement officers see it, but it's not their perceptions that are of concern here. It should come as no surprise at all to police officers that they perceive a general "lack of respect for police authority," and they should also expect it to get worse. It has nothing to do with the "subjects'" poor parenting or access to video games or anti-cop agitprop on the intertubz. What wrong-side-of-the-tracks-type people have known all along, the police are now teaching to whitebread suburbia: The Policeman Is Not Your Friend.

People concerned with any energy crisis in England could behave quite profitably toward their nation: Just connect a generator input shaft to the axis of Robert Peel's corpse, then sit outside his tomb reading excerpts from Radley Balko's The Agitator or David Codrea's Only Ones Files. Help him deplore the way the descendants of what he created, thinking he'd made a good thing, have forgotten every one of his principles, especially the seventh:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Return of the Clown Collar

Yeah, the clown collar's back. Fritz's ear is fine, but he's got a new sore on his front leg.
He's done this before: He gets this nervous thing where he just licks and licks one place on his leg until it's a bleeding mess. This one hasn't gone that far, and I'm hoping to prevent it. I tried a couple of days of shaming him out of it, which oddly enough has worked before. Fritz is almost unique among the dogs in that he actually cares what I want. But this morning it was worse, and since we've worked out a way to keep the clown collar on him it was sadly time for the evil contrivance to come out of retirement. I really enjoyed taking it off him the last time; he's cumbersome enough without it. But his history is too clear: Right now it's just raw skin, but he'll lick it to the bone if I don't stop him. Once it's healed, he'll eventually leave it alone.

Volk does it again

A couple of evenings ago, M told me I should check out Oleg Volk's live journal site because he had decorated a couple of already-very-decorative photos with captions I'd identify with.

I've spent some time on his regular site - in fact it's got an advert on my sidebar - but only go there when there's an entire afternoon that needs killing. These were a little easier to find on the live journal page.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And speaking of songs...

Yes, I know this is silly. I often pride myself on my serious nature, while sometimes embracing the silliest things you can imagine. One of the silliest things I can imagine is being a fanboy for a failed TV series, but I most certainly am. And there is this tribute to that particular series, a song called "Mal's Song," that has always resonated with me.

Mal Reynolds, in the series, was a man of faith and conviction who lost everything, including his faith and his conviction. As a way to survive his loss, he went the opposite way - he wanted to ride outside the borders of his society so that he might live his life the way he wanted, free of outside constraints. Though it caused him no end of trouble, he mostly got what he sought. Minus the spaceship and (so far) the violence, my life has been kinda like that.

"For God and Country, I'll End Your Life"

This was directed to my attention by someone I'll let remain nameless, because in other matters I respect his opinion.
I’ve got the reach and the teeth of a killin’ machine,
With a need to bleed you when the light goes green
Best believe, I’m in a zone to be, from my Yin to my Yang to my Yang Tze
Put a grin on my chin when you come to me,
‘Cuz I’ll win, I’m a one-of-a-kind and I’ll bring death
To the place you’re about to be: another river of blood runnin’ under my feet
Forged in a fire lit long ago, stand next to me, you’ll never stand alone
I’m last to leave, but the first to go, Lord, make me dead before you make me old
I feed on the fear of the devil inside of the enemy faces in my sights:
Aim with the hand, shoot with the mind, kill with a heart like arctic ice

I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a warrior and this is my song

I bask in the glow of the rising war, lay waste to the ground of an enemy shore
Wade through the blood spilled on the floor, and if another one stands I’ll kill some more
Bullet in the breach and a fire in me, like a cigarette thrown, to gasoline
If death don’t bring you fear, I swear, you’ll fear these marchin’ feet
Come to the nightmare, come to me, deep down in the dark where the devil be
In the maw with the jaws and the razor teeth,
Where the brimstone burns and the angel weeps
Call to the gods if I cross your path and my silhouette hangs like a body bag
Hope is a moment now long past, the shadow of death is the one I cast.

I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a warrior and this is my song
My eyes are steel and my gaze is long
I am a warrior and this is my song

Now I live lean and I mean to inflict the grief,
And the least of me is still out of your reach
The killing machine’s gonna do the deed,
Until the river runs dry and my last breath leaves
Chin in the air with a head held high,
I’ll stand in the path of the enemy line
Feel no fear, know my pride:
For God and Country I’ll end your life

I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a warrior and this is my song
My eyes are steel and my gaze is long
I am a warrior and this is my song

I note that nowhere in the lyrics above is there any proviso that the "warrior's" victims need be in any way an actual threat to America or Americans. Nope, it's just "I’ve got the reach and the teeth of a killin’ machine/with a need to bleed you when the light goes green." I don't acknowledge membership of any country that finds those vile sentiments attractive or even acceptable.

I'm told that this song can be purchased on iTunes, and that except for Apple's cut all proceeds go to some fund that...I don't know, that does something "warrior" types would like.

Look, I know there can be legitimate differences of opinion on this or that topic, even on weighty matters. But this song actually manages to make me proud that I never served in any armed force. That might seem strange, since I carry and train with arms. But that's not about spreading death or causing fear in foreigners who never did me harm. If you came here and treated me and mine the way this song promises to treat them, I guarantee I'd be "the warrior's" enemy, too. Whoever embraces the message of this song deserves all the enemies he gains.

It comes with matching tactical shoes and ear rings

After I threw off the tactical blankets and rose from my tactical bed, I petted the tactical dogs, put on my tactical battle uniform, tucked into my tactical oatmeal and coffee and fired up my tactical computer. Checking out View From The Porch, I finally found the perfect gift for my imaginary high-speed-low-drag girlfriend: A Tactical Purse!

I'm saved! Last time I imagined giving her flowers, she tactically kicked my ass.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter Four: A Provisional "YAY!"

W has been doing a lot of research into the mysteries of battery charging cycles (who knew there were several?) and the workings of our Ferrari-wannabe charge controller and inverter. As a result we went two nights (though, granted, not "run the heater fan all night" nights) without running the generator even once. Yesterday we added four more 6-volt batteries (forged from solid ingots of the finest money) and doubled the capacity of the battery bank. This morning, even the ever-so-aloof-to-all-this M got up to check the voltage level, first thing: It was just that vital a question.

And sonuvagun, though the previous evenings we'd eked through without quite exhausting the system's patience, this time we didn't even arouse its annoyance: 25.1 volts at 8 AM! Very cool. It'll be nearly two weeks before we get the new solar panels on-line, so before then we'll probably find out how the voltage behaves in a cold snap.

From the "Why do people still live there?" Department...

All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.
Chicago aldermen with their noses out of joint Friday demanded to know why they are searched along with the masses at the city's central headquarters for administrative hearings.

Scott Bruner, director of Administrative Hearings --the department Chicagoans love to hate -- was put through the wringer again during City Council budget hearings, but for different reasons.

Normally, Bruner gets pummeled for presiding over a "kangaroo court" of rude, cavalier and predominantly white hearing officers who don't give the accused a fair shake, critics say.

This time, he was ambushed by aldermen, some of them attorneys, who show up at 400 W. Superior and are searched and put through metal detectors like everyone else.

When the politicians had rendered Detroit largely uninhabitable, most of the residents left. I keep waiting for Chicago to go the same way. So far nothing, and I admit I don't understand it. But it's nice to get a glimpse of the minor-league Masters chewing on one another, once in a while.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quote of the Day

"And our credo, 'Sic gorgiamus allos subiectatos nunc' — 'We gladly feast on those who would subdue us'. Not just pretty words." - Morticia Addams