Friday, July 30, 2010

And speaking of cats and dogs...

Here's a cat getting her point(s) across in no uncertain terms.

Next step: Roll on your back and use your rear claws to end the encounter.

This is insanely cool...

Yeah, I know. I'm a foe of the whole "projection of power" thing. But I'm an old mechanic, and I love good machines. The P51 Mustang was the climax state of the piston powered fighter. The only way to do it better was to do something completely different. I've always wanted to fly in one, and never have. Cool machines are cool, regardless of who commands them.

While walking to a flea market...

Me: (Looking at a billboard for a local candidate) "He's got a kind of Andy Griffith thing going on, don't you think?"

Claire" "Yeah, and apparently a boatload of money. Heard he's paying for his campaign out of his own deep pockets."

Me: "I don't mind that so much, as long as they empty his pockets before they feed him into the spinning blades."

Claire: (After a rather long silence) "Um...spinning blades?"

Me: "Yeah. I mean, I can get along with a traditionalist. Ropes and lamp posts have their charms. But spinning blades have a twenty-first century thing I find very attractive. Elections should definitely involve spinning blades. At a minimum they should be fought with guns."

Claire: (More silence) "Oh. Yeah, okay."

My god. Is this still around?

I can't believe it. I went to this attraction when I was a little boy - saw the "mermaids," which is the only part I remember, and wondered what was so great.

The only thing I really remember about it was how the announcer kept saying 'I'd never forget it.' And all the way home I wondered, "Why will I never forget this, when I've seen 'way cooler things I've already forgotten?"

Guess it worked.

H/T to ASM826

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the Keeping and Bearing of Weapons.

I keep dogs. This is going to be funny as hell to some of my friends, because when I first came here I wasn't a particular fan of dogs. But I haven't really changed: before that I kept cats, and the principle applies to them as well.

Despite some argument with my now ex-wife, I have never declawed a cat. That's because cats need their claws even more than they need their fangs, for defense. Defense is the absolute right of a cat, so much smaller than many of the animals that would aggress against them. They mostly defend themselves very efficiently; their claws are like razors. I knew a big gray tom that sent a German Shepherd to the vet to have its guts sewed back in one time. Up till then that dog thought it was the biggest, baddest SOB in the valley, but it barely survived the encounter. The dog challenged the cat, and the cat attacked the dog. The cat had claws, and also superior tactics. Bet that dog didn't do that again.

Point being, the small and weak need weapons to defend themselves against the large and strong. That's just the way it is. I'm not a big fan of Thomas Hobbes, but he wasn't entirely wrong. We do exist in a state of nature. The word for the one who believes that weapons aren't needed because nature has been tamed, is fool. Nature always has the last laugh. And my life may be solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish, but I'd rather it not be short. Hence, like my dogs and my cat, I carry my weapons openly and at all times.

It is the privilege of all immature creatures to be protected by their parents, to the extent possible. It is the absolute right of all mature creatures to be protected by themselves. Adult dogs possess teeth. Adult cats possess razor-sharp claws. Humans...well, humans seem to have been short-changed by our Maker in this regard. But what we lack in natural weapons we compensate for by our ability to make artificial weapons. And we further have the ability to stand on the shoulders of giants. Left to my own devices my weapons would be clubs and maybe sharpened rocks. But fortunately I have access to the labors of Messrs Browning, Freeman, Garand, and Kalashnikov.

This morning my pup Little Bear killed and ate a large rabbit. Rabbits seem to have been designed to be prey animals, since they have only two means of defense: Stealth and speed. They have no effective weapons. So this rabbit, which was certainly mature and probably older than LB, went down his throat. If it'd had weapons, the outcome might have been different. I might have been rushing LB to the vet. I might have been burying him. Instead I'm just planning to buy some wormer medicine because LB had all the weapons in that encounter. It should be a teachable moment.

Look, I don't care about the Constitution. This predates and supersedes the Constitution, or any other writing of man. I am what I am, a mature creature walking the earth, and predators would hunt me if they could. But they have a poor chance of success, because I am frickin' armed.

That's all I'm trying to say.

Big ol' Glutton...

Little Bear has turned out to be quite the predator. He was such a floppy, clumsy puppy that when he started showing up with dead rabbits I wondered how they'd died. These days there's no question left about that. I was working on the Lair early before it got hot this morning - Ghost started clamoring for a walky, and so I dropped what I was doing, took up my canteen and my rifle, and we went out into the wash. Up the hill and across the ridge we went, and Ghost took off after a rabbit with LB right behind. Ghost chases rabbits all the time but never catches them - the one time he almost accidentally caught a rabbit he didn't really want it. Walked around holding it by the scruff for a while, then dropped it next to Magnus who promptly killed and ate it.

With LB, though, there's no uncertainty. He likes to chase rabbits too, but he's in it for the food. So this time they went blasting after this bunny, I sat down to wait, and five minutes or so later LB came trotting back with a big, very dead cottontail in his jaws. Having done that, of course, he loses all interest in walkies. All he wants is a shady spot to lie and chow down. I had no intention of sitting there for half an hour while he made his meal, so I insisted on heading back to the Lair. Once LB got with the program he disappeared entirely, which pissed me off somewhat: I stood at the top of the ridge overlooking the Lair, calling and calling but he didn't come. Then I looked down to the Lair - and there he was, in the shadow of the cabin, looking up at me as if to say, "What? I'm just where you wanted me to go, right? What are you yelling about?"

Dumb as a box of rocks, but he still manages to be smarter than me sometimes. 8^}

On this date...

Arizona joins Vermont and Alaska in treating adults like adults.

The new non-law has fallen pretty much off the national radar because of all the talk generated by that other thing Arizona did. But this is good, anyway.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When did progressives become warmongers?

The Portland Progressive Examiner has a surprising take on HR5741, the latest Universal National Slavery Service Act, sponsored by that lying, thieving, hypocritical ditch manure The Honorable Congressman Charles Rangel.
The bill, or something like it, is an interesting proposal, and should not be dismissed out of hand. There is a great deal to be said for the proposal. Such a measure would help build character and citizenship in a whole new generation of Americans. To be an American is a privilege, and Universal National Service may be a way to bring that point home.
My answer:
To be an American is an accident of birth, and does not obligate me no matter how often that lie is repeated. I owe you nothing, Bubba. You can call it hysteria - you can call it Shirley for all I care, but how is involuntary servitude NOT slavery?

I've a feeling this fella would look at it differently if the majority in congress had "R" behind their names.

The song in my head...

...Just Isn't Fair.

There are so many fun songs in this movie - which I haven't seen in I don't know how long - and this is the one I end up humming...

Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

Yeah, that'd be a pretty good wake-up call...

He said, "I always thought you were an alarmist when you talked about being prepared for a shitstorm, but I was in Sam's Club a few weeks ago and I saw something that scared the bejeezus out of me."

"What was that?" I asked.

"I saw (NAME REDACTED) and he had one of those big flat-bottom carts stacked with big bags of rice, beans, salt, cases of canned meat and tuna, you name it."

"Who's (NAME REDACTED)?" I asked.

"He's my banker."

Huh? Whazzat?

Well, it's a pretty damned poor commentary on life when our hillbilly-rigged wifi works just fine, but it says there's no WAN to connect to. Only part of the whole kludged-together contraption that doesn't work, and it's the only part we actually paid to have installed. Sad, that's all.

Yesterday afternoon the satellite took Lughnasadh off a little early, or something. Yeah, blessed be and all that, but we're not paying the damned thing to collect seeds and mourn for the dying sun. Seems okay this morning, though.

Got some fairly good work done on the Lair yesterday morning, but came back to the Jeep to find the battery near dead. My own damned fault - it's been cranking slow the past few days for lack of longer drives to charge it, so naturally it gave up the ghost when the Jeep was fairly deep in the boonies. Claire's gonna come on back sometime this morning and give me a jump, but in the meantime it's shank's mare and like it. And I've got to be three different places today I'd rather not walk, since I've got pressure sores acting up and don't like to walk when I can ride. Walking hurts lately.

Even so I can't bitch too much. The Lair's looking more like a house inside every day and less like a lazy hippy's nightmare. I moved most of the short pieces of interior siding outside under the tarp and got things more-or-less swept out after paneling one of the bathroom walls yesterday, just so I could get a better idea how much room there'll be. Last weekend Landlady and M brought me a big honkin' recliner they scrounged. I set it up in the corner, sat and admired for half an hour before going out and discovering the dead battery.

I got paid for a couple of jobs on Monday, so I've got a little money even after paying Claire what I owed her. I can pay MK half what I still owe on the chainsaw and still have something rustling in my pocket for the wallboard I need behind the wood stove. So that's nice. I still have a commissioned article I've got to sit down and write, and that's the last big-ticket payday I have on tap so it'll have to be enough.

But now I need to go to work on the ceiling, and that's gonna be pure hell that'll take several days even if I stick with it like the fanatical worker I'm not. Ah, well. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ever have one of these days?

Then you might want to spend some time with this guy, who shows you various methods of getting yerass free.

Might also consider having one of these taped to the inside of your belt.

Some days yer paranoid. Some days yer not paranoid enough. ;^)

H/T to Lawdog.

Monday, July 26, 2010

America: The OTHER Yugoslavia

I've gotta go shovel shit, but allow me to take just a moment to foment major sociopolitical upheaval.

In this LRC article, Michael Rozeff spells out the problem:
I don’t think Americans can improve their lot by participating in national politics under the current rules of the national game. I think they have to change the rules. They have to end the Union and get out from under the existing Constitution, which is now entirely controlled and interpreted by the national government.

Since there is no consensus for going back to the original Constitution and since it would have to be rewritten and renegotiated, which is a process of uncertain outcome and which is impractical anyway, this leaves one viable path: ending the Union and ending this Constitution.
...and then cogently proposes a solution that I've been toying with but haven't been able to string together coherently:
A viable means is the withdrawal of consent by Vermonters or Texans or Alaskans or Arizonans or Californians or the citizens of any state to (sic) the U.S. government. People gain leverage and power against the national Leviathan by acting as citizens of their respective states. They need to act through their state legislatures, not as citizens of the United States.
Yes, the state governments. Stop laughing. I know I'm not being ideologically pure in endorsing this, but I console myself that all the worst atrocities in human history were carried out in the name of ideological or philosophical purity. The man's got a point, and we can always strip-mine the state governments later. Hey, I'm advocating Fabian tactics here. It worked for the Socialists.
A tax revolt that works from and through the state legislatures directly undermines the Union. It directly challenges the power of Congress to tax. That’s a far stronger political platform for restructuring the United States.

Outright secession is one political measure in a spectrum of possible actions by which one or more states stand up to the U.S. government. Nullification is another. Withdrawal from the banking system is another. A separate payments system at the state level is a fourth. Refusal to obey any of hundreds of U.S. directives is a fifth. The formation of alliances among states is another.

In fact, there are so many possible ways by which one or more states stand up to the Union that, given enough time and the right conditions, a breakup is all but assured. The same cannot be said of any movement that seeks to work change by confronting Americans as one large group with their national government.
Divide. Conquer. But first, divide.

Our problem in trying to get our liberty back is that our enemy is mighty and united. No, the government is not some Borg-like monolith. But on this subject, all its multifarious warring parts are in agreement: They know they absolutely must hold us down. We're the chickens in the coop. The farmer's family may argue among themselves, but none of them are arguing for us. We need to get them arguing with some other families.

The political factionalism of the past few decades is working for us in this regard. Increasingly, Americans are becoming divided to an irreconcilable degree. What do westerners have in common with the contented denizens of Chicago, or NYC, or DC? We're all carbon-based lifeforms, and that's just about it. I, for one, am heartily sick of being outvoted by people with whom I share not one single idea or belief. I've never been a Free Stater, but do occasionally think maybe they've got a point. Concentrate our numbers in the political subdivisions that can plausibly be nudged in our direction. Some of them are already nearly there - Arizona, Wyoming, Montana are practically in revolt against their "federal" masters already, though not necessarily on topics I sympathize with. That sort of dissension needs to be encouraged. If some state governments get the idea that their people endorse individual action, they'll become more bold. Nullification will follow, and the withholding of tax money. Secession will gradually - maybe not so gradually - become less unthinkable.

Maybe we can't kill Leviathan. But it'd be fun to try and saw his frickin' legs off.

Utopia in our lifetime? Oh, hell no! It'd be chaos. But like I've said before, we need to get comfortable with the idea of chaos. We need to embrace the chaos. We've been normal for a long time now, and change is good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I've got a new shiny!

I've just received the final functional parts of my third donated camera. I swore when the dust killed the last one that I'd buy a point'n'shoot digital without a mechanical zoom lens, because that's the part that always goes bad. The first one I don't feel too badly about; who knew you shouldn't carry it in your pocket? The second, a gift from the Grey Lady, I was more careful with but it died anyway. I never got around to buying that cheap no-zoom - there was always something else to spend the money on.

Now Claire has gifted me with a very nice used camera and extracted from me a solemn vow that I'll keep it in a freakin' Zip-lock bag if that's what it takes to keep the dust out of the worky parts.

Here's hoping I've learned enough lessons to keep this one going. Thanks, Claire! Turns out my old data transfer cable works fine, BTW.

Sez here we're all gonna die.

Thanks to Tam, that global-disaster-crying Cassandra, we receive word that global holocaust is imminent. Right around the corner, dude. No word yet how Obama's gonna stop it, but I'm sure he has a plan. Remember while you're roasting and being blown to tiny bloody bits and then getting cancer: The bad stuff is BP's fault, the good stuff is to Obama's credit. Got it? Good. Then prepare to have your morning ruined, because it says here BP is on the march with a vengeance that makes Mongol hordes look like mewing kittens:
Many geologists concur: "The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region "boils over," ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide..." [5]
So I guess there's not that much rush on Landlady's roof. And that tax time thing? Not so much of a worry.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sheesh. First they outlaw heroin. Now this!

What's next? A big tax on machine guns? What the hell are we supposed to do for fun?

Wrong, Wrong, oh God, WRONG

On so many, many levels...

As far as I can tell, this is real. If so, purchasers will be paying for therapy for a very long time.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Earlier today I read a blog entry from an earnest conservative fellow who lamented that he just couldn't love his own country's flag anymore. I sympathize. I understand the feeling, and especially this:
there is no way to determine which concepts are being espoused by a simple rag on a stick. I see that flag in the background behind our Marxist president every time he gives a speech! Has it been irredeemably soiled by the likes of O and his cabal of heathens. I do not pretend to have the answer. But I do expect that someday, when my resistance switches from the mere utterances of my mouth to the acts of my hands, I will see that same flag flown by those who intend to kill me.
I know I don't go on about Obama as much as would please a lot of conservatives, because I don't think Obama is the problem. Obama is only a symptom of the problem. Bush the Younger wasn't any friend of freedom, and too many conservatives defended him and turned a blind eye to his damned abuses. But I think this guy is finding his way out of the left/right false dichotomy. He's starting to get it.

But there's a terrible sadness involved in that. When you lose somebody you love, or lose something in your life that you depended on, you never completely get over it. In my case, the one I lost was America. People go on about "loving America," and I can't do that anymore. My America is dead; it's been dead since before I was born though it took me an awful long time to give up trying to find its pulse. The shambling monster I find in its place isn't anything I can love.

People keep asking me if I love America. I don't even know what America is anymore. The government? Tyrants. The citizens? Contemptible sheep, most of them. The land? Well, I was born here and don't plan to leave, but while I'll fight for my own property I don't know how to love millions of square miles of dirt - especially when most of it's owned by the aforementioned tyrants. I love the idea of America. But that idea was betrayed so long ago it's just a legend now. Maybe it's a myth. In the original America I was taught about when I was a little kid, how could creatures like Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall ever find positions of power? Why did Thomas Jefferson, who always had such beautiful things to say about liberty and freedom, have such a hard time living up to them when he was in charge - as with Claypool's Rebellion and the Embargo Act? Maybe all that "freedom and liberty" stuff was really just a lie we were taught in second grade, like Washington and the cherry tree. Maybe we've been royally screwed from the beginning.

I don't know. Certainly I do know that I've lost all faith in this nation. By which I mean the government, of course. It acknowledges no responsibility toward me, but I'm supposed to believe that I'm responsible to it down to the last penny it cares to take. I don't understand that attitude. If I'm a free man, why am I not free to opt out of any relationship I don't approve of and never consented to in the first place? If I'm not free to opt out, how am I not a slave? I'll never bear any love toward anyone who considers himself my owner. If you want to give me orders, Bubba, show me the money. Don't even try to tell me you get to order me around and I have to pay you for it. Because that's not going to happen.

Me, I'm loyal to myself, my friends, and what close family I still have. "The Country," whatever it is, can go hang.


It's rained or threatened to rain every day for the past two weeks, as is the monsoon's custom. This has had its usual startling effect on the air humidity. Humidity isn't a problem I normally need to deal with, and it always catches me by surprise. My problem is that I've got a number of wounds that never entirely healed; lots of old broken bones and of course a missing leg. The normal dry lets me forget most of them. Till Monsoon.

This morning I hit vertical with the intent to get a bunch of stuff done. A minor water leak in the pressure system has over the past few days turned into a major leak, and a real fix will involve things I truly don't want to do. But I woke up with an old-school idea to stop the leak. Gathered tools and went out to try it before I was even fully dressed. Didn't work (Sigh.)

I've been clearing space in the storage side of the barn for the lumber left over from Landlady's house, and this morning Claire and I were to move the lumber from the meadow where it's been getting pretty seriously weathered-in to nice dry storage. I loaded most of the trailer while she was doing walky with her dogs. She gave me hell for that, but loading the trailer's easy. I mostly needed her help getting it onto the barn shelves. Then while backing down the driveway slope the OSB sheets slid and dumped most of my load right out of the trailer. So...we pulled the dimensional lumber out of the trailer, except for the 16' 2X4s that were strapped to the sides. Rearranged the OSB, backed to the barn. The 16-footers went up in the attic and the OSB made a nice neat stack on one of the newly-cleared lumber shelves. Back to the driveway, re-stack the lumber, back to the barn and unload.

By this time, with all the backing and forthing, my stump was singing to me like Mick Jagger trying to perform Aida. But it's shit-shoveling day, and I was already four hours late. I normally like to get it done early before it gets hot, but yesterday never got hot and today I don't think it'll get very hot.

I kinda like shit-shoveling, to tell the truth. The horses are good company when the mares aren't in heat and the work is light, except for the part where I have to pull the loaded shit-wagon a couple of hundred yards and then drag it up the manure pile to dump it. That's not fun even when I'm feeling good, and by this time Ol' Mick was really hitting some sour notes. Fortunately, due to the flies I'm on a three-times-a-week schedule, so I only had to do it three times. But still - thought I was going to have to crawl back to the Jeep. And just when I was filling the last load, H came home with two of her lady friends. So naturally I straightened up, stuck out my chest and pretended I was Conan the Barbarian. Is nothing! Wagon only weighs a few hundred pounds, ladies, I could carry it on my arm. Yeah, right. You know that scene in Gattaca where the hero is pretending to be a superman on the treadmill, till he gets alone in the locker room and can have a private heart attack? Like that.

So now I'm sitting inside with my leg off, letting the sweat dry and working up the nerve for my last chore of the day. That won't take but an hour or so, then I can shower and collapse for real. Landlady's due in tonight and wants to work on plumbing, and I need to be able to walk.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wow, lots of water.

I guess there was a lot of water in that storm last night. After shit-shoveling I went out to work on the lair. The good news is that the trench I've been working on at the foot of the gully behind the Lair seems to be working. Enough water ran in it to cut the trench deeper, and it turned its corner nicely rather than overflowing and flooding the cabin site.

The bad news is that it then tried to wash my driveway into California.

Clay washed down from the ridge and filled up the small trench between the water hose/spigot and the Lair; no big deal.

And I now know the septic system's leach trench is pointed in the right direction. Unfortunately it's nowhere near as deep as it was yesterday.

The sky cleared up this morning right around full light, but as I type this it's clouding up for another shot this afternoon. It's definitely monsoon season.

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

...Come on back this afternoon and cool things off!

This isn't a complaint I make very often...but I've got a lot to do! And it's raining in the morning!

Last night the storm held off until almost bedtime, but when it came it had me scrambling around unplugging electronics because there was lightning everywhere, and close! I'm always surprised our solar stuff doesn't attract big bolts of electrical stuff. So it rained like crazy, no surprise, but then it settled in and kept raining off and on all night. This morning, still pattering on the roof when it usually goes away and leaves the morning for getting things done.

These days I only seem able to work in the mornings. Afternoons are for hiding from the heat; can't think when my brain is bubbling and oozing out my ears. This is shit-shoveling day, best done early before it gets hot. There's a problem with the frame on Landlady's utility door, which I promised to fix. I've got an article to write, which I've barely even looked at. The cistern needs filling, and the generator and Jeep need oil changes. I still haven't had a chance to seriously play with my new chainsaw. Dead trees are calling me. And I wanna go work on my cabin!

(Well, if it's raining I guess there's no excuse not to work on that article...)

Aw! That's Sweet!

Claire say nice things about Joel! Joel bashful now.

Don't really see how that coulda been handled differently, though. It was my responsibility.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

About that racist USDA worker...

Hell, I do live in a cave. And even I've heard the story, and repeatedly been offered the video, of Shirley Sharrod speaking before an NAACP meeting and apparently crowing about the way she dissed a white farmer who came to her for help. It's been all over the conservative sites as proof of the racism of the Obama regime.

How 'bout that - turns out conservatives can twist a story, too! Who woulda guessed?

As it turns out, now that Ms. Sharrod has been forced to resign, that wasn't the whole story. It seems the video was rather severely edited.
  • The incident happened in 1986, long before she worked at USDA.
  • She worked for something called the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, a private organization principally involved with helping black locals hang onto their land. Which is why it made a difference that this particular guy was white.
  • She did in fact help the white guy keep his land. His wife is her outspoken friend to this day.
  • She says that in the portions of the speech not included in the video, she told the story to show how she awakened to the fact that her job should be about helping people, not about helping people of a particular race. She wasn't crowing about sticking it to a white guy.
So, basically, telling a portion of a true story is a good way to turn it into a lie. Where have we seen this before? It seems so familiar.

Hm. You mean political people lie, not just liberal political people? What a revelation!

H/T to Balko.

Oh, it's been hot lately...

...and humid, which doesn't seem natural. The storms have rolled in pretty much every afternoon, cooling things down nicely by bedtime. Lots of wind, so far not really a lot of water though I noticed yesterday that two small gullies had flowed over the road a couple of miles away. If my interpretation of yesterday's precip is right, there might have been quite a lot more rain east of us. That's where the two canyons are that feed the big wash, so water might be accumulating that will cut us off from the world for a day or two at some point, possibly soon. Water builds up in the canyons and comes out into the wash all at once; always a flash flood, sometimes a veritable wall of water.

But right now it's just hot. And humid.

Getting some nice work done on the Lair. Saturday, as I already reported, L came with her backhoe and dug all the rough excavations for my septic system. Sunday morning the whole gang, Landlady, Claire, M and me, went to the Lair and put up the framing for the bathroom walls. I had feared that putting up interior walls in a 12X16 cabin (It is not a shack, L) would make it seem unacceptably small inside but it isn't too bad. In fact, somebody said it kind of gives the space definition. Now there's a "bathroom," and a "kitchen," where before there was just a big room. This morning I got back to work on the paneling for the long wall, and would have finished it all the way up to the ceiling but right at the end I got frustrated with some fitting I had to do around the kitchen light and quit maybe an hour before I intended to.

It's been fairly light posting lately, I know, but I've been busy in the mornings and in the afternoons all I want to do is find some shade and read or nap through the heat. I like this new laptop, but I swear I can feel the waves of heat coming off it. My wrists leave dirty wet puddles on it when I'm typing. Books are superior hot-weather companions, I'm afraid.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ha HAW...

Seen @ Sipsey Street.

How to tell when you're not dealing with serious preppers...

Did the subject of swords come up as anything but decor? Bingo.

Sure, I think swords are cool. I'm a guy. I want one on my wall. Personally I was always taken with Cold Steel's Grosse Messer. Had a chance to finally fondle one at the SAR show last December. Then I thought of all the other, better uses for the money, and laid it back in its box and moved on.

Buy more ammo. And training. Better yet, buy more food. You got an isolated place to store it, and yourself? Know how you're going to support yourself when you live there? Got a schedule? Got a plan? If not, why are you worrying about silly stuff?

Guys. Conan the Barbarian was a figment of R. E. Howard's imagination. And Howard was crazy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

By Special Request...

So we got maybe a little deep into the beer yesterday afternoon. Our neighbor S had a company group visiting some of the local homesteads, getting all excited about off-grid power systems and stuff. Somehow, our Boot Hill had become part of the tour - which I'm not sure I'm too crazy about.

Anyway, Claire suddenly burst out in a song I hadn't even thought of in decades. Between the two of us we belted out verses as well as we could remember, thoroughly appalling our fellow imbibers who had never heard the song - and had never heard either of us sing - and couldn't understand why we'd admit to having done so.

And so, by special request of Claire, (who hates my normal "music" videos) I bring you:

Forest Lawn!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is the kind of conversation we have here...

"Come see my toilet! I've got the first flush toilet in the gulch!"

I'm not making this up. Furthermore, it caused a stampede to go see the toilet. Honest.

Remember M's Dome? Last summer M's Dome was all I could blog about. Well, M's Dome is so last year. M had to move back to the city early in the winter when the money ran out and the weather socked in, and lately he's only been able to come out for weekends.

M is getting ready to pour the footers for the retaining wall that will allow M's Dome to become M's Earth-Bermed Home. He got L, our neighbor with the backhoe, to help him dig the footers.

But first! M and Landlady gave me a gift! Unbeknown to me, they also got L to dig all the excavation for my septic system! That took about five hours. Very cool! I don't actually own most of the pipes I need to fill the excavation, but that's cool. There's work to be done while I'm getting money together for the pipes.

While M was waiting for L to finish with my digging, he did some work of his own. I've had water available from the well and water system M put in since last year, but M himself has not. For the past week he's been exactly one pipe fitting short of making it work. Today he installed that one fitting, and then...

And then...

(Fanfare, please!)

He installed his toilet, hooked it up, and it works great!

So let it be known far and wide, M has the first running flush toilet in our little gulch! YAY!

During beer and conversation this evening, somebody (I think it was Landlady) said, "I think we may have taken decentralization too far. Do you know we have a fifty-acre bathroom? The shower's in the barn, and the toilet's over there on the other ridge. I'm not sure this is a good concept."

Friday, July 16, 2010

See, this is why we need government.

Seen via Insty:

Senator Chuck Schumer, having solved all the world's other problems - except the cap on that Gulf of Mexico oil leak, which was Obama's responsibility - has now set about solving Apple's problems for it.
In a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs sent today, Schumer pressed the company to reconcile the competing claims and identify the true cause of the glitch in a written explanation to customers. He also called Apple's proposed remedies so far-the company has variously told customers to not hold the device a certain way, or to buy a case for the device-"insufficient." He said a permanent fix should be provided at no additional charge to customers.

"The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device.
Really? Ya think? Y'know, it also has the potential to undermine other things, like reputation, market share and stock value. Which is why companies that inadvertently sell defective products typically react with things like, oh, identifying the true cause of the glitch and providing a permanent fix at no additional cause to customers.

I'm pretty sure Apple knows that already, just as it knows that if you don't handle a product well in a highly competitive market you end up not being a major player in that market. See early Apple computers vs. IBM PC's. Which is why I think all those iPhone customers are going to be made whole ASAP, no matter what it costs Apple.

But thank you for your concern, Sen. Schumer. Thank you very much. Also, could you freedive down and assure us that that oil cap is really working? Because I think President Obama needs the benefit of your expertise. Don't bother coming back up to report; just tug on a rope or something.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"This must be what it feels like to go crazy."

So just now I got a comment related to this post from The Grey Lady, who said:
Heh...... your broad has managed to elevate the family personal chef (Mr. Kass) to Senior Policy adviser for healthy Food Initiatives. Yup she made him your new food Czar.

What ever happened to the days when the Title Czar had negative connotations? I miss those days.
Er...hadn't heard about that. So I did just a little bit of Google-fu, and came up with this unfortunate news:
WASHINGTON--Sam Kass, the Chicago native who is a White House chef who helps shape the Obama White House food initiatives, title has been upgraded to reflect his growing policy role.

"Kass has been quietly promoted within the ranks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and is no longer known as Mrs. Obama's Food Initiative Coordinator. About a month ago, according to a White House source, Kass' title was changed from "Food Initiative Coordinator" to Senior Policy Adviser For Healthy Food Initiatives. There has been little fanfare, and no formal announcement from the East Wing or the White House about Kass' promotion.

The new title more accurately reflects Kass' broad range of duties, as internal and external expert on all things health, kids, and food."

The East Wing told me Kass' title was changed to better reflect his role and he will not have any new duties.

Before coming to the White House, Kass was the Obama's personal chef.
You're right, GL. "Czar" used to be a bad word. But technically he's not a Czar, he's"Senior Policy Advisor." On, um, Healthy Food Initiatives.

So that's all right then. Because the Constitution is very clear on healthy food initiatives, you know. It doesn't mention them at all, so they're clearly not forbidden to the government. It's a strange, strange world we live in.

Oh, god. Ohgodohgodohgoooooddddd...

Okay: the story itself is quite pedestrian. I think I saw it on Say Uncle, but I wasn't even paying attention. Girl blows bubble on cop, is arrested for assault. Of course she was! She didn't respect his authoritah. If he let that stand, next thing it'd be dogs and cats living together; mass hysteria. Of course he arrested her.

I wasn't going to post about the story. Go to War On Guns and David Codrea will fill your head with more "Bad Cop No Donut" stories than it can hold without exploding. This is just another one.

But then I made a mistake. I made a horrible mistake. I read the comments.
Can you say BIO-Hazard? My I spit on you in the form of a “bubble” and contaminate you with various diseases? TB, hepatitis and others are easly transmitted. He warned her numerous times and she chose her own path. Just because she was a free spirit, jumping around without a care in the world, the cop has to worry about not only himself but his family. KUDOS to the cop.
And of course I expected the whole commenting world to descend on this guy for his rank, authoritah-kissing stupidity. Some did. Others rose to defend! There's a big frickin' argument about it!

Whadaya...even...SAY? Except that we are so doomed.

ETA: And ouch! So is this cop. Enjoy your new nickname, Adam (Bubbles) Josephs, Badge #731, who shouldn't have had a Facebook account.


Busy morning. Also very hot and a bit irritable.

I've got the inner paneling on the Lair's long wall about chest-high, where I was slowed by fitting around the kitchen window and a couple of outlets. Also, I THINK I've now got all the elements I need to test the Lair's wiring, but when I tried to assemble those elements I couldn't find a way to connect the battery to the inverter due to connections as incompatible as if they originated on different planets. So I'm on my way to town to try and find a way past that. If I find that way - and I'll settle for a couple of alligator clamps - I will either have exciting or very discouraging news very soon.

But for right now, too busy to blog. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Joel's Semi-Secret Lair...

I'm planning to put a little bar sink/water fountain up in the sleeping loft, because it would really be a drag to have to put on my leg and go down a ladder every time I wanted a drink of water in the middle of the night. That meant I needed one water line inside the cabin's long wall. Everything else comes up through the floor: Piece of cake.

So, having bought the boring bit I needed yesterday, I put the boys in Gitmo early and went to the cabin to bore some holes. Along about eight, I left to go shovel shit. I was there about two and a half hours (the flies are getting bad, and J&H are demanding I clean up all the soiled hay around the feeders, where the horses pee and make a horrible, fly-breeding mess. Takes up a lot of space in the shitwagon, which means a lot of trips to the manure pile) I came back to the cabin.

It rained yesterday afternoon, so I could see all the car tracks coming to the Lair. Should have only been two: Mine coming and mine going. Instead there were at least three. Who's been visiting the Lair in my absence, wondered I.

All was explained when I got there:
Somebody who knew I was using old clothing as insulation left me a donation. Which is pretty cool of them, if a bit disconcerting. It's supposed to be Joel's Secret Lair, not Joel's Neighborhood Hangout.

I did get some work done before I ran out of steam. I had enough flexible pipe left over from running the water down the slope last summer to run the water line through the new holes in the wall up to the loft, then having installed that I could get back to work on paneling. I'm filling the gap between the wall with rolled-up clothing as the paneling goes up.

This part under the window will all be kitchen counter, and if it weren't for the style of insulation I wouldn't even spend paneling on it. So I'm using up the ugly stuff there. It's coming along pretty well.

But I'm gonna have to knock off work pretty quick and go try to make some money. Last week I bled myself dry buying plumbing stuff, plus I'm getting dangerously into hock with people for not being able to meet regular monthly obs, like (ahem) my share of the satellite service. I haven't been in debt for so long it's scary when it happens.

"Whatever happened to..."

With all the "Race, Race, Race" that's been injected into what passes for political discourse these days, a question kept coming up in what passes for my mind: "Whatever happened to Jesse Jackson?"

I'd've heard if he was dead. But he's been awfully quiet for years, and quiet isn't (what passes for) JJ's style. I can only assume that the Big O Administration doesn't want him around. Hey! Barry can do something smart!

Then a couple of days ago I was working in The Secret Lair, with Limbaugh blaring in through the window from the Jeep's radio. (Yes, I listen to Limbaugh sometimes. Bite me - the alternative is country music.) And in connection with a story that interested me not the slightest bit (Who the hell is LeBron James?) I heard that name that used to infuriate me so regularly.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. From the heady days in the '60's when he was allowed to sneak into group pix with MLK Jr., through blackmailing major corporate leaders, a couple of days of having democrats pretend to take him seriously as a presidential candidate, to bitching about what-all a millionaire basketball team owner says in a fit of foot-stomping. It's kinda sad. I'll bet he's still got that bloody shirt he wore for what seemed like days after King was killed, and wonder if he knew he was peaking, way back then. I doubt it.

I always kinda wondered where he got the blood.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flash! Michelle Obama says something I agree with!

Yup, it's true! She said it right here:
When stubborn inequalities still persist -- in education and health, in income and wealth -- I think those founders would urge us to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
It's true, and I've been saying it for decades. Stubborn inequalities do exist in a nation, in a world in which some usurp the right to rule and others are expected to obey. Stubborn inequalities exist in which some hold the power to steal wealth and others capable of creating wealth are expected to hand it over on demand. Stubborn inequalities most certainly exist when I am forced to pay the salaries of people who see it as their job to look for opportunities to do to me things I would deserve to die for doing to them - and they'd be happy to make it so. Brava, Mrs. Obama! You are right! Stubborn inequalities do indeed exist in this country and around the world.

Wait. That's not the kind of inequality you're talking about? Equality won't exist until you've stolen enough from the people of this country to reduce us all to equal squalor?

Oh. Never mind what I said earlier. I still despise you.

Y'know, this is rich coming from a woman whose putatively black husband is President of the United States. Which husband - since she's bitching in part about inequality of education - as one of his first actions in office killed the successful school voucher system in Washington DC as a sop to teachers' unions, one of the primary reasons government schools are failing so dismally. Not that she cares, of course, because she's happy to avail herself of one of those stubborn inequalities by seeing to it that her children attend schools my kids wouldn't even be allowed to walk past.

Actually, now that I think about it, the broad's got a lot of nerve talking about "inequality" when she's a principal recipient of it. She should run for Congress; she'd be perfect.

Gonna try something else with the boys this morning...

Ghost has been getting slower and slower to come to Gitmo every morning, and yesterday he pulled a fast one on me. I called him to treats, and he steadfastly refused to show. I didn't worry about it because Ghost isn't prone to wander. Locked up Little Bear, walked to the Jeep...and Ghost was there waiting for me. At first I was ready to insist that he go to Gitmo, but then I figured, "Why am I punishing Ghost because Little Bear can't control himself?" So I brought him along to the Lair and he was no trouble at all except toward the end. When Ghost gets bored, he can be a pain. But I was looking for an excuse to knock off by then anyway.

So this morning I'm gonna bring both boys with me, along with LB's tie-out cable. He still needs to be confined if I'm to get any work done, but I need to find a place to confine him at the site. Hopefully where he won't be tying the cable in knots every ten seconds. I've got a plan, but don't guarantee it will work.

Living in Fear

The emotion in the country is really interesting. You hear a lot of people talk about anger. It's not anger. It's absolute fear. People are petrified about the future about everything from health care to judicial nominees. It seems their foundational confidence is shaken, economically and from an individual-rights perspective. And it's not just conservatives in Oklahoma who feel that way
He missed a few things - like ObamaCare, and Donald Bermick, and "deeming" budgets into existence, and all the growing evidence that that crap about Obama being a socialist wasn't hyperbole after all. And he brought friends.

When the person voters put in charge of the government, who presumes to rule you as well, turns out so objectionable that your only remaining hope lies in his hubris and incompetence, maybe fear is a rational reaction. Personally I'm glad I live where I do, where what-all the government is up to may not be completely irrelevant, but at least it isn't a daily concern.

But seriously, isn't that guy from the government supposed to at least be able to claim he's here to "help?" Claim's wearing kinda thin, if you ask me.

H/T to Insty

Sorry, Claire...

I had never heard of Colton Harris-Moore before Claire blogged about him last month. Since then I read a thing or two. I concede he's got style, but he's still a determined thief and I really don't like thieves.

He recently flew himself to the Bahamas, it seems, in an informally-acquired airplane. And there he didn't last long. He promptly made himself a stench in the local residents' noses. It seems they don't like thieves either, but at least the Bahamian cops went to some lengths not to hurt him.

Lesson taken away: If you're going to make a living as a professional fugitive, walling yourself up in a place where every coming and going can't help but be noticed probably isn't your best move.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yes, we have progress!

Claire and I got the front door roughed in yesterday. Today I...well, failed to completely finish it because it just isn't sitting in its frame exactly right. But it doesn't bind any more, so I'm making progress. I don't have a doorknob set for it, but I do have a deadbolt so I went ahead and installed it so the door would stay shut. Got almost all the sheathing done that's been missing in the door corner for forever. I need to swipe a bit of scrap from Landlady's house, for that bit above the door; when I got to that part I was completely out of OSB scrap big enough. Still, this is the first day you'd have to break in to get in without a key, which I guess means the Secret Lair is officially closed up! A red-letter day.

And then I started working on the interior paneling on the long (kitchen) wall. That's going to take quite a bit more time. I've only got six courses up so far, but oh is it going to look nice when I'm finished! 8^)

I'll probably go ahead and finish the paneling, and then do the project I've been putting off, which is to build the interior walls for the bathroom. It's no big deal, I just really don't enjoy framing. But once the long wall is finished there's no further way to delay because I need those walls up.

All in all, a good day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Being very pleased with myself today...

I got the short (front) wall done, except for finishing the window frame. Thin knotty cedar tongue-and-groove, and you'd hunt me down wherever I hid if I told you what I paid for it. I had to put up the siding as I insulated the wall, because the insulation for that wall consists of a very large amount of cast-off clothing. The siding was originally made to cover fancy garage doors in a city, but somebody screwed up and shipped several pallets of seconds. A lot of it is too warped to use in its full length. A friend bought it all cheap and transported it here, used what he wanted and had beaucoup left over. I've been waiting to use this stuff for a long time - I didn't start getting excited about the project till I found it was available because I hate drywall with a heaving, whinnying, foam-flecked passion.

That wall looks pretty and it isn't even finished yet. 8^)

It's a strange, strange world we live in...

Over at Straight Forward in a Crooked World, there's a pretty good (by which I mean, plausibly sensible) write-up on what to do after that shooting you spent the past decade training for.

Because the sad truth is, once the bad guy hits the pavement your real dangers have just begun.
For the first responder it's another day on the job (at best). And when they arrive maintaining the integrity of the crime scene is not as important as making sure any threat is dealt with. The honest cop will tell you that there are more than a couple of idiots on the force that they they have to contend with. The know-it-all, the over-eager, the unprofessional lazy tool, the anti-gun, anti self-defense jerk that the rest of them hate working with.

You may now be working with him as well.
Even at the shiniest time of your life Mr. Policeman is not your friend. But after you call 911 in the wake of a successful shooting, he's your worst enemy. Say Nothing!


Glorious Kate

"Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183 and we're barbarians."
- Eleanor of Aquitaine

Only Kathryn Hepburn could have got away with such a precious anachronism, if anyone could. She doesn't quite pull it off - the line always pulls me out of the movie, as if she'd said, "It's 1183 and we haven't invented pistols." But still, for her I put up with it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This is why I don't do politics.

Everybody in the gunblogoverse is hopping from foot to foot, waiting to see if the NRA will endorse some politician named Harry Reid. Harry Reid ... No, no, I know I shouldn't casually use such insults on a person I've never even met, but it's true! Harry Reid is an actual, card-carrying politician, and apparently quite a successful one. He currently holds a position called "Senate Majority Leader," which basically makes him the fattest tick on the dog.

Now, for sane people like you and me, this information naturally makes us think in terms of ropes and lamp posts, and deservedly so. What do you call a thousand politicians at the bottom of the ocean? I don't even need to know their names, let alone their ideologies, to know the answer to that one. And this is why it's so important not to get personally involved in politics, because if you get involved in politics you end up in ethical dilemmas like the following:
For us to factor non-gun-related issues into our ratings would foolishly divide our unified base of support on the Second Amendment. This policy has served NRA and gun owners well over the past three-plus decades, making us the nation’s pre-eminent pro-Second Amendment advocacy group.

We fully understand that voters must take into account a variety of issues when deciding for whom to vote. We respect that. It is our responsibility, however, to provide voters with information solely on a candidate’s position on gun-related issues so that they may factor that consideration in addition to other issues.

Admittedly, Senator Reid’s record is not perfect; few politicians’ records are. For a number of years (primarily in the 1990s) Sen. Reid had some problematic votes on our issue. But in the last five years, he has dramatically improved his record on our issue, so the NRA-PVF would be irresponsible if it did not give due consideration to those recent votes and actions. There is no doubt that, as Senate Majority Leader, Reid has supported efforts to protect Americans’ gun rights, both by voting FOR pro-gun measures AND preventing anti-gun legislation from reaching the Senate floor.
Translation: Yes we know Harry Reid is a corrupt, scum-sucking bastard who belongs under the capitol building instead of ruling it.

But we're going to endorse him anyway, because:
All of which leads to a very serious question for all NRA members and gun owners who oppose Sen. Reid to contemplate: who would take Reid’s place if he loses his race—and his critically important position as Senate Majority Leader? Remember, the Senate Majority Leader is the gatekeeper who decides which legislation will be considered on the Senate floor. If Sen. Reid loses, the next candidate for Majority Leader is very likely to be Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin—two of the most anti-gun U.S. Senators in history!
Because the alternative is even more vile.

There are some things you just shouldn't touch with your hands, people.

"Remind me again why I'm supposed to care?"

So far as I can tell, global war and global warming and the price of rice in China are all just side issues. What we're all really supposed to pay attention to is what-all's going on with some blonde bimbo I don't remember even hearing of before a couple of weeks ago.

At least that's the lesson I take away from the sheer exposure she's getting. Now personally I don't understand why anybody spends a single pixel on her, but clearly this is my cultural duty or something.

So this is my Lindsay Lohan post. Its title comes from a comment below the article, a question with which I'm in complete sympathy. The topic is apparently very, very important, but I really don't know why.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Stuff You Do...

Woke up to an unusually gray morning. Here at the leading edge of the monsoon (still haven't had any rain) the clouds don't roll in till sometime in the afternoon, complete with wind, lightning, thunder, and showers in the distance that never quite seem to hit the ground. It's like watching a pot of water start to boil, where the bubbles don't quite get to the surface. Except upside-down. Then the clouds go away sometime during the night.

Except this morning they were still here, which indicates that maybe the storm gods are starting to get a little more serious and we'll have some rain.

I've got things to do this morning, and have spent the past half-hour casting around for something to post that will get the blog off my conscience so I can go do them. Nothing very exciting is happening here or apparently anywhere in the world, but I got to thinking about the stuff I do, when I'm doing stuff. Life has changed so radically for me in the past four years that I've grown quite casual about things that once never would have crossed my mind on the weirdest of days.

Never mind the building project. I am, as even the slightly astute among you will have noted, not anything like a builder. I've spent years now, planning and building a house that's only a little more elaborate than a large utility shed and it's nowhere near done. I've got neighbors who could have cranked my house out in a couple of busy weekends, but I'm not one of those people. So for me, everything cabin-related is pretty weird. That's why it's taking me so long.

I'm not talking about stuff like that. I'm talking about the quotidian chores that keep the plant in operation. Things like:
  • Check the water cistern daily (well, almost daily) to keep it from giving you unpleasant surprises.
  • Keep the generator in running order.
  • Engage in round #400-something to make your axe work as well as your neighbor's axe. (Who knew there was an art to that?)
  • Wonder why the solar panels on the tower have suddenly decided to face west for a while, and how you're going to re-orient them without having the rack slide down on your head.
  • Clean out the horse trough the dogs use.
  • Speaking of dogs and water, finally get that automatic waterer working.
  • Empty, and more-or-less clean, the black-water tank. (One my very favorite chores.)
  • Those apparently abandoned solar panels at an old desert cattle-watering station: Scrounging or theft? Discuss.
  • Negotiate with Kenny the Kingsnake (who's been hanging around the Big Doghouse lately) that there are places he's welcome and places I'd much rather he didn't go. Conclusion: Snakes don't negotiate.
  • Used motor oil: Future resource or landfill fodder? Discuss.
  • Determine what sort of rodent actually carries oatmeal containers out into the yard to consume the contents. Am I carrying a big enough gun?
  • Where the hell are the air fittings for the compressor? I need to clean my chainsaw. (Oh, happy dilemma!)
There are lots more, of course, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind and aren't common to any suburban house-dweller, like the constant battle to keep Little Bear happily in the yard.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hey, it still works!

Yesterday during our trip to town, Claire picked up a package that was waiting for her at the hardware. (Yes, if you live in the boonies and you want a Fedex delivery, you have to go to the hardware to pick it up. The UPS driver delivers, but only if he knows you.)

As we had hoped, the package contained a bracket to replace the one on one of her running boards that had inexplicably broken in half. I was on pins and needles to learn whether it was the right one, because I'd gotten her the part number.

Getting the part number required a trip down memory lane. She's got a service manual on DVD, but service manuals don't generally give part numbers. For a moment I was actually stumped - if I can't squeeze the information out of my 'pooter, what can I do?

Ah! Take it old school.

I rummaged around on my bookshelf till I found an ancient contrivance known as a "telephone book." I found a "telephone number" for an auto dealership in a city about 200 miles away, called the number, contacted a "person," and spoke words it occurred to me only at that moment that I probably hadn't spoken into a telephone for 35 years:

"Parts, please."

Once upon a time, after the invention of dirt but long before the personal computer, I was a parts runner and have probably spoken those words into telephones more than a thousand times. It still works.

And yes, Claire's got her running board back.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Directional Demolitions Made Very Simple...

The expanding gases move speediest and bangiest in the direction they're least obstructed.

H/T to NJT

Milestone Reached!

With Claire's invaluable assistance, all the windows are now in The Secret Lair!

This is exciting, and also useful. I moved the windows up in the process because it was getting kinda grim working in that dark box - also hot and stuffy, which doesn't work well when you're installing insulation. But it just suddenly...I don't know, it suddenly looks like a house.

I knocked off early because Claire wants to go to town and I need some stuff, so I need to change my shirt and get moving. But I really just wanted to hang out and stare at it for a while. I paid $20 each for those three big windows and it seemed like an extravagance, because at the time I was determined to go with free/salvaged materials as much as possible. But technically they are salvaged, since this is their second house. And besides, in terms of light and ventilation they've made a huge difference inside.

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

Whom shall we lionize next? Grand Cyclops Byrd? Spiro Agnew? I don't think Adolf Eichmann has had a opera made of his life yet, but the century is young.

Look, I don't have anything very specific against JFK, except for that little Viet Nam kerfuffle and almost setting off WWIII, though that arguably wasn't his fault. (Hey, I was in South Florida at the time and take it a bit personally.) Historical hindsight suggests that economically he might have turned out not to be a totally bad president, if it hadn't been for that unfortunate trip to Dallas.

But Bobby Kennedy? Mr. Corrupt, Nepotistic AG? Other than hating on J. Edgar Hoover, I've got no reason to love that pissant. And then there's Teddy. I understand how RFK got in the pantheon - he had the good sense to get killed at a strategic moment. But what the hell is Teddy doing there? Who besides the expensive scotch industry could ever have loved Teddy?

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Do not watch the following video unless you have first carefully checked your blood insulin levels. Ailments related to excessive sweetness are not the responsibility of TUAK, its management or advertisers. I just want you to see what I had to put up with in the sixties.

And what's Morgan Freeman doing up there? I had more respect for him, before just now.

"Do you own a licensed firearm?"

H/T to Uncle

Monday, July 5, 2010

A perplexing - and very annoying - new problem.

Saturday I cut out the OSB for The Secret Lair's windows. Sunday - just out of excess caution, not expecting any problem at all - I asked M to help me hoist the one window I have on site into the window frames, just to confirm that the frames are right.

The frames are wrong. One of the frames is way wrong.

This came as a shock, because we brought the window to the site last year when we first built the walls, and the building of the walls was overseen by two very exacting carpenters. Problems with the window frames was the last thing I expected. That's why I brought the window down, to be sure the frame dimensions would be right on. But it seems they weren't all that exacting on that particular day.

Sigh - so this morning's project is to make the frames right. Claire and I are scheduled to install the windows tomorrow, it being a two-person job. Right now that would be impossible.

Ah, well. Into each life some inexact measurement must fall. I really should have made sure the frames were right before I cut out the OSB, though. Now I've got a bigger problem to fix.

QoD - Legitmate Tyranny Edition

"Even among the rulers, only 63 percent -- triple the fraction of the general populace but still less than two-thirds of the political class -- regard the federal government as legitimate by the standards of America's founding document. The remainder, presumably, are comfortable being tyrants."
- Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Joel's Goddam Law

M came in last night, planning to do some carpentry inside his dome so he needed the generator. There was some synchronicity going on there, because it happens I also needed it at the Lair. It's time to cut out the OSB from the window frames, and the best tool for that is a SawZall. We've got two: a Ryobi cordless that kills batteries in moments, and a genuine 10-pound metal-frame Milwaukee SawZall that's probably as old as I am. Even though it gets so hot you can't use it without gloves, that's the one to use. It's got some serious power. To use it off the property you need the generator, but doing the job any other way would take days of waiting for batteries to recharge.

Anyway, we loaded the generator in M's pickup and drove it to his dome. We couldn't take it to the Lair in his truck, because...well, you just mustn't do that. You could get to the Lair in a 2-wheel-drive, but the only way you'd ever get back out would be to wait till the wash floods and then drive it out quick while the sand is still firm. There are two ways to get a vehicle to the Lair: Through the wash, or down my driveway which has a 20-yard stretch that's damned near 45 degrees. Even the Jeep spins its wheels so often getting up the driveway that I'm constantly having to fill in sand holes.

So when M was done with the genny for the day he helped me load it into the Jeep. I'd wondered if there was even room enough in the back of the Jeep for a generator. Turns out there just is. I left Little Bear at home, because he'd never hang around while I was working on the cabin, but let Ghost come with. He was a good boy, though he did complain about all the noise I was making. He had to run beside the Jeep from the Dome to the Lair, because M, the generator and I didn't leave much room for dogs. But he likes to do that anyway. There were times last year when he refused to get in the Jeep, just because he wanted to race it.

We just left the genny in the Jeep, opened the rear door, and ran it there. M went back to his work. I unrolled a bunch of cable, plugged in the SawZall, and got to work.

When it comes to cutting OSB with a SawZall, it seems I've discovered a new law of the Universe. I think I'll call it "Joel's Goddam Law." I'm still fine-tuning the language, so I'm not ready to present the paper to the International Goddam Law Institute just yet, but roughly it goes like this: "Independent of orientation or wind direction, the sawdust always goes in your face." Seriously, there seems to be no escape. But fortunately I am now out of holes to cut, so from now on Joel's Goddam Law is somebody else's problem. Just remember, I named it first.

Sustaining the Unsustainable

The advantage of living strictly on cash is that there's no debt. Ever. If you can't afford it, you can't have it.

The disadvantage of living strictly on cash is that there's no debt. Ever. If you can't afford it, you can't have it.

Living strictly on credit has advantages and disadvantages, too. The advantage is that you can believe, for a while, that you can have anything you want any time you want it. The disadvantage is that those aren't chickens coming home to roost, they're vultures. And they've come to roost on you.

It's hardly a big blinding revelation that this whole country has been living strictly on credit for a very long time. The vultures started circling a few years ago, and the government beat them away from the biggest, most deserving roosts with infusions of metric craploads of new debt. Yeah, that'll help.
Washington has created nearly every societal problem we face today. They wish to solve the problems by creating new programs and laws that will create new problems. And on it goes. Washington has created unsustainable economic climates and markets. The "blowback," or unintended consequences of their regulation, is the change they cannot control. They appear to believe that more interference will fix the blowback of their former interference.

Amidst that effort, they wish to sustain the unsustainable. Said another way, they want to re-inflate the bubbles.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Today I was the Mighty Woodsman!

D&L are behind schedule on their strawbale wall-making, and got tired of looking at the big pile of needs-to-be-split wood I left them last month. So they hired me to split and stack it. Took four hours to split it, stack it and clean the area all up good. Need to keep these people happy with my work.

Now and then I get a glimpse of how far I've come physically, since moving here. Cubicle-rat Joel couldn't have done some of the things I now do casually. I'm skinnier, grayer, more ragged and - heaven knows - habitually dirtier than I was four years ago, but I'm much stronger and have better stamina. Feels good.

Actually what'll feel good now is a long, cool shower.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On the Shadow Stories

This afternoon I got a couple of very kind comments about the Shadow stories, which I really appreciated. Somebody wanted to know if there'd be a book.

That was the original idea, but the project pretty much died an embryo. I might find a way to take up some modified version, but most of these stories just didn't go anywhere for me. The later ones, like Water Well, had evolved from the ambiguous and faintly supernatural early stories into how-to's. It made more sense to me and was easier to write that way, but the stories themselves...boring. Who wants to read 3000 words about a guy fixing an engine?

The original idea, which I could never quite pull off, was something really offbeat. I just couldn't ever quite get it right.

It went like this:

Muttering on a muggy day

It's been kind of a crappy day. Productive, after a fashion, but still...crappy. I think it's the weather. It's the leading edge of the Monsoon, and the atmosphere feels heavy somehow. Gloomy, foreboding. Muggy, for sure. Every day it clouds up and the wind blows, lightning flashes and thunder booms, but it never rains. I kinda wish it'd just go ahead and rain. I've been in a tired and grouchy mood all day. The boys know somethings up with Uncle Joel; they've been staying out of my way and obeying commands with lightning speed. They did get a nice Jeep ride this morning, though, because I had to go to D&L's for a while. And there was a brief walky when we went to water S&L's plants. But right now mostly all there is to do is sit and sweat.

Even with the heat, I got so down I decided that what I needed was some comfort food. So for lunch I made up a batch of pancakes with lots of vanilla. I'm using the last of the (wonderful!) maple syrup that some kind readers sent me last fall, which I've mostly been hoarding and doling out for my monthly guests. Seriously, I feel so out of sorts that I'd probably just get blasted if I had any booze, but I don't do that anymore very often and anyway – I suppose it's a side-benefit of austerity – that kind of foolishness isn't currently an option. So instead I'll eat. Flour, I've got.

I have been getting work done on the cabin. The electrical is finished (I've been saying right along that the electrical is finished, then finding other stuff that should be done before I fill the walls with insulation) but this time for real. Yesterday it occurred to me I hadn't put up any light over the kitchen counter, so I retrofitted that and really think that's the last. Now I've been getting more serious about wall insulation. The ceiling insulation is long done. But with it so muggy and oppressive, and since I've recently gotten a refresher in window installation, I think I'm going to put that aside, go ahead and install the windows. I left the windows covered over with OSB all this time because another part of the property has occasionally crawled with officialdom in the form of building inspectors for M's Dome. The official story on the Lair is that it's “just a utility building.” But now I really need the light and ventilation. I go there as early in the morning as I can arrange, because once it gets hot it's just too hard to deal inside that dark stuffy box.

Not tomorrow, though. I picked up a brief gig for tomorrow, splitting firewood for some neighbors. Won't pay much, but it'll effectively double what I've got in my pocket after yesterday's very expensive trip to town. A hundred-dollar down payment for the chainsaw, then sixty dollars for gasoline took a serious bite out of the $200 that was my entire life savings. I've got another project lined up, but that's more long-term and won't pay for quite a while. But that's okay: I've still got my regular shit-shoveling gig, and no matter what other projects do or don't come along that's enough for subsistence as long as I don't do anything wild and crazy like buy store-bought bread. Truth is I've gotten really spoiled in the last several months, and need to regain some of my more austere habits. I'm here to tell you it's easy to drop those habits, but rarely a good idea.

That reminds me: I need to get my axe and see to the edge, which could be better. I'm pleased with this axe, the head of which I found laying in the desert a year or so ago. There's no maker's mark on it, but it does seem worlds better than the junky one I bought at Home Depot several years ago and fortunately never needed badly. That thing just wouldn't take an edge. This one's got a narrower blade angle, and responds to a file and stone. And maybe tomorrow I'll get a chance to play with the new chainsaw! (heh – ya takes yer pleasures where ya finds them, said the smelly old hermit.)

A bunch of angry cranks sitting around the tavern...

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, and too early to shoot the bastards."
- Claire Wolfe


There's an interesting discussion going on at Improved Clinch, titled "Running Out of Options." Billy Beck brought the beer. My comment there:
I’ve watched all this coming since I was a boy, and now I’m a grizzled old fart.

The sort of armed revolt I see the threepers fantasize about - that I fantasized about when I was young - won’t work here. It has only ever worked against regimes like the Czars or the French monarchy, who were already so hollow and rotten that only the appearance remained. And even they had so hardened their enemies against them that by the time they noticed they were in trouble they faced a mighty foe.

Sorry guys - we are not a mighty foe. We are not bringing this or any other regime down with force of arms.

Massive civil disobedience? I see this as a more plausible approach, because for all our beloved hyperbole Mordor-by-the-Potomac isn’t Moscow or Beijing. They don’t have the stomach for gulags. Yet. Massive civil disobedience could turn the state governments our way, and the state governments are the key to our release if release is possible.

I say plausible rather than possible because “Massive civil disobedience” requires massive numbers. Where are ours? Sigh - home watching football, or sitting in their cubicles at work wondering how they’re going to pay for Johnnie’s new shoes.

Face it, guys. Right now we’re in the “bunch of angry cranks sitting around the tavern” stage of the Third American Revolution. As far as I can tell we’ve been stuck there for the past forty years or so.
Somebody calling him- or herself Deep Rainforest made a comment that, though I'd love to disagree with it, reflects my own approach for the last several years:
No need to fight or reform. Global idiocracy is not sustainable. It will self-destruct.

Possibly via nuclear weapons. Do you have a fallout shelter?

Possibly via a coronal mass ejection on the fragile electrical grid. Are you able to go Amish?

In an endarkenment, it is foolish to expend energy on enlightenment. So build your monastery, gather books, and break on through to the other side.

Be a wizened old owl, scorned by most of society. A few will find you when the time comes.

Like Yoda you will be.
I agree and disagree. I don't really believe that "gobal idiocracy is not sustainable." I'm afraid it's all too sustainable, and I'll tell you why.