Thursday, September 30, 2010

Salsola Pestifera

I hate frickin' tumbleweeds.

It's mid-autumn, which means cool nights and warm days. The monsoon - a fairly wet one this year - has pretty much gone away. Which means the tumbleweeds are mature, and oh, we got us a bumper crop.

Tumbleweeds only seem to grow in any profusion where the ground's been broken up, like if you dug a septic pit or tore up ground for a building foundation - All things that have happened a lot, here and there on the property. Each seed has a wicked little thorn, and the seeds start falling off before the plants die and break off. Which means walking anywhere but virgin ground or really packed-down trails is like walking on a carpet of caltrops. No big deal on shod feet unless your soles are really worn out, but it's hell on the dogs. No day goes by that I don't have a couple of three-legged dogs hobbling about and looking miserable. Poor Ghost must have picked up dozens of them and his pads are getting really tender. Crossing hard-pack, he looks like an old guy mincing across hot beach sand.

It happens every year, but as with so many things it's worse some years than others. This has been the summer of the housefly, weevil, and tumbleweed. Next year I'm looking forward to unicorns, Skittle showers, and chocolate toads.

Munchausen's Syndrome Trips Up Top Reporter Joel...

Back in June I uncritically repeated a claim that was not entirely dismissive of a cop's hero story. I should know better than to do that.

It appears the story was unraveling even before I saw it, but the local sheriff's department and evil brown menace illegal immigration alarmists had every reason to want the story believed. Since I have no trouble believing that drug mules would shoot back at cops intent on destroying their lives, I didn't question it at the time and in fact haven't given it much thought since then. Well, bad on me.
PHOENIX — Two nationally known forensic pathologists are questioning a sheriff deputy's version of how he was shot in the remote desert south of Phoenix, adding to theories that the incident was a hoax timed to enflame the debate over illegal immigration.

Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll told investigators he was following a group of smugglers carrying bales of marijuana on April 30 when he was ambushed by men firing AK-47 rifles. In what Puroll described as a running gunbattle, he said he was grazed by a bullet in the back.

The pathologists, Dr. Michael Baden of New York and Dr. Werner Spitz of suburban Detroit, examined photos of the wound released by the sheriff's office. They told The Associated Press on Friday they concluded the bullet was fired from inches away, not at least 25 yards as Puroll said.

Thanks to Balko for the tip.

If the WH clan were the cast of Enemy At The Gates...

"Look, the voters' only choice is between GOP policies and ours. They're screwed either way. But there's another way. The way of courage. The way of love of the Homeland. Without getting our fingerprints on it, we must scare the shit out of them with something more frightening than us or the GOP. Then we must give them hope. We must rescue the friendly newspapers again. We must tell magnificent stories, stories that extol sacrifice, bravery. We must make them believe in the victory over this evil. We must give them hope, pride, a desire to fight. Yes... we need to make examples. But examples to *follow*. What we need are heroes."

This is some funny stuff, right here. Complete with slideshow!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Paulo Update

Since somebody asked a few days ago, I'll tell you that Paulo is recovering nicely from his impromptu surgery. He's eating well, and surprisingly quickly coming back to his sweet self. Today while I was cleaning his paddock he was calm and friendly as can be, demanding affection and actually considering obedience when I demanded he get the hell out of the way.

H is starting to lightly work him in the round pen, and he's even taking that cheerfully. Hopefully she'll get her awesome saddle horse back from this disaster.

This will, um, really disappoint you...

...But the song in my head comes from a bootleg copy of a Leslie Fish riff on a Rudyard Kipling poem. Which means no crappy video of a crappier '70's song today. Sorry.

I've never figured out how to post .mp3 files here (and PLEASE don't put instructions in the comments. Oh, please. I looked up instructions, found them, and failed to understand anything that came after "It's real easy. Here's what you do..." Not a computer guy. Really.)

But I can still cut&paste a poem!

The Quest
Rudyard Kipling

The knight came home from the quest,
Muddied and sore he came.
Battered of shield and crest,
Bannerless, bruised and lame.
Fighting we take no shame,
Better is man for a fall.
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call:—
“Here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
Here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!”

“Oh, dark and deep their van,
That mocked my battle-cry.
I could not miss my man,
But I could not carry by:
Utterly whelmed was I,
Flung under, horse and all.”
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call!

“My wounds are noised abroad;
But theirs my foemen cloaked.
Ye see my broken sword—
But never the blades she broke;
Paying them stroke for stroke,
Good handsel over all.”
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call!

“My shame ye count and know.
Ye say the quest is vain.
Ye have not seen my foe.
Ye have not told his slain.
Surely he fights again, again;
But when ye prove his line,
There shall come to your aid my broken blade
In the last, lost fight of mine!
And here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
And here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!”

And if anybody's got any idea as to why I keep waking up with these offbeat damned songs in my head, I'd appreciate your giving me a clue.


So today J&H poured concrete. Eight yards worth. Three pads: One for the front door entry, one (the one that started the whole thing) for a new storage room attached to the house (which will also incidentally insulate the pipes inside that outside wall, which is why you don't put your main plumbing in an outside wall if you can help it) and one at the main hitching post.

Had a fair turn-out. J&H, of course. D&L. Me. And another neighborhood couple I don't talk about much, who - since I'm sure they wouldn't give a damn about my privacy - I'll just call Darrell and Marta*. Three hours of hilarity ensued, leaving us all feeling rather battered. But then there were hamburgers and bratwurst, which was very, very nice. Except that my normal diet is very bland and damn near vegetarian, and bratwurst invariably gets me running to the john. Which, since afterward I needed to shovel the shit of J&H's horses, could have been better timed...

*He's a cop. She does admin work in whatever government office will hire her. No neighborhood is perfect. I keep my distance, and forbid friends to discuss The Secret Lair in their presence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Whoo! And also Hoo!

If you're not familiar with the Hardyville columns, you're in for a treat. It was a long-standing feature of Claire's columns that she decided to bring to an end a couple of years ago, and that I feared would fade away forever. But now she and Backwoods Home have revived some version of them in book form, and I'm a'gonna get me one as soon as I figure out a mailing address to send it to. Especially if you haven't read the columns, I can strongly recommend this book even though I haven't actually seen it yet.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Heard at a Tractor...

M: (After replacing the fuel filter) "Think we can start it up now?"

Me: "Can't hurt to try."

Tractor: Crankcrankcrankcrank...crank...crank.

Me: "Stop. Memory kicking in. I suddenly recall that with real diesels, you can't start the engine after opening the fuel system without highly intricate bleeding procedures."

M: (Goes and gets the manual) "Holy crap! Dig this: 'Open and bleed the filter housing, the fuel pump, the injector pump, each fuel injector...' We could build a tractor with less effort than this!"

Me: "Uh...heh. Belated memories are a terrible thing..."

Heard at a concrete wall...

Me: "Augh. Concrete is just spilling out of this hole. I've got to plug it with something."

M: "Here you go." (Cobbles together Rube Goldberg contraption of blocks and boards) "What could go wrong?"

Me: "GYAAH!" (Contraption collapses, and Uncle Joel is inundated with wet concrete)

M: "...Except for that..."

Paulo is no longer the Stallion from Hell...

...or from anywhere else. This is the first time in my personal experience a castration was ever viewed as emergency surgery.

Paulo's excessive hormones have been driving him insane for some time now. Friday he went over the line - or at least over the fence. He managed, more or less from a standing start since he had virtually no running room, to clear a five-foot iron fence without killing himself for the purpose of murdering the horse in the next paddock. In J's serious opinion, it was dope and cut him or just shoot him. Once upon a time he was H's favorite saddle horse, because his trail endurance is very impressive for an Arab, and she likes spirited horses. But she's progressively been less and less able to ride him because of his unpredictability - it's been quite a while since she could ride him at all in the company of other horses. There's a line between spirited and crazy, and Paulo had pretty clearly crossed that line. Selling him in that condition was out of the question, so they decided the best of the list of bad alternatives was to geld him.

It is to be hoped that, in a few weeks when the testosterone works its way out of his system, Paulo will go back to his sweet self. He really can be a very pleasant horse. I'm sorry it happened, but can't really say I disagree with the decision.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Holy Crap! Did he EAT $787,637 a year?

The spectacle of corrupt government officials* arresting other corrupt government officials for being too publicly corrupt is...amusing, if meaningless.

Hey, here's a joke! What do you call 1000 tax-eaters at the bottom of the ocean?

*Yeah, I know. Report me to the Department of Redundancy Department.

What the hell? Let's join the meme!

...Though I confess I'm still not exactly sure what a "meme" is. Guess I should have gone to college, huh?

Anyway - I see, courtesy of Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell, that there's this hoplophobic broad who wants to play 20 Questions with gun owners. I'm just absolutely convinced she'll treat the responses she receives with a completely serious and respectful attitude. Also, she asks that responses be backed up with "peer-reviewed articles" or something similar. I can't do that, since I have no peers. I am peerless. Er...I know of no one who will admit to being my peer.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Duty, Honor, Country, Death By Cop.

Erik Scott won't be going to his USMA class reunion...
Erik turned to find three officers facing him, guns drawn, and all three shouting different commands: "Get on the ground!" "Drop your weapon!" and "Keep your hands up!" Erik held his hands up, spoke calmly, told them he DID have a concealed firearm and a legal CCW and was an ex-Army officer. His girlfriend was screaming about Erik being a West Point grad, former Army officer, etc. Erik leaned to his left, hands still up, to expose the pistol inside his belt, and repeated, "I am disarming; I am disarming..." Witnesses say he started to lower his right hand, palm OUT, as if intending to remove holster and gun together — but never got the hand below his shoulder, when one of the cops (William Mosher, who had committed a fatal shooting in 2006) shot Erik in the chest with a .45-caliber weapon. Erik dropped to his knees, clearly in shock, his face a picture of disbelief. He was shot a second time and collapsed. The rest is ugly. The three officers unloaded again, firing a total of seven hollow-point rounds. At least five, possibly six, hit Erik in the back, after he was on the ground and dying.
Do you still think Mr. Policeman is your friend?

Oh, the weather outside is...somewhat variable.

Yesterday it rained ALL FREAKING DAY - and then all night. Today there is literally not one tiniest cloud in the sky. Weird.

I had to slog through squelching mud to shovel shit this morning - there was no way I was going to do it yesterday short of a threat to the gig. Spirit the Freakishly Big Mare is gone to some sort of training today, and Paulo the Stallion from Hell was back to his mellow self. Didn't give me a bit of trouble. But between the mud and the rain-soaked hay, I thought I was going to break my back hauling the shitwagon back and forth. C'mon, end of Monsoon.

Still, pretty good day. I went down to the lair, having finally worked up my nerve to cut the hole in the loft floor I need for the permanent ladder. I got two holes drilled and one saw cut done, and then the cordless battery gave up the ghost. I need to bring the corded Sawzall and really give my Lair batteries a workout. The "new" one I hauled out there has so far been pretty underwhelming. I'm afraid it's toast. But since dead batteries are pretty much standard procedure, I had a backup plan. I now have all the loft insulation done, and can start on the siding up there. I've also learned that a bed Landlady gave me will indeed fit up there, which means I get to sleep like a civilized person and not on a pallet on the floor. That's pretty cool.

Now - assuming I ever get that hole cut - I need a boatload of iron plumbing. The Latest! Greatest! plan for the loft ladder involves using 1" pipe and flanges screwed to the wall behind the entry door. Since there's now substantial damage to the loft floor right there, I guess I'm committed as to location if nothing else. Putting it there not only puts the ladder in a spot that isn't where something else absolutely has to be (it's a very small cabin) but also permits the railing to reach all the way across the open part of the loft and secure to the walls at both ends. That'll be way stronger. Uncle Joel's kind of afraid of heights.

Guys, you fooled me with this once before...

So I understand the Republicans have come out with a new "Pledge to America." This is, I'm sure, nothing at all like the "Contract with America" they started reneging on roughly three picoseconds after the 1994 election results were in. For example I'm gonna go ahead and guess there's nothing in it about term limits, because those broken promises didn't go over very well as I recall. It seems to be 21 pages long, and no, I haven't read it. Nor will I: Since a .pdf file makes lousy toilet paper, it holds no interest for me at all.

Still, there's this phrase stuck in my head. How does it go? "Meet the new boss, something something old boss..."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"This woman is a gold mine!"

Pt. 1:

Pt. 2:

Oh, this is WAY better than the birth certificate kerfuffle. Somewhere a White House PR flack is hanging herself...

H/T to Treacher.

Massive Fail

H/T to TJICistan

This monsoon business is for the birds.

Last couple of evenings Monsoon has made itself felt again, which isn't too surprising. You don't expect it go to away all at once, or without a fight. But this morning dawned gray and cool and dripping, like autumn in Michigan. Every time I think I've waited it out so I can go shovel shit like a civilized being, it starts coming down again. This sucks - I should move to the desert or something.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I do believe this young man has an attitude issue.

Offered without comment:

I've been deliberately laying off the videos lately and today I post two. Sorry.


Just for funsies - Remember this guy?

Warning: May not be safe for viewers with low gag thresholds.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Aw, forget it.

Sometimes the ol' blogger noggin goes dry. Once again, I got nuthin'.

In the only news, Paulo the Stallion from Hell did not bite me today. It was not for lack of trying, and I finally told J&H that if they want me to do a proper job of cleaning his paddock they're gonna have to restrain him first because that horse is batshit crazy lately. Turns out even H is becoming afraid to go in there with him. J wants to get him castrated, though in terms of his financial value they'd be better off buying a freezer and turning him into dog food. He's a relatively valuable stud. He used to be a fairly valuable saddle horse when H was doing endurance races. But these days she can't even ride him in company; the last time he tried to mount the horse ahead of him while she was on his back. That's the sort of thing that's amusing only in the stories you tell afterward. Assuming you don't end up in traction during the event, in which case it's never amusing. Ask me about all my really funny motorcycle accident stories.

That horse is wearing out his entertainment value.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yeah, it's Sunday...

Nothing going on. Nothing to write about. Nothing interesting to even steal pass on.

So here are some funny pictures instead.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Paulo the Stallion from Hell's behavior has been more hellish than usual, just lately. Since two of his ladies came to be in a family way, he seemed to have mellowed right out. But H sold the 12-year-old mare (Cindy) she'd bought a couple of months ago for saddle work because she's "lazy" and replaced her with another mare named Spirit who is - and I quote - Awesome.

She's also freakishly big for an Arab mare, and for some reason Paulo has decided that she must be killed. Normally he only behaves that way toward other stallions. Paulo's worldview is extremely simple: Mares are for mating, stallions are for killing. He doesn't seem to notice the existence of geldings. Rather than his normal misbehavior of pacing obsessively and carrying on whenever one of his mares leaves the paddock, he has now taken to charging the fence in obviously murderous attempts to reach Spirit. H says she thinks Spirit's size has convinced him that she is a male, all objective evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Since horses seem to work by scent as much as any dog, I don't find this explanation convincing. But I don't have any alternatives, and besides it's really none of my business.

Anyway, Paulo has gotten a lot more frisky lately and I've learned to literally watch my back around him. He's usually not hostile toward me, but he is mercurial and occasionally violent, and the wrong impulse at the wrong time could get me busted up. Earlier this week, out of the blue, he reached across the shit-wagon I habitually keep between us and nipped my shirt, right in the back. Then he let go and scampered to the other side of his paddock. Since he was perfectly capable of going for meat if he'd wanted to, I think he was actually playing with me and didn't take it personally. But he's never done anything like that before, and any activity that involves Paulo's teeth is automatically suspect in my book.

This morning Paulo was wearing something new: A bright plastic collar. Attached to the collar was something that looked suspiciously like one of those shock collars that hunters use to train dogs. I asked J about it; he said, "Yeah, that's a shock collar, like hunters use to train dogs. We nail him with it every time he gets worked up and starts charging the fence."

"Has that worked?"

"No, not really. But it's entertaining as hell to watch him try and figure it out."

Later I went into their house for something. On the counter near the door was a small electronic device, like an undersized FRS radio. There was no label, but I had a fair idea what it was.

I held it up. "Hey, J! If I push this button right here, will I hear a horse neigh like in Young Frankenstein?"

"Yeah," he said. "Probably."

"Goooood boy, Ghost."

Ghost isn't called that because he's so obtrusive and in-your-face. He's more independent than the average dog, and also considerably smarter. Calling him smarter than Little Bear would be like calling a bulldozer heavier than a feather pillow, but never mind.

Anyway...Three times a week I go off to shovel shit, as early in the morning as possible so I can catch some cool. When I first started doing this it was winter, and I generally brought the boys with me and left them in the Jeep. But then it got too hot to do that, and also LB ate the gearshift knob which lost him a substantial portion of his Jeep privileges. So before I go a-shitshoveling, they go into Gitmo.

They both know this. LB can be bought off with a Treat under any circumstances, so he prances happily into Gitmo. Ghost...disappears. Oh, he likes Treats too. But just because he can be bought doesn't mean he's a cheap whore. He figures he's a big boy, and will just...well, what he figures is that I'll forget the whole thing and let him come along in the Jeep.

Once in a while, I admit, I let him get away with that sort of thing, which makes me a bad uncle. But usually I've got my own list of off-property chores and just can't be worrying about him while I do them. So to get both dogs into Gitmo I call them both, lock up LB, then go do something else. After a semi-respectful interval to encourage me to forget the whole "Gitmo" thing, Ghost comes out from whatever he's hiding under and wants to hang out. At which point I say, "Gitmo!"


He sighs heavily, trudges to the Gitmo fence, and accepts his Treat through the bars.

Every. Damned. Time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Drawing Mohammad while getting rolled under the bus...


Y'know, I've stayed away from the whole Islam thing for the past nine years. It hasn't always been easy. But the fact is I've always been of two minds on the subject, and the most prevalent of those minds is a lot less negative on the subject than your average neocon Muslim-hater.

In another life I spent time around the Persian Gulf. Most of the people I worked with preferred "Arabian Gulf." I was in Saudi, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman. A few times I wasn't entirely sure where the hell I was. I met a LOT of Muslims, and though some of them took their religion as seriously as any Baptist (some didn't) they were also about that fanatical about it, even in Saudi, where religion is as serious as a heart attack. At no time did anybody swing a scimitar at me and say "convert or die," okay? In fact, the closest thing to a religion-related incident occurred during an otherwise very pleasant supper in a Shi'ite house where our host was going on about the wonders of Husayn and my American partner thought he was talking about Saddam Hussein and got all hot under the collar. This was very shortly after the first Gulf War. Having read a book before my travels, I knew a Shi'ite was about as likely to serve roast pork as have anything good to say about Saddam, but it wasn't the time to say so and fortunately my partner held his tongue until I could explain later. Husayn bought the farm almost 1500 years ago, but compared to Muslims the Irish have the memories of mayflies. Muslims can really hold a grudge - I admire that, having a few of my own - but I never met any Muslim who was holding one against me.

Er...granted that was a long time ago. My reception might not be quite as friendly these days. But my point is, in general I've got nothing against Muslims. I'd rather they kept their fanatics under better control, but I also don't deny that there's been a lot of provocation.

Which doesn't mean I advocate sitting around while anybody picks on innocent people. Even if they're not too bright.

Remember Molly Norris? Yeah, she's the lady who - apparently without thinking things through very carefully - announced May 20 as "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". Now I've got nothing to say about that, if that's what you want to do it's your business and all, but she apparently did this without considering possible repercussions. Like death and stuff.

How she failed to notice what happened the last time a cartoonist pissed off a bunch of Muslims, I truly don't know. It was in all the papers. But when reality came back from its vacation, instead of following through she bailed on the idea. It does kind of indicate a certain lack of seriousness about the whole thing, but the damage was pretty much done by then.

In June this shithead called for her to be killed, and you might say her life went downhill from there.

Well, it hasn't gone away. Today I read that Molly Norris has gone underground "on the advice of the FBI." The Seattle Weekly, the paper she drew for, courageously issued a brief press release in which the publishers said, "Who's Molly Norris?"

I'm being driven to the belief that religious tolerance, like any other good thing, can be taken too far. This is pissing me off.

No, I won't join the "%$#@ All Muslims" crowd. But I am definitely wondering where all the sane Muslims are, and why they're keeping so damned mum. This isn't happening in Iran, it's happening in frickin' Seattle. If you can't take a joke there, where the hell can you take it?

So I, Joel Simon, Editor-in Chief of TUAK, have decided to declare September 16 TUAK's "Hermits Drawing Mohammed" Day. Since I can't draw, I had to improvise.

I won't tell you where I am, but you're welcome to look. No, I don't have FBI or police protection, though I have taken consultation with the security firm of Browning, Garand and Kalashnikov. I'm not a Muslim or a Christian, I celebrate the sacrament of The Three Eshes: Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up.

So quit picking on cute, dumb city girls and come get a piece of a smelly old hermit. Mssrs. B, G & K assure the public their production will be second to none. Come one, come all.

Where did all the innovation go?

Over at Borepatch, there's an excellent summary of why nobody seems able to get anything done anymore. Short answer: Government ate it. You knew I was going to say that, right?

A mere portion of the long answer:
Let's think about fast and slow. The Empire State Building was built in a little over 15 months. The World Trade Center (Tower 1) took 52 months, and that was in 1970. Today, Ground Zero is still a hole in the ground.

The reason is regulation (and its bastard child, litigation). That's the problem. We have buildings full of people that make us stop what we're doing, fill out forms in triplicate, and then wait months or years before we are allowed to pick up where we stopped. Think for a minute what this does. It pushes some of the middle of the S-Curve into the flat part, reducing the overall value of the industry, as resources get sidelined instead of being engaged in production. More damagingly, it pushes the next S-Curve to the right, increasing the time that it takes to bring a new industry online. Most damagingly of all, it possibly completely eliminates some S-Curves from appearing at all, because the risk is too high to attract investors.

It's not the tax rate, it's the regulation rate that's making the economy run down. Sarbanes-Oxley, passed in great haste after Enron's collapse, has all but destroyed the high tech IPO market. Think of that as S-Curves that never came into existence.
RTWT. The comments are pretty good, too.

QoD - On the effects of abrasion.

The plans and schemes of tyrants are broken by many things. They shatter against cliffs of heroic struggle. They rupture on reefs of open resistance. And they are slowly eroded, bit by little bit, on the very beaches where they measure triumph, by countless grains of sand. By the stubborn little decencies of humble little men.
- Eric Flint

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PETA's got even more advice for people they shouldn't be advising!

Hey, remember when PETA came up with all those great things high-end survivalists should be eating? Well, guess who wants to dictate what soldiers eat, too?
PETA — well-known for dogging politicians with various protests — didn't see the humor in that. The animal rights group has sent a letter to Biden "urging him to stop feeding returning U.S. troops fat- and cholesterol-laden hot dogs and to give them lean, nutritious veggie dogs or other vegan food instead," according to a release.

The case is thus: "One in four Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 [is] too fat for military service, and research shows that vegans are far less likely to suffer from obesity as well as leading killer diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes."

"You can't expect the troops to be lean, mean fighting machines if you're stuffing them with fattening, artery-clogging meat, eggs and dairy products every day," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman says. "These men and women have seen enough violence, so the nicest thing that the vice president can do is to spare animals from the violence of factory farming and turn our servicemen and servicewomen onto the lifesaving benefits of delicious vegan food."
Sheesh. Joe fergodsake Biden briefly does something I don't find completely contemptible, and the loonies descend on him for it.

Not even the Annointed One escapes unadmonished:
And what about all those hamburgers enjoyed by Biden's colleague, Barack Obama?

"The next time that the president stops at Ben's Chili Bowl, we'll have a Boca burger reserved for him so that he can promote healthy eating to his kids and the nation's," said a PETA spokesperson. "They sell Boca burgers at Ben's, and they're delicious!"
With friends like these...

Seen at Sipsey Street.

"Nice house you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it."

Alan at SnarkyBytes brings us the tale of a town that wants to bring in new tax revenue the old-fashioned way - out and out extortion.
Rock Hill officials plan to turn off utility taps of county residents who refuse annexation by today's noon deadline despite being asked for an extension, city officials confirmed Tuesday.

Starting Monday the city plans to phase out service to residents who do not agree to annexation. Those who agree to annexation will not be affected, city officials said.
No comment from my side would seem necessary under the circumstances.

%$#@! Gad, I'm an idiot!

Okay, so today I glued together all the different parts of the Lair's water plumbing. So I thought.

The lair is built on concrete pilings, so this was all done lying in dirt, often with the bottom of a 2X12 brushing my nose. It's a pretty simple job, really, since there are only four outlets for the water inside the lair. But the cold-water pipe for the shower had to pass through a timber, then make two tight turns and up through the hole in the floor. Finicky, and in very tight corners. Time-consuming. Which in turn made me forget that I'd stuck the pipe I'd cut for the toilet supply into its T-fitting, but...never...actually... Well, never actually glued it in.

I got everything put together, went inside and glued caps on all the pipes sticking out of the floor. Climbed up the ridge to the cistern, turned the water back on. Walked down the ridge. Went inside the Lair. Went to each of the pipes to look for leaks. Once I'd confirmed that they were dry, I'd crawl back under the lair and make sure all the fittings were dry. PVC is easy to work with, and this is one thing I've done lots. I didn't anticipate any real problem.

Until I took hold of the pipe for the toilet and gave it a wiggle. And felt the whole thing fall away under the floor. To an accompanying cascade of water. %$#@!

It didn't do any damage. But I got to fix it lying on mud, not dirt. I'z so stupid.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Working (and NOT Working)

Not an especially hot day, but very bright. I spent the morning crawling around under the lair (the boys thought this was very nice) drilling holes and running pipe. When I went as far as I could with what I had and started to crawl back out into the sun, my inclination was to crawl right back under again and maybe join the boys in a nap. But lunch beckoned.

Following a rather humorous conversation with Landlady last weekend, I've been thinking a lot about work ethic (ain't got none) and guilt (got lots.) She laughed at me for listing and apologizing for all the things I hadn't done - or even worked on - in the past week. And it's true that for the past few weeks I haven't had any motivation to do stuff, including stuff I absolutely must get done before it gets cold or I'm not going to have a habitable place to live. I was doing really well for a while, but lately all I want to do is sit and read and that's mostly all I do. Oh, give me a good reason, like money, and I'm there. But the non-paying stuff I'm supposed to be working on hasn't been getting done lately.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Help me, Obi-Wan Sugar! You're my only hope!"

Over at TJIC, there's a discussion of this NYT article about setting back the social security retirement age. Of course the writers start with a tear-jerker story about a broken down fellow in a tire factory who can't afford to quit and won't make it to the standard retirement age. No doubt readers' tears obediently and abundantly flow.

Travis goes all mainstream Libertarian on us...
…but just because he’s got a rough lot doesn’t mean that (a) he has to retire at age 62, (b) even if he does retire at age 62, we taxpayers have to subsidize that retirement.

The age at which one gets social security should be 68 or higher, and

(a) if Mr. Hartley has the means, he should retire whenever he wants.

(b) if he can’t throw tires at age 62, but can’t afford to retire either, then he should look for other work to fill the gap from 62 to 68. He’s obviously a vigorous guy, even if his back hurts, and there’s very little unemployment in Texas (relative to Ohio), and I’m sure that he can get a job at a Barnes & Noble or a Starbucks, doing trivially light labor.
...and I don't necessarily disagree on any particular point. Though I certainly will throw a bit more sympathy in the direction of Jack Hartley than Libertarian orthodoxy dictates. I'm about the same age as this guy, in the kind of physical condition that would preclude my doing that kind of work every day - or even a day. I'd probably make it about four hours. And I wanna know - How come Jack Hartley, who presumably hasn’t been making minimum wage all this time, is so broke after a lifetime in a tire factory that his only option is SS?

Did worn-out retirement-age laborers traditionally seek out an ice flow and yell “Soup’s on, polar bears!” before Roosevelt came along? Because I don’t think they did.

“Taxed to death,” anyone?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An important announcement from the Hermitty Peoples' Armored Brigade...

Ready to build that critical underground bunker, but your poor tyranny-oppressed back just isn't up to all the digging? Take heart, hermitty peoples of the outback! The HPAV Gulchendiggensmoothen is now taking orders for empty space to replace all that annoying dirt that's now in the way! Or, if you prefer, the other way 'round!

It may be old. It may be ugly. It could maybe profit from a few gallons of WD40 to get it to stop creaking in the morning. But all that's true of me too, and I generally show up sooner or later.

Alas, it's not mine. Say hello to M's New Toy! (Which is a far more likely name, when finalized, than the one I just gave it, I do confess.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

PETA's Advice to Survivalists: Go Vegan!

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up...
"Whether you live in an underground bunker or a penthouse suite, the best way to ensure that you'll still be around next year is to ditch meat and go vegan," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "By maintaining a vegan diet, the bunkered survivors would be in better shape to adapt to their post-apocalyptic world and would help put an end to the doomsday scenarios that animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses face every day."

"Oh! Hello there!"

Actually, more like "AAAAHHH!

So I'm (Thinking I'm) watering the apricot tree, when I go down and it turns out all the water I'd run so far just ran off into the meadow because the tree's basin has pretty much filled in with clay during the monsoon. I grab a shovel and start tossing dirt into the breaches in the basin. There's a big tumbleweed in my way. I give it a chop with the shovel. Something lands on my forearm.

The biggest, most ginormous brown recluse I've ever personally seen is STANDING ON MY ARM! AUGH!!

Fortunately it seemed as surprised by the whole thing as I was and made no objection to being flipped right the hell back off my arm. Since it let me live, I gave it the same courtesy and we parted ways amicably.

Oddly, this was on almost exactly the same spot as the Snake Episode a few weeks ago.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Arming the Enemy

Another reason not to buy Glocks? We report, you decide.

Once I got over my "steel-frame only" dinosaur mindset, my only objection to Glocks was that they were butt-ugly. Nobody can reasonably cling to the fantasy that they're not perfectly reliable pistols, because they are. But they're still about as pretty as a mud wall.

Still - and even though I recognize that it's none of my business - I do wish gun manufacturers would stop selling to their natural enemies...and mine.

I'm capable of taking this to absurd extremes, which I don't try to advocate to others. For example, I crave an OKC RAT-3 knife, even though my $30 Gerber Freeman is perfectly suitable. RATs are sexier.

But I don't own one, because RATs are associated (in my mind, at least) with these people, who proudly advertise themselves as an "ATF Licensed Vendor"......which isn't a huge plus in my book. I just really, really hate the ATF and what it's done to abuse shooters over the decades. How anybody who does business with shooters can bring themselves to advertise - let alone have - an association with the shooters' sworn enemy...

Well, it is a puzzlement.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Best! Headline! EVER!

"Who's a good president? Obama's a good president, isn't he? Yes he is!

Hee hee - I didn't even bother reading the article, because it had to be a comedown. Jim Treacher owes me a monitor.

Heh. I see my hometown hasn't changed much...

When Mayor Bing gets his wheels ripped off, I say good for him for getting rid of Coleman Young's praetorian guard. That sort of thing would never have happened to the Mayah, because anybody who tried would have gotten ventilated but good. But then somebody swipes Jesse Jackson's Escalade and leaves it up on blocks, and I've (snort) gotta's a (khkhkh) damned (hee) (choke) shame...BWAAAHAHAHAHAHA....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm not sure I'm moving in a right direction here...

I'm still trying to get a handle on this book thing. Normally by now I've given up on the project, but I really think there's something here. Still, I'm kinda floundering. If I could only find where the damned plot is hiding...

Things you shouldn't say, even to yourself.

"I'm starting to think Monsoon is pretty much over."

Yeah. Cats and dogs. Barely made it home.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Consider the possibility...

...that you're in the wrong place if you want to be a lazy hermit.

Okay, it's Labor Day weekend. Which, since two of the stakeholders have long weekends and hot projects, means you're pretty much doomed to labor your ass off. I ducked quite a lot of what Landlady had going on, but that maneuvered me neatly into M's new Retaining Wall Nightmare.

It could have been worse, of course. A gigantic asteroid could have struck the Earth and annihilated all life.

No, really, it wasn't all that bad. That's not so much wall for three people to get started on. It's the "get started" part that depresses me. The short, straight wall is now four feet tall, because that's the limit before you have to call in the building inspector. The long, curved wall is a long way from that, and as you can probably see there's a lot of concrete filling in that puppy's future before we let anybody see it...

We got a lot of other stuff done this weekend, as well. I just can't quite remember what it all was. But this afternoon, after Landlady and M went away, I went into the boonies with the Jeep, the two boys, and a drill motor and extension cord to perform an experiment I'd been dreaming of all weekend. I connected all that stuff to an electrical outlet at the Lair, chucked a 1" spade bit into the drill, and aimed the whole thing at a piece of scrap 2X6. I knew my improvised electrical system would light a CFL and run a CD player. My question was would it actually run a motor with some serious torque requirements?

Answer: A Quick One-Inch Hole In A Piece Of Wood. I'm in business.

Heh - M got a couple of big retaining walls, Landlady got a functioning bathroom and kitchen sink. I got a hole in a piece of wood. I'm more excited about the hole than all their accomplishments, which may indicate a slightly skewed perspective. But since I can do that, I can install pipes in the foundation timbers. Do you know how nice it is to be able to say goodbye to cordless tools, after all this time?

Next: Plumbing installation!

Oh, Lord...

It's pretty bad when you come back on-line after a crazy weekend and note that your hit numbers are in the toilet even after you scored a QoD from Uncle.

Or maybe that's pretty good - not sure. Claire always said a niche gulching blog would never have world-class numbers...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let there be light!

I may have accidentally jazzed some life into the big old sulfated deep-cycle battery I dragged to the lair last month. I'd tried charging it by hooking it directly to a solar panel, which gave it 17+ volts and initially didn't seem to do a thing - I wasn't getting nearly enough voltage from the inverter even after a couple of days' charge.

The past couple of weeks I haven't been spending much time or labor at the lair, and never bothered to disconnect the panel from the battery since the battery's welfare was apparently of no concern. But those weeks of overcharging seem to have had a good effect. I've got 110+ volts out of the outlets I connected to the inverter, and the one connected test fixture will nicely light a CFL. Very cool! I'm presently digging out the trenches that filled in during Monsoon so I can run the plumbing, but now I'm all excited about hooking up some light fixtures in there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Still bringing my main character into the present.

Ol' Shadow didn't have a happy life before he ended up in his desert idyll. Somebody's almost bound to ask how much of this is autobiographical, since he's about to undergo something I've described in my own life. It's not an autobiography. Shadow isn't me. For one thing, I'm a lot happier than he is and have a higher tech base and standard of living. But since he's a hermit in the desert and so am I, I am taking certain liberties with events from my own life to describe his.

This, for example, is pretty much exactly what happened to me...

There's something severely wrong with this.

So many things, I wish I hadn't seen it because compiling the list would cut into my morning and I've got things to do.

I think my headline would have been, "Do you want to be this guy? Then visit today!"

Tactical this, tactical that...

Hey, at least it starts with the number four.

Yesterday Uncle made the comment that the Taurus Judge had truly jumped the shark. And I'm not arguing - though a revolver you can load with .410 shotshells has a certain charm in snake country, mounting a rail on it and calling it "tactical" does seem a bit...well...

But jump the shark? C'mon, Unc. That shark is so far behind us, it ain't never catching up.

"Tactical" has entered my personal list of words I reserve for "new and improved," or "survival." May once have had an objective meaning, but now they're just marketing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here's some interesting Claire news!

Claire Wolfe has just announced not one but two new books that'll be available in the near future. One I knew about, a compilation of Hardyville stories. The other's a surprise to me and apparently to her as well. This is pretty cool; There hasn't been a new book since the Freedom Outlaw's Handbook, and that was six years ago.

Call me Ishmael.

The White Whale is somebody else's problem! Yay!

A friend of a friend's friend had an eight-ton Kodiak that pulled that bad boy out of here without the slightest little problem, and in a flash substantially improved the looks of our ridge. No harpoon required.

One down, two to go.

Check out Little Bear's new threads!

Courtesy of Landlady, who originally bought it for Magnus, years ago, and found it while cleaning out one of the barn's attic spaces last weekend. I can imagine how Magnus reacted to it.
And yes, that is LB's "You'll never sleep another peaceful night" look. But he might actually wear it under some load, once he decides it's not just a plot to kill him. It would be nice to have some cargo capability, if only for extra water during long walkies. My legs aren't what (or even where) they ought to be.