Friday, October 29, 2010

The Secret Lair is Electrified!

Busy morning, and it's gonna be a busy afternoon so this'll probably be the only post of the day.  Shit-shoveling early, followed by a quicky labor gig that fell into my lap.  Followed by a trip to the Lair to try out/burn up my brand new inverter!

This one's much cooler than the one I blew up.  It's got read-outs for volts in and amps out, and it's got some serious protection against short circuits.  When I got it plugged in, it promptly told me my battery bank was putting out between 13.5 and 14.1 volts - depending on sunlight, of course - and that's a good volt better than when I started diddling with those batteries.  Got the cabin circuits plugged in to the inverter, and everything I can turn on works great! 

Now I need to get some more lamps in there, and I'll bring a power saw down to see whether that extra 500 watts will put me over the top with small power tools.


This has been a triumph of the scrounging art, even if I do say so myself.  The only major component I bought new is the inverter, and that's only because the one I did scrounge blew up over a little thing like a dead short.  No sense of humor at all. 

The solar panels - six ancient 45-watt jobs - came from an abandoned cattle-watering station.  The batteries came from Landlady's old set and were supposed to go to the recycler.  I rejuvenated three of the best four by alligator-clipping a solar panel directly to each one, throwing 18 volts across them, and leaving them out in the desert sun for three weeks.  The charge controller got obsoleted out of Landlady's old system.  I did try to scrounge wire, but it turned out the wire W's friend had torn out of a demolished house had sat out too long and was corroded.  So I did use all new Romex.  All the outlets, breakers and switches came from demolition jobs, and the lighting fixtures will all be scrounged from RVs.

Now I've got to build a rack for the panels and a cover for the batteries, and then it's back to plumbing.  Gotta get the septic system in before things start to freeze.  I'm running out of time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adventures in "Eco-Living"

Via Lewlew, here's an LA Times article by a California lady with a post-mortem on her two-year experiment with something she calls "eco-living."

Okay, that word makes me want to go find a hippie to punch.  But some of the things she briefly outlines here make sense.  Some (A "water wall?") not so much.  And her conclusions indicate she's not being either starry-eyed or all "ew!" about getting down and dirty with gray water and composting toilets.  I enjoyed it.

It started with gray water, then escalated to chickens, composting toilets and rain barrels. I'm talking about the two years I've spent transforming my humble California bungalow into a test case for sustainable living — an experience that's cost me hundreds of hours of my time and thousands of dollars, an endeavor that has tested the limits of not only my checkbook but also my sanity — and my DIY skills.
 Hm.  Having gained some experience with a lot of these things myself, maybe I should write something like this for the blog.  Yes?

On Comments...

On this date, 28 October 2010, for the first time in the history of TUAK, I removed a comment.  I've pulled spam before, but that doesn't count.  I've been called names before: Those comments are still here.  There have been comments with which I very seriously disagreed:  Those comments are still here.  Either I don't care, or I think it's kinda funny.

But this is still my blog, and I still get to decide what words appear on it, and some guy I never heard of posted something I just don't want to be associated with.  It had to do with yesterday's Afghanistan post.  I'm not even sure I understood what he was getting at, but I looked at it from a couple of different directions and decided I couldn't find an interpretation I didn't find offensive.  So it's gone.

But it leaves me thinking maybe I should clarify something.  I've often said things here that were critical of this country's foreign policy, particularly military policy.  Sometimes that gets the goat of a passing conservative, and that's fine.  But I want to be clear on something.  I'm not in favor of any of the country's current military adventures, but this should not be taken as meaning that I wish harm to American soldiers.  I don't believe I've ever said any such thing here.  I consider them misled and misused, but I don't wish them harm.  So if something I said here gives you the impression that's my opinion, don't post comments agreeing with me.  Okay?

Comments regarding politicians and/or bureaucrats and anything having to do with ropes and lampposts, of course, remain completely welcome.

That's all I wanted to say.

Hm. Newfie?

In reply to the earlier post in which I speculated about Little Bear's Daddy, Commenter S suggested that maybe a Newfoundland snuck into the love shack.  My first thought was negative - Newfies are very large and very hairy.  LB's just kinda large and hairy. 

Still - Mutt.  Who knows?

I went looking for Newfie images, and ran into this:

Except for the brown eyes and excessive hair, that's Little Bear!

Yes, I know.  I'm obsessing. 

She did it AGAIN!

Click is a cat.  Cats can be vewy, vewy quiet when it suits their purpose.

But what purpose could she serve by bringing Little Bear food?  He's a big boy!  He's perfectly capable of catching his own rodents.  And eating them outside.

I've mentioned before that on two separate occasions Click has brought rabbits into the Interim Lair.  Both were promptly consumed, fur and fingernails, by Little Bear.  Now, as a reasonably intelligent pack-member, Click is perfectly capable of figuring out that if she brings rabbits into the Lair and leaves them on the floor, they will be eaten by others.  Similar things have happened in the past.  So if she's killing rabbits and bringing them into the Lair, only to have Little Bear eat them, at some point I have to conclude that that was her intention.

She's very motherly toward Little Bear.  She always has been.  Just this morning, while dressing, I watched them on my bed as she held down his head - which alone is bigger than she is - and gave it a very determined bath.  She plays with him.  She disciplines him when he gets too rough.  She lies with him when he's tied out and unhappy.  And - I am forced to assume - every now and then she feeds him.

Yes, it happened again last night.  I was sitting at my reading bench, which perforce means my back is to the animals.  At that time of the evening they're in Terminal Nap Mode and normally all is silent.  But I was disturbed by a rather moist crunching sound.

It's not unfamiliar.

I looked around.  Little Bear stood up somewhat guiltily from where he had been crouched over a rat the size of a frickin' squirrel.  Or I should say, about three-quarters of one.  Pool of blood.  Viscera.  Big mess.  Y'know, I'm pretty sure if that thing had been there when we all retired to the Lair for the evening, I'd have noticed.  But Click, as I said, can be very quiet.  At least this time it wasn't a cat-door-destroying rabbit.

It's been a year since she did this.  That I know of - what goes on when I'm asleep is anybody's guess.  Oh, sure - she goes through mouse-catching binges.  I don't really mind that.  But rabbits and big rats are too much.  And do they clean up after themselves?  Well, I guess they have to keep Uncle Joel around for something.

And yes, I do worm him monthly. 

Ack! C-C-COLD!

Private to Landlady - bring warm this weekend.  Please.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One More Month!

Actually I missed this announcement by one day.  Forgive me.

One month from yesterday, America will have been liberating Afghanistan exactly as long as Russia spent brutally invading it.  We can beat the Russkis' record!  Yes!  We!  Can!

On the genetics of Little Bear...

I've been wondering lately, just exactly who LB's daddy is.

His mother, based entirely on sparse photographic evidence since we've never met, is about equal parts German Shepherd and Doberman.  She is quite simply one of the ugliest dogs I've ever seen.  But she must have a great personality, because there's substantial evidence her two male packmates found her irresistable.  She had a huge litter of twelve, only nine of which survived.  But those nine could have come from any nine random litters of large dogs you care to seek.

Now:  Here are the known facts.  Little Bear is large and thick, but not freakishly so.  In his adolescence he showed signs of becoming a very homely guy because his proportions kept changing at random and never in a particularly organized way.  But now he has physically matured to a rather handsome dog.  Who doesn't look a single thing like any of his possible or definite parents.

Here's the line-up.  This is the mom:

Here's a possible dad:

And here's another possible dad:

Little Bear has bits of some, no sign of others.  He's black with just a bit of white on his chest and belly, which could be a sign of Border Collie genes.  He holds his tail high like the Akita but not that curled, and his muzzle is about that broad but longer.  In fact his snout is shepherd-like, though his brow slopes more than a shepherd's.  His chest and shoulders are very broad, similar to the Akita.  His fur is longer than a Shepherd, Dobie or Akita, but not as long as the Border Collie.  He's bigger than either dad, but that could come from Mom.  He has an absurd flag on his tail which doesn't seem to imitate any of the above breeds. His ears are completely floppy, which only matches an unaltered Dobie.   He's jowlier than any of them.  He's very energetic and playful, but also obedient (usually) and intelligent (not always obviously) and doesn't need your attention every second though he loves to get it.

He's a mutt, no doubt about it.  I like mutts, and I'm especially fond of this one.  I had hoped, once he stopped changing, to have some prayer of nailing down who the mutt's father is.  But I've pretty much given up on that hope.

The question I keep asking myself: Is it possible for a puppy to get parts of both dads?  Because I didn't think that could happen.  Or maybe (I'm beginning to consider this most likely) there are just more breeds in the mix than I know.

Poor, Poor ATF!

So neglected!  So frustrated!  So...(snort) heheheheheh...

Here's an article you ought to read.  It's from the Washington Post, and its writers are terribly concerned about the frantic need to do something about F-Troop's antiquated record-keeping, understaffing and lack of official management.  Yeah, my heart bleeds.

Here's a hint, Sari and James.  I note it's something you left out of your reportage on the poor, sad, bleeding ATF.  There's a reason the "gun lobby" turned so viciously on these selfless public servants.  It's a reason you'd have found quite easy to unearth, had it occurred to you to try.  It's not a secret.

Go out from your ivory tower and find yourself the most "law-abiding," non-slavering, apolitical gun owner you can find.  Don't worry; just throw a SIG over the fence first and he won't hurt you.  Then ask him his opinion of the lantern-jawed heroes of the ATF.

Er...stand back a bit first.  What you will find is that, though he has probably never met an actual ATF agent in the flesh, he hates, hates, HATES the ATF.  With a smoldering, resentful passion, he hates it and everything having to do with it.  And he has gone to some lengths to break its legs and stake it out in the sun without water.

Ask him the reason for that.  Then do a little digging on the history of the ATF, and of the way it treats American citizens when it's not crippled.

You could start with "Operation Show Time."

H/T to Sipsey Street

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More hassles in off-grid land...

Sunday at M's Dome the generator, securely strapped to the Jeep's trailer, worked just fine.  Monday when I took it down to the Lair it wouldn't start at all.  I noticed a strong smell of gasoline and it looked as though gas had poured right out through the air filter onto the trailer's boards.

Pulled the spark plug - soaked.  Cleaned the plug, ran the engine through the empty hole to clear fumes out of the cylinder, put it together again - still wouldn't start.

So I'm thinking its bouncy ride back home unseated the carb needle, flooding the whole shebang.  Which means I've got to remove and fix the carb before this thing will be doing anything.  Bother: I really could use some power tools at the Lair.  Guess I'm back to cordless.

It's beginning to look a lot like winter around here.  Yesterday the wind blew all day, and I mean a grit-in-your-face, lean-over-or-fall-over wind.  Cloudy, cold.  Finally got a little bit of rain after dark.  Today dawned shiny and still and it still isn't the least bit cloudy.  But the wind came back up around 2 this afternoon and it never did warm up.  Warning signs.

Rifle, Battle, the extreme customization of.

The other evening I was sitting on the porch of Landlady's Meadow House with Landlady and M, where we were discussing pink rifles.

Stop laughing.

My personal take on the phenomenon of pink rifles is that I don't find pink AR-15s at all jarring. In fact they've pretty much been elevated to the level of commodity by now. You've got your Barbie ARs:

And your Hello Kitty ARs:

...and I don't find them the least bit odd.  ARs have always been kinda toy-like.  Hell, the first nickname they picked up, back in the sixties, was "Mattel Toy."

AKs, on the other hand, are almost deliberately ugly, in a fearsome kinda way.  It suits their intended clientele...

...who, whatever his other virtues, is almost guaranteed not to be a nice man.  Conventionally speaking.  Is rifle.  Is not supposed to be safe.  And whatever your experiences with this guy, "safe" is probably not going to be an option.

Oh, sure - sometimes a banana-republic potentate will get a misguided idea for customizing an AK...

...but that's just bad taste, expected in anybody named Uday.  It's still ugly, and nothing like cute.  AKs don't do cute.

Which is why the phenomenon of the pink AK has always seemed delightfully incongruous to me.

Let's face it, one of these things is not like the other.

But still, to each his own.  If there were no possibility of a pink AK, there could be no Kalashnikitty.

And would the world not be an immeasurably poorer place in which to live?

And yet...surely these things can be taken too far for anyone's taste.  For example - and the thing which got all this simmering in my diseased brain - I give you this:

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you.  That's a gold-plated or painted SKS with an aftermarket magazine and some sort of tartan fabric stock covering.  And

That's all I was trying to say.

I simply can't express...

...The myriad reasons and ways in which this is a bad idea...

Weer'd World has a veritable cavalcade of Mall Ninja videos including my personal fave, Mr. Elite Fighting Team Guy. It's all guaranteed to rot your brain right down to your toes, and make you think maybe some parents should be a bit more discerning as to who they let live in their basements.

The thing I find scary and embarrassing about exhibitions like this is that I once dreamed I was of being Mr. HSLD without the inconvenience of undergoing the necessary training, which would only have pointed out for all the world to see that - physically, mentally, morally and emotionally - I'm incapable of ever becoming any such thing. It was just a boy-dream. Fortunately, back then there was no YouTube on which to humiliate myself for all time and I eventually grew out of it.

But I did love my useless gadgets and imaginary tactics.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"I'm a gun owner, but...

Robb over at Sharp as a Marble points out that activist-type gun owners don't really need activist-type antigunners as opponents.  Gun owners, like any other beleagured minority, carry their own opposition with them wherever they go.  This one's all afraid of what will happen in Florida if open-carry activists start getting ink.
I am establishment when it comes to guns. I support Florida's concealed-weapons law and the Stand Your Ground law. I cheered when the Supreme Court overturned the gun ban in Washington, D.C. I'll be heading for the gun range this weekend.
Liberals think I'm the unholy spawn of Charlton Heston and Marion Hammer.
But this is too much.
Yeah, sure.  I support laws giving me a privilege to carry a gun as long as I pay the fee, hide the gun, and act like I'm ashamed of it.  Except for when I don't support those laws.  Which is always.  And I don't care what "Liberals" think I am.

And to be perfectly honest, I think "open-carry movements" like the recent flurry in California really are kinda silly. "Look at me! I'm legally carrying an open handgun! Of course it's unloaded, because anything else would be illegal. I'm a law-abiding citizen! A good guy! See? So abandon your entire legislative history and pass laws in my favor!" Sorry, that just wasn't going anywhere. So I might make a point similar to that of the writer, if we were really in agreement. Doesn't mean I'd work against them.

But he gives himself away in the very next para:
These guys conduct open carry demonstrations, where they stand around like exhibitionists, exposing their weaponry for all to see. What would Freud think?
Freud?  Dude.  He might, but didn't, think something like "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."  But after that crack, it hardly matters what Freud thought about anything. When you get snide allusions to exhibitionists exposing themselves, you're reading something from the more bigoted side of anti-gun punditry: People who don't just think gun owners are wrong, they think (or want you to think) they're sick.

There's a word for someone writing the "I'm a gun owner BUT" kind of article who resorts to Fractured Freud Jokes. And the word is...


Heh. Serendipity!

The battery on the Jeep is getting awfully weak.  I keep meaning to replace it.  Plus the fact that I never take trips of more than 14 miles' duration, and those are rare, means the battery only gets a good charge when I think to raise the hood and put the charger on it.  This is the Jeep's third winter with an underperforming battery, so it's a wonder the thing works at all.

Saturday, I helped M load the generator on the Jeep trailer, and he took it to his Dome.  He needed it to run the cement mixer and a chop saw.  Since he really prefers to walk, he left the jeep, trailer and generator there overnight.  I think maybe he left something on.

So Sunday Landlady and I joined him in working on the Great Retaining Wall Project.  Maybe three hours later, tired and happy to be done for the day, we all loaded into the Jeep.

Which wouldn't start, of course.  Wouldn't even crank.  Battery deader than I've ever seen it.

Normally this would have freaked me out.  There's no electricity at the Dome yet.  My great fear has always involved the Jeep stranding me somewhere in the boonies, with no way to get it back out.  I've always wanted one of those charger/compressor boxes you can just leave onboard, in case of tire or battery problems.  But they're spendy and I can always think of other things to spend surplus cash on.  In this case, of course, there was no big problem.

You've figured out the fix already, haven't you? 8^)

Yup.  Hike back to the Jeep with a battery charger.  Hook it to the battery and generator.  Start the generator.  Go take a little walky with the boys.  Give them a nice Jeep ride home.

It's back, safe and sound.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men...

...Extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as these bitter clingers...

What to get the mall ninja who has everything?

I am totally not making this up.

The Sale of the Hi-Point - or Things that Make Josh Sugarmann Sad

In our last exciting episode, M had found himself tasked to legally and profitably dispose of a Hi-Point .380 pistol. In the name of his self-esteem and sanity, he was motivated to do this as expeditiously as possible.

Somehow - and he didn't say how - he made contact with a person who was very anxious to own it. He made arrangements to meet this person at the periphery of the parking lot of a local shopping center. Unfortunately upon arriving at this location, he found that a street-paving project had pretty much closed off access to the lot. Unable to contact his principal, he wormed his way into the lot anyway.

The area, said M, was crawling with traffic cops busily interfering with what little traffic could get past the construction. So his arrival did not go unnoticed.

Now, M is a gentle, mild, ordinary-looking fellow who is not used to drawing the attention of the Forces of Law and Order: imagine his surprise when two of the city's finest coincidentally decided to join him in aimlessly occupying that corner of the parking lot.  In their unmarked car, they undoubtedly expected that their presence would go unremarked.  They might have considered their attire, however:

The transaction M anticipated was locally as legal as breathing.  But still, not the sort of thing you necessarily want to indulge in with two tacticops sitting so unobtrusively in a car right behind you.  So M picked up his cell phone to call the buyer and find a new venue.  His phone showed four signal bars, but informed him he had no service.  It did this three times. 

Undeterred, M did what anyone would have done in a situation like this.  He exited his truck, walked up to the unmarked police car containing two tense, armored cops, asked the cops if they had some sort of cellphone jammer going on and if so could they please turn it off because he was trying to make a call.  They informed him they possessed no such device.  On the fourth attempt, his phone worked fine.

But by that time the buyer had shown up.  So ... M went ahead and sold him the pistol.  The cops did not interfere - or offer a higher price.

To M's mild displeasure, the cops accompanied his truck out of the lot, giving him a bad moment or two.  But then they turned a different way and apparently lost all interest.

The End.

Friday, October 22, 2010

But for me, Tokyo would have been eaten by a giant mechanical fire-breathing monster. That flies.

Prove I'm wrong.

This was such a bizarre thing to say on television that I assume it was taken out of context for the purpose of the obviously hostile video - I can't find a transcript on the tubz, but no doubt if something exculpatory is in there it'll show up. Still, this is 70-year-not-young Harry Reid we're talking about and he's been getting kinda gaffe-prone, so who knows? He may really have said that. In which case he should be happy he's so obviously near death, because that way he won't be living it down as long as Inconvenient Al's been living down taking the lead in inventing the Internet.

QoD - Campaign Ad Edition

Just once I'd like to see one of these commercials where you actually hear the script get crumpled up and the voice-over dude yell "No! That's retarded! I refuse to read it!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Partisan, Schmartisan. This is funny.

Though that bit about GW and "low taxes" - you might want to to raise the shade of somebody who was in the Whiskey Rebellion and get his take on that. But I'm quibbling. Still funny.

Hey, remember Officer Bubbles?

He was the brainiac who busted somebody for blowing bubbles at him. On video. While maintaining an ill-considered Facebook page. Yeah, that Officer Bubbles.

Guess who's suing YouTube?
Josephs received the nickname after a video showed him telling a young female protester that she could be arrested for blowing bubbles.

“If the bubble touches me, you're going to be arrested for assault," he told her. “It's a deliberate act on your behalf, I'm going to arrest you.”

The officer is suing the website over cartoons which he claims depict an officer resembling him abusing police power. Cartoons have surfaced showing a policeman arresting such people as Santa Claus and Barack Obama.
Way to let them sleeping dogs lie, Bubbles. Rotsa Ruck.

Good News - Bad News...

Good News - Today I cleaned out my Mr. Heater and - unlike last year - it works just fine!

Bad News - Today I felt the need to fire up my Mr. Heater.

Oh, we're SO into the Silly Season...

So there's this guy named Joe Miller. Okay so far? And Joe Miller is running for some political office somewhere. Nothing wrong with that, I mean, who isn't? And Joe Miller, like the approximately 300,000,000 other political candidates currently infesting the United States, isn't exactly a household name. Because nobody cares who the hell Joe Miller is. Do you name your cockroaches?

Naturally, what Joe Miller figured he needed, since he was so damned important and all, was a security team. The way you get to be important, in these United States, is to be followed around by a couple of beefy guys in ill-fitting blazers and earpieces. With luck, they'll hurt somebody and you'll get some national ink.

A few days ago, Joe Miller's fifteen minutes began. First, he hired out a school meeting hall and had himself a "Town Hall Meeting." That's something important people do; I've considered it myself. Alas, Mr. Miller failed the First Law of Public Gatherings: Tell your security goons not to rough up newsies, even if they're acting like A-holes. Because - and many generations of American politicians will back me up on this - newsies frenzy like sharks. And you're the chum, Chum.

So today I learn from - well, basically everywhere - that Miller's security goons have some 'splainin' to do to their superiors in the U.S. Army, in which they are in Active Duty status. This may or may not prove to be a problem for them, depending on whether their candidate is a Democrat and/or likely to win the election factors nobody seems very clear on.

Quoting Radley Balko here:
Hmm. Inflated sense of privilege. Inability to admit a mistake. Doubling down as it becomes increasingly clear he screwed up. Miller's looking more and more like a U.S. Senator by the hour.

But that's not the funny part. The funny part is that Joe Miller, like every other politician not taking campaign funds from La Raza, is "in favor of doing something about border security." His idea as to a good example of this suggests that he's unaware of the SECOND Law of Public Gatherings: Ban Recording Devices.

Yeah, Baby. If East Germany could, we could. Of course, East Germany wasn't being coy about the objective of its border security policy, which was to keep people in...

I'm gonna go ahead and guess he's praying for his fifteen minutes to be over, real real soon. With luck, footage of Christine O'Donnell sacrificing an infant in her latest black sabbat will emerge immediately.

Naturally they thought they were cops...

They wore masks, kicked in the door, and shot somebody for no good reason.
Three men posing as agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives kicked their way into a home in Whistler, killed a 31-year-old man and held four others at gunpoint early Wednesday, Prichard police said.
Of course as Uncle points out, the tip-off should have been the lack of dead dogs...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't criticize the ignorance of others until you know what they're talking about.


Boys and girls, do you know what happened in 1773 - that people in the Tea Party movement might find relevant?

Well, don't tell Daily Kos.  They're having fun feeling smarter than Palin.

This gun even sounds ugly.

It's literally ugly in the dark, since that's where I first saw it, and my instant reaction was, "Dear God, what is THAT?"

M got roped into selling some guns for a friend - the only person I've ever met who actually may have too many guns, because he's quite out of places to put them all and that includes several CONEX containers - and while he was rummaging around in a backpack for the wheelgun he'd brought for me to look at, this...thing...came out.

"Dear God, what is THAT?"

M looked a little embarrassed and a lot disdainful.  This is a guy who can give an hour's disquisition on Finnish machine guns at the drop of any hat, and will. This is a guy who knows the type of Wehrmacht stamp on that historic Hi-Power. The pistol should have dissolved in his presence.

"Oh, it's a Hi Point." Then he rapidly changed the subject.

It was so ... I was almost afraid to touch it at first. But...well, you know. Izza gun. It made a hollow, rattling noise as I picked it up, or when I moved it to any new angle. I'd thought, till that moment, that I'd seen cheap and cheezy. But this... It was fascinatingly ugly. If forced to go on Jihad with this gun, any Mujahideen would shave his head and become a nun instead. I would allow a rattlesnake to bite me on the throat, rather than undergo the humiliation of shooting it with this gun. No machine tool should have survived the embarrassment of being involved in its construction. It's just ...


Slow down advancing your technology. We're having a hard time bugging it.



Hi, is this the phone company?

Yeah. Who's this?

This is the government. We need you to sort of slow down on the infrastructure enhancements.

Why is that?

See, we have a lot on our plate right now. We can't just start shoving experts and coders to keep up with you. How do you expect us to catch Bin what'shisface or McVeigh II if you guys keep moving the back door? Frankly, we're a bit of a loss as to how to listen in on your subscribers through your labyrinth of constantly changing series of tubes.

Oh, you mean you need us to cater to your incompetence.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've found my candidate!

Of course I'd have to move to NY to vote for him.  The chances of this happening rival those of my being annointed by acclamation Grand Dragon of the Black Muslims.

But still - If I were in NY I'd vote for this guy, just to be annoying. Introducing, for your political pleasure, Jimmie McMillan of the The Rent is Too Damn High Party.

Also, I'm totally cutting my beard that way. Haven't seen one of those since the 'sixties.

ETA: Of course it's still barely possible that the incumbents have a chance:

Battery Minder Update...

Well, this morning the solid green "charging" light became a blinking green "maintenance (floating)" light, so I dug out my multimeter to see where we were.

Hm. Could be better. It read 12.84 when I first disconnected the minder, and swiftly dropped into the 12.7 range. After the battery has had a chance to rest, I've a feeling it's not going to be too pretty. This may take several applications.

Who's been spying on me?

Seen at TJIC.  Click for embiggenment.

On the subject of off-grid electrical component prices...

As I mentioned a few days ago I sort of let the magic smoke out of my Lair's inverter. This was both a matter of bad timing (I really thought I was ready to bring all the cabin's electrical on-line) and good timing (I was about to celebrate by buying a pistol.) But it has also provided an education in what things cost.

Virtually everything in The Secret Lair's electrical system is scrounged. The solar panels came from an old cattle-watering station. The batteries are "reconditioned" from the Landlady's old set, as is the charge controller. The inverter and (oops) breaker box came from old RVs.

I'm still looking for another breaker box, but the loss of the inverter got Landlady reaching for her Blackberry. An appallingly brief session of Amazon-fu gave her a line on a brand-new unit, half-again bigger than the old one (which was showing signs of not wanting to run power tools anyway) for less than a hundred bucks. Cool!

For a short time on Saturday night I thought I would be asking Landlady to cancel the order, because SurvivalDave told me he had an inverter he didn't use and was willing to sell me. It had been around, unused, for about five years. When I told him what I was paying for the new one, he got very quiet. I'm afraid he's stuck with his $500 1000-watt inverter.

But everything is coming down. Solar panel manufacturers are toying with one dollar a watt. Batteries are still high (battery technology is the great disappointment in everything off-grid) but inverters and charge controllers are far less expensive than they were when Landlady and T installed their first attempt at a system.

In more ways than one, it's a pretty darned good time to leave the grid.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ranting Joel is On the Loose!

Okay, This is going to be a philosophical and political rant. So those of you who are bored by such things, please feel free to click down. I won't be offended.

I just read another earnest gun writer, telling me all about my "second amendment rights." I hate that. It makes me angry. I know I'm being touchy on this point, but NOBODY GIVES ME MY RIGHTS. Not even dead white guys in wigs.

It's not about the second amendment. That's the first thing that stops me from reading further in 90% of the pro-gunowner articles I ever read. The writer insists that we have the right to keep and bear arms because the second amendment gives it to us, or (if he's a little more on the ball) at least confirms the constitutional right.

But it's not a constitutional right. Or at least if it is, that right is completely redundant. It's not about the second amendment, and it's not about the constitution.

It's about being a mature creature.

Every mature creature on earth carries its means of self-defense with it at all times. Some are only weapons in the final crisis, or if an attacker more-or-less commits suicide as with a porcupine or a stonefish. But no matter how inoffensive the creature, it has some means of defense. It may not work, but it's by god there.

A bunch of TUAK readers have dogs. Dogs can be the goofiest, friendliest critters on the planet. But from mastiffs to chihuahuas, they've got teeth in those bonecracker jaws and if you push them far enough they'll be happy to demonstrate.

It's a little-known fact that most cats are natural-born long range snipers, and many have achieved high levels of expertise.

Seriously, have you ever been bitten by a cat for real? I lost the use of my left thumb for almost three months, and you better believe I let him go right away 'cause it was the only way to get him to.

Even rabbits have teeth, and will cheerfully bite you with them. That's not counting the claws at the end of those piledriver rear legs. Of course they'd much rather run away, but...

Not all these defenses really do much good. A mouse will sometimes attack a stalking cat, but the cat's still gonna eat the mouse. Still, there they are. It's the one visible sign that tells an adult from an infant. Weapons.

Humans kinda got shortchanged in the natural weapon department. We have hands that can strongly grasp, but no claws to speak of. Our teeth and jaws are a joke. We can't run worth a damn. Yet we're at the very tippy-top of any food chain you care to mention, because we've got one enormous advantage. Some animals are tool-users, but only humans are tool-makers.

And by this we conquer.

Now, at the risk of being accused of speciesism, I really have no problem being a member of the baddest-assed species on the planet. But I'm not going to pretend I'm some ethereal, luminous creature, not akin to the beasts. Because what I am is a beast with a reasoning brain, a sense of history, and opposable thumbs. My ability to make and use tools is meant to be a weapon, and I'm not going to pretend it isn't. That doesn't make me dangerous to my neighbors.

But that's not good enough for some of our would-be rulers. They want us to put aside all that atavism, lay down our natural weapons and get with our inner wimp.

Once we have embraced the little guy and made him our own, we will be safe from all threats! For where there are no weapons, there can be no harm.

What's that you say? Some might not want to go along with the program, and choose instead to harm our soft spongy flesh? Wherever shall we run, should we find ourselves in danger?

Why, to Mister Policeman, of course! You sillies!

No no, dears. He's not saying that to you. That's just for the bad men.

(AHEM) Back, political rant! Back! Into your cage, right now. Gooboy. Here's a treat.

Filter out about 60% of what I just rattled off there, and you might be able to detect that I was trying to make a point about where our rights come from. We don't get our basic, natural rights from some guys in tight pants back in the olden days. We don't get them from the clowns in Washington, or state capitols, or even from Sarah Palin. We get them from our paid-up adult membership in the baddest-ass species on the planet. Nobody can give them to us.

And nobody can take them away. We can just forget where we mislaid them.

And now for something completely different...

Courtesy of Breda, my day got a little brighter with this introduction to AbeBooks' Weird Book Room.

Yes, you too can enjoy such titles (I don't seriously suggest you read the actual books) as:

  • The Recently Deflowered Girl
  • Spacebloom: A Guide to Cosmic Flora
  • Forensic Examination of Rubber Stamps
  • The Radiation Recipe Book
  • Teach Your Wife to Be a Widow (Seriously, this is not a good idea)
  • Lumberjack Songs with Yodel Arrangements
  • All About Scabs
  • Knitted Historical Figures
  • Boy George Fashion and Makeup Book
  • At Your Cervix: A Gynecologist Tells All
  • The Man Who Left His Wife and Had a Nifty Time
  • The Armpit of Desire
  • Atlas of the Fleas of England and Ireland
And many, many (many many) more!

Seriously, just when I get to thinking I've got too much time on my hands...

New Battery Gadget!

Thanks to the generosity of a contributor who will probably choose to remain anonymous, we have a new battery maintenance gadget here at the gulch!

It's called a BatteryMINDer, and it will allegedly desulfate sulfated batteries with limits. Since we happen to be up to our kiesters in those things, we can certainly test the limits of its capacity. I've currently got it connected to the fourth battery in my projected battery bank for the cabin, and I'll let you know how it works.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's so...Quiet!

Me: "If we get any other applicants to the gulch, and they start making noises about building a concrete house..."

Landlady: "Throw them out?"

Me: "On their ear. That's my vote, anyway. Or at a minimum, I'm busy that day."

L: "For the rest of your life."

Me: "And beyond."

Well, Landlady had a good week. Got all the electrical working, lights in the ceiling, got the eave on the front of the house sealed up with T&G (after chasing a pigeon out the night before), refrigerator and microwave moved into the kitchen, big sofa in the living room, windows caulked, vents installed in the utility closet, some plywood installed in the attic, a few other things.

This morning the retaining walls at M's Dome got substantially higher, and we poured a lot of concrete to fill them. I think my back is broken, but we need to get that done. Winter's coming, and there's a lot to do before the Dome is weatherproof. We really shouldn't leave it in its current state for another wet winter.

My own progress was ... well, kind of retrograde. I blew up my inverter, installed a toilet in the wrong place, and when M and I went to dig out the septic field trenches we had tractor issues. I think we're going to be chasing "issues" on that tractor for quite some time, but I've been here before: the vital systems are basically in good shape, so if we keep with it we'll run out of issues caused by bad maintenance and we'll have a very useful and possibly even profitable tool.

I thought I was going to be able to announce the introduction of a new addition to Joel's Gunz, and that would have made Joel a happy boy. I've been wanting a big-bore revolver for some time to replace the .45 I use for EDC, and one of M's friends has a slightly beat-up stainless Taurus .44 Special that would have fit the bill nicely. But the price went up $100 past what I was told to expect on the same week I learned I needed a new $100 inverter, and adding a new gun and caliber would mean expenses for leather and ammo and reloading stuff, so ... not so much. That's a want, not a need. The .45 has done just fine for several years, and it's gonna have to keep doing fine for a while yet. Some day my wheelgun will come.

We had supper at S&L's last night, and Ghost elected to spend the night with them. They just headed back to the city, so Ghost is back home now and the boys and I are camped in the nice quiet scriptorium. I love my friends, I really do; wouldn't trade them for the world. But one thing that has been confirmed since Claire moved back to the Pacific Northwet is that I truly am a hermit at heart. I enjoyed her being here, but honestly I enjoy being here alone even more. And now, after my busy week with Landlady, the prospect of five days alone is ... well ... awfully nice.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And ... we're three for three.

It's gotten to be a running joke. In M's Dome, the toilet drain was set too close to the bathroom wall. In the Meadow House, the toilet drain was set too close to the bathroom wall.

Ha ha! I laughed at them with scorn, for my cabin's design meant I could install the drain pipe after the position of the bathroom wall was well and truly known, meaning that there was no way the toilet wouldn't fit in the space once I'd installed the drain. No way.

Today I installed the toilet. Like most everything else in the cabin it's salvaged, which meant I mounted the throne on the drain flange and then went outside to replace all the weathered and broken gaskets and plumbing bits inside the tank.

Then I mounted the tank onto the toilet.

Which is about an inch too close to the wall.


Well, but ... Mine's easier to fix, though!


And I was in such a good mood.

Had a little ... well, not even little, an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny ... disaster yesterday afternoon. After rigging the solar panels and my newly sorta-kinda refurbished storage batteries together with the charge controller, it was time to bring the cabin's whole electrical system on line. The only missing piece was a breaker box, which given that the maximum output of the inverter was (operative word here is was, alas) 1000 watts, was pretty much redundant but still - you gotta have circuit breakers. So yesterday morning I salvaged a tiny little breaker box out of an abandoned RV that M uses to keep some of his stuff out of the weather while he builds.

The design of the breaker box was pretty odd. I should have taken that as a cautionary sign - I really wasn't sure how things were supposed to be wired in there, and shouldn't have proceeded until I WAS sure. But I pushed ahead.

Got everything wired up. Connected the breaker box to the inverter. Threw the switch on the inverter, officially connecting the electrical supply to the cabin wiring.

Frantically threw the switch back off, as the inverter emitted a heart-stopping BANG and a column of acrid smoke.

I've looked at every single connection I wired into that breaker box, and would be ready to swear on a stack of holy books that there was no short circuit in there. But hard evidence insists that I threw a dead short across the inverter. I suppose I should be encouraged to learn that my battery bank is now capable of sending one hell of a lot of electricity into unfortunate places.

Sigh. I need a new inverter. And a breaker box that was designed in the last fifty years. There will be a brief pause in the program while I acquire those things.

That's the bad news. The good news, as Landlady pointed out while handing me a beer, is that the cabin didn't burn down.

Friday, October 15, 2010

You think the Constitution is wrong, Congressman? I think you don't know what's in it.

Okay, I'm just doing this for snark, because I'm not a constitution-worshiper myself and I don't even know who this guy is so his opinion is pretty much completely meaningless to me.

But Congressman, when you say "I don't think corporations should have the same equality as a regular voter in this district," a statement at least worth discussing, you're not anywhere near anything that's in the constitution, which does not mention corporations. Okay? Corporations are a legal fiction - formed by the government, which would be you - specifically for the purpose of creating immortal paper people. You may as well give them the vote.

When you say "I think the constitution is wrong," though, you admit to at least a willingness to violate that inconvenient oath thing. You know - the one you publicly took?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

He never seemed to catch the magnitude of his error in saying that in open debate. But based on the "applause" his audience didn't seem in any doubt. 8^)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"And that is QUITE enough of that!"

So said Landlady after six freaking hours putting up tongue & groove cedar on her front overhang. And I thank whatever gods there may be that the house only has the one overhang.

This is the answer to my old question, "I wonder why tongue & groove siding went out of style?" Walls are fairly easy. Ceilings are a real pain in the derrière.

Looks good, though.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joel Ludd ... In the Twenty-First ... CENTURY!!

Well, I went to town today, hoping to buy a new pair of boots. Found the boots for quite a bit less than I feared, and did something completely frivolous with some of the surplus. I bought myself one of them thar MP3 player thangs.

Yup, I do admit that my consumer electronics elevator stopped going to the top right around the time cassette tape players went out of style. If it weren't for cell phones being so cheap there's virtually no excuse not to have one, I wouldn't. Blackberry? IPhone? Whazzat? But now I got me a little doodad that plays music right into your ear.

Supposedly it'll even work with ebooks and videos, though it's hard to imagine wanting to do either of those things on that itsy-bitsy little screen. Still, the old CD player I brought to the Lair doesn't work worth a damn, and the radio only gets two channels down in the Lair's holler and they're both (erg) country music. So I guess it was time.

I do use Linux, though, so some of my geek karma ought to be on the good side of the ledger, right?

I mean ... spreadsheet.

The S in NASA stands for ... um ... Wait, I used to know this one...

Stupid foreign policy?
James Hansen, the head of one of President Barack Obama’s NASA labs, came to Canada last week to tell us not to allow a French company called Total to proceed with its Canadian oilsands project.

Even for Obama, that’s quite a foreign policy accomplishment: Interfering with two allies at once.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anybody want a dog?

Oh, man.

I've been loosening the leash on Little Bear for some time, and thinking we were making real progress. He maybe goes down the slope alone for activities in the pursuit of which any of us would prefer privacy, but other than that he's been really good about not wandering off.

Until Friday evening, when I turned my back for a moment, he and Ghost disappeared, and less than ten minutes later I got a call from D&L. Right back to their old ways.

This morning, a morning for which I had serious plans, they pulled something really different. I loaded the Jeep's trailer with two very heavy batteries and the woodstove's concrete pedestal. Loaded the boys in the Jeep and went down to the Meadow House to pick up some stuff. Left the boys in the Jeep with the door open; if they get out they won't go far, because they know damned well the Jeep will be leaving again.

Come back out - no dogs anywhere. I figure, well, they'll hear the Jeep leaving and chase. So I drive out of the meadow.

No dogs.

Now I've got a problem. I can't unhitch the trailer because its load is too heavy. I can't go trolling through the desert for the dogs, because the batteries won't survive the jouncing. So I've no choice but to go to the Lair and unload the trailer. Hopefully the boys will either come back home or I'll get a call from D&L. Neither happens.

So by the time I get the trailer unloaded I'm in quite a state. I go home, no dogs. I drop the trailer and troll through the wash, no dogs. I go to D&L's. No dogs.

Up the road, no dogs. J&H's, no dogs. Back home, no dogs. I can't find them anywhere.

I've left word with all my neighbors to call me if they see my dogs, then there's just no place left to look. I go to the Lair and try to work, but I can't relax when I don't know where the boys are.

Finally about 10:30 my two miscreants show up at D&L's like there's nothing wrong. I'm ready to disembowel them both, but at least they aren't hurt. Here there really be monsters, and they really shouldn't be running around the desert loose. There's apparently nothing to do but go back to being LB's jailer, because there's no question in this world that he's the ringleader. One way or another this shite has got to stop.

I did, at least, get some good work done today though not all I'd hoped. I knocked down some old pallets for their 4X4's, and used them to build a heavy table for the batteries. I now have three big gel cells that have responded well to charging with the solar panels, and this afternoon I strenuously levered all of them onto the table - Oh, how I wish I'd made it less high - and cabled them all together. That felt like I broke my back, so in the morning I'll put together some sort of rack for the solar panels and wire them together, then connect them to my new, improved battery bank. That should give me some serious depth at last.

Maybe I'll even be able to use power tools!

The song in my head...

...has been in there, off and on, for the past few days and as usual I couldn't begin to tell you why. I could only remember two lines, and one of them was wrong. Didn't know what group recorded it. It's apropo of exactly nothing.

My brain is broken.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Old trucks and tractors...

Okay, so M's tractor is running fine now, right? So naturally it needs a better test. I fired it up this morning and drove it to J&H's to move some manure during my regular shit-shoveling visit, and it didn't give me the slightest trouble. Called D and arranged to meet him at his place, because I needed a more experienced eye to help me find all the grease fittings. Some of the fittings have grease so hard I KNOW they haven't been greased since the Clinton administration, best case. All the links really need lubing, and I didn't want to miss any.

Drove it over there, and again no problem. We're standing in the yard, talking, and L says, "What's that dripping?" This is never a welcome question.

Pretty clearly what was dripping was engine coolant. I raised the hood and poked around, and the drip became a - well, not quite a gush but the lower radiator hose was pretty clearly toast. We got a drain pan under the engine and I pulled it right off the radiator, clamp and all. Oil has been leaking onto it for quite some time, and the hose was all rubbery.

Sigh. D wanted to go to town anyway, fortunately, so I tagged along. Naturally the town's only auto parts store didn't have the right hose, I didn't expect that, but I did hope there would be something close. Nope. Fortunately the old hose is symmetrical: It fits just as well either way. So I put it back on upside-down and it clamped on fine. Brought back two gallons of coolant. Topped it off, and just now drove it home. Slowly. Carefully.

This thing is taking me back to cars I owned when I was a teenager. They're not particularly happy memories, doncha know.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Al Sharpton is upset. Democrats aren't being proactive enough about being passive.

Seriously. I could post the clip here, I do it enough, but ... Nah. I really don't want him here.
Maybe if all was well and you could sit down and know that your livelihood was taken care of and your children were taken care of and you had all of your health care needs covered, I could see it.

Y'know, at different times in my life I've been hungry and I've been full. In the former case, the government was sometimes to blame, directly or indirectly. In the latter, I never had the government to thank. On those occasions when all was well, my livelihood and child were taken care of and all our health care needs were covered, it wasn't because of somebody I'd voted for. It wasn't because I'd convinced a sugar daddy to rob somebody else and give the proceeds to me. There are many things in my life about which I'm less than completely proud, but I never worked for the government and I never sold my soul for a handout from it.

I'm kind of retired now. My child is grown, my responsibilities are minimal, and I'm really not interested in holding a regular job. I live on a variable income that averages somewhere around fifty dollars a week. On that income, I'm building a house. And when I take money it's generally because of something I did to earn it. And when I accept kindness from friends they know they can expect kindness in return, because that's the way my friends and I treat one another.

I don't have a lot, but I have that. And you know what? I think that makes me richer by far than Al Sharpton and all the parasites in his audience, no matter how extensive their belongings. They could heap treasures to the sky and still never be filled, because there would always be a demagogue to tell them they deserve more of someone else's time and toil. And so they will never know the key to a contented life, which is how to be hungry and how to be full. They will never understand that good in life never, ever comes from what you can take from others, no matter how fervently you believe that those others deserve to be taken from.

They will never have life, no matter if they end their days in mansions. And though I'll admit that I have no sympathy for the fate of a parasite, sometimes I do find that sad.

Yep. Good day.

Landlady's been having some financial troubles of her own, for which "while you're building a house" is never a good time. But that's what friends are for, and yesterday we passed a milestone. We (well, she) got the breaker box all wired, and one complete string of outlets. They forgot to bring outlets from the city, and that was a problem because the local place where a hardware store should be is never adequately stocked with...well, anything. But M went to town and brought back the one box of 10 outlets they had in the whole place, which allowed us to wire up a complete circuit.

Then S the Weekender Neighbor came over to make sense of our electrical system's ad-hoc wiring and connect the cable for the house. Down the slope, throw a couple of breakers, stick a saw in an outlet, and - it works! Yay! I dug out an old table lamp I've carried with me since high school - kind of a good-luck charm, long story - and they had light at night! She was happy, which made us happy. There aren't any electrical appliances yet, but there's electricity.

This morning we went to M's Dome and laid some block, but only kept at it for a couple of hours because that's all the cement we had. Which also made us happy. All in all a good weekend, and it's only Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And then, depression set in - Pt 2

So this morning I'm down in the Meadow House helping Landlady do some wiring. We installed the breaker box, I stripped a bunch of wire, then she went to work wiring the box while M and I installed outlets. M went up to the ridge for something, and I heard the tractor start. No problem, I'd told him the engine was running but the clutch was FUBAR and I didn't know why. I couldn't see the tractor from the window I was looking through, but I heard it running.

And then...the tractor slowly backed into my view. With M in the driver's seat.

Needless to say, I awaited his return with something closely resembling impatient anticipation.

Me: What did you do? How'd you get it to go into gear?

M: Oh, I put it in gear before I started it.

Me: Yeah, okay, but then it wouldn't stop when you stepped on the clutch, right?

M: No. It stopped fine.

Me: HUH? How the $#@! did the ^$^&* stop when the (*&^@$ wasn't *&^@$! working? That's so @#$%ing )&*^$ed up I can't even ^$^&*%$ believe this !@#$%^. (I said this very calmly.)

And now, having jogged off whatever gear tooth the transmission was having trouble engaging/disengaging from, the tractor works...just...fine.

I'm keeping him around until his golden aura of invincible luck goes away. Then I'm gonna murder him in his sleep.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I just learned something that makes me a little sad.

Joseph Sobran is dead.

Why should I care about a columnist when - left or right - I usually just keep them around for laughs? Sobran seemed to be an unusually honest and courageous one. Once an up-and-coming conservative pundit, he actually broke with William Buckley over Reagan's Libya bombing and the whole question of whether what's good for Zionism is good for America. Since then he went even further afield, and that couldn't have been an easy path to walk for a person who considered himself a conservative.


ETA: The ambiguity of his conservative status didn't keep him from tearing long, bloody strips off Bill Clinton at every opportunity. I just found my very favorite from that period. Enjoy.

TJIC gets QoD PDQ, OK?

It’s not easy work being part of the leftist intelligentsia, but those six impossible beliefs aren’t going to be entertained before breakfast all by themselves!

You gotta admit, the thing is just...Awesome!

U.S. District Judge, George Streeh, of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that Congress does have the authority to enact a key part of President Obama's healthcare law reform, requiring US citizens to obtain coverage by 2014. The day Obama signed it into law, the Thomas More Law Center had filed a lawsuit arguing that it was an unconstitutional tax outside Congress authority. The latest ruling said that under the ...
Wait for it...
... Commerce Clause of the American Constitution ...
THERE it is!
... a penalty could be imposed on those who did not get insurance coverage.
Ah, the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause! Is there nothing it can't do?

Y'know, the mornings have been getting pretty nippy lately. I wonder if I could get the CC to let the dogs out and bring me coffee in bed? 'Cause that'd be pretty cool. And much less annoying than this.

H/T to Claire.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

As God is My Witness, I'll Never Be Itchy Again!


There's a bit of insulation I never got around to installing in the Lair, because, well, I dreaded it. It's the part of the side walls between the main stretch and the rather radically pitched roof, and I put it off so long that I only made things worse for myself by installing interior walls for the bathroom that are really in the way, and crowded the rest with a bunch of other stuff that's always in the way.

But I got'er done today, and that's the very last of the insulation. Didn't really have enough fiberglass batting to do the job before I tore down the old pantry house, and most of that was in pretty rough shape, which meant I needed to cut intact pieces out of every old strip and fit them into place on the walls. But it was doable, since most of what those wall sections needed was pretty small. So today the insulation is finally DONE! AT LAST! DONE AT LAST! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, I"M DONE AT LAST!

I also got a good start on installing the toilet - though I'm gonna be digging the whole damned septic system out by hand if I can't find out what's wrong with the tractor's clutch. Got the hole cut in the floor for the flange, then climbed under the cabin and dug out the trench with an old entrenching tool, which in our "soil" was every bit as fun as it sounds. But it's done now, and I'm ready to lay pipe.

Four things I need now, to render the cabin minimally habitable for winter: Treads for the loft ladder, wood stove, kitchen sink and stove, and toilet. M called me last night, though, and told me the pipe flanges for the pipe treads I was going to use would cost me $150 - just for the flanges. Well, that ain't gonna happen. But I can still make treads out of 2X6's laid on 2X4's, and though it's a poor second-best that's probably what I'll do. If I find a source of flanges later, I can always install pipe treads later. I haven't been able to get into the loft with anything other than a ladder since I put up the interior panelling, and there's no way I'm doing that all winter. A ladder takes up pretty much the whole damned open part of the cabin.

The toilet's the hard part, because of all the damage Monsoon did to my septic pit and trenches. But if I've gotta dig, then dig I must. Of course I'll try to fix the tractor first, but so far the only information I've been able to find on the clutch in the service manual is that it's got one. I knew that, and can't believe that's all there is in the book. So I must be missing something; I'll bring the other volumes up from the Meadow House where M left them and try again. I don't even know if the thing's hydraulic or mechanical, though I see no sign of a hydraulic cylinder external to the transmission. But if it's mechanical, why would it suddenly not work? It worked fine when we parked the tractor for maintenance work.

Why do environmentalists hate children?

Don't bother answering that, I already know. Children are bad for the environment, because they may grow up to be carnivores or even (gasp) entrepreneurs.

Unlike polar bears, which only eat baby seals alive.

"Act-Responsible" is apparently an advertising group, of all things.
Its goal is to federate, promote and inspire responsible communication on sustainability, equitable development and social responsibility. ACT shows how advertising professionals from all continents can use their core talent - creativity - to play a significant role in addressing today's crucial world issues.
Personally I think ad executives seem to have lost their collective minds, right about the time they got tired of two ladies standing in a kitchen and rapturously discussing dish soap. As an example of their concern for "social issues," the above ad - which was apparently aimed at some expo in Cannes last year - makes me wish they'd go back to hawking detergent. Now with Extra Phosphates!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And then, depression set in.

So I got the engine running on the tractor. Yay me. Took long enough, but then I was just doing it in spare minutes, right? Not my tractor.

But then, having let it warm up through posting the previous, er, post, I go outside to play with it a bit. Take off the trickle charger, rescue my wrenches, swing the battery tray back over the engine.

Close the hood.

Climb into the seat.

Goose the throttle once or twice: Nice and smooth now.

Run the scoop up so it'll roll.

Engage the clutch. (Hm! That's a mighty easy clutch!)

Attempt to put it in gear. (GRIND)

Attempt to put it into another gear. (GRIND)

Hmm. I think maybe we got snookered.

Jah! Jah! Der Gulchendiggensmoothen läuft!*

Alternate Title: "It was working fine before I fixed it."

Yes, after only about eight attempts at what turned out to be a very simple but apparently futile maintenance procedure, HPAV Gulchendiggensmoothen decided this afternoon that it had tortured me enough. Damned thing's finally running again, for the first time in nearly two weeks.

*Since I don't actually speak German, I may have just said "The Gulchendiggensmoothen Armoire," or something equally indescipherable.  Play along.

How to lose a job in Events Support, in one easy lesson...

I'm not a big fan of his oratorical style, but he didn't handle this very badly. I wouldn't have played it up quite so big, but then I'm not Obama.

Monday, October 4, 2010

For Landlady...



It's too late to worry now. Two down, one to go.

Sigh - October.

This kinda sucks.

September lasted for an eyeblink. This morning's got me rummaging around in the barn pantry for my winter woolies. Yeah, I knew I'd be peeling it off in an hour, but still. It sucks.

Ghost was really full of beans this morning, which was nice to see. He spends large periods of time acting like a grumpy old dog, and considering that this time last year I lost two old dogs in quick succession I find that unacceptable - particularly considering that Ghost is only about five. But this morning he wanted to PLAY! Wanted to PLAY! Let's go for a walky, Uncle Joel!

And the truth is I've been criminally remiss in the walky department lately. Most of the summer I've had some pressure sores on the side of my stump that Would! Not! Heal! The best that could be said for them was that they didn't ever get much worse, either. Can't blame the skin for the problem. If you were a patch of skin, I'd defy you to heal if you spent all day sweating into:

  • A nylon sheath
  • A thick wool sock
  • A closed-foam soft insert
  • Two layers of other socky stuff, just to make up for the soft insert having pretty much collapsed from age
  • A fiberglass prosthesis.
Yeah, go ahead and make fun of it for not healing.  It's not the skin's fault.  The only way to get pressure sores to heal is to take off the &%$# leg and leave it off.  Which I pretty much refuse to do.  But the sores make walkies less than giddy fun for Uncle Joel, so we haven't been doing them much.  Which, in turn, makes life dull for the boys.

But the sores have been much better just lately, Uncle Joel is feeling pretty damned good, I certainly don't have the excuse that it's too hot, so off for walkies we go.  Pretty quick I was sweating into that ill-advised overshirt.  I know better than to do that.  When preparing for a good walky, always dress at least one layer less than you need for comfortable warmth.  It doesn't take long to regret that extra layer, once you get going.

After several tries, I'm still having trouble getting M's tractor going again.  Bleeding the filter housing and the injector pump was a piece of cake, but I can't get the engine to pump the air out of the injector lines and I've worn the battery down twice trying.  I get some dampness and bubbles, but no clear flow from any of the injector lines.  At this rate I may need to wait for M to come up next weekend and was really planning to have it running long before then.  It's not that complex, but so far it's not working.  It is an irritation.

Ah, well.  As usual I've a list of things I want to do today, and as usual by the end of the day I probably won't even get to half of them.  I've cut all the tiles I need for the Lair's stove pedestal, but so far still haven't glued them into place because I can't find a single toothed trowel on the whole damned place and I know we have at least two.  I still need to pull the shower tub up in the bathroom so I can install that new drain fitting I've had for over a week.  Little stuff like that: Stuff that I really need to get off my duff and get moving on, because IT'S OCTOBER!

One thing that's really going surprisingly well is the matter of batteries for the Lair.  There are all these big 12-volt gel cell batteries we obsoleted out last year; I pulled the ones with the best readings and tried to coax them back to life with a trickle charger, with no joy.  But I've found that wiring them directly to an 18-volt solar panel and just leaving them in the sun for three weeks seems to work a lot better than I thought it would.  I think that'd boil the electrolyte right out of a regular lead-acid battery, and am pleasantly surprised to learn that these maintenance-proof gel cells actually do have at least one advantage over the old-fashioned way.

Oops!  Just got a call from H; I've overdue for shit-shoveling, and she's making bacon and eggs and wanted to know (snicker) if I (choke, chortle) wanted any.

Gotta go!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chapter three, in which Joel plays good neighbor, regrets it...

Yeah, I know. I'm a dick. But I didn't become a hermit because of my people skills...

Introducing a new neighbor, whom we'll call SurvivalDave. He's kind of a wannabe, but they can be cute when their hearts are in the right place and his seems to be. I dunno - maybe when he's in the city he's the second coming of Charles Manson. But what I see is a perfectly nice guy who doesn't deserve this crap.

Long story. Between the Property and S&L's Place, there's another settled parcel. Sort of settled. It's a nicely skirted trailer, a couple of utility sheds, solar panel rack, well and cistern. It was put in long before I arrived here, maybe ten years ago, and for all that time it has sat there untenanted, just sort of slowly falling back apart. It's not that rare. For years I never met the owners. One time, a couple of years ago, I saw activity there, went up to see what was up, and by the time I'd climbed the ridge the boys had this total stranger cornered against the wall of the trailer...

That was my introduction to SurvivalDave, though it was nearly two years before I saw him again. The property in question was a family affair, and a very complicated one even by the standards of many, er, dysfunctional families of my acquaintance. Suffice that the owner of record decided to sell it recently, more-or-less out from under his son-in-law who had been the driving force behind it. That would be SD. But property agreements out here can be...informal. S&L wanted the parcel as a buffer against possible unacceptable neighbors moving in too close to their place. They knew SD, and didn't really care about that little patch of buildings on the ridge, so they subdivided it and agreed to sell it to SurvivalDave. So he's become a more familiar visitor lately, and when I spotted him coming in yesterday I didn't think much about it.

Went up this morning to say hey. He was sitting on his porch, and before I was even out of the Jeep he started pouring out a sad story. He'd been on a business trip out of state for a week. When he got back he was served with protection papers right in the frickin' airport. He's been having problems with his soon-to-be ex-wife, and she apparently decided that while he was gone she ought to see about screwing up his life good, instead of simply divorcing him like a civilized person. He had to have a cop come with him just to collect some of his clothes. All his guns, gone - what little the ex hadn't disappeared he had to turn in to the cops. He didn't have anywhere else to go, so came up here to try and wrap his mind around it and make plans. Good thing he had it available, and that it isn't legally in his name yet. I gather he plans to leave it that way for a while. Can't blame him.

Nice. The "protection order" thing is the one trick my ex hasn't pulled on me, but for a while I waited for it, just because she could and conceivably would. Just to be mean. It seems to require no evidence that a guy is an actual danger to anyone. Just go to a judge and bang! Ruin a guy's life. You're done.


I really hate society sometimes. In a passionate and childishly nihilistic way. I really do.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Addition to the "20 Questions" Response...

S, a regular reader and commenter here, had some comments to add to last week's "20 Questions" post, but for some reason his comments kept getting knocked off the blog. I still don't know what that was about, but when he sent the comment to me via other means I found it much worth saying. So here it is.
The answer to all twenty questions is the same:

You and I are different. I will not use violence to achieve my personal goals. I make my way in the world using peaceful, voluntary, mutually beneficial trade. I use violence only when necessary to defend my life and property from violence initiated by others. Even then, my response will be appropriate to the threat and circumstances.

You and your ilk use violence to get what you want. Whether it is market outcomes that displease you or tools you fear and loathe violence is your first and only tool. It's quite pathetic really, how limited your imaginations have become. You can't even imagine solutions to most problems that don't involve violence. I typically have to choose from a myriad of options when negotiating a solution to a problem that troubles me; all you can ever do is demand new laws.

You're also a coward, and unwilling to do the dirty work required by your reliance on violence. So you rely on others to pass "laws," hire men armed with the very same guns that so terrify you, give them costumes and costume jewelry, steal the money to pay for these parasites from their victims, and then set them upon me.

There's your answer. There is no frontier here, only a bleeding edge. Because you will try to have me killed if you can't make me agree with you, while I will go my peaceful way and do my best to ignore and shun you. I have trades to make and a life to live. There's really no point to further discussion with you, since the outcome has already been decided. By you.
Couldn't say it as well myself. In fact, I didn't.