Tuesday, November 30, 2010

But sometimes even a taxeater remembers where his middle finger is!

GRANGEVILL, Idaho (AP) - A northern Idaho sheriff says he is not advocating the illegal shooting of federally protected wolves by offering a hunting rifle and a shovel as the prize in a raffle called ".308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle" in a region where SSS commonly stands for "shoot, shovel and shut up."

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings tells the Lewiston Tribune that the SSS in the raffle stands for "safety, security and survival."

Um...Yeah, Bubba. And yet you're not in the news, either.

I'm reminded of an old Paul Stookey song for some reason:
Oh you give a damn, well so does he
'You think the rest of us are just fakin'?
I mean what do you need that you got to give
Less than what you're takin'?
Or maybe this:
Joan Baez is the name
I've a house by the sea
My songs come rolling in off Highway One
Just because I can't be there
Doesn't mean that I don't care
So next time, Brother, off a pig for meeeee...
Here's this righteously outraged patriot, gonna tell us all what's wrong with us...
The fact is, Amerikans, you ... don't ... care. It is not your child. It is not your family. It happened to ... THEM. And THEM. And THEM. But it didn't happen to you. Until one day ... it happens to you. And no one will care. And you will ... wonder why. You will ask, "Where is the justice?" And just like you, before it happened to you, no one will care. And the cycle will keep repeating itself. You will just learn to live with the injustice. You will just learn to live in the box that has been created for you.
...and he goes on and on about what you and you and you aren't doing to refresh the tree of liberty.

He, on the other hand, is totally cool.  Presumably he gets all paid up at the liberty tree just by telling me what's wrong with me.  Hell, Bubba - Even John Hancock did more than that, and I dunno if he ever even saw a rifle.


If you ever catch me talking this way, please somebody kick me.

Thank you, and have a safe flight!

Nail the coffins shut!

Who ARE these people, and why should we care?
On Wednesday, which is World AIDS Day, the stars will leave their millions of fans on various social media platforms, only to return when $1 million is raised.

“It’s really important and super-cool to use mediums that we naturally are on,” says Keys.

Additionally, other stars including Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Hudson, Elijah Wood, Serena Williams, and Keys’ husband Swizz Beatz have filmed ads of themselves in coffins – dubbed their “last tweet and testament” – to represent “their digital deaths.”

“It’s so important to shock you to the point of waking up,” explains Keys, adding, "I'm an insanely self-absorbed twit. Please think I'm important."
Okay, I added that last part myself. I'm pretty sure she'd never be that honest.

I'd like to propose Nuke Hollywood for AIDS Day. Who's with me? Who's bloody with me?

"...also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers..."

This is apropos of nothing at all - I just saw it at TJIC and it was such a delightfully ironic bit of prose that it momentarily made me forget my frozen fingers. I love good writing, like I love good lasagna.
“[Chlorine trifluoride used as rocket fuel] is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic [ignites on contact - J] with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water - with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals - steel, copper, aluminium, etc. - because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminium keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.”
In one of my books I speculated on the probable result to an ancient alchemist who accidentally catalyzed sodium, without quite realizing what he'd done. It wasn't a pretty story.

Monday, November 29, 2010

For the Survivalist who has everything...

Hey! Wanna buy an aircraft carrier?

Hey, Mayberry! I found your ride! No engines, alas, and I assume the reactors have also been pulled. Crap - dunno what I'd do with a ship, but I could use a nuclear reactor and generator. Then I'd need to make some friends in Iran - or maybe one of those Mexican drug lords I keep hearing about would trade me some fuel for gunz...

Have I told you lately I hate winter?

Really, it just can't be stressed enough.

I spent about an hour this morning, writing down all the reasons I should throw back the covers, put my leg on, and go outside.  Hell, it took me nearly that long to rouse myself enough to get up and make coffee.

Yesterday it never even tried to go above freezing and it looks like doing the same today.  There was ice in the sink this morning.  I just stared at it and muttered, "In thy orizens are all my sins remembered."  I was supposed to be in the Lair before now, feeding cedar into my wood stove and drinking hot buttered rum while the snow swirled around outside my double-paned windows.  Lord, I wish Fritz were alive; then I could blame him for it.  Lazy bastard.

Gray, gray morning; for a while the snow came down so thick I couldn't see the high ridge at all.  I'm cataloging all the things I should have stocked up on: I'm okay for bulk basics but really fell down on propane (probably about 3 weeks supply) tobacco (maybe a week's worth on hand) eat-quick canned stuff and - yike! - dog food!  I get paid for shit-shoveling tomorrow, then I'll try to beg a ride to town.  If the weather stays this horrible the local cops will keep inside, then I could just drive in myself.  Thank God Landlady showed me tortillas: There's about three cases of refried beans in the pantry nobody knows what to do with.  It'll take me a while to get as sick of bean burritos as I am of fried rice.  Never thought I'd get sick of fried rice, and the chili sauce is running low.  Well, this time last week I was worried about the coffee supply and now there's enough for a couple of months without rationing.

Speaking of last week - I laughed at myself over the SAR show.  In addition to being where all the Mexican drug lords get their guns, the Small Arms Review gun show is one of the highlights of M's very existence.  He's been preparing for it for weeks.  Last year I tagged along, worked a booth for four days, slept on a cot in somebody's kitchen, then snowstorms in the hills stranded us there for another day or two.  That was a bit much for this old hermit, and this year I declined the opportunity.  But I did send a shopping list, and to my amusement it didn't contain a single gun-related thing.  Oh, I'm critically short of practice ammo in most calibers but I can't afford that, so the shopping list consisted of practical and wearable things I wear out over the course of a year. BDU trousers, a new boonie hat, half-gallon canteen with cover to replace my old faithful that's finally wearing out and starting to smell, a new keffiyeh (what the shooter-wannabes call a shemagh, and by far the most practical desert headwear ever invented - I stopped wearing a keffiyeh in the Mojave after the 9/11 thing because people are stupid, but out here I can do what I like and it's frickin' cold.) No gun stuff; I'm cool for gun stuff except for ammo.

I'm in the Scriptorium with one of those Mr. Heater things you screw onto the top of a propane bottle, that hiss like Gollum having a bad day and never actually heat a room.  I need to hang a blanket in the doorway; that'd help. I just caught a whiff of burning hair: Little Bear managed to crisp the flag on his tail. I don't think he even noticed. Ghost is begging me to go back to the lair. It's no warmer there, but he wants his blankets.

Is it March yet?

Leslie Nielson is dead?

Say it isn't so!

Well, at least he escaped a fourth "Naked Gun" movie.  Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and it stopped being a good thing after the "Airplane" sequel, which I don't think he was even in.

But still:  Who can forget...

R. I. P.  (Sigh) 

"Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom"

Via Claire's blog, I see a notice about an upcoming documentary: Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom.  Which includes at least an appearance by our own MamaLiberty!  Yay!

Okay, I'm not convinced weed is a road to freedom, any more than bourbon is - though I'm pretty sure that's not what the title is really trying to say.  And heaven knows I'd never touch one of those yucky, scary gun things.  But I've got no problem with whatever anybody else does as long as they're not doing it to me and mine, and prohibition of any object is a violation of the individual liberty the country was supposedly founded to preserve.  So party on!  Just be sure of your backstop.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The fortunes of the anti-haters we love to - er, hate.

Codrea's got a great article in the Gun Rights Examiner, spotlighting a publication I know nothing but plan to learn more about, The Social Contract.

It all concerns our ol' buddy Morris Dees of the Substantially Profitable Lie Center.
A key observation that nicely illustrates SPLC hypocrisy when it comes to money, from an article by contributor Patrick Cleburne, notes “the $PLC now has an account in the notorious tax haven and money-laundering location of the Cayman Islands!” and that SPLC receive $2.9 million from “[t]he Picower Foundation, set up by Jeffry Picower, reliably reported to have been the biggest beneficiary of the Madoff scam.” Cleburne suggests:

Madoff left many destitute elderly in his wake. The SPLC should return its Picower money to the Madoff trustee for their benefit.
Don’t hold your breath.
By odd coincidence, Mike at Sipsey Street has a similar post today, linking to this photo spread of Dees' palatial Alabama home.

I've got a little list! They never will be missed!

Go ahead and bitch about airport probulations!  Big Sis Napolitano wants to get Storm Saxon on your ass!
The terminology contained within the reported memo is indeed troubling. It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures.

For individuals who engaged in such activity at screening points, it instructs TSA operations to obtain the identities of those individuals and other applicable information and submit the same electronically to the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, the Extremism and Radicalization branch of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (IA) division of the Department of Homeland Security.

And to nobody's surprise, she's also got a treat in store for those of us domestic extremists who thought we'd just give air travel a miss:
[Kids snookered by DHS spooks with fake bombs][Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on "Charlie Rose."

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”
Oh, I don't know, Janet. How 'bout ceasing to treat us like helpless little sheep with a "pat-down" fetish and getting the hell out of our way? Even more outré, how about ceasing to make so many pointless foreign enemies for us? How about getting your TSA goons back into the vital national burger-flipping industry where they belong?

Naw, you're right. That's crazy talk.

Two From Claire

Just in time for Freedomista Christmas, two new books from Claire Wolfe have been released. They're both compilations of previously-published material, but whether or not you're familiar with her work they're both worth your time and nickel.

Hardyville Tales is a collection of the last, and arguably best, of the Backwoods Home Hardyville columns.  Claire wrote Hardyville columns – not really stories - for over a decade at various sites and publications, but toward the end she began assembling her characters in longer, multi-episode stories.  With the exception of Rebelfire this is the only fiction she has produced to date.  Unlike your typical “freedom fic,” the Hardyville characters aren't lantern-jawed heroes with all the answers.  You won't find long treatises by Captain Liberty here – a Hardyville freedomista with his mind made up is more likely to get drunk and crash his pickup through a bad guy's storefront than win him over with tightly reasoned logic, and in hindsight that may not always be the best choice of action.  Indeed the Hardyvillians themselves don't always agree on the right course or even necessarily get along all that well.  Which is part of what makes me love them, because neither do we.  Though I certainly wouldn't be afraid to let kids near the book, these aren't childrens' tales.  The Young Curmudgeon definitely isn't Peter Rabbit, even at Peter's naughtiest, and people do get hurt sometimes.  But there's one thing all Hardyvillians, even Dora the Yalie, agree on: Don't frickin' Tread On Us.  Just don't.

I'll confess I was a little disappointed by the selections at first.  I've been a Hardyville fan since discovering them in the late '90's, and was hoping to re-read some of the earlier columns which can be hard to find.  But that's a personal thing, and doesn't take away from the value of the book.  These later, longer storylines are less talky than some of those earlier columns, contain actual plots, and while they may not be vintage Claire they definitely show her at her best.  At her best, Claire is a very delightful writer indeed.  And she has added introductory material, some of it new, that will explain what the hell is going on for readers unfamiliar with the setting and characters.  If you're into Christmas, this would be a truly great stocking-stuffer.

The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship is a book I truly never expected to see.  When Loompanics, which used to publish most of Claire's books, went under, I was afraid the books would go out of print.  But Paladin Press picked up her more recent titles, and the story I heard is that somebody there came up with the idea for this book more-or-less without even consulting Claire.  The title, for example, was definitely not Claire's choice.  To my knowledge she has never given much thought toward “good citizenship.”  Heh.

The Guide is a compilation of articles from her long-running “Enemy at the Gate” column in SWAT Magazine, and most of them are very current and topical.  These are more classic Claire fare, as tightly-reasoned articles have always been her main thing.  But one of the things that has always separated Claire from the rest of the polemic-spewing pack is that her writing is often at least vaguely prescriptive – she doesn't just bitch about the issue du jour - she has ideas about what to do about it, or at least how to live with it without completely abandoning your principles.  So the book is divided into five sections.  The first three concern themselves with the problem:

1.How the Servants Rule
2.Perverting the Law in the Name of the Law
3.Lies Your Politicians Tell You (And the Media Repeat)

But then the final two sections and Afterword concern themselves more with what to actually do about it:

4.Get Yourself a Bad Attitude
5.To Do Or Not To Do – That Is The Question
Afterward – To Politics And Beyond

I'll admit I haven't paid that much attention to Claire's SWAT columns because they're not on-line and – well, it's SWAT Magazine.  Close proximity to the magazine itself gives me hives.  So I was particularly happy to receive this book because it contains a lot of material I hadn't seen.  Claire has not conceded one single point nor compromised one single principle in writing her long-running column, and I know it has caused occasional friction with the publishers.  Rich Lucibella and Denny Hansen – the publisher and editor of SWAT – are not bad guys, not at all.  But they do have kind of a gung-ho blind spot when it comes to law'n'order in general, and cops in particular.  I've always been surprised they give Claire as much rope as they do, because she can have a – well, a Bad Attitude – about such things.  Just to give an example without giving the book away, here's a more-or-less random sampling of titles, one from each section:

Who Do They Think They Are, Anyway?
When Government Steals Our Stuff
The “Gun Show Loophole,” And Other Big Lies
They Say We Should Be Civil
Terrify The Politician Of Your Choice

If you like TUAK, you'll love this book.  Order them here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Joel's Butter Biscuits

I got a couple of requests for my butter biscuits, and thought I'd better comply.  There's really nothing special about them, they're just regular baking powder biscuits with a whole bunch of butter instead of shortening.  But they're darned good.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 boatload butter

Preheat oven to 4500

In large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in milk, quickly mix just until mixture forms soft dough that leaves side of bowl.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead lightly to mix thoroughly.  Don't knead the dough more than you need to or the biscuits'll be tough and won't flake right.  Roll out dough about 1/2 inch thick.

With the cup you normally use for bourbon, cut out biscuits.  Place biscuits into seasoned cast iron skillet or dutch oven.  Biscuits should fill the bottom, lightly touching.  Press trimmings together and roll out until skillet is filled.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden.  Serve with more butter, heated til soft.  If you've got white gravy, go nuts.

Guaranteed to make you look like a genius.

"That's sweet! And...kinda creepy."

So said Landlady about the latest antics of Click the Cat.

The other evening I'm down at Landlady's Meadow House.  We'd just come back from town, celebrating her new gas appliances, and now we had a drink and enjoyed the warm in what had been her very very cold, unheated embryonic house.  Ghost was there, of course, he being her dog.  I brought Little Bear with me.  And within minutes of our arrival, Click the Cat meowed to get in.

Having gotten in, she was anything but happy.  She kept following me around, raising hell.  There was nothing obvious for her to be upset about, except that our usual schedule was shot to hell and we weren't all bedded down in the Interim Lair like usual for that time of the evening.  But Ghost had been spending the past several nights away, and Click never got upset about that.  When I was working at the house, Click never came looking for me.  I began to wonder...

After a bit, I called Little Bear.  We went out the door and up the ridge.  Click followed LB closely as if herding him.  As soon as he was safely back in the lair, she curled up and didn't have an apparent care in the world.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I was invited to the neighbors for food.  Afterward I went back to the Meadow House for a drink with Landlady, leaving LB locked in the Lair.  Click didn't show up.

Last night, same thing.  S&L came over to Landlady's house.  I was there, Ghost was there, LB was not there.  He was safe in the Lair.  Click didn't show up.

This morning Landlady went back to the city.  After shit-shoveling, since she's currently the only one with fully functional plumbing, I exploited the market distortion and brought a week's worth of dirty dishes down the ridge to wash them at her house.  Ghost and LB were with me.  Click showed up, raising hell.

She was upset about Little Bear not being where he belongs!  If he's at home or in Gitmo, she's perfectly content.  She occasionally makes moves to go on Walkies, but intelligently won't leave the junipers and then meows piteously until she's out of earshot.  She never gets upset when I go away, or when Ghost does.  But let LB leave, and she becomes a Jewish mother.


Friday, November 26, 2010


The good news: Landlady's new furnace works great.  Meadow House quite livable.

The bad news:  Landlady's house has no water.  Neither does the barn.  Neither, of course, does the Interim Lair.

I saw early that I had no water, and didn't give it much thought.  Temperature got down into single digits last night - the dogs' water froze - and I'd have been shocked to have water.  But it didn't occur to me to ask if water was flowing anywhere else.

The most common culprit, when everything freezes up, is the outflow pipe from the cistern.  But since the electrical system upgrade it has become practical to run heat tape there all the time, and I do.  The pressure pump has never frozen, because it's inside the powerhouse and there was always lots of battery waste heat to keep that above freezing.

Not so any more, it seems.  There's signs the pump is frozen.  I took the propane heater out of the Scriptorium and put it in the powerhouse, and must now go see what damage, if any was done.

Just got a text msg from Landlady down at the MH saying she's starting to get a drip from her faucet, so hopefully we found the culprit.  Also hopefully the pump and/or piping isn't damaged.

Have I told you lately I hate winter?

ETA: Yup, it was the pressure pump.  The pump itself was frozen, along with the outlet pipe.  A couple of hours with a propane heater blasting at it loosened things up, and Landlady and I went to town and bought a heartbreakingly expensive heat tape that will now become a permanent part of the installation.  I love you, upgraded electric system!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Winter comes to the gulch...

...And for once its timing is impeccable!

Al the Propane Guy came to the Meadow House right on time, late yesterday morning. Now, AthePG's -er-idiom is that he always shows up on time and equipped to do the job. But then he always finds some reason why he just can't, until you correct some safety- or code-related deficiency in your installation. Yesterday he tried. He really did. But he wasn't used to dealing with Landlady, whose idiom is that she dots her I's. So he ended up installing propane and hooking up the water heater, kitchen stove and - happy day! - the new blue-flame furnace.

And just in time, too.  Because this morning when I rose, I was greeted by:

Only an inch or two, but it's the first snow we've had so far this season.  A couple of hours after sunrise the clouds rolled back, and it turned into a very lovely day.

I told her that if the oven worked, I'd help her celebrate by baking a batch of my good butter biscuits for breakfast.  It did, so that's just what we did.  Then we spent the morning finishing up the insulation under her roof.  Next, a second more conventional layer will go just over where the ceiling will be, but in the meantime she's finally got a place where sane people might be happy to spend a weekend.

And now, I'm going over to the neighbors to enjoy a lovely, free turkey dinner!  Hope you're enjoying your holiday, because I sure am.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Dead...

Just rilly busy. Landlady and I have been putting up roof insulation in The Meadow House, and it's a slow go. Today more of the same, plus Al the Propane Guy came by to move the big propane tank from the barn (sob) to the house (yay!) and hook up the furnace (double yay!)

Landlady's arrival on Monday coincided with some indication that God forgot to pay the heating bill, and since the Meadow House is still unheated "How'd you sleep" has suddenly become a major topic of conversation. Then after AthePG finishes up we're supposed to go to the dump. We've both been slowly filling Gitmo with big plastic bags of construction spoil that resists burning, so that's become pretty important. But it's been blowing half a gale off and on for several days now, and loading and moving the trash trailer is always an adventure in the wind - which also seems to be the only time we do it. Then we'll likely go back to insulation - hopefully with fewer layers of clothing.

Anyway, no post yesterday and this is likely to be the only one today, but I haven't forgotten you. I've got a few things hanging fire, like I got copies of the two new books from my friend Claire Wolfe and I owe them both a review. You'd like these books, whether or not you're familiar with Claire.

Also, before I forget I want to say a big THANKS! to Anonymous Donor W, (no, another W) who not only contributed substantially to the TUAK Connectivity Fund - which I didn't even know there was one - but also sent along not one but two big cans of Trader Joe's House Blend coffee which is basically the only coffee people who like coffee should drink. If I ever run out and have to resort to the stuff in the supermarket, I'll probably just give up on this "survival" thing as not worth the bother. So thanks, Anonymous Donor W! (ADW is a guy who likes to blow stuff up, which makes him a highly entertaining and welcome guest when he visits the gulch. Alas it also makes him the sort of Friend of the Gulch I don't blog about, wink wink nudge nudge. He's also a FotG whose association with it predates my own by quite a stretch.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's official, BTW.

The true identity of Little Bear's father may never be known, but we now know without question who his mother is.

It's Click the cat.

I fell asleep very early last evening, which meant I woke up unreasonably early - like about 3 AM. Just in time to see Click come into the Lair with a large, dead rat. She laid it down right next to LB, curled up next to him, and encouraged him to chow down. Which he promptly did.

I'm guessing it was a very difficult delivery. The puppy, I mean - not the rat.

This is the part that will really, um, amaze you.

No Security Pat-Downs for Boehner
“Over the last 20 years, I have flown back and forth to my district on a commercial aircraft,” Mr. Boehner said at the time, “and I am going to continue to do that.”

And so on Friday, he did. But not without the perquisites of office, including avoiding those security pat-downs that many travelers are bracing for as holiday travel season approaches.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for the Republican leader, said in a statement that Mr. Boehner was not receiving special treatment. And a law enforcement official said that any member of Congress or administration official with a security detail is allowed to bypass security.
No, of course that's not special treatment. By the standards of congressvermin (and their "security details" - catch that?) that's slumming.

Sure thing, Paul. Lemme just step over this bloody heap of bodies...

Hee. I love this guy.

Get a load of this:
Andrew Traver has been tapped to lead the nation’s top crime-fighting agency, which hasn’t had a director in over four years. (See our August report about the unprecedented vacancy here.) He is the current ATF chief for the Chicago region – home to the city where last July 303 people were shot and 33 killed in 31 days.
Oh, in that single brief para there's so much stupid I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start with "the nation's top crime-fighting agency." No, Comrade Paul's not talking about the FBI, which likes to think of itself that way. He's talking about the good ol' ATF, whose agents travel to gun shows the wide continent over looking for "crimes" to punish, like when somebody marks "Y" instead of "Yes" on a goobmint form. Dangerous, desperate criminals, those. Good thing the brave heroes of ATF can take a break from the mayhem from time to time by raiding a church. And when they even screw that up, at least they've got FBI goons to burn it down for them. (No, Paul. We haven't forgotten that, nor are we likely to soon.) Hell, Paul - even the good boys and girls of F-troop would be shocked to hear themselves called anybody's "top crime-fighting agency." It wasn't even us that started calling them that - it was their embarrassed brothers in federal service.

And imagine, if you can stand it, the horror of going Over Four Years without a "permanent" politically-appointed bureaucrat in charge of this grand organization. Why, it causes me to shed a bitter tear for my nation.

But at last a hero arises! We're saved! Yes, those evil NRA murderers and their vile henchmen will know judgment is at hand, for Andrew Traver strides from the golden, peaceful streets of ... uh, wait. What did you say again, Paul?
...the city where last July 303 people were shot and 33 killed in 31 days.
Chicago? He comes from frickin' Chicago? But Paul, that place is a hellhole! They've got gun control laws that make East Germany look like Libertopia, and any sane man'd be afraid to go there with a sack of magazines and a posse! And certainly not because the cops are so efficient! Jesus, Paul! After all this time, don't you know how to propagandize? Touting a Chicago fed as the Great Hope of Law'n'Order is like putting nutritional information in an ad for Twinkies! You're supposed to be for gun control, and you trot out Chicago like it's a good thing? What kind of idiot are you?

Oh, yeah. First rate.

H/T to Tam.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh, bother. Here comes the wind.

Yesterday at the Lair I fired up M's tractor - which has been parked there the past two weeks - to drive it through the wash back to Landlady's property. The wind was picking up, and by the time I'd made half the trek I was getting sandblasted pretty good. After a pretty nice week we're due for some rain, and a major change in weather is often heralded by a windy afternoon. This one was not a record - a record is when you spend the evening wondering if anything not bolted to concrete is going to stay upright - but it was pretty damned windy. At one point just before dark I heard a series of crashes. Going to investigate I found that the back door of the Big Doghouse had blown open, a shelf had fallen, and empty gasoline cans were flinging themselves out the door, one by one. After righting the shelf and collecting the cans, I braced the door shut with a big rock. So I sort of expected to wake this morning to radically different weather.

Last Wednesday the building supply truck delivered a whole bunch of insulation and other stuff to the Meadow House, and in anticipation of rain I carried/dragged/rolled all that stuff up the unreasonably steep approach to the house and got it under cover. I was up kinda late last night reading, and so didn't wake this morning till nearly six. Little Bear, who had apparently decided I'd died, was getting kind of upset. So I was surprised when I stuck a toe out and found the morning quite pleasant for mid-November. Now it's nine in the morning and I hear the wind starting to moan again outside the scriptorium. Probably that weather change isn't a fiction.

I'm still making slow progress on the Lair. I've tried one thing, probably futile, to fix the cracks in the toilet's tank before unbolting it and dragging it out for a trip to the dump, and this morning I'll find out if it still leaks. It probably will. With the help of Neighbor J, I got the woodstove and thick concrete pedestal into place in the Lair only to find that the pedestal won't work at all. I poured it on a nice thick piece of plywood to make sure the bottom was flat, but for some reason it really isn't. Also, it's just too much. So I dragged it back outside, and now I'm thinking of lining the floor under the stove with cement board and tiling it before mounting the stove. That means that somehow I've got to get some big floor tiles. Also, though I have enough 8" stovepipe to go between the stove and the ceiling box I haven't figured out how in the world I'm going to cut and install it. People tell me what I need is a bottom section of slightly larger diameter that will slide into place, but if such a thing exists for 8" pipe I'll have to journey fifty miles or so to find it. Which, since I'm afraid of getting stopped by cops while driving somebody else's Jeep, means I have to find a neighbor who just happens to be going there and that doesn't happen every day. I have the lower part of the loft ladder in place and it works great, but I had to delay installing the upper part until I'd finished the loft paneling that goes under it. That's been a sort of "when you don't feel like working on anything else" project, but it's nearing completion. I've now got three rungs installed above the loft floor and it definitely helps this stiff old one-legged man get up and down from there.

I also need one lousy plumbing fitting for my septic barrels, and I'm hoping to cajole Landlady into making a Lowe's stop for me on her way up, if she comes up tomorrow.

Getting a little colder every day, on average. If I really plan to spend the winter in my new cabin, I've got to get off the stick.

It's funny. Just yesterday I was wondering...

Sometimes the smart thing to say is nothing. Just shut up. It's none of your business, you can't change it and wouldn't if you could. Speaking up won't help, and could do great harm. Just. Shut. Up.

Whatever his other talents, shutting up isn't one of Obama's big strengths. So I wondered whether - particularly in light of how well his involvement in last summer's oil spill kerfuffle worked out for him - he'd listen to his handlers this time and obey that simple, three-word law.

Heh. Nope.
"One of the most frustrating aspects of this fight against terrorism is that it has created a whole security apparatus around us that causes huge inconvenience for all of us," he said.
"Inconvenience for all of us." Get a load of that.

He spake unto us these words of wisdom and fellow-feeling in Lisbon, Portugal, which he reached after a harrowing, TSA-ridden trip shoehorned into the tiny seat of an overloaded airliner, fearful of getting up and going to the john lest he break some new "security" law after a brief flight in his insanely luxurious custom 747, with all the skies and runways cleared for his convenience and personal safety. Neither he, nor Michelle nor any of the kiddies have ever seen a whole-body scanner or a TSA groper, and if one of those simpletons were to so forget himself as to snap on some blue gloves and approach a member of the Royal Family he'd be looking down the barrel of an SS MP5 before you could say "please remove your belt and place it on the table."

'All of us.' Bullshit. If he ever even met one of "us" outside his security cordon, it'd scare him to death.

As so often happens, Tam put it better than I could if I sat here and smithed words for the whole rest of the day:
The day you're standing there watching while some anonymous McDonald's washout of a rent-a-cop is giving Michelle and the girls a full probulation at Andrews AFB before y'all jet off to Martha's Vineyard or Madrid is the day you will show a shred of leadership on this issue.

Until then, you can put a sock in it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What mode of travel isn't a privilege?

I was informed a few years ago - by a man with a gun who stole my all-time favorite truck - that driving was a privilege you only get if the government gives it to you.

We are now told that flying is a privilege, and that if we don't like the feds' "security measures" we can bloody well walk.

I'm gonna assume that if long-distance walking - or maybe biking - actually started being seen as a viable option by large numbers of people, using the shoulder of public roads for any sort of locomotion would quickly morph into a "privilege."

Trains? Buses? I dunno: I haven't traveled by train or bus since the seventies and eighties respectively. But passenger train has been a government monopoly for as long as I remember, and I've a feeling that if TSA gropers start showing up at bus stations Greyhound isn't going to make much of a fuss.

On reflection, it's kind of a shame that telecommuting never really caught on with businesses because at this rate it won't be long before it'll be impossible for people who insist on some modicum of freedom to legally leave their houses. Ironic, no?

There's a horrible sort of logic behind it all. Like "gun control," which wasn't about guns but about control, it all seems at bottom a way to normalize herding behavior. I'm frankly surprised nobody's trotted out implantable inventory control devices lately - I've said for a decade it was only a matter of time, and they keep disappointing me.

I try to look for the humor in these things, twisted or otherwise. But the arguments in favor are so damned lame, it just isn't funny. I give you:
I’d rather go through a pat-down than to sit on a plane and watch a terrorist slice a passenger’s throat.
To which I can only reply - and very seriously - You'd really just sit there and watch? Then why should I care what you think about anything?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Whew! Bullet Dodged!

I had an awful moment today.

A few days ago I went down to M's Dome for something and found that, through a failure of a garden hose sprayer nozzle, the entire cistern had emptied itself into the wash. This was annoying, but not damaging: I turned off the hose valve and waited for the solar-powered well pump to refill the damned cistern.

This morning I went to check that the cistern had in fact filled. I saw a great deal of water pooled at its base and a lot of soaked ground. I looked more closely - water was flowing out somewhere. And it looked for all the world like it was flowing out from Under The Cistern!

There is only one way this could happen. The cistern is a single piece of molded plastic. If water is coming out from the bottom, something - please don't ask me how - has poked a very expensive hole in it.

Did I mention that water was coming from Under The Cistern? Because really, that just can't be emphasized enough.

Very, very, very close examination finally showed that water was indeed coming from Under The Cistern, but it wasn't getting there through a hole - at least not a hole in the bottom. The overflow port connects to a pipe which runs down to the ground, and since I buried the pipes the end of that pipe was actually kinda, um, underground. The cistern was overflowing, something it isn't supposed to be able to do but sometimes does anyway. The water coming out of the overflow pipe was busily undermining the ground under the cistern.

Problem fixed - again. I really don't like the design of our cistern's float switch.

You wanna see how this can be a weapon, Bubba?

So! You went to war to keep what safe? Whatever - Welcome home, soldier.
This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns–but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Seven Days to Go...

...until the U.S. matches the longevity record of the Evil Soviet Empire in Afghanistan.

And how's that pullout coming?
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.
Oh. Well, I'm sure they're just there to guard the transport planes...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hm. What do y'all think of this?

My neighbor J came over this morning and helped me move my woodstove over to The Secret Lair.  I showed him what I've been working on, installing the two 55-gallon barrels in my septic pit.

He got real quiet.  Then he said, "You know that water carrier I've got?  I do believe that would fit in your pit pretty neatly, and I've got no earthly use for it."

I do know that water carrier; he used it before he put his well in, to shuttle water from D&L's place.  It's a 275-gallon square plastic portable cistern, and the pit would accommodate it with maybe just a little modification.  I don't know if I like the idea of dirt pressing on that much plastic square footage, but it is enclosed in an aluminum cage.

If it wouldn't collapse under the pressure, it'd actually make a pretty darned good septic tank.  I think.

ETA: I thought about it over the evening and morning, and decided I'd be swapping a high probability/low impact problem (maybe I'll have to pump out the barrel occasionally) for a low-probability/high impact one (the whole thing collapses and I get to climb into a sewage-filled pit with a Sawzall and take it out in pieces, and/or rebuild my entire system.)  So right now I'm leaning toward not doing this.  On the other hand I've always wanted one of these for backup water supply, and the price is right.  So I may buy it from him anyway unless examination says UV is already having its way with it.  If the plastic has started to degrade, of course, the whole thing's off.

You gotta read this.

Just do it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I dunno. Is Mary Baker Eddy still dead?

From the Silly Questions department comes this brief piece from the Christian Science Monitor:

Are TSA pat-downs and full-body scans unconstitutional?

It's nothing you haven't read a million times, and not really worth your clicky. I just thought the title was amusingly idiotic. What part of "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" is unclear? Because I don't know very many things that make me more 'insecure' than some uniformed stranger grabbing my package. There's something about probable cause in there too, as I recall. Oh yeah, and warrants. So is it unconstitutional? Duh. Now, if the airlines took it on themselves to do it, that wouldn't be unconstitutional. Suicidally stupid, but not unconstitutional. The constitution doesn't apply to them. But the feds are specifically forbidden by the constitution they claim to uphold to pull this sort of shite. Not that it ever stopped them before.

I know, I know: Who decides what's "unreasonable?" The Deciders do, of course!

We're so screwed.

After a Very! Great! Deal! of digging...

I've got the barrels in place for the Lair's septic system. I had a terrible moment when I dug for the lower barrel and found it was so low that there was no way it would ever connect with the leach trench unless I could get feeelthy water to go uphill. Fortunately this was caused by Monsoon runoff digging the supply trench about twice as deep as it had originally been. So I went back, filled in and re-graded the pipe I'd already laid to the barrel pit. Then of course I had to fill in much of the pit I'd so laboriously dug and leveled, but I suppose an artiste must suffer for his art.

Helluva nice day for it, though. Of course I'm stuck on plumbing parts again, because I always seem to have a copious supply of everything I need except that one specific part. But these things work themselves out. I also finished the T&G paneling on the west wall, which means that at long last I can move the woodstove into the Lair. My neighbor J promised to give me a hand with that this week, and I've already got a call in to him. Progress!

This really needs to go viral. Really, really.

From the hopefully-immortal Iowahawk:
Comply With Me*

(With deepest apologies to Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen & Frank Sinatra)

Comply with me, before you fly away
Remove those shoes and take a cruise
Through my peekaboo X-ray
Comply with me, I'm your friendly TSA

Comply with me, you domestic coach class bums
If you opt out I'll just give a shout
To my icy-handed chums
Comply with me, bend over here it comes

Once I get all up there where your hair is ticklish
I'll just fish
Got my wish
Once I get all up there you'll be squirming like an eel
You may squeal
At the feel
When we're together

Proctology is such a lovely trade
I'll show you love with my rubber glove
Try not to be afraid
I'd be a perfect gentleman, if you had just obeyed
Comply with me, I'm GS8 pay grade

Janet Napolitano says to spread 'em wide
Have you tried Astro-glide?
Janet Napolitano knows your clothes are off
Head aloft
Turn it and cough
When we're together

Don't crack wise or I'll ruin your whole day
Please don't frown when I pat you down
It alerts the CIA
It's perfectly legal practice except at Gitmo Bay
Comply with me, comply comply
Comply with me, obey, obey, obey!

Check out the security risks on that one! Yeah!

How many federal laws would I be breaking...

...if I suggested that the world would be a better, cleaner place if this person and all his sycophants choked to death on cans of caffeinated alcohol?

I note that Sch**er adds a nice incongruous touch:
Let This Serve as a Warning to Anyone Who Tries to Peddle Dangerous Beverages to Our Kids, Do it, And We Will Shut You Down
For! The! Children!

Sweartagod, after I've betrayed the revolution and made myself president-for-life, I'm so outlawing that phrase. We're talkin' death penalty. By red ants. Also, should we tell him that selling alcohol to kids is already frickin' illegal?

via Tam

This is not the result I was looking for.

A couple of weeks ago I signed the blog up for something called "Survival Ring," in hope of directing more traffic here. It hasn't had any good result, but I just got a comment from The Grey Lady:
Joel I had a devil of a time getting onto your blog today, when I used my bookmark I kept getting redirected to this:

This is the first such complaint I've received, but that doesn't mean people aren't having trouble. If you are, would you please respond here? If this isn't some momentary glitch, I'll bump that bit of code right the hell off the blog.

"I find your ability to communicate disturbing."

On a Happy Happy Joy Joy note, I see that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says:
...using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.

“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.”
Uh huh. He just made that last part up. If he believed in "personal responsibility," he'd quit and go do something useful, like pick strawberries.
“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives.”
Since this is a right-wing site criticizing a left-wing bureaucrat, we get a bit of the other side of the story.
In 2009, however, the NHTSA found that highway fatalities were at the lowest levels since the 1950s. At the time, Lahood applauded the announcement but vowed he “would not rest” until the roads were even safer his personal power to disrupt lives was even greater.
Fixed it for you, Ray.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One of many reasons I've always loved Garands...

Landlady and I were having coffee this morning, and in reference to I don't remember what she mentioned her rifle's "clip."

I struck a properly scandalized pose and said, "Ahem.  It's not a 'clip,' it's a..."
She started laughing.

I won't say I've never done it myself, because in my younger know-it-all days I used to do it a lot.  My only defense is that I grew out of it.  But she, like me, loves it when some Keyboard Kommando gets all semantic about 'clip' vs. 'magazine,' and then it turns out the rifle in question is a Garand.  Like Landlady's.

Extra style points when the "mistaken" poster turns out to be a woman, who of course couldn't possibly know what she's talking about.

Oh Yeah, Baby!

If I never hear Amazing Grace on the pipes again it'll still be way too soon. But I loves me some bagpipes, as long as it's something rousing enough to make me want to strip down, paint meself blue and go slaughter some Englishmen. And I'm not even Scottish.

I stole pass on this vital meme from Keep It Simple Survival.

You gotta love this guy!

Seriously, is there any creature on this planet more refreshingly shameless than Charlie Rangel? He walked out of his "ethics" hearing yesterday citing lack of counsel, because...well...
He said he cannot afford a lawyer at present because his campaign account has been depleted.
...when raiding that account for lawyers' fees was one of the "violations" he was being gigged for.

I predict he's got a great future as a czar in some not-so-future administration. Probably overseeing executive department finances...

Only ten days to go!

On November 26, the United States will have spent exactly as long heroically liberating Afghanistan from itself as the Soviets spent barbarously invading it. And with roughly the same effect, though in the Soviets' defense we must point out that nobody seems to be selling the Bad Guys sophisticated anti-air missiles this time. Of course, back then the Bad Guys were the Good Guys, but never mind.

Can we beat the record of the evil, benighted Soviets? Yes! We! Can!

And on a nice ironic note, here's a bonus link via TJIC on the tangled web you weave, when first you practice to feed a military-industrial complex.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sleep well, Citizens...

In their neverending quest to serve and protect your sorry ass off, Kansas City's finest definitively settle the hash of a vile, law-breaking utility van - and their own police car. The heroic officers, having successfully rescued the van's driver from the late van's evil clutches, were rewarded with impromptu paid vacations.

This news item receives extra TUAK bonus points for providing me excuse opportunity to re-run my all-time favorite clip. Remember, citizens: Law Enforcement Officers are the only ones professional enough to handle firearms!

H/T to Tam even though I didn't make her top ten linking blogs, dammit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I wouldn't pick on the TSA...

...If they didn't make it so easy.

Via Boarding Area (via Uncle) comes the diatribe of a lady who claims to be a "former" TSA screener. Her screed is (very!) appropriately titled "Shut Up and Get In the Scanner." And she means it. She seems to find airline passengers very annoying.

I'm gonna ... you know, I'm not even gonna excerpt any of it here. It would be fun, but I don't want to further pollute my own blog. Go and read. Then join with me in agitating for a New Federal Law which mandates that all TSA personnel must henceforth wear an identifying insignia at all times - I suggest a blue glove embroidered on their outer clothing - to ensure that, should any of them spontaneously burst into flames in our vicinity, we don't inadvertently put out the fire. Because really, that would be tragic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The disadvantages of out-of-the-way little towns...

Yesterday morning I cut all the straight sections out of the salvaged 4-inch sewer pipe I need to run from the Lair to the septic barrels, and determined that I was short 2 pipe unions. Landlady wanted to go to town anyway, so I grabbed my shopping list and we drove the 12 miles to the little town closest to us and went to the hardware store.

The hardware store in this little town is a local legend for never having what you need. And even after four years, it can still surprise me. I looked in the aisle where the PVC and ABS pipe fittings are supposed to be, and couldn't find any 4-inch fittings at all. So I went and asked the guy at the counter. "Oh, yeah. We've got those in back. How many you need?"

Hopeful, I told him I needed two. He went out to the yard. A few minutes later he looked me up where I was prowling aisles. "We've only got one," he said.

Heavy sigh.

"Anything else we can do for you?"

"Have you got any yellow fuel cans for diesel?"

"No, we only have red."

I consulted my list. "How about a roll of friction tape?"

"What's 'friction tape?'"

"Shut-off valves for a sink hose?"

"We're out of those."

"Eight-inch stove pipe?"

"We only carry six inch."

I'm trying to think of a time when I've driven out of their parking lot without thinking this would be a great place to build a hardware store, if only we could bulldoze the building that's taking up all that valuable space. When you're the only one in town, nobody's clamoring to compete with you and the next nearest is a 40-mile drive one way, you apparently can pretty much get away with murder.

Speaking of our favorite 3-letter tyrants...

Codrea asks some interesting questions about a recent ATF ruling that was ... then was not ... or maybe ...

If the recent BATFE were a person, even the most anarchistic of its friends would be organizing a really aggressive intervention. Of course if BATFE were a person it wouldn't have any friends, but you know what I mean.

So! Now that you brought it up, Mr. Bureaucrat Sir, are Airsoft guns "firearms" or what? For the purposes of not getting our doors kicked in and our dogs shot, that is? Because all of a sudden it seems like a kinda important question.

I totally missed this.

Though I suppose it shouldn't be surprising...
Late last week, TSA directed industry carriers to begin implementing additional precautionary security measures for international flights inbound to the United States. These measures take effect today. Specifically, the ban on air cargo from Yemen will continue and has been extended to all air cargo from Somalia as well. In addition, no high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft. Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States. This ban will also apply to certain inbound international air cargo shipments as well. Further, all cargo identified as high risk will go through additional and enhanced screening. These measures also impact inbound international mail packages, which must be screened individually and certified to have come from an established postal shipper.
TSA: Guarding against last week's manufactured crisis since 2001.

H/T to Snarky.

I dare you!

I double dare you to wear this shirt in line.  Chicken!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Song in my Head...

I've no recording to share, which I know will come as a relief to some...

New Sins For Old
by Leslie Fish

Oh what's the use of this looting and pillaging
Slinging my raygun through blood, guts and gore
Raping and robbing and boozing grow boring
The life of a pirate, no fun any more.

No fun anymore, no fun anymore,
It's only a job, it's no fun anymore.

Always the same, all the planning and ambushing
Pouncing, attacking and hauling away
The whoring and boozing and passing out afterward
It's getting monotonous day after day.

Day after day, day after day,
It's boring as hell fighting day after day.

I've bounced in more beds than there's hairs on my you-know-what
I've bred enough bastards to crew my own ship
I've never had time to stay home and raise one of them
So what will I have when I've emptied my clip?

Emptied my clip, emptied my clip,
Who'll call me Dad when I've emptied my clip?

I've got an itch to go do something different
Get a good farm and a nice buxom bride
Raise some tall crops and a lot of fat babies
Complacency's one sin that I've never tried.

I've never tried, I've never tried,
Playing good citizen I've never tried.

One line in that song always gets me, because I can't make the claim. "Complacency's one sin that I've never tried." I did try it on, quite consciously, and stuck with it for almost twenty years.  It damned near drove me crazy.

I was underground from my earliest adulthood.  Never filed a tax return, never registered for the draft - never did a lot of "good citizen" things.  I went to shooting schools before it was cool, took classes in explosives, hung with people I sometimes found scary and usually ended up disdaining.  I was very serious about being an Angry Young Man.  I was really, really sure the revolution was just around the corner, and I wanted to be ready for it.

Yeah.  Uh huh.  Have a good guffaw.

Then, as I gradually realized I didn't even know where the corner was but it sure as hell wasn't anywhere around here, I decided maybe I'd had it all wrong.  Got a good job and a...well, a bride.  Had a kid.  Bought a house.  Got a better job and a bigger house.  Dropping in is a lot easier than dropping out, lemme tell you.  I've done it both ways.

I can't really regret dropping in, because I did get my kid out of it and I really love my kid.  But she's grown now, and I sure as hell don't regret dropping back out.  So playing good citizen is a sin I did try, really hard.  But I guess I'm just not the good citizen type.

DtheformerC is back home...

Incredibly, it turns out he didn't break any bones at all. What damage he did his back remains to be seen, but it wasn't crippling. He did take a helluva lot of stitches, though.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laugh at the State? A shocking proposal!

While typing the previous post, I got a message from Commenter S with a link from the Lew Rockwell blog, which I confess I don't spend a lot of time with:
Earlier this year I was on a panel (discussed here) with Hoppe and DiLorenzo. In response to a question about the prospects for liberty, I noted the importance of economic literacy, in part to deflate the mistaken belief on the part of decent people that the state is necessary and legitimate. Without the tacit support of the state’s legitimacy, it could not exist. And this is why it is important to laugh at the state. Hoppe agreed, saying he has actually considered featuring a libertarian comedian at an upcoming event, and DiLorenzo explained that one reason he often mocks the state and its media cheerleaders is for this very purpose—he gave the example of ridiculing Rachel Maddow in a recent LRC post where he referred to her getting her “panties in a knot.” We need to show these people as buffoons and clowns and to make people take them less seriously.
Laugh at the state? Why, that would be wrong! I can't imagine anyone doing that!

Of course I've always thought a key to effective humor is a willingness to laugh at yourself as well, something I've a hard time imagining from the LRC crowd. But hey. "Panties in a bunch" is a good start. I suppose.

Wow, some guys have all the (bad) luck...

I've spoken briefly about one of my neighbors, Darrell the Cop. Now, my attitude toward Darrell the Cop is not entirely based on unreasoning prejudice, though in my four years here DtheC has never actually done anything to harm me. He has threatened to on at least one occasion and has frequently alluded to his ability and willingness to do so - never to my face, but in our neighborhood these stories get around. He's not my favorite person, and I happen to know I'm not his though in person he's polite enough.

That part of me that wades knee-deep in schadenfreude likes to think it's karma, but truly I don't think I've ever met anyone (who isn't into self-destructive lifestyles other than being a cop) with such bad luck. In only the time I've known him, I've witnessed the following disasters:
  • He had something bad happen to his back, which cost him his job as a patrol cop.
  • He lost his job as a desk cop when the town cut the cops' budget.
  • He got re-hired with that Fed money a couple of years ago, then got cut again when the money dried up.
  • His roof fell in.
  • His wind generator got struck by lightning.
  • His well casing collapsed.
  • He hurt his back again.
  • His wife lost her job.
  • He had back surgery which apparently went very badly.
No, I had nothing to do with any of these things.

And a couple of hours ago while out and about I got a phone call from his next-door neighbor J that DtheC has fallen off a ladder about fourteen feet, at a minimum breaking an arm and his pelvis and doing further unspecified damage to his back.  Probably won't know till tomorrow how badly he was hurt, but it's bad.

I guess I should give him credit for a continued willingness to leave his house at all.  I'd be cowering in the farthest corner, were it me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And speaking of Orwell...

Do you think somebody should tell the government that 1984 was supposed to be a cautionary tale, and not an instruction manual?

In case you cared what VP Biden's been up to...
Possibly the most important event of the vice president's day Tuesday is to meet at 2:15 with Earl Devaney. Everyone knows him as chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board -- the top guy monitoring the gazillion-dollar stimulus and the overdue economic recovery, and ensuring that the taxpayers financing same know all about it.

However, no one outside the room will know what goes on in that Biden-Devaney meeting. That's because the government meeting on government transparency has been closed.
On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

"Imagine an Orwellian Future..."

Hell, you don't have to imagine anything, citizens!

It's here!
The intention is virtuous enough.

By using such advanced telematics, drivers can locate nearby charging stations, know how far they can drive before draining the battery, monitor traffic to take less crowded routes, assess their driving habits to improve mileage and compare their mileage with that of other electric car drivers.

Owners can hook the car up to “smart house” grids in which the entire home’s energy usage is monitored and managed for efficiency.

Nissan Motor Co., which will launch its Leaf electric vehicle next month in the United States, is touting its own version of this communication system. It says that its CarWings telematics system will “retain historical driving, charging and electricity consumption information globally.”

Toyota envisions a similar scenario with so-called “smart homes” connected to plug-in hybrids. This system would not only monitor driving but also home energy habits.

The companies promise to collect such personal data only with the customers’ consent. And they pledge to keep it confidential. But securing this wealth of private information will be a key trust issue in promoting a future that makes the most of electric vehicles’ potential.
Nuh uh. I'll buy a frickin' horse first.

Wonder why jobs are harder to come by these days?

Take some Valium and read this...
This year, [with the first provisions of ObamaCare kicking in] it’s jumping over 25 percent. I’m looking at paying over $100k for insurance for a firm with six employees. Our lowest-paid employee earns $35k a year but she just turned 60 so her insurance will cost me over $25k. We don’t get the small business tax credit Obama rattles on about because we pay our people too well; [under the tax credit] only low-paying jobs are welcome. Our premiums are high in part because several of my employees have kids, who are now graduating college and not getting jobs. We were expecting to drop from family to couple coverage for everyone over the next few years, but Obamacare extends kids coverage until they are 26. I get to pay for it.
I could go on for several pages, but what’s the point? We both know the new congress won’t repeal this mess; they’ll just tinker with it to help out the people they favor. Which is never me or people like me.
I'm glad somebody else said it.

You think the latest "republican revolution" will make Obamacare go away? Rotsa Ruck - I'll bet some Obama voters are still waiting for their free TVs and unicorns, too.

The one group you mustn't squeeze if you want to keep the wheels on is the group that provides the jobs. And that's who's getting squeezed the hardest. The rest of us are just collateral damage, not worth noticing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And now for a word about muzzle brakes.

This is my AK. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

For as long as I've had it, my carbine has had a silly little "slant brake" on the end of the barrel. It's a sort of shelf, canted off to one side of the bottom. I suppose the idea is that muzzle blast will push against it and somewhat counteract the carbine's tendency toward muzzle rise.

It doesn't work worth diddly. My AK isn't a tack-driver, but it's accurate enough for practical use on the first shot. Rapid-fire offhand, though, is a waste of ammo. I can't keep subsequent shots on target. It's been a complaint of mine since the first magazine I ever put through it.

This weekend, M brought me the muzzle brake below. It's Hungarian, he says, like the one on his new Krinkov. And all I have to say about it is, it actually works! My carbine is much more controllable when double-tapping.

Just in case you had similar problems. They're not expensive.

Little Bear's Gift

Like it? In light of LB's reluctance to give up his wandering ways, Landlady thought he ought to start carrying official identification. My phone number's on the other side.

And since he insists on being led astray by bad companions, Ghost has one just like it.

Thanks, Landlady!

Well, so much for our lovely weather...

I'm hunting and pecking this with fingertips, because I can't feel the home row.

A cold wind blew in yesterday evening, and the rain started around 2 this morning. Our week of glorious weather has quite abruptly ended.

Private to Click...

You know how fond I am of Little Bear. I suspect you've been bringing him food at night, and anyone who cares for LB is a friend of mine. So, that's fine.

But this business of big gut piles on the floor next to my bed in the morning? Not as heart-warming or amusing as you might imagine.

Just saying.

Monday, November 8, 2010

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, ..."

"...and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Thomas Jefferson thought he had reason for outrage back in 1776, but the King of England was a piker. If TJ had met the California government, he'd probably have sent George III an eloquent written apology instead of the Declaration.

Seriously, get a load of this.

That went well.

Yesterday after our Sunday Morning Concrete-Schlepping session, M drove Gulchendiggensmoothen down the wash to the Lair's meadow. After an adventurous trip 20 feet from the wash to the meadow, he got a start on digging out the Lair's septic pit. But it was already after noon, and he and Landlady needed to go back to the city so he left the tractor in the meadow.

He's such a trusting soul.

The biggest problem for a neophyte who's looking forward to playing with a full-sized backhoe is that it really doesn't take very long to dig a big hole with it. So I went around and fiddled with the leach trench. That didn't take long, either. So I...decided to work on that perilous approach from the wash. That took a bit longer, but I was still having fun when I finally ran out of legitimately useful things to accomplish and parked it.

Now I have to get to work actually grading the trenches and assembling the septic system. It would seem ever so much more meaningful if I possessed a functional toilet to use it with. But these things work themselves out.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

M's New Toy

I wasn't going to blog about this. M sent me the picture a couple of days ago, so proud a pappa that I'm surprised he didn't enclose a cigar.

Now, while I think it's just as cool as muscle cars it isn't the sort of thing I'd normally think to blog about. Somebody, I thought, will see this and get all worked up about "illegal guns." We don't have any illegal guns because we find that legal ones work just fine, but still the long gun of choice for most of us would have the uninitiated yelling about "machine guns" and such. You know the drill. What needn't be known shouldn't be known even though there's nothing illegal about it.

I told M I wasn't going to blog about it, and his face kinda fell. So okay: I'm blogging about it. And further, I will now express my true, honest opinion of it:


Gad, I want one.

M has been brooding over this little thing like a mama chicken for six months or more. He had the barrel and gas tube cut down quite a while ago, obtained the buttstock (funny story there) 'way back in the summer of '09, and I don't know how long he's had the receiver. But because it's a short-barreled rifle, he couldn't assemble it until he got the NFA tax stamp. And that took over six months from the time he made the application and paid the fee.

Yes, M has joined the august ranks of the "NFA Firearm Collectors." Statist.

Anyway they finally sent him the tax stamp, and about fifteen microseconds later he had built the rifle and was longing, longing for a chance to come shoot it.

So Friday night when he and Landlady traditionally come in, I'm usually all bedded down with the dogs. But last Friday I happened to be sitting up reading. I saw them come in, the dogs could hardly have left me in doubt about that, but I didn't expect a visit until the next morning, when Landlady and I are in the habit of getting together for coffee. Instead, before they could have unpacked the car M is at my door. "Joel? You up?" See, I would never have forgiven him if he hadn't come show me his new baby right away. Riiiight.

So you know some early-morning gunfire was in the offing. And maybe we were a bit early with that. But I just got off the phone with my neighbor J, and it seems we accidentally caused a bit of an incident.

J's wife H heard what she thought was automatic gunfire early in the morning, and alerted the neighbors who were all properly outraged and scandalized. The, er, version of the story I heard is that "unknown strangers" were suspected, but...

Well, that was a busy weekend...

Resolved a couple of open issues this weekend, opened at least one more I had thought settled.

M helped me get the generator's carb apart. We sorted out the needle valve, put things back together, cleaned the spark plug, and the generator was back in action. The genny still being on the trailer, we drove it back to his dome where he'd need it later, unloaded it, then loaded the trailer with a bunch of cement board that had come for Landlady with his last load of concrete. Took the cement board to the Meadow House, unloaded it, ditched the trailer, then went out to the Secret Lair.

M wanted to know if I'd actually tested the new toilet I'd attached so firmly to the Lair's floor. Well no, I hadn't: The toilet isn't actually connected to anything yet, so flushing it would just dump a whole bunch of water under the cabin. He just stared at me expectantly. Well okay then. I'll just go get a bucket of water, shall I? I filled the tank, and wouldn't you know the tank has some hairline cracks and won't hold water without leaking. Bother. We're now zero for two on salvaged toilets, both with cracked tanks. Maybe used toilets aren't such a good idea.

I got a bunch of paneling work done on the Lair's loft, then attempted to drive back to meet Landlady and M at her house. Unfortunately the Jeep chose that moment to run out of gasoline (the fuel gauge never has really worked all that well) and so I got a nice hike to the barn, grab some gas, and then back to the Jeep. That's the last of my stored gas, too, so I needed to spend some money.

Landlady had meanwhile been laying cement board to line the surface where her fancy raised bathtub is going. She brought the plumbing fixtures for the tub up from the city, and they're really gonna look nice.

M brought the last parts we need to get HPAV Gulchendiggensmoothen running again, he and I installed them and the engine started right up and ran sweet and loud. Leaving the tractor's battery on the new Battery Minder for a week seems to have had great effect, and the tractor was officially open for business until the next problem reveals itself. Then we all loaded into the Jeep for food and gasoline in town.

This morning I cooked beans, and Landlady made huevos rancheros for breakfast. Then we went to M's Dome and schlepped concrete to fill one of his retaining walls. 22 bags of concrete poured into the top of a wall 12 feet tall at the tallest point, one coffee can at a time. A bit hard on ol' Uncle Joel's back, but we're slowly gettin'er done.

At that point, M wanted to run the tractor out to the Lair and dig out the pit for the septic system barrels. This has been much on my mind, because there were a couple of possible problems doing that. My driveway has one very (very very) steep spot getting down off the ridge onto the meadow where the Lair lurks. It's enough of an adventure getting there in the Jeep, and I surely wouldn't suggest anyone try it in a big yellow tractor with a rather high center of gravity. The alternative was coming up the wash, and before the Monsoon that wouldn't have been a big deal but since the floods the transition from wash to meadow had a bunch of fairly deep gullies installed that hadn't been there before. It's all soft sand, just made for high centering a tractor. So the process of getting Gulchy onto the meadow proved rather more adventurous than I would have chosen. No way I was going to do it, but M's got more stones than I do - besides it's his tractor. We did in fact manage to get her stuck, and in unsticking her M put her through some acrobatics (damned near aerobatics) that had me running for cover at one point because I didn't know exactly where she was going to land. When he finally got her back on solid dirt she was kind of stuck between a tree and the gully she'd just escaped, without enough room to back and fill to get pointed in a better direction. He looked at me a bit helplessly, pointing at the tree. I shrugged and yelled, "It's your tree."

Yes, HPAV Gulchendiggensmoothen will knock down a large tree. In fact it doesn't seem to notice the effort of doing so.

Once on the meadow, the process of actually digging out the pit went without the slightest difficulty. Our neighbor L had originally dug the pit just before Monsoon with her much smaller backhoe, and she had needed to adjust the pit's location a bit because she encountered a large buried rock she couldn't move. M's tractor didn't even find that rock a minor challenge: Out it came. I now have a pit intended for two barrels, which is large enough for a root cellar.

Right after Landlady and M left for the week, my phone rang. It seems that Saturday morning there was a bit of excitement among the neighbors because of what they took to be automatic gunfire coming from our area, rather early in the morning. That'll be the topic of the next exciting post: M's New Toy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Off-Grid Electricity on the Cheap

When I decided to build the Secret Lair, I had a series of problems to overcome. They all had to do with Money: Lack Of.

As much as possible of the Lair is built with salvaged material: All the dimensional lumber, windows, wood stove, appliances, most of the plumbing, almost all the electrical. In fact, early plans didn't call for running water or electrical at all, because I didn't think I'd have access to water or enough electrical components. M kindly let me plug into his water supply and a friend with a backhoe trenched all the way down the ridge, so that meant I got a shower and a flush toilet just like a civilized person. But the electrical: Well, there I got lucky with scrounging. My current electrical system is about as simple as a solar electric system can be, so it's a pretty good case study in how a very basic system is constructed.

As you can see, I've still got some carpentry in my future. The panels will soon be mounted on a home-made rack. The process starts with the solar panels. I've got six small panels rated at 48 watts each. They're very old so I doubt they can really crank out that much. But in total, I can probably count on about 250 watts, which is enough for my use. One thing I've learned over the past four years is that I actually use relatively little electricity: Really just lights, my laptop, and an occasional power tool. I don't need power for water pressure, and the well pump has its own power source. But for a normal household, this wouldn't be enough. Needless to say, the Secret Lair does not have electric kitchen appliances in its future. Wired together, the panels produce about 18 volts.

The power from the panels goes to a charge controller. The controller regulates the power that goes to the batteries. The batteries (I'll eventually have four) are wired in parallel, so that the output voltage is roughly 12 volts - actually more like 13-14. Again, carpentry: I've got to get these under cover before it starts to snow.

Power from the batteries goes inside to the inverter. This is a 1500-watt auto/RV inverter, and one day I'll almost certainly replace it with a bigger one because 1500 watts isn't enough to run tools like a circular saw. Bother. But it's more than enough for common household appliances.

The inverter has its own internal protection against short circuits and such, so the breaker panel is probably redundant. But still - izza house. You want a breaker panel. This one's got four breakers, which is ludicrously overspecced for my 200 sq. ft. lair. But it was free. All this stuff will eventually be covered up by the kitchen counter.

One thing Landlady and T learned to their grief: The balance between the power output of the solar panels and the storage capacity of the battery bank is very important. You're actually better off with a battery bank that's too small than one that's too big. Lead-acid batteries must be fully charged much of the time, or they will lose capacity and gradually just stop working. Big storage batteries are tragically expensive, and it's a truism around here that you always kill your first bank of them by making mistakes that in hindsight seem fairly obvious.

When in doubt, go bigger on the solar panel array and/or smaller on the battery bank. If your batteries aren't fully charged by early afternoon on a sunny day, you've got too much battery or not enough solar. Ideally, you should have enough battery capacity to power your needs for two days without sun, and enough solar power to charge the whole bank by early afternoon of a sunny day. With that in hand, you won't go too far wrong.

And that's it, really. Obviously, a proper solar electrical system is rather more complex than this, but not in concept. It's also far, far more expensive. ;^)

QoD - "All you need is me" edition...

It takes a special kind of hubris to wake up one morning and decide that what this world is lacking is your visionary leadership, and an even more perfectly-distilled narcissism to think that if millions of people don't like you, the problem is with all of them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Water, water, right where you want it.

About a week ago I kinda-sorta promised a series on our own real-world form of "Eco-living." That, by the way, is not a term I've ever heard used out here. We just call it "living." Anyway, I haven't forgotten about it, and this is the first one: Getting Water.

If you're gonna live in the desert, there's a whole bunch of questions you need to answer.  Ain't nobody gonna do it for you.  And probably the most important question is, where's the water coming from?  You need water.  This is not optional.

I actually know some people who get along without a water well.  It can be done, but it pretty much reduces you to marginal living right off the bat.  I don't recommend it.  If you do have a well dug, you still have a problem.  Where we are, the water is roughly 250 feet down.  Once the well is dug, artesian pressure may (also may not) push the water up the pipe somewhat.  But it still isn't a shallow well.  You won't be bringing it up with a hand pump or a windmill.

(There are exceptions to the windmill thing.  Old-fashioned windmills are actually fairly common here, and some are even still in service.  But those are quite shallow wells.  Pockets of shallower water can be found, and I'm not enough of a geologist to be able to say why that is.  But I can tell you the water from those shallow wells is not potable, except maybe in emergency.  They're used for watering livestock.)

Anyway!  Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  How to get the water out of a deep well.  There are two ways, and they both require electricity.