Monday, February 28, 2011

AARG!! I'm enormously bummed.

I did the one single most stupid thing you can do with a chainsaw...that doesn't involve blood and missing limbs. I left a little, tiny bit of gas in the tank.

It's been a month or so since I cut wood. Landlady asked me to cut something up for her, I went and got my chainsaw, and as soon as I smelled the tank I knew I was in trouble. Now I've gotta rebuild the carb at a minimum. The worst part is that I'm never, ever gonna hear the end of this at the saw show, where I worked for a year and a half, because there's no way I can say I want a rebuild kit for the carburetor "just because."


(Private to Landlady - there's more than one way to cut a log. I got it for you.)

Having said that, what a beautiful day it's turned out to be! Cold this morning, but the wind died overnight and now it's sunny and almost sixty. The lying bastards at the weather report say it's supposed to be even prettier the rest of the week. A little snow and a lot of wind over the weekend, but it was worth it for this.

If MADD won't have her, she can always join Hypocrites'R'Us.

This picture cries out for a caption contest. "Don't you know who I am?"

Former president of MADD arrested on DUI charge
A former president of the defunct local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was arrested recently by the Gainesville Police Department on a DUI charge.

Debra Oberlin, 48, was arrested after she had difficulty on a field sobriety test. She registered a .234 and .239 on breath alcohol tests. Florida's legal limit for driving is .08.
Do as I say, not as I do: It' not just a good idea, it's the law.

H/T to Claire.

Reading early in the morning makes me gloomy.

The big problem with “wars of liberation,” as I have read about them, isn't the wars themselves. Oh, the wars bring all the usual problems, of course: Death, maiming, destruction, trauma, chaos, atrocity, horror, heartbreak. Bad stuff. But the real problem only comes to light after the war is ended, and oddly enough only when the “liberators” win it. I mean, when the “tyrant” wins, you know what's going to happen. But when the “liberators” win, that's when the lies are revealed. And that's when we get another lesson in what seems to be a universal truth: That “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” isn't a warning – it's overoptimistic.

If I could find a solution to this, I'd bottle it. I'd make a fortune.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A pox on both your houses...

...says Walter Block.
I favor the union thugs, not the government thugs. For me, it’s like Stalin versus Hitler: a pox on both of them. But, I like to root for the underdog, the weaker of the two bad guys, and that’s the union in this case. I do so because I want the fight to long continue, so that both are weakened as much as possible. The state has more guns, better public relations (they have bought off more journalists, intellectuals, clergy, and others of Hayek’s “second hand dealers in ideas”) than the unions.

What a gyp...

I thought the winter storm we'd been promised was going to be a complete no-show. It was supposed to roll in overnight, I woke up around 2 and the sky was completely clear. Went back to sleep an hour or so later, even the wind had stopped. Then around 6 I woke to a white-out blizzard. Didn't really dump much snow, though, and the sun was peeking out around 10. Now the snow's gone from the sunny side of the slopes and I'm waiting to see if the other shoe will fall. Weather forecast says that's all the snow we're likely to get, but ... well, they've been wrong before. Either way, now the wind's howling again like it's done for days. Pretty good day to sit inside with a good book - not that I need much encouragement for that in winter. Or summer, for that matter, but at least then I'm more likely to take walkies seriously.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just bitching about the weather...

I keep reminding myself that this has actually been a fairly dry and mild winter. It's not working.

Okay, we had two cold snaps that would have killed lesser mortals than myself, and the second one drove me right out of my home for a few days. We may never have running water again. That's a hassle. But most afternoons have been in the forties, and a few right into the sixties - briefly. Relatively little snow. The winter of '08 - '09 was much worse, overall. But the past few days the weather has stopped trying to freeze me to death and settled for blowing me away. The wind is usually mild here in the morning, only getting rough in the afternoon. But the past couple of days it has just blown and blown and blown. Even the boys don't want to go outside, and LB considers himself Nanook the Wonder Sled dog. Jack London would have kidnapped him for his own.

J&H prepared much more sheltered, if more confining, quarters for Torrie and Gaia. I've been huddling indoors reading books all day, watching my outdoor belongings blow off toward Nebraska. I hung some laundry the other day, and I'm still rediscovering some of it. What a pain. I keep compiling To-Do lists every morning, then new lists of excuses every evening for why they didn't get done. If Landlady sees the mess the boys have made of Gitmo without me cleaning it up, she'll evict me.

Ghost sure knew what day it was this morning. He waited and waited on the slope until S&L rolled past, and I watched him through binoculars as he trotted happily away next to their pickup. I won't see him again till tomorrow afternoon. LB was a bit wistful himself - they've got a nice house. I suppose I should take him for a walky now, but first I need to tie some lead weights around my waist.

Have I mentioned that I hate winter?

I guess you guys should stop reading this now.

Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter

To be fair, the article doesn't exactly proclaim the death of the blog, however much people at the NYT might love to.  The social sites like Twitter and Facebook serve a purpose, and may have killed off the Mommy Blog - but that's because they serve that purpose better than blogs ever did.
Indeed, small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.

“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”
Makes perfect sense to me, really. Newer tools don't necessarily make older tools obsolete, they just serve more specialized purposes better.

H/T to SnarkyBytes.

Feds arrest man for suggesting feds shouldn't tamper with juries: Call it "Jury Tampering."


Friday, February 25, 2011

A delightful addition to my workload...

Gaia, foal of Torrie and Paulo the Former Stallion from Hell, was born at 3 AM Thursday morning.  Perfect in every way.  Quite skiddish about people at the moment, but we expect her to be a total attention whore before much time has passed.

Welcome to the Gulch, G.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Project Gunwalker has finally hit the MSM

CBS published a short piece here yesterday. Fox News has sniffed cautiously around it. "Policy of Silence," indeed.

David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh have beaten this drum for months, carefully unnoticed by any of the so-called "news media," and it finally seems their efforts will not be in vain.

Now let's see how everybody squirms out from under it.

ETA: Codrea updates.

It's a free country...

...Unless these two shitheads get their wish.

Get a load of the unintentional honesty in the following remark:
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed a plan to increase federal penalties on states that are not enforcing background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Bolstering current laws, rather than passing new ones, is seen as the only viable political option for control advocates who have failed to capitalize on the spotlight their issue received following the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona by a deranged gunman who seriously injured Rep. Gabrille Giffords.
And of course the money quote:
Under the plan endorsed by Schumer and Bloomberg, states and federal authorities would be required to increase the percentage of denied gun permit applicants to the national gun database. The penalty for not reporting would be a loss of federal funding for crime prevention.
Not improve the accuracy of the metric, not make sure everybody's being checked, not keeping the database up-to-date. Just increasing the number of victims. By any mean necessary, of course, and For The Children! Because:
Bloomberg said he was optimistic the measure could pass, saying at one point "saving lives" is always "good politics."
How's that been working out for you lately, Bloomy? Schumer's long proven himself a lost cause, but most of the congressvermin who'd normally go along with this shite don't seem to find victim disarmament "saving lives" to be such good politics anymore.

H/T to Sebastian.

You guys gotta read this.

The original post turns out to be about something that's probably a hoax, though I wish it were true. But then the first commenter says something I'm pretty sure he wishes he could call back, and the games begin. And go on, and on, and on...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On this front, at least, we're winning.

Vermont's always had it, to my great surprise.  Alaska's got it.  Arizona's got it - to my very great surprise.  Wyoming's working on it, the only surprise being why it took so long.  And now - of course - Montana.
HELENA – The state House backed a bill Monday that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in urban areas without a permit, giving a victory to lawmakers and gun rights supporters who are pushing a slate of firearms legislation.
Needless to say the usual taxeaters are frantically trying to defend their turf, using the same hoary old "arguments" ...
[S]ome of the more expansive bills being considered this session have attracted criticism from some law enforcement and legislators who say the measures go too far and endanger the public.
We may not achieve freedom in our time, but it's beginning to look as though it'll be a much more well-armed slavery than we feared, not so many years ago. I confess that at times that still perplexes me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hm. I hate these people, and yet...

The whole Wisconsin teachers rioting in the street know, it makes me want to puke. It's all so nakedly greedy and foul, and of course I'm old enough - and from Detroit enough - to understand viscerally that "union" equals "thug."
The tea party plans to rally in support of Governor Walker. I don't know what kind of numbers they can amass, but frankly, I doubt they can come close to busloads of union thugs being shipped in from all over the country.
And yet...and yet...
On Thursday, legislators were advised to return to their offices and lock their doors. Mobs roamed the halls, banging on the glass of the doors, pounding on the walls. No one could move in the halls or enter or leave the building. The glass of the Supreme Court's entrance was broken. Legislators were genuinely afraid. Our elected representatives were afraid. In our Capitol.
...there's something about this that makes me go "Tee Hee"...

Maybe I should just mutter "A pox on both your houses," and go walk the dogs.

Speaking of expensive rifle bling...

$435 for a muzzle brake? On an AR? Are you...

And check out the other crap on that page. "God bless the door kickers," yerass. Frickin' sheep.

H/T to Unc.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Something I've been meaning to mention...

Oleg Volk's site has moved.

Okay, Oleg Volk seems to have several sites and I'm not even sure I know them all, but instead of a LiveJournal page he has set up a new blog here.

I love this guy's posters. Also sometimes he has pictures of nekkid ladies. I strongly disapprove of this, and study them most closely to ensure that each one is, in fact, completely objectionable.

I updated his link on my sidebar several days ago, intended to mention it here, but forgot. Sorry.

When the new forend costs more than the carbine, it's time to change your plans.

The dogs have been alerting to things I can't see in the middle of the night, and I've been thinking I need to add a little bling to my AK. Specifically, I want a shooter with a light on it.

This goes pretty severely against my own notions of how a personal weapon should be set up - I like'em as plainjane and idiotproof as I can make'em, because they've got quite an idiot to deal with. I have repeatedly proven in the field my ability to screw up or misuse any defensive technology more sophisticated than an arquebus. But I do think maybe I can deal with a flashlight.

Unfortunately, before I can add a flashlight to my AK, I have to replace some of the ancient Romy furniture. No problem, I thought: I'll just get me one of those "quad rail" things everybody talks about. My left wrist got screwed up real bad many years back, and for carrying purposes I've found a vertical foregrip much more comfortable. So unless I can screw a rail to the existing foregrip, I've gotta replace the whole thing with a quad and then get me one of those ugly clamp-on things. That's okay, I'm not afraid of ugly.

But Holy High Price, Batman! The lowest price I can find is about $220, which is roughly what I spent to build the rifle, and that's before I buy the expensive light that was the point of the whole exercise!

Forget it. I'm gonna go douse the dogs in fluorescent paint and call it good.

"The Era of '2 hits + bunch of junk = an album @ $18' is Gone"

If you buy recorded music at all, you've probably noticed that the market has changed just a teensy bit in the past several years. I do believe the last album I bought involved Led Zeppelin, and even I've noticed that. (Yes, Uncle Joel HAS heard of an "MP3," though he has never purchased one.) The fact does seem to escaped the notice of the RIAA and the existing recording industry, but they're welcome to say hello to the buggy whip manufacturers when they meet them in obsolescence hell.

I'll confess this is not a subject I spend a lot of mental capital on, but I found this interesting and you might, too.

"The REAL Death of the [Recorded] Music Industry"

It purports to show where all the music-store dollars have gone, roughly since the heyday of the 8-track.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Period Novel for Gun Nuts

Hey, I downloaded an H. Beam Piper short novel from Gutenberg yesterday, to tide me through the first part of the weekend snow. It's called Murder in the Gunroom, and is quite an unusual piece for him. I'm not a big fan of whodunnits in general, and particularly not of the Detective-With-A-Peculiarity variety, but I do enjoy H. Beam Piper quite a lot. This is by no means his best work, since whodunnits were not his forté. And unlike most of his SF work this piece is hilariously dated. But Piper didn't write bad stories, or at least he didn't suffer them to be published, and this one has a twist that as far as I know is unique.

Piper, I'm told, was a pistol collector. He apparently decided to see what would happen if you wrote a murder mystery with a background all about pistol collecting. And so the victim, the detective, the other victim, and a quorum of the suspects are all collectors. If it sounds as though I'm trying to throw you into a deep pit in which all the most insufferable parts of Unintended Consequences have come to life in the form of venomous snakes, well, there were times I feared that myself. But Piper is not John Ross. Ross, God knows, will never live long enough to be H. Beam Piper, and Piper mostly makes this work. So along with the usual clues and red herrings, you get informational tidbits like: Why, since so many more matchlocks were made than wheellocks, have so many wheellocks survived and so few matchlocks? Why might there be a perfectly logical reason for a musket to be named Hester Prynne, and how could a single-barreled pistol be designed to fire twice before reloading? None of this really has anything to do with the story, but of course mixed in with all the argle-bargle and unnecessary details are the ones that actually solve the crime.

It's a pretty good yarn for a winter's day, and it's free. If you're into that sort of thing, I recommend it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Opportunity to display my self-righteousness: Priceless

I really hated that broad when I was a teenager.

Hey, self-sacrificing sweetums! This is for you.

"Global Warming to Destroy Life on Earth! Women and Minorities Hardest Hit!"

Last Monday we discussed the Great Leader's new economic disaster budget proposal, which includes a New! Improved! wireless network that will give everybody high-speed internet access. I don't recall whether this was to be paid for by cracking the bones of the vile oppressor class free or not, but it sure was gonna be a cool part of The Big O's historic legacy. I'm already working on the mold for the pistol target heroic bronze statue I'm erecting in my midden pile my front yard.

(Yes, I'm in a strikeouty mood. Sorry. I'll stop now.)

Obviously you can't have major societal improvement without a big propaganda push, which is not what this article is at all! No! This is a dispassionate discussion by a completely neutral and non-partisan media outlet!


Broadband internet access is one of the main tools for businesses and people to get ahead or, increasingly, to access many basic services. But not all Americans have broadband access.

In fact, a new telecommunications administration report, Digital Nation 2010, says that about one-third of U.S. households still lack a broadband internet connection. Furthermore, 5% to 10% of Americans only have access to internet services that are too slow to even support a basic set of online functions, such as downloading Web pages, photos or video.

Mobile broadband is a huge part of the future of internet access, which is why the Obama administration is pushing for its National Wireless Initiative, which would expand wireless broadband networks to cover where 98% of Americans live.
And will be brought to you by the same government that still openly dreams of an "internet kill switch." Any similarity between this and cognitive dissonance is merely your paranoid imagining.

I enjoyed Tam's take on this:
In other words, [those to most benefit are] neighborhoods full of unemployed, non-English-speaking, high-school dropouts, the ones most likely to want to watch streaming reruns of American Idol on their smartphones, are the ones least likely to be able to do so. In an unrelated economic factoid, these very same neighborhoods are also underserved by Whole Foods stores and Mercedes Benz dealerships. It's obviously a conspiracy.
Really. Y'know, sometimes I want to just chuck it all - live the life of a hermit out in the desert and let the world go to hell in its own way. Kirk was right about one thing, there's no intelligent life down here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Technology is very scary.

Get a load of this:

That's either my grandkid-in-making, or a cleverly-disguised H. R. Giger print. Stay tuned. Current speculation says it's a girl.

In the year 2011, our personal force fields will keep us safe.

You can't make this stuff up, or even lampoon it.
"I don't like the idea of combating violence with violence," Helmke said in regards to students carrying weapons to class on the off-chance that a university would be faced with a shooter. "In 2011 we should have better ways to deal with that than just, 'I'll shoot them before he shoots me,' " he said.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It was bound to happen.

I got a call this afternoon from a local well-digger, who was finally ready to come fix SurvivalDave's well. SurvivalDave is my (geographically) closest neighbor - I rarely see him, but he now owns free-and-clear the useful parts of an adjoining parcel of desert land that some family including him fixed up for Y2K, then let fall to ruin. Family conflicts ensued, and through a long, painful process SD ended up owning the part that contains the (now decayed) infrastructure. He's been trying to get it back into shape.

The well guys wanted me to come unlock one of the utility sheds, so they could work on the well. SD gave me the key to it some months ago. So I loaded the boys into the Jeep, went and did that little chore, and came home.

LB, for reasons probably very clear to him, made a break for the meadow. I called him - he ignored me. I called him with anger in my voice - his speed increased. I reached for the zapper gadget in my pocket. I pushed the first button - the one marked "non-lethal."


As I mentioned earlier, I was very interested to observe the effect of the shock collar on LB, and now being in plain but receding sight LB gave me a perfect observation platform. He didn't yelp, roll around, burst into flame, become a big, black, furry barbecue before my eyes, or do any of the horrific things I'd half feared.

But he sure did stop.

He looked around, clearly wondering what had just hit him. Then - you could almost see him shrug - he started moving forward again. I called him. He kept moving.


He stopped. He didn't know what this was, but it wasn't on the script and it wasn't nice. He looked back at me. I called him again, finger still hovering over the button.

He turned around and trotted back to me. I praised him mightily, and let him inside.

I gotta get me one of these.

It's good to have faith in your fellow man, I suppose...

...but good luck with this.
Public's Help Sought to Find OSP Detective's Missing Handgun from Portland-area Hospital
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Photograph link valid 30 days

Oregon State Police (OSP) is asking for the public's help for information that will lead to the recovery of a department handgun that was left Wednesday afternoon in a restroom at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

On February 9, 2011 at approximately 1:15 p.m. an OSP detective conducting a follow up investigation went into a unisex restroom near the hospital's Intensive Care Unit and placed a handgun in its holster inside the restroom. The detective left the restroom without the holstered handgun but didn't notice it was missing until after leaving the hospital.

OSP contacted Legacy Emanuel Medical Center security who assisted OSP with searching the area and interviewing hospital staff and visitors.

OSP has notified metro area law enforcement agencies of the missing handgun. The handgun, described as a black in color Glock model 22 has been entered in to the Law Enforcement Data System as a lost or stolen weapon.

Anyone with information to help recover the firearm is asked to contact Sergeant Jon Harrington at (503) 731-3020 ext. 258.
Rotsa Ruck, Officer.

That's the ticket. Let the other guy act like a dick.

Saw this on Unc:
[at a TFA meeting] I met an very agitated man (30-40ish, thin build, receding hairline, long, stringy dark hair, glasses) at the front door. I wondered why he rather snarled at me as we passed in the entryway…Shortly thereafter, I heard him loudly “discussing” things with the woman at the counter, complaining about not being given his money back. I went my merry way & enjoyed a nice supper, good company, & an interesting discussion from you & Bob, as well as the comments from the floor. However, I also noticed this guy back & forth at the front, in & out of the building, & finally, filling a couple of to-go boxes.

I asked one of the women at the front what his problem was. She said he was upset that “some people”were wearing guns in the restaurant. He’d complained to her, & demanded that she call the police. She told him that we were regulars, there was nothing wrong, & that even if the police were called, they would show up & be wearing guns, too, & asked if that would further upset him!
The one and only incident I ever had with somebody objecting to my OC pistol, I just smiled distantly and nodded until he went away. The two check-out ladies who got to sit in on the brief incident had things to say about HIS manners, but not mine.

Normalization takes time. Sometimes I think the worst way to accomplish it, when there's no actual law but only tradition to overturn, is to be an "activist" about it. Just act like you're be normal.

D'ya know what I hate?

I hate Netflix.

I didn't used to hate Netflix. Netflix used to be cool. When Claire lived here, she was always getting DVDs in the mail from Netflix. Anybody who sends you DVDs in the mail has got to be cool. So yeah, my attitude was all like, Netflix: What's not to like?

But now I hate Netflix.

Back in the foggy mists of time, it became possible to connect an IBM 286 via a phone line to a cast-pewter contraption called a "modem." Perhaps you've seen one in a museum somewhere; fascinating stuff. Anyway, everybody wanted to do this because there was this wonderful, magical place called the "world wide web" which contained a mystical element called "porn." Naturally I just had to try this.

Y'know, I don't think I ever actually got to look at one nekkid lady. But I did get 6,742 simultaneously open windows, all containing ads for other porn sites, which opened to nothing but new multiple advertisements. I never did figure out why anyone would reward this obnoxious marketing strategy with actual money, but there's much about marketing I don't know.

Anyway, what got me to thinking about that shameful episode in my life was this:

...which seems to just blat itself onto my screen, every other time I go to an otherwise perfectly legit commercial site - which doesn't even show dirty pictures.

I really hate that. And they don't even send me DVDs afterward.

The regular weatherman must have come back from vacation.

It's Thursday, and on Thursday we were promised storms of rain and snow, apocalyptic cold, hurricane wind, plagues of frogs and locusts, piles and jerboas. The meadows turning to blood. Fire from the sky. Mass hysteria.

At nine this morning it was mid-sixties, hardly a cloud in the smiling sky. It's a bit breezy, which promises heavy wind this afternoon, and that can blow in some weather. But right now I can only wish it was like this every day of the year.

Took the second load of horseshit over to S&L's and got it all spread in their garden plot. Ghost and LB came along and were perfect angels, which for once in my life annoyed me a bit because I've got J&H's shock collar on loan for a week, and strapped to LB's throat. How he'll react when I pull the trigger is something I'm curious to know, but I'm not gonna do it for laughs. So naturally, this once he gave me no cause.

Ah, perversity.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The poor babies - I'm so glad they're feeling better.

Frightened politicians crawl out of woodwork, wreak havoc.
When Rep. Shelley Berkley decided to hold a "Congress on Your Corner" event here Friday, her plan was to prove that fear hadn't changed the way Congress works. She wound up proving the opposite.

Berkley's event in a small office building off the Strip featured a folding table, two flags and 60 constituents.

And at least 10 police officers.
Jim the Luddite summed it up just fine:
Personally, if I was a congress person I would be reluctant to show my face in public, but for reasons of embarrassment, not fear of getting shot.

Who comes up with these memes?

Reading Joe Huffman's blog this morning, I got to thinking about how, whenever the anti-gunners come out from their fuzzy little rocks, all the rhetoric sounds exactly alike.

How does that work?  Is there some underground conference room beneath Brady Campaign Secret Headquarters where these querulous little creatures get their talking points?

A hidden network of coffee-stained fax machines which periodically spit out paper containing new, foolproof talking points?

These are the sorts of things I wonder about. 

First graphic shamelessly stolen from Robb Allen, who is much smarter than I am.

QoD "You really CAN pull back a bloody stump" Edition

"As soon as she did that, he stopped trying to get in the door." Fairbanks Police Sgt. Kurt Lockwood


"A knife always works."  Larry Niven

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phil Presley Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Yellow tape fences the yard that he used to tend
With such care, such apparent pride
The bushes beneath the windows now are all trampled
By heavy boots; glass shards twinkle like jewels
From the flash-bangs and the hammers.

They came at night, dozens against one to take him
In his sleep; they are remembered
As heroes, and he as a menace safely removed
Now they are gone; neighbors bunch and murmur
In small flocks, rehearsing the line.

“He seemed so nice and quiet, always smiled and waved
So kindly, who knew he was a
Desperate man, it’s so good that they caught him before
He did some harm; it’s so good the police
Came to keep us safe, don’t you think?”

In time they will all forget his face and his name
For a time the children will point
At the old house, and they will say, “That’s where the man lived,
The crazy man who the cops killed that night.”
None will ask what mad thing he did.

There will never be flowers on his unmarked grave
The others, the heroes he killed
Will have parades, but all anyone will remember
If anyone remembers him at all
Is that Phil Presley doesn’t live here anymore.

Another Beautiful Day!

I was down to a t-shirt before noon.  After shoveling fresh horseshit I loaded a trailer with old stuff, headed home, and ... ran out of gas.

Shite.  I thought I had another ten miles or so in there. 

Naturally I didn't have any gas, because I was supposed to buy some when I went to town Saturday but was so wasted from splitting wood I forgot to bring the cans.  Fortunately J owed me that exact same favor, so he came and rescued me.  Tomorrow I'll fill one of my cans and the one of his I emptied, and I'll be square.

Came back for lunch.  Some months ago Landlady bought me a great four-quart pressure cooker at a swap meet, and since then beans haven't been something I have to soak for two days and then choke down.  In fact I get quite a kick out of all the things you can combine in a pressure cooker, and come up with a very tasty pot'o'stuff.  Ghost and Little Bear help with the cleanup, though they're not very pleased with this latest batch - too much pepper, I think.  LB goes for the bowl, then goes and takes a drink of water, then goes back to the bowl - repeat until complete.  Ghost just takes one taste and turns his nose up.  I did get a little crazy with the pepper.

Now I'm off to S&L's.  I've got a whole trailer-load of composted horseshit to spread in their garden area, and I hope it's enough because the deal was to spread enough for the whole area.  Normally I'd wait this part till tomorrow, because normally I don't ever work very hard.  But now I've gotta go to town tomorrow, and besides this weather isn't going to last.  At a minimum there's supposed to be rain or snow on Thursday, and it'll probably get cold again.  It's only the middle of February, after all.  But after the cold of the past several weeks, this is a real treat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whatcha Wearing?

'Cause I'm wearing a T-SHIRT!!!ZOMG!!

Do you have Internet access?'m kinda guessing 100% of the people within the sight of my words do. In fact, one way or another 100% of the people in the whole country do, even if they have to go to a public library to use it. Hell, I live ten miles from the nearest power pole, and I have Internet access. If you want wireless, hie yourself to any Walmart and get a cheap router - they cost less than bathroom slippers. So what the hell is this all about?
Obama's [four trillion-dollar] plan would trim domestic spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade, striking hard at programs long favored by Democrats to make room for targeted increases in energy and medical research, corporate research and development and a new network to bring high-speed Internet access to 98 percent of Americans.
A whole new network, eh? Something told ignorant ol' me that this wasn't gonna be good, if it actually happened.

Roberta X
held me down and dropped the other shoe. First she points out that bandwidth on the radiofrequency spectrum actually is a zero-sum game, and this magical "network" would take a helluva lot of it. Then she opines as to where that chunk of frequency might come from...
That's right. To get you that "free" wireless (you'll still probably have to pay somebody), Uncle Sugar will be taking away some of the free TV you already have. Oh, not entirely; they want to take those sparkly-shiny super clear High-Definition TV pictures (the one you bought a new TV to see) and smash them back down to what's called "standard-definition," like old-time TV with a hint of YouTube, then spit out several channels in a slice of RF the same size as one full HD channel: the same lousy TV you had before the analog shut-down, only now on a great big screen so every flaw is that much bigger! Hooray!

...And which stations will be doing this? Hint: FCC is offering Big! Cash! Rewards! Your local high-dollar network affiliates, they don't need the bucks. But the little independent stations, the guys that run old movies and oddball syndicated shows? Times is, as they say, tough. Your local PBS station may want some more green from the Fed'ral trough, too; you didn't want to see Nova in HD anyway, right?

...Oh, and meanwhile? It turns out 98 percent of the population in the States already have wireless broadband service.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

QoD - "Stop Being On My Side" Edition

"You come into my library carrying a shotgun and acting like an asshole, I'm going to call the cops on you too." - Breda

Okay, I open carry, and not just out in the boonies.  I'm not an "activist," I don't care if anybody else does or not, but I do understand that if I'm gonna walk around in public with an open cocked-and-locked 1911 it's kind of incumbent on me, at the very least, not to be a dick.
It started when a member of Michigan Open Carry entered the Capital Area District Library's downtown branch with a shotgun. He was asked to leave and complied only after Lansing police showed up.

"Last Monday we had two armed men, possibly three, who sat down in the teen section and refused to leave even though they were told that they were in violation of our policy and trespassing," said Lance Werner, director of the Capital Area District Library. "I'm a little perplexed by the whole thing."

Free stuff from the government is always too expensive.

This morning I had breakfast over at S&L's, and D&L were there.  D's been laid up with a knee replacement that didn't go real well, but this morning that wasn't what had him upset.  Seems there was this big lawsuit over the local utility company having ripped people off over a lengthy period of time, and somehow the settlement involved the utility having to give "free" stuff to people, even though I don't really see how the people could have had it coming.  Not the best thing I ever heard of, but that's not where it gets bad.

Anyway, D&L signed up for this new "free" woodstove, to replace the falling-down one they have in their workshop.  It's a $1200 stove they're only paying $200 for, with the utility picking up the rest.  Sounds good, right?  Hah!

To qualify, you have to ensure that the stove is installed correctly according to code.  The code for installing wood stoves is so stringent in its efforts to prevent house fires that it's a wonder wood will even burn in the stove.  D&L only installed that stovepipe in their workshop a few years ago, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the installation. *


  • They have to pay $50 for the pre-installation inspection.
  • The new "free" stove can only be installed by a person from a short list of approved contractors.
  • The installation must meet code, and you're responsible for all installation-related expenses.

D&L got off cheap, because the inspector couldn't find anything wrong with their ceiling box no matter how hard he tried.  But they have single-wall stovepipe coming off the stove (double-wall at that point is a pure waste of heat, but it's the code) and the inspector decided the pipe at their roof wasn't quite high enough.  I just installed a woodstove myself, and I happen to know that the material cost for that "fix" is less than $50.  But since D&L aren't allowed to do it for themselves, they have to pay the inflated price for the "repair" prior to the installation.

Total cost - $800.

And according to what they told me, they got off cheap!  Some folks got hit with so many charges that the installation cost more than full retail on everything they got "free."

Suckers.  I really like D&L, but frankly it's hard to have a lot of sympathy.

Okay, sure - it could be a little taller.  But it's worked fine for years.  "We're from the government, and we're here to..."

*Which, btw, was passed by the building inspector at the time.

I'll trade you two pounds of good coffee...

...for two hundred pounds of well-composted horse shit.

That was the deal L, my weekender neighbor, made with me.  I've been cut off from my regular supply of my favorite coffee (I'll eat rice and beans every meal without too much complaint, but make me drink stale Folgers and watch me whine) and had to do something else.  S&L also go to Trader Joe's, so they promised to bring me up some.  This morning they delivered.  When I reached for my wallet and asked what I owed them, L proposed we take it out in trade.  Technically they're getting the better end of the deal, but there's this thing called "opportunity cost..."

So this week I haul horse shit.  It's a funny ol' world.

Call Me Doctor Smith...

...Because my back is extremely delicate.

I spent five hours yesterday, splitting firewood. Five hours! I couldn't have kept that up for as much as an hour back in my former life. And this is after most (oh god I hope) of a winter basically sitting on my frozen ass, with no more upper-body exercise than I get from shivering. I was quite pleased with myself.

I was also in great pain. But that will fade. In the meantime I picked up yet another one-time gig, and the prospect of more from yet another source. As long as I can keep up this infernal manual labor bullshit, this can work indefinitely. Excellent, and exactly according to plan. Though I certainly prefer not to work that hard.

Let this be a lesson to you who seek a life off the grid and off the books. There are at least two proven paths to success:
  • Be not picky about what you're willing to do for income.
  • Choose your parents wisely, and be born rich.
Personally I suggest that second one, if you can find a way to work it. Your back will thank you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I want a gig just like the gig that bought my dear old boots...

Sometimes things just work out. I dunno why, but it does seem to happen a lot lately.

My only ongoing, every-week job nets me a big $30. That's $30 a week I can count on, except for the rare weeks when it turns out I can't count on it - H, for some reason, doesn't seem to feel she should pay me for scooping the nonexistent poop of horses that are running races in New Mexico, so sometimes even that $30 evaporates without warning. But that's pretty rare. So, $30.

I've worked to make something of an art form out of seeing how small and minimum I can make my daily money-related needs, but $30/week does seem to be getting somewhere near the bottom, especially in the winter since I'm still dependent on propane. Propane costs money, boy. So sometimes, despite my odd hobby, I do fret a bit about money.

I was looking at the contents of my tobacco tin, propane bottles and gas cans just yesterday, and fretting a bit. Just a bit, you understand, because it's established that there are necessities and there are luxuries, the necessities are the things that actually keep you alive, and none of those things are on that list. Okay, propane comes close but in a pinch I can move to the Lair temporarily. If I want to forever alienate Click's affections. But they're not a necessity, either.

Still, no matter how close to the bone you slice it the line between necessity and luxury isn't always completely sharp. If you're eating beans and rice day in and day out all winter long, that's just not the best time to give up tobacco. There's gotta be a point in there somewhere when you start thinking in terms of bullets and brains, and I don't want to examine that point.

And that's why it's so cool that sometimes things just work out. Because I never know where that extra gig is coming from, and they do seem to have a habit of landing in my lap at exactly the right time.

So yesterday afternoon, right after my fretting session, I got a phone call from a neighbor I don't usually hear from. He told me he just got a cord and a half of wood delivered. I was sitting there wondering why he called to tell me this, when he went on and said that D&L had told him I did a pretty good job of splitting wood, and asked would I be interested in splitting this wood.

I said sure! When do you want it?

So tomorrow I'll go split wood, get some exercise, and have some unplanned jingle in my pocket just when a number of important - but not absolutely necessary - commodities are looking pretty scarce. Cool!

On This Date in 1979...

Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi officially stopped being all that.

Since then, Iran has become a veritable earthly paradise, source of all unicorns and niceness.

On this date in 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave himself the axe, reportedly turning the whole thing over to the military.

Barry's on it. I'm sure this'll turn out great.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Doggie Discipline

In the matter of inter-species relations, it's important not to anthropomorphize (sp?) the other species. That's a standard tenet of science fiction, well known to me from my misspent childhood. But it also works in dealing with dogs. Dogs Are Not Humans, and treating them as if they were doesn't work well. This was the hardest thing I had to learn, in learning to become a good dog nanny. Dog needs are not human needs, and in learning to tend to their needs I had to overcome one of my own.

My own tendency, in what passes for pack behavior in humans, is somewhat contradictory. I can very happily serve, but I rebel at the thought of being ruled. In my life's long strange trip, this invariably led to problems. The notion of ruling in my own right is and has always been anathema to me – I will not do it. When it came to maintaining control of a pack of dogs, this created problems. I only gradually understood that, in a pack environment, many dogs actually want to be ruled. The extent of this varies with individuals, but it's so to one extent or another in every dog I've encountered. This is very strange to me and still occasionally leads to dissonance. Now I'm down to two dogs and can more easily deal with them as individuals, but I'm still sometimes required to rule – not just lead.

I have only one big discipline issue with Ghost and Little Bear, one I've mentioned before. It's a big factor in virtually every move I make outdoors. Individually, each dog may run or wander off, but he'll be back soon. Get them together, though, and they may or may not return. Since they're nearly always together, that's a problem. I really don't CARE if they impulsively chase after a rabbit – as long as they come straight back when they've had their fun. But they don't always, and it leads to problems. During last week's Great Cold Crisis, the boys chose an exquisitely bad time to run off and not come back. They clearly heard me call them back and very clearly ignored me. I had to deal with it, but there are three lessons from previous mistakes I always carefully avoid.

  • I must only punish them when it's very clear what they're being punished for.
  • Though I may be seething with anger, I must not act with anger or (real) violence. They must fear displeasing me but not actually fear ME.
  • I must not “invite” them to approach me and then punish them. Before I can punish them, I have to DRAG them into proximity. Coming when called must never result in punishment.

I don't punish the boys often – hardly ever, in fact – and the form of punishment is one I learned from Magnus. When he disciplined one of his packmates he knocked them down, forced them to submit, then hovered his (Jurassic) fangs over their throat as if to say, “I could tear your throat out right now and my life would be simpler if I did. But just because I'm feeling mellow, I'm gonna let you live this once.” This could be upsetting to watch – Landlady and T had to restrain me from intervening, the first few times – but it always worked and he never once hurt one of his packmates.

In learning to deal with the dogs, I gradually came to the conclusion that Magnus' way was the best way available. At first I resisted it, because I am not a dog. The answer only gradually made itself clear: “Be that as it may, Joel. They are.” So I do it Magnus' way, adding only one filigree. Since the only rule I want to absolutely enforce is “come when you're called,” I do the knock'em down/growl at their throat” thing, then I back off and call them to me. If they come, I praise them extravagantly and make clear the conflict is done and forgotten. Ghost knows this game perfectly, and can end the distasteful session without the slightest delay. This is funny, because under normal circumstances he's the least likely to immediately come when called. Little Bear hasn't quite learned the trick. Normally he runs to me when I call him but when he's out of control he acts like I don't exist, and after being punished for it the last thing in the world he wants is to come back within reach. “Hell, no. You'll kick my ass!” Which means I have to do it again. And again, until he gets it.

It's weird. LB often acts like one of those robotic products of obedience training. There are commands he obeys instantly – in fact, he's so conditioned to a couple of commands that he can't seem to perform the action until he gets the signal, even though it's clearly exactly what he wants to do. And he'll do it anyway, even when it's clearly the opposite of what he wants to do. Normally, that is. But with the wrong external influence – a nearby rabbit, for example – he behaves as if he's never been disciplined in his life and the very concept is inconceivable to him. Heavy sigh – since rabbits are apt to appear at any moment and without the slightest warning, this is … something we're still working on.

And there are subtleties involved, of course. Nothing is ever as black and white as “don't ever run off.” Like I said, I don't really mind them chasing rabbits, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it anyway. It's good exercise for them and it keeps the rabbits under control. Sometimes there are minor injuries, like torn claws. But it can't really hurt them as long as they come back afterward. That's the problem, because they don't always do that. I'm forced into a posture of discouraging them from running off, but rewarding them for coming back.

This was worse a while ago when they routinely ended up at D&L's house to play with their dogs. D&L hated this, and it was causing some friction. But if I came and got them right away, they got their run and then their play AND THEN THEY GOT A JEEP RIDE! HAT TRICK! WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE? Yeah, that was surely reinforcing bad behavior, but I was stuck for a solution until D suggested he immediately shove them into a bare kennel with a bucket of water and ignore them there, and then I would come only after an interval sufficient to make it a rescue, not a reward. That has worked pretty well in keeping such visits to a minimum.

Weekend before last they ran off after we walked to the Lair, and didn't come back. I thought, based on the direction they were running, that they had gone to D&L's. Turned out they circled around and ended up at S&L's, my weekender neighbors in the other direction. And she, sweet-hearted lady that she is, … fed them breakfast. With sausage.


We had to have a discussion about that, lest they run off together every single weekend to help L deal with that pesky sausage problem. When it's only Ghost – yeah, okay, that ship has sailed. He's their weekend dog and nothing I do will change that. But when they show up together, they're misbehaving. Please shoo them away, and Ghost will quickly remember that “The Wonderful Place” is for him alone.

So it's still an evolving situation. I am not by nature a “dog person,” but they do grow on you and they're wonderful company in my life alone here. They are also sometimes the bane of my existence. Prior to coming here I'd had no experience with raising and controlling dogs, and the most difficult lesson was that you really do have to control them – and that, for all that it sometimes leads to conflict, they really do want to be controlled. Mostly.

Now, if only I could control the rabbits.

When I see "RPG," I think "Rocket-Propelled Grenade."

...which, I suppose, makes me a geek of the wrong sort to fully appreciate this.

But my favorite coat is brown, after all.

H/T to Irons in the Fire.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh, Hillary! Say it ain't so!

Why can't the US legalize drugs? "There's too much money in it."
In what will likely be seen as something of a Freudian slip by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said recently in a Mexican news interview that the United States cannot legalize drugs as a means of fighting the black market because "there is just too much money in it."
No, it turns out she wasn't being unintentionally honest, just economically illiterate.
"You can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people."
Hey, Hillary! You ever notice that hardcore dope dealers never, ever call for legalization? Even though they're supposedly the ones put most at risk by your laws? I wonder why that is?

Via Claire

Wish it would make up its mind. Know it won't, but wish it would.

So Monday was gloriosky beautiful, like I said. Sometime Monday night the wind started blowing, and to experience a wind like this you have to go to the plains of Wyoming or, you know, here.

Howling wind. "Is the Lair going to stay upright" wind. "Would you damned Greek gods stop playing around up there so I can get some sleep" wind.

All gone by daylight, which is when the clouds rolled in. Mighty, "Thor Is Pissed" clouds. I figured I'd better get where I was going and get my shit-shoveling out of the way, because most of the snow is gone and I can do a better job of cleaning the enclosures now than they got last Friday. So I rushed.

The enclosures are still so sloppy it took me three hours, and for every minute of those three I thought the clouds were just gonna fall right down and squash me. Nothing happened. A little cold wind, but that was all. When it finally did snow, I don't think it laid down as much as half an inch. What a gyp.

Then the clouds went away, just in time for sundown, and you know what that means. I didn't climb out of my sleeping bag until 7:30, when I was afraid one of the boys might actually explode all over me. Ghost was fair frantic about it, and then I couldn't get the door open. The latch had frozen shut in the housing. Stuck!

For the first time in my entire life I blessed the fact that that miserable door fits so loosely in its frame. I didn't even need a slim-jim: I levered the latch open with a screwdriver.

Ghost probably would have paused to express his gratitude, but he was in too much of a hurry. Little Bear was right behind him, his hind legs firmly crossed the whole way.

I keep reminding myself that we don't actually live outside Bemidji, and that this'll most likely only last another six weeks or so.

Monday, February 7, 2011

If more days were like this one, I'd live here.

Just got back from a LONG walkie with Ghost and LB. It was one of those outings we do from time to time, where I set out to go to a particular place and come back, but when we get where we were going we just keep going thataway. After the first half hour or so I was peeling off layers, grumbling at myself for not remembering that at walkie time you always dress at least one layer cooler than you think you need, because you're gonna sweat.

We went up the wash to the canyons, took the left fork to the kettle, then up and around to the next one, up and over that one, further up the canyon until it turned east at which point it's shallow enough that an easy climb puts you on the plateau. Since the point of entry is a bit...random, one does not at that point know exactly where one is. But it's awfully hard to actually get lost, because the peaks of the ridge are clearly visible and that's where you need to end up if you ever want to get home.

Gorgeous morning; soon I was walking along with all my thick clothes tied around my waist. We haven't been doing walkies much lately, and the boys were in no special hurry to get home. Of course they rarely are, but after the second hour I was sure ready.

I'm getting a little concerned about Little Bear's left front paw, which seems to be giving him some chronic trouble. At first I thought it was just bad luck with tumbleweed thorns always hitting the same paw, and it's true he isn't too bright about staying out of them. But he's been limping on that paw off and on for the past couple of days when the cause clearly isn't road hazards. It's weird, though: He'll limp like an old arthritic fart one minute, then dash along like nothing in the world's wrong the next. Not quite sure what to make of it, but I'm keeping an eye on it.

Either way I've gotta go do some chores now, because the weather forecast says this lovely spell isn't going to last past today. Need to see if I can fill some water bottles. Yesterday the pipe was still frozen, but I have hope for today. I've still got plenty in bottles, but you never know so it's best to keep them all full.

That's odd. I don't FEEL rabid...

Via Joe Huffman comes this heart-warming appeal to reason...
In many other arenas we limit individual freedom to protect the lives of others. When someone has a highly communicable disease, she or he is quarantined. Even dogs with rabies are isolated to prevent transmission. You wouldn’t want a person infected with Ebola virus walking the streets and kissing your children.
Guess what she wants "modest limits" on.

And then they wonder why their intended targets react with hostility...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Most despots put down insurrections. I knuckled under to this one.

Well, we're back in the Interim Lair. I had planned to wait that decision until today or Monday, but Click had other ideas.

None of the animals was very happy about the decision to move. The cold didn't seem to affect them the way it affected me, and they're pretty set in their ways. Moving them to a new place that didn't have their accustomed cushions and spheres of influence did not please them. The dogs have been morose for days. Click the Cat took it another way entirely.

When Ghost disappeared yesterday, I wasn't concerned. As soon as S&L arrive on Saturday, he's as likely as not to go spend the weekend with them. He's been doing it for years. But Click has been confined to the Lair since we moved, because I was afraid she might get disoriented and lost outside of it. Unlike the boys, she's never been there. And the Lair is not yet terribly cat-friendly. There's no way for her to get into the loft, there are no cushions other than the one chair, and the litter box was, under the circumstances, rather improvised. She, as she had already abundantly explained, Was Not Amused.

So shortly after I returned to the Lair yesterday afternoon, Click escaped. Flounced off in a royal huff, more like. And she disappeared in a very determined manner. I looked for her everywhere and couldn't find her. Finally, frantic, I found her back at the Interim Lair. When I entered, she explained in great detail the extent of my mismanagement. She said things about my mother I wouldn't normally be prepared to stand still for. And she told me, in terms even a cretin like me might one day be able to understand, that I could take my "Secret Lair" and shove it where the moon don't shine.

I know when I'm beaten, so I gathered up LB and my chattels and moved back home. We'll try that again after the Lair is rendered more cat-friendly. Fortunately the weather is more moderate now anyway.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I guess the weather got tired of being cold, too!

A warm wind started blowing. The temperature climbed to almost 50 in the space of two hours, all the snow abruptly melted, we're now knee-deep in clay mud. My water tap at the cabin gushed forth a little more than two gallons into a waiting 3-gallon bottle, then settled down to a fast drip. That tells me the damned outflow pipe from the damned cistern is frozen again. Last time it took days to thaw, but last time it didn't suddenly get this warm.

The weather forecast, which was eerily accurate concerning the late cold snap, correctly predicted that today would be warmer. It says tomorrow will get a bit cooler, then Monday will climb well into the fifties. I'll probably continue to camp where I am till Monday, then move back to the Interim Lair. Or maybe I'll firm up the improvised infrastructure and just stay here. I'm not sure, but I know which way the cat will vote: She doesn't like it in the lair. And of course since she's never been here, I don't dare let her out.

Certainly at the moment commuting between the Lair and the scriptorium is no fun at all. It's been a few years since I saw so much mud in the winter. Monsoon, sure, then we get lots of mud. But in winter it's usually more modest than this. We had a whole bunch of snow melt in the space of just a couple of hours, and it sure has made a mess - I was slip-sliding all over the place coming over here. If the wind stays up it'll dry pretty quickly, but the sky's supposed to clear off and the temperature get cold again tonight so it might just freeze.

Have I mentioned I hate winter?

"Fusion Center" operators are all terrorists!

But that's okay, because we're all terrorists now. A bunch of clowns denounce a bunch of dicks. In this scenario, does it really matter which is which?

But here's my question. Why, after this sort of display, do they (and by "they," I mean any of these people) get all upset and butthurt when I refuse to let them make my decisions for me?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Desperate Measures

It's cold.

That's the first and most important thing. It's also the second through the fourth thing. I can't think further than that any more.

Cold. Frozen – not liquid, frozen – nitrogen cold. Dear God What Am I Doing Here cold. Really, really cold.

It hit eight degrees below zero night before last, according to the nifty wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer Landlady got me for Christmas. Night before that it was only five below. In between, it didn't warm up much.

This is the fifth day of the cold snap. The first was characterized not so much by cold as by overcast. The second by snow. In fact it never really got all that cold on the first two days, but the snow kept coming. The solar panels never cleared off. The day before that had been overcast. I thought I had things figured out, but then I never was all that smart.

So the morning of the third day, the power went out. By “morning,” I mean about four o'clock. The evening before that, the cold snap had well and truly arrived. I woke up at 3:30, mostly because I thought I was freezing to death.

Turned out not to be true. Death would have been too kind.

In the brilliant intricacies of my thought processes prior to the impending cold snap, I'd thought I had things all figured out. I was wrong about that on two very important fronts. On the third day, the first of my two mistakes surfaced: I hadn't serviced the generator.

The last time I ran the generator, I deliberately let it run out of gasoline. The electrical system has worked so well I just didn't think I'd need it. The most important part of storing a generator long-term is draining all the fuel and letting it run dry, so that bad gas doesn't attack the carburetor diaphragm. This also makes the engine difficult to start, next time you need it.

Didn't matter – I didn't have any gas to put in it anyway. So I lost power until the sun rose, melted the snow on the solar panels, and tickled a little juice into the depleted batteries. When you start that process at four in the morning, it makes for a rather long wait in the cold and the dark. But my troubles had only begun.

That evening it became clear to me that the night to come was going to make the cold night before look like an afternoon in the tropics by comparison. So I left my propane heater running – normally against the rules, since I don't waste propane on the unconscious – and dragged down my army-surplus mummy bag. I put the bag under all my blankets and zipped myself inside securely.

As far as getting a good night's sleep is concerned, that truly did the trick. I slept from eight in the evening till almost 6:30 in the morning. Ghost woke me a couple of times, desperate to get under the covers with me. I kept offering, but with the sleeping bag there just wasn't room under the blankets. Mind you, this was with the heater blazing away. Cold.


When I finally came conscious, it was about twenty degrees inside the Interim Lair. This was – as I just can't emphasize enough – with the heater running all night. The snow on my boots never melted. All my water froze.

Three three-gallon water bottles, all safely indoors. Frozen. Solid.

The Interim Lair is a 35YO RV trailer. With this latest cold snap, I think I may have exceeded the habitability limits of an ancient recreational vehicle. And the worst part was, according to the weather forecast the worst was yet to come.

Bundled up like frickin' Nanook of the frickin' North, I sat and considered my options. They were narrowing by the minute. Like it or not, the time had clearly come to abandon ship.

For some weeks I've been rehearsing all the reasons why moving, even temporarily, to The Secret Lair was a bad idea. None of those reasons seemed to hold much weight now. The one thing the Lair has is heat. A wood fire always works, as long as you've got wood. I've got wood.

The Lair has no – er - “sanitation.” Easy to fix, all I need is the “Plan B” chair and a bucket.

The Lair has no plumbing. So what? Plumbing requires liquid water, and I don't have any of that anyway. It's not as though the plumbing works here.

The Lair has heat. Granted that at the moment it's at ambient temperature, and a fellow could freeze solid waiting for the wood stove to heat up and start radiating all that beautiful heat to its surroundings. Once it does so, the Lair does have a great deal of heat. I did cut firewood.

But all my stuff is here! You know, no matter how hard you try to plan this, you're gonna forget something vital in the move. Okay, then we'll make multiple trips. Either way, it's gotta happen. I'm not spending another frigid night in this trailer. We passed ridiculous sometime yesterday. It's supposed to get even colder tonight.

So that's just what I did. Click, the boys and I bugged out to The Secret Lair to ride out the cold snap. And that's why posting has been rather sparse this week. Because it's too cold to make my fingers move precisely enough to type.

It's still cold, but at least last night it stayed barely above zero. Maybe we're over the hump. We'll see.

Anybody have this happen before?


I fumble for my cell phone. Opening it, I see a telephone number I don't recognize. Against my normal inclination I answer the phone.


A voice with a pronounced foreign accent, sounding for all the world as if it's reading a script, says “Good day, sir, how are you today?”

“All right. Who is this, please?”

“This is the UPS, we have a package for you from the UPS.”

I'm not expecting anything from the UPS, or from anybody else.

“What do you want?”

“We have a package to deliver to you. Can you tell me where you are?”

“What's the name on the package, please?”

“The package only tells us your telephone number. It is a registered mail envelope, and it contains a certified check for two hundred thousand US dollars.”

You don't know the name or address of the intended recipient, you don't know that UPS doesn't deliver registered mail, but you do know the contents. Hmm. What could conceivably be wrong with this picture?

“Have a nice day,” I say, and hang up. Oddly enough, the phone doesn't ring again.

I was born at night, but not last night. Still, that's a new one on me.

ETA: If anybody out there is actually trying to send me large amounts of money, please do keep trying.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ammo! Ammo!

They're everywhere! Sometimes coming out of the sky like tiny, silent paratroopers, sometimes hard and fast assaults whose direction and angle of attack can change at any second. I've run through all my ammo and most of M's: pound for pound they're not very strong, almost anything blows them apart. .308, .45, 7.62 commie, even .177 pellets work. But there are millions of them! Billions maybe! Even the boys have done their part, trampling them, even eating them. But nothing works! They're everywhere, I tell you! The ground, the buildings, even my weapons and expended mags are just covered with them! There's no hope!

Oh god, they were right. Too late, I finally understand what they meant. The Detroiters were right! WHITE IS EVIL!!

Okay, that was the last mag. I'm wading in with my UWK. Tell my daughter I love her...